By the spring of 1992, I had finally saved up enough money from my small paper route to purchase my first CD player. It was a peak moment in my otherwise geeky sixth grade existence. My next door neighbor, who was a year older than me, had already begun acquiring a significant collection of the usual suspects, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Primus, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction. He sympathetically sent me home one afternoon with a copy of Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony, which he had failed to sell at his parent’s yard sale the week before. I definitely wore that one out, but it was more out of necessity than by choice.
Thankfully, partially in protest to hearing that record on an incessant loop, my folks drove me to the local independent record store in Eau Claire, called Tu Trax. I picked up Alice in Chains‘ Dirt, which had been on my wish list for a while. I had already listened to this record a bunch of times while hanging out at friends’ houses, so my folks hadn’t had a buffer for what they were about to hear coming through the floor of my upstairs bedroom. It must have been somewhat of a shock to hear their son go from blasting DC Talk and Amy Grant tapes from a tiny boombox just weeks before, to “Yeah, they come to snuff the rooster,” or “What the hell am I/Thousand eyes a fly/Lucky then I’d be/In one day deceased” being delivered in that deliciously hideous, nasally bellow. The switch from tape to CD was much more than a technological advancement, it was an aesthetic evolution into adolescence as well!
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the day I accidentally left my bedroom door wide open with the CD playing at a pretty loud volume, while my younger sister’s friends were over at the house playing. My dad came up the stairs while the secret track was blasting from my room….you know, the one with the weird detuned guitars, devilish cackles and torturous screams? At that moment, it was time for a father-son discussion about musical taste.
The next day we returned Dirt to Tu Trax, and my dad let me pick out a few other CDs, while very slyly throwing Abbey Road in the pile at the last minute. Once we left the store, he gave me the CD and told me he thought I would like it. It took me more than a few times through to get it. The opening track was a bit slow moving, as was the second track. Nothing was all that loud or distorted, and the singing lacked the intensity I had been growing used to in my explorations of “Alternative Rock.” I was hooked on “Here Comes the Sun” and “Carry that Weight,” but the rest of it just lacked the excitement I was craving. However, the more I listened over the next few months or so, the more I realized that the whole album worked together as one giant statement. I had never heard any other record do this before. The more I got to know the songs, the more I could follow the journey that the Beatles were taking, and I soon found myself swept up in it. Everything from the opening drum fills of “Come Together,” the playfulness of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopus’s Garden,” to the haunting noise outro of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” or the summer-night-like-coolness of the crickets in “Sun King,” all culminating in the grand finale of the McCartney-led medley, who’s epic silence was startlingly interrupted by “Her Majesty,” all this was my introduction to the concept of a record creating its own complete world.
Though it lacked the immediate excitement and intensity I was initially craving at that point in my musical journey, Abbey Road has continued to prove itself as a worthy contender against any current musical obsession. I can safely say, to this day, that I can’t listen to another record without subconsciously comparing it to Abbey Road.
Joseph Westerlund is the drummer for North Carolina’s Megafaun. Born alongside Bon Iver in the ashes that rose from DeYarmond Edison (Brad Cook, Joe Westerlund, and Phil Cook’s former band with Justin Vernon), the band has woven years of writing, touring, and living into a new sonic language. Critically-praised and publicly-loved for their ability to speak in the many tongues of American musical history — all while blending it with their own energetic and personal form of Rock — Megafaun has staked a claim. But the lay of that land they call theirs — the hills, valleys, and caves beneath — is just revealing itself in the sunrise. They will soon embark on a national tour to support their 4th release, simply entitles Megafaun.
March/April 2012 US Tour
03/15/12 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat*
03/16/12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s*
03/17/12 – New York City, NY @ Highline Ballroom*
03/18/12 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott*
03/20/12 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room at the Crofoot*
03/21/12 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas #
03/22/12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club #
03/23/12 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon #
03/24/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club #
03/27/12 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive #
03/28/12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court #
03/30/12 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern #
03/31/12 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir #
04/03/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord #
04/04/12 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place #
04/05/12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater #
04/06/12 – Tempe, AZ @ The Sail Inn #
04/07/12 – Tucson, AZ @ Festival en el Barrio
04/08/12 – Santa Fe, NM @ Sol Santa Fe
04/10/12 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk #
04/12/12 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree #
04/14/12 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom #
04/17/12 – Roanoke, VA @ Jefferson Center &
04/18/12 – Norfolk, VA @ Norva Theater &
04/20/12 – Wilmington, NC @ Greenfield Amphitheater &
04/21/12 – Atlanta, GA Tabernacle &
*=with William Tyler
#=with Field Report
&=with Drive-By Truckers