My First Record is a music column where we ask musicians about the first record they remember listening to, bought with their own money or was passed down to them. Whether it was a CD, vinyl album, cassette tape or even an 8-track (we haven’t run into anyone yet whose first music was downloaded, but we won’t be surprised when we do) we’re curious about the first record a musician remembers listening to.
It’s interesting to look back over a lifetime so far and reminisce about all the various artists and albums that have come and gone and influenced you in some way.
I think for most people their parents’ taste and choice of music shapes the early years. I have vivid memories of searching through my mum and dad’s LP collection and reading the lyrics on the back of the sleeve as I listened to Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, Elton John or The Beatles. I also remember an Abba record that I liked singing along to a lot, and deciding to do a performance of “The Winner Takes It All” for my family when I was about 8 years old but singing it from behind the sofa because I’d got such stage fright!
But as great as it is listening to other people’s collections, it doesn’t compare with the feeling of discovering music for yourself. Being a child of the 90’s I grew up listening to the radio a lot and taping my favourite songs from the Top 40 charts each Sunday afternoon (obviously not a practice that’s advocated by the recording industry, but it was very difficult to make 10p-a-week pocket money stretch to buying albums, so I had to listen and consider before making a purchase!).
The first single I remember buying was on cassette and was “Think Twice” by Celine Dion. I was fascinated by voices when I was growing up and there was no shortage of big divas on the charts around that time. I still have a soft spot for the big powerful singers, no matter the genre – Celine, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury and Andrea Bocelli all have a place on my iPod.
Before writing this blog I had a look at which other songs were in the UK charts the year that “Think Twice” came out. It was surprisingly varied – from pop acts like Wet Wet Wet, Take That, and D:Ream, to Brit-Pop bands Blur and Oasis, to legendary artists like The Beatles, Prince, and The Rolling Stones. I suppose with all the variation around at the time it’s not surprising that my musical tastes have remained eclectic.
Whilst artists and records have come in and out of fashion as well as in and out of my life, the very first full length album I bought has stayed with me to this day – Soul’s Core by Shawn Mullins. Best known for its Number 1 hit single, “Lullaby”, I think it’s fair to say that album had a lasting effect on me. It was on an episode of “Dawson’s Creek” that I first heard Shawn Mullins (along with so many other artists that were on that show who also became favourites of mine including Beth Nielson Chapman, Jewel, and Sarah McLachlan).
Soul’s Core came out in 1998 and, as an impressionable and typically emotional teenager, it truly spoke to me and felt like it healed my soul a little bit each time I played it. Living in the UK and listening to songs that told stories about people in the United States of America all seemed so exotic and exciting to me. A glimpse into another world. Never in a million years when I bought that record would I have imagined that one day I would be living in the USA and would have recorded my debut album with the very same Shawn Mullins. But I suppose that’s the magic of good music – it makes you dream and helps you believe anything is possible.
And even after all these years I still listen to Soul’s Core and it still heals my soul a little bit each time.
Singer-songwriter Callaghan recently released her album, Life In Full Colour, on May 1, 2012. Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, UK to a musical family, by 14 Callaghan was writing songs, and started trekking to London to record with various producers. At 18 Callaghan moved to London, recorded a number of independent EPs, and played all over the city, at spots like the Bedford, Regal Room, Royal National Theatre and 100 Club. Since landing stateside Callaghan has toured extensively throughout the U.S. playing in 30 states alongside Mullins and other artists and in her own headline shows. She now calls Atlanta, and the United States, home.