*Disclaimer: Technically my first music purchase of any kind, as best I can recall, occurred at a yard sale in the town of Whitefish, Montana, where I lived with my immediate family when I was 8 years old. Sneakily procured for a hefty two dollars – while my parents were eying a waring blender – was DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s 1989 offering And in This Corner... But I am opting to write about the below selection, as it truly was the first LP record (vinyl) that came into my possession.
When I first discovered my parents’ record collection at the age of 10, I knew nothing of The Beatles other than that they were an iconic rock band I needed to eventually encounter, solely based on the amount of times the band name circled into by orbit in the conversations of adults and in my limited exposure to television and news media. My family had just moved from the tiny, aforementioned Rocky Mountain Ski town, all the way across the country to Charlotte, North Carolina, when my Dad took a new job. We’d arrived in NC in September, and while upon helping unpack all the boxes and discovering the family stash of LP’s, I requested that my Christmas present be given to me early (a trick I’d go on to successfully employ in subsequent years), and that it be a double cassette deck stereo with a turntable I’d found in the Brendle’s catalog. Since I was a relentless little bastard, my parent’s (bless their hearts) pacified me and let me order what would be my first stereo (yes it had a “super bass boost” button – score).
Anyhow, Abby Road immediately blew my mind as I’d sit indian style on the floor and drop the needle. My evening routine soon became established: listen to side one while brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, then flipping over to the mammoth, dark and sparkly side two right before hitting the lights and hopping in the sack.
“I Want You” (though the last track of side A) was the fist song to cast a spell on me. From the bluesy smooth vocal Lennon lays down to accompany his head melody riff note-for-note, to the phantasmic, ethereal outro – that always gave me chills and at times scared the hell out of me when the wind blew strange shadows of trees on my wall – this song made me an instant fan for life. The transitions were striking and I’d never heard pop music that could move so radically (though seamlessly) on a dime between wildly different sections. Pointless for me to offer any expository words on the B side of this record, as that’s all been done masterfully (and also poorly) enough many times. I’ll just say that what strikes me now as the most interesting in considering the impression this record made on me at that time, was the blend of vocals. I had no idea at this time in my life who the four members of the band were, and was oblivious to any academics on the band or its political dynamics and personalities. So I remember thinking only of how well the voices worked together, and what their tonal differences made me feel. Ringo and George had the most unique and distinctive vocal style and character, though the voices of John and Paul were difficult to discern since they could be so similar to my novice ear. I could tell that lead vocalists were changing all over the place, but I was never quite sure when and where. I just was aware it was happening and that it was amazing and brought such an ensemble effect to the cast of storytellers. That was so intriguing to me. Looking back now, I’m sure I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but it’s clear to me that I somehow understood side B was conceptual, literary and epic. I knew that the sequence was theatrical and dramatic, and gave me light (“Here Comes the Sun”, “Sun King”, “Carry That Weight”), and oblique, dense and sometimes terrifying numbers that seemed to be wreathed in themes I knew had to be related to death and pain and ideas I knew I’d yet to experience in life, but here these Brits were bringing me glassy blue shades of them (“Because”, “The End”).
So yeah, this record was a circus of sound and magic for me. It ingrained in me the sense that this is simply just how one (or one group) should make a record. Stand alone pop and rock songs that cut individually, but a grander scope of conception that rewards repeat listening with sequencing that reveals itself over time to be deeply thematic, with the sum giving an arresting aftertaste even deeper than the mighty strong parts.
Jon Lindsay is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer with an impressive resume to show for his time so far on earth. After going solo in 2009 from prominent roles in several well-known bands (most notably Benji Hughes and The Young Sons), the Oregon-born, North Carolina raised artist released 2 critically acclaimed EP’s, a stunning début LP (2010′s “Escape From Plaza-Midwood”), AND a début LP “Rumormill” for his side band, The Catch Fire, all while playing upwards of 150 national shows between 2010 and 2011. Due this spring is Lindsay’s highly anticipated LP #2, entitled Summer Wilderness Program.