The first LP that captured my imagination on my journey as a music infatuationist was Juice by Juice Newton. But aside from watching the Solid Gold dancers darting from platform to platform to the upbeat guitar strum of “Queen of Hearts” each Saturday night that it lingered on the Solid Gold Top 10 Countdown, I was not particularly well versed in Juice’s musical exploits. Yet I was so enamored with my old man’s Koss headphones and the private concert they provided, that I literally wore out the grooves in my old man’s Juice LP. It likely got 98% of its action on the PL-400 as a result of my burgeoning love of music. To this day, I am not sure he ever got to listen to this LP himself.
I would listen to this LP constantly. I would listen in the evenings when the old man was watching his programs on the sole (accessible to me) television in our house. I would listen after I completed my 3rd grade homework assignments in the evenings. I would listen on rainy weekend afternoons — Dad had custody every weekend — when my brother and I were not accompanying the old man on a forced march of blissful errand running. I would basically let the PL-400 plow through the old man’s Juice LP any time I got the chance.
For me, this music was truly magic. The old man’s LP collection made it accessible. The old man’s mini Pioneer silver stack made it flow. The Solid Gold dancers made it exciting. I was hooked, and I could never look back.
[unrelated related side note alert]
I vividly recall a moment in the reception area of my mother’s hair salon waiting for her to finish work (c. 1980). I was sitting in one of the chairs next to a table stacked high with copies of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Town & Country staring at the silver intercom speaker in the ceiling as it pumped out the soft rock classic fare of the day. I distinctly recall having a crush of sorts on Anne Murray without knowing a damn thing about her, as a result of hearing “You Needed Me” cascading down from that silver intercom speaker in the ceiling. When I got home I remember looking for anything by Anne Murray in the old man’s LP collection. Much like Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, which was seemingly issued by federal mandate to every suburban home in the United States, the old man had a copy of Anne Murray’s Christmas album (who didn’t in those days). And, although it is tough to beat Anne’s rendition of “Silver Bells”, “You Needed Me” was conspicuously absent. Also, I was not much in the Christmas music mood – even during Christmas. Oh well, I’d always have Juice to serenade me.
[end unrelated related side note alert]
It’s interesting to me that I had no concept of a playlist back in those formative years. Cassette tapes were just coming out, but even an average deck could run upwards of $200 with blank cassettes running $5 a piece. Hence, I listened to LPs. LPs, sequenced by a record company — whether accidentally or on purpose — to tell a story. A story that was written somewhere between my ears and refined with each drop of the platter, each spin of the LP. A story that soon followed a familiar sequence each time the needle dropped.
Years later, mixed tapes would allow us to direct our own musical productions. Each chosen song, a backdrop for imaginary thespians to act out their scenes – an imaginary version of my thespian self often among them. But little of my directorial work done in the medium of cassette saw plots and narratives as rich as the ones that unfolded when I listened to an LP like Juice. Today, listening to a collection of four billion MP3 files on an iPod has become an exercise in futility from storytelling persoective. Shuffle, the preferred playback strategy of most, creates a chaotic, frenetic and illucid experience not unlike a good acid trip. In fact, the plethora of “improvements” in musical technology likely evokes copious memories of the simple-yet-pure LP in many like myself. Or, maybe I am just tripping out on an overdose of schmaltz.
So, in my formative days, my road-map for appreciating music was tucked neatly inside of the dust jacket of the Juice LP. The last vestiges of my musical innocence were sacrificed on the altar of the PL-400 as Juice sang the hell out of classics like: “Queen of Hearts”, “Angel of the Morning”, and “Shot Full of Love”. I would nary be the same from that point; the “damage” was done.
In my life, music would displace many of the fancy-tickling activities in which other boys my age would eagerly participate. Missing an episode of Solid Gold was akin to the old man missing an episode of All in the Family. Soul Train and American Bandstand would occupy my late Saturday mornings in lieu of riding my bike, swimming in the lake or playing football at the park. And then my musical world was flipped upside down—again–when the old man got cable in 1984 and I laid eyes on my first Rod Stewart video via this crazy concept known as MTV. No longer did I have to depend on Friday Night Videos to watch music—holy shit! And it simply continued to roll from that point onward, music truly became my rock, and it all started when I took Juice for a spin…or a roll, whichever it may be…
Copyright © 2012 – ∞ B. Charles Donley