The First Album I Ever Bought is an occasional guest post series where friends, family, and strangers talk about, well, the first album they ever bought. A new piece runs (almost) every Wednesday, and sometimes more often. If you’d like to submit, please see the guidelines here. My friends at This Is American Music are about to take over this feature for at least the next few weeks, so enjoy.
I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama– just up the street from a local record shop. It was close enough that I could walk to it after school or on the weekends. It was a couple of doors down from where my father worked and next door to a pretty good sandwich shop. We lived north of the river, which wasn’t nearly as developed back then as it is in the present-day tornado-ravaged and condo-stuffed Tuscaloosa.
My most-prized possession back then was a clunky black Sony Discman that ate AA batteries like candy. I was practically attached to the thing. On the bus, in the backseat of the car, walking around the neighborhood… I usually had my headphones on. Music was my first love and I’ve been in a steady monogamous relationship with it since I could carry it everywhere I went.
Before the Discman, I used to just tape songs off the radio. When it came to discovering new things, though, my go-to source was television. At this point, I was already losing touch with MTV because they started running actual shows instead of just videos. (I hated MTV before it was cool…) Suddenly, a new channel appeared really high on the dial. It was “The Box”. I was hooked.
Do you remember “The Box”? Some people I mention it to do– most don’t recall it. It was a strictly music video channel that allowed the viewer to request the next video by dialing a 1-900 number and punching in it’s code. The names of the videos scrolled the bottom of the screen and you would jot down the code and dial the number. You never really knew what was coming next on “The Box”.
The next video up that night was “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis. At this glorious moment in music history, Oasis weren’t just huge– they were the biggest band on the planet. This was my first exposure to them and it wrecked my brain. It looked so different than anything else and the name of the song just sounded SO DAMN COOL to me at the time. (Honestly, it still does.) One of the first things you see is a dude (Bonehead was his name, to be precise) playing a fucking melodica!!! And the guy looks like John Lennon!!! Then the guitars kick in, the vocals soar… and seven and a half minutes later it has to end. You see, songs have a beginning and an ending.
Or do they? Could it not just go on forever? Well, on “The Box”, it technically could… hence the ridiculous phone bill I ran up by requesting it over and over. Perhaps it would be cheaper to just buy the CD. So the next day, I walked up the street and purchased what still stands as one of my favorite albums.
It was “What’s the Story Morning Glory?” by Oasis.
I went on to buy plenty of embarrassing and downright horrifying things after that, but I can stand proudly behind that record. It is still one of my favorite CD’s to put on in the car and sing along to. “Champagne Supernova” sold me, but sooner or later every song on the disc shoved it’s way into my brain and my emotions. “Wonderwall” became a staple on the radio, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” became one of my favorite songs (ever)… and “Champagne Supernova” even became the de-facto slow-skate song at Super Skate– the local rollerblading spot.
Music has this amazing power to make you feel cool– this record made me feel alive. It made me want to play music. It was one of a handful of albums that I often practiced to when I wanted to feel like a real badass. Put it on for me today and I could probably drum the whole record from muscle memory.
That black CD stayed in my black Discman for a long, long time. I finally got to see Oasis in Vegas in 2001. I managed to grab a setlist and I got it signed by the band as they loaded into their buses. I told a very, very abbreviated version of this story to Liam Gallagher as he signed my setlist.
His reply? “Thanks, mate.”
Music never lets me down. Not then, not now and not ever.
Reed Watson lives in Florence, AL and plays drums for Belle Adair and The Pollies.