the first album i ever bought: oasis – what’s the story morning glory?

typhoon @ cat's cradle

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. 

best of: top 25 albums of 2012

chatham county line electric holiday show @ haw river ballroom

I hate making these lists. Everything was good! If it was bad, I didn’t keep it, thus, all the albums in my iTunes from 2012 are excellent! Agggh. But anyway: I contributed to the Speakers In Code list, of course, but this one is mine and ended up getting a hefty end-of-the-list tweak from my SiC list.

  1. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten: This is probably too mainstream for music bloggers and too weird for normal people, but this album made me have more feelings, both joy and heartbreak, than anything else this year. Brian Fallon, leave your wife for meeeeeee.
  2. Micah Schnabel – I’m Dead, Serious: Micah’s songwriting always moves me, and I think this is his best yet – it’s one of the few albums in my iTunes, along with Handwritten, that is composed of entirely five-star songs.
  3. The Lumineers – The Lumineers: perfect roots-pop songwriting; “Ho Hey” got the most press, but “Classy Girls” makes me happy every time I hear it.
  4. Damien Jurado – Maraqopa: unbearably heartbreaking and intimate; “Working Titles” is my favorite song of the year.
  5. Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Going To Change The Way You Feel About Me Now: a perfect fusion of Memphis soul and JTE’s standard country songs; Justin was already an amazing songwriter, and this record pushes his musical boundaries in a fantastic way.
  6. Gross Ghost – Brer Rabbit: The best pop record in the Triangle, and maybe the country, this year. You probably haven’t heard it, and that’s a shame.
  7. Spider Bags – Shake My Head: This is a disgustingly close second for Triangle record of the year, all shake and shimmy and guitars and hooky choruses.
  8. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes: Not everyone loved this one, but I think it’s among Finn’s finest songwriting and sharpest observations about fucked up people just trying to live their lives; it was gorgeous live.
  9. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar: “Emmylou” was one of the greatest songs of the year, one of the best love songs I’ve ever heard, and the rest of the album does that song justice in setting.
  10. Tift Merritt – Traveling Alone: probably wouldn’t have made my list, except for how it hits me right in the chest when it’s played live, and I got three sets to discover that punch of emotion and heartbreak this fall.
  11. The Orwells – Remember When: like the Smith Westerns a few years ago, this record is a bunch of Chicago teenagers leaning back to roots that are older than them and making a kickass retro record, except these guys are better than the Smith Westerns.
  12. Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow: spend two days with these guys, learning the intimacies of their lyrics and their accents and their laughs, and this record will move your heart in wide open sky ways.
  13. Bob Mould – Silver Age: Bob called it a “big dumb rock” record, but if anybody gets to make a genius big dumb rock record, it’s Bob Mould, and this one is genius.
  14. Delicate Cutters – Ring: the best band from the South that you’ve never heard of; this record is creepy and gothic and gorgeous, and you will fall in love if you hear it, but I bet you haven’t heard it.
  15. The District Attorneys – Slowburner: smart, hooky, guitar-driven Southern rock – one of the best high-energy live shows I saw this year, and while the album really is more like its title, it’s well-worth it.
  16. Archie Powell & the Exports – Great Ideas In Actionperfect retro pop songwriting, some of my favorite guys to follow on Twitter, exactly amazing for a late night one person dance party, the best band from Chicago that you’ve never heard of. Listened to this one in the car like whoa.
  17. Heartless Bastards – Arrow: a slow burner for me, this one didn’t really take hold until I saw HBs play on Halloween, when I realized fully realized the morose and epic power of the songwriting and Erika Wennerstrom’s haunting, terrifying, gorgeous voice.
  18. Corb Lund – Cabin Fever: this is filthy in the same way that Black Keys records are filthy, country like only Alberta can be, and funny like you never expect your brilliant songwriters to be. “Cows Around” was one of my most-listened 2012 tracks.
  19. Dr. Dog – Be The Void: this spent, cumulatively in total, about six weeks of this year, 24/7, in my car stereo. I listened to “That Old Black Hole” 173 times. They were one of my favorite shows of the year.
  20. Corin Tucker Band – Kill My Blues: because fuck you, that’s why.
  21. Cory Branan – Mutt: Branan’s first Bloodshot Records release, and first full length LP in many years, this was a roots rock gem that really got overlooked in the glut of releases this year; Branan is a sharp, funny, irreverant, and moving songwriter, and the clean production doesn’t polish off the rough edges that make him a charming performer.
  22. Will Johnson – Scorpion: Will is one of the most talented songwriters and composers out there today, and Scorpion isn’t my favorite of his releases, but it’s delicate and sad and a lovely introduction to Will Johnson’s epic catalog, if you haven’t discovered him already.
  23. Japandroids – Celebration Rock: this is not the best rock album released this year, Stephen Thompson, but it was a good one; I have spent a concentrated amount of time with it in the last few weeks after it started turning up on lists, and it is solid and rocking and unique from start to finish. (Spider Bags made the best rock record of 2012.)
  24. Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain: this should probably be higher, but I just didn’t spend enough time with it; Hogan’s voice is unmatched, her own songwriting is great, and when you can line up a list of friends to write songs for you like Kelly Hogan can, it’s an amazing one from the start.
  25. Passion Pit – Gossamer: listen to this late one night, in the dark, on your headphones, when you’re feeling really sad; then go out and see Michael Angelakos and his masterful band absolutely control a crowd. The sold out show at Disco Rodeo this year, and my lovely Clea’s joy in them, sold me on the power and talent behind this album.

Honorable mentions go to The Menzingers; Wintersleep; Waxahatchee; the Avetts; and Black Prairie, whose records might have made the list if I’d spent more time with their records. (The lack of time I spent with The Carpenter is ridiculous.) Rayland Baxter’s Feathers & Fishhooks was the last one off, like Virginia Tech at tournament time only way way better than any of Seth Greenberg’s teams.

The Speakers in Code list is here, and contains our multitudinous opinions.