Your Take: Your First Time

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 17th, 2010

This week at The 9513, we debuted two new features: Song reviews and a personal, first-person look at the many albums of Garth Brooks.

Wednesday, Stephen Deusner kicked the latter off and took his first foray into Brooks’ music:

But one of the unlikely totems of my youth—not because he soundtracked my adolescence, but because his popularity made him my archenemy—is Garth Brooks, the Elvis of 90s country and one of the best-selling artists of all time. I reserved a special scorn for him, not because I didn’t like his music (I can’t remember actually hearing a single note at the time) but because I didn’t like what he stood for. Debuting at a time when hair metal was choking on its own Aquanet fumes and country had several up-and-coming acts but not a single superstar, Brooks became one of the few Nashville acts to cross over squarely to the mainstream. It’s difficult to overstate his popularity, his success, and his impact on music–country and everything else. Which is precisely why I hated him.

Now that I’m older and wiser—well, older at least—and my tastes have become a little more elastic, I’ve decided to visit Brooks’ catalog from start to finish. For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about a different album, starting this week with his self-titled debut. My listening will be as open-minded as possible, with as much equanimity as I can muster and with no doubt more than a few autobiographical asides. I’ll be arm-wrestling with my younger self and all his musical prejudices, and while I doubt he’d like any of the music, I hope that he would appreciate the spirit of the undertaking and not call the current me a sell-out.

This week’s Your Take is twofold: What is an album you distinctly remember listening to for the first time? Tell us what artist and album, why it stands out in your mind and what impact it had on your musical DNA.

Also, do you have artists and/or songs that you’ve resisted giving a chance? Do your reasons stem from your family, your youth or from something else entirely?

  1. Paul W Dennis
    April 17, 2010 at 8:06 am

    STORMS OF LIFE (1986) – the album that broke the 80s out of the bland pop-country synthesizer-driven pop-country mold and into the new tradionalist era. Yes there were some other traditionalist newcomers around such as disguised bluegrass of Ricky Skaggs, George “King of the Bland” Strait and Lefty acolyte John Anderson but it had been many years since a new male with such a great voice had mined the rich ore of Ernest Tubb/Floyd Tillman/Carl Smith/Webb Pierce honky-tonk tradition. Every song on the album was great – I taped my album and carried that tape (and several later copies as I wore out the tapes) with me through the 1980s. This album remains my favorite album of the last 30 years and one of my top five favorites ever

  2. Nicolas
    April 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I remember listening to my first country album, Sara Evans’ “Restless” … instant love =)

  3. idlewildsouth
    April 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

    There really aren’t albums that I remember as a whole affecting me, but I do remember the songs. Typically, when I buy an album, I just put it in my truck and let it play for the first time through, just to get acquainted with the songs. So, on my way to school one morning, I’d bought “Mud On The Tires” the day before and it was playing. As I pulled up the red light, I head “he put the bottle to his head and pulled the trigger” and that line perked my ears up like you wouldn’t believe.

  4. Josh
    April 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I’m with Paul Dennis on this one: growing up, I never actually listened to music because it wasn’t a factor in my life as a child. But Randy Travis I did own 3 of his stuff throughout the ’80s and wore out those tapes as well. While I don’t listen to him that much anymore, his vocals can certainly inspire my childhood years full of grace and innocence that I’d be willing to kidnap RT overnight and have him sing to me so that I can dream wishful dreams.

  5. Roger
    April 17, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Lyle Lovett Pontiac….I heard “If I Had a Boat” on my college radio station and had to go find the album….that record (and all of Lyle’s since) have influenced my songwriting more than any artist… it!

  6. Mike Wimmer
    April 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Gary Allan’s “Smoke Rings In The Dark”. I was a total metal and hard rock guy, in college and I generally thought Country Music was old man’s and women’s music.

    Then I heard that album and realized that Country Music could be cool.

  7. Noeller
    April 17, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I talk about this often, as I was mired in a stream of Green Day, Guns N Roses and Nirvana until A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love) came along and changed my life. Confederate Railroad’s “Notorious”, Brooks and Dunn’s “Brand New Man”, Reba’s “Greatest Hits 2″, and John Berry’s “Standing On The Edge” were all hugely important and I have vivid memories of listening to them in my parents basement with a buddy who first turned me onto that early/mid-90s Nashville Sound.

    Garth’s “In Pieces” was huge for me, too, and “The Night I Called The Old Man Out” evokes great memories just from those basement listening sessions, too.

  8. travis in va
    April 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

    The first country album that stands out to me and I knew every song to was “Sweethearts Dance” from Pam Tillis. I was 9 years old when it came out and I discovered it because my aunt had bought it on casset. I herd it for the first time in summer of 1995 when we were driving around town, and I loved it so much I stole it from her. The songs were so grown up, but I loved them anyway. He voice was so origional. Whenever I listen to that album now days it takes me back to that time in my life and makes me so happy!!!! The other album that i listened to all the time was loretta lynns christmas album. It didnt matter what time of year it was I loved that album!!!!!

  9. Ben Milam
    April 17, 2010 at 10:07 am

    in 1993 i was stationed in korea. i missed home terribly. a guy loaned me a copy of steve earle’s copperhead road and i ain’t been the same since. i think the first time i heard ronnie and neal by the drive by truckers had a similar effect. good topic.

  10. Thomas
    April 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

    GONE (1995)- it was some years ago around christmas time. the woman of my dreams not only had broken my heart but also shredded it and gave the remains a seriously good steamroller treatment on top of everything. in short, i was in the perfect condition for some “time with jones”.

    among the christmas gifts was a book about country music. so, on december 26 i found myself on the couch with left-overs from the christmas diner, sweets and coke, flicking through the rough guide on country music.

    accidently, i stopped at the chapter on dwight yoakam and started reading. it seemed as good a place to start as any on a day that i found out that turkey and chocolate-cake can be eaten together. after having read it, i went upstairs to pick up some of the cd’s mentioned in the book. i was quite surprised that i had almost all of yoakam’s releases. i have always enjoyed the trees but listening to his music in the mood i was in was like realising for the first time that there’s a forrest out there – and what kind of forrest it is. simply fantastic. the poetry in his lyrics, combined with great melodies and some of the most creative arrangements the genre has to offer make his music an outstanding listening experience.

    i wouldn’t know, which of his albums is the best from an objective point of view but GONE shows with ten cuts what country music has been and can be in the hands of a complete artist.

  11. Michelle
    April 17, 2010 at 11:39 am

    That’s cute, Thomas, and Dwight’s got it ALL! I can’t think of any ONE song that was life changing. I’ve been listening to Country and Rock my entire life. When I ventured into Metal was probably the most life changing. I remember riding in the car with a friend and he said, “I don’t like Country,but I like this song.” He put in Shameless, by Garth and cranked it up. Man, I was so embarrassed! That was the furthest I’d ever strayed from Country. Sticks And Stones by Tracy Lawrence, and Maybe It Was Memphis by Pam Tillis helped ease my way back, though.

  12. bll
    April 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    The first album I recieved as a gift was ‘Mighty Day On Campus’ by the Chad Mitchell Trio. I grew up listening to all sorts of music, but Mum liked folk, Celtic and country. I remember singing along to ‘John Birch Society’ and me dad just shaking his head at me!

  13. Josh
    April 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Psst…has anybody checked out the Court Yard Hounds? Check them out. Looks like the Dixie Chicks are back in a different way.

  14. stormy
    April 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Not really. The Chicks have toured with The Eagles before.

  15. Fred Nerd
    April 18, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I grew up with John Prine’s Storm Windows, and thats a benchmark against new music and songwriting.
    The first time I heard Chris LeDoux’s Western Underground, I couldn’t take it out of the player. So similar to country music, but with a REAL edge from someone who had done everything, and had wasn’t trying to prove anything, just make music.
    And the first time I heard the live version of ‘Sultans of Swing’ (I was too young to remember the first time I heard the original). Pure bliss….

    As for artists I haven’t given a chance: Gretchen Wilson. Her music might be OK, but her image turns me off so much that I don’t want to listen to her.

  16. Mayor JoBob
    April 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    My first country album listen was Alan Jackson’s “Who I Am”, which my parents had when it came out in 1994, it remains my favorite album to this day.

    I was also raised on the Eagles discography and Little Texas’ Greatest Hits album, which In my opinion is the greatest such compilation ever made.

    The first country album I got on my own with my own money was Clay Walker’s “If I Could Make A Living” which became another favorite. I wasn’t familiar with the guy at the time but he had a cowboy hat and the CD was 1 dollar so I said what the heck!

  17. Michael
    April 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    $1.00? Hahaha. The first country tape (yes, tape) that I bought was Reba McEntire’s Rumor Has It. It was “Fancy” that drew me in. The second country album I purchased was Garth’s No Fences. Thus kicked off an almost twenty year love affair with country music. I’m afraid it’s almost come to an end, however, as the last country album I purchased was about six months ago and the only two songs that I currently like on country radio are nearing the end of their respective chart runs. I’ll always love the music that I’ve enjoyed so much, but I’ve found myself straying to other genres almost %100 of the time now.

  18. Wade
    April 19, 2010 at 2:24 am

    I discovered country music on my own. My parents did not listen to it. My first exposure of any kind was the song “Rhinestone Cowboy”, which came out when I was six. However, my “conversion” experience was when I was 7, seeing a commercial for a Charley Pride greatest hits collection- “Charley’s Favorites”. It was as if this music was calling to me. An upper middle class kid in a northern city was being drawn to “Crystal Chandeliers”, and “The Snakes Crawl at Night”. Once I learned country was a “genre”, I never strayed. It was isolating in many ways to grow up not listening to the music of your peers (this was pre-Garth Brooks mind you), but I had no choice, as conversions rarely offer them. Country music is a passion, the only one in my life that has lasted 35+ years. By the way, I saw Charley Pride last Saturday night 31 years after my first concert and it was stellar.

  19. t.scott
    April 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Well I had no “conversion”.My dad bought a large console stereo in ’68 or ’69.He already had an excellent honky tonk and western swing collection.LP’s and 78’s by Bob Wills,E.T.,Hank Thompson and Williams.Later additions were Carter Family,Porter,Connie Smith,Chet Atkins and others.

    My older brother(15 yrs.senior to me)had Waylon ,Merle,Tijuana Brass,old Louvin Brothers,Johnny and Jack,and Jerry Lee records .Along with 60’s and early 70’s rock.

    The awakening I had in my 20’s was to blues and the realization of the way most of the music I grew up with was related to that.

  20. Guy
    April 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    For me, the Country-Genre album would be “Guitar Town” by Steve Earle. A non-Country album would have to be “Jagged Little Pill” by Alanis Morisette.

  21. will
    April 20, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Rosanne Cash’s 7 Year Ache, until then I was into Disco & 70-80s pop & rock. She turned me on to the whole genre of country. I loved everything she did and still does and wonder why she is so forgotten?. The album still holds up really well today. She was no voal tour de force, but can really pick material and write a MEAN lyric.

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