La La How The Life Goes On

45 and Goal

Posted on: December 9, 2011

I was recently asked a lovely, quaint question that will soon cease to have meaning to anyone under 40: What was the first piece of music I ever purchased?

It was 1979, somewhere in the UK, when record stores were ubiquitous and their employees fantabulous. It was 1979, and there were no music videos, no downloads, no means of hearing music besides buying the record, watching Top of the Pops, or attempting to tape your song from the radio, hopefully with as little DJ chatter as possible. It was 1979, and the only path to ownership of music was the record store where there was an unofficial DJ playing only the best hits by the biggest artists while you shopped. It was 1979, and I was there with my Auntie Julia, herself a tall, slim, 18 year-old shiny pants-wearing disco diva. She and my Uncle Bill were the absolute pinnacle of cool as I imagined it at 7 years old. They dressed in shiny clothing, they knew all the words to Le Freak by Chic, they had been to actual discos (which I imagined to be real-life manifestations of every Blondie performance ever televised), and they could navigate a record store packed with cool people like no one I’d ever seen. It was 1979 and I wanted nothing more than to own one particular song. So Auntie Julia procured it for me, got the store DJ to play it on his turntable to ensure it was not scratched, and put the 45rpm and its little paper sleeve into my eager, waiting, so-excited-they-trembled-with-embarrassment hands.

It was 1979, but I’m writing this now, so I want to claim that my first record was Bowie or Chic or Queen, but the truth is far less cool. It was 1979, and my heart skipped a beat as we purchased….this:

Oh yes. The Dooleys. Who? I’m sure their work never made it past Wales, much less into the USA, but in 1979 they were UK huge, and I sang this song with a gusto most people reserve for drunken karaoke renditions of Sweet Caroline.

Yes, it was 1979, when I was seven and music felt timeless, when lyrics were not widely available, when the lack of 24-hour instant access made it feel valuable. It was 1979, when buying a tangible piece of vinyl that let you have Freddie Mercury in your living room felt like owning your own personal treasure. It was 1979, when buying your first record was a momentous rite of passage, even if it was The Dooleys.

It was 1979. When I jubilantly walked out of a store, finally a member of The Chosen Few.


2 Responses to "45 and Goal"

If it’s cool you’re worried about, that’s nothing compared to my first single purchase at the age of 8 in December 1982. Keith Harris and Orville with Orville’s Song. Oh, the shame…

Okay, I feel better now! 🙂

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