An ode to the music shop: what was your first music purchase?

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I have had a long-term relationship with music stores since I was 11. My mom took me to see That Thing You Do! and I fell hard for everything: the dudes, the band, the music. I immediately asked if we could get the soundtrack, and shortly thereafter took my first intentional step into a music shop. Sure, I had been into them before, but never with a purpose — never when I was looking for something that would change my life.

I quickly started quite the habit, buying as many cassettes and CDs as my mom would allow. Once I started working a sizable portion of my income went toward music, and I eventually started working at a music store in my local mall. Whether or not it’s a genre I’m into, I love just spending time surrounded by music. The oft-quoted line from Almost Famous, “… if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends” has been a mantra of mine since I first heard it. Even though I have bought thousands of CDs, tapes, and MP3 albums since 1996, my first still takes up residence in a very special, hallowed place in my heart.

My son recently picked out his first CD (disc three of Motörhead’s Deaf Forever) and all of these feelings came flooding back to me. Like myself before him, my son had been into a music store before — he’d even weighed-in on discussions about what we should pick out — but he had never gone in knowing he was picking out his very own music for the first time. The experience was pretty incredible.

Like many a music fan (and four-year-old), he initially went a little wild, running into the store yelling about looking for Motörhead or Judas Priest. He bounced from section to section, commenting on posters and album covers, noting the differences between design elements and the size of records versus CDs. Music has always been something we’ve bonded over, and this experience was no different. I could feel his excitement.

We found three options, and he picked the only one with a grisly, slightly terrifying demon on the front of it. With that, he was set: he found his first album. We made our way up to the counter and completed the purchase. Of course, then we got to finish up the experience in the best way possible: ripping open the CD and putting it on our car’s player.

My favorite thing about picking out your first record is that the experience is something you’ll always remember, just like other important firsts. To me, picking out your own music is a crucial rite of passage. I feel like the choice you make is indicative of what kind of music will move you in the future — in my case, my soundtrack introduced me to The Beatles, and I’ve never stopped loving them.

This all has me wondering: what was your first music purchase, and why did you pick it out?

Comments on An ode to the music shop: what was your first music purchase?

  1. I don’t remember, BUT I love That Thing You Do! My dad actually did sound engineering for the movie, so he flew out to California for the week to work on it. He met Tom Hanks a few times, and reports that he is a genuinely nice person and quite the practical joker.

    The soundtrack is so catchy. I probably got into the Beatles because of that movie, too.

  2. It wasn’t a purchase but my sister gave me a cassette when I was about 10 or 11 – U2 Live Under A Blood Red Sky – blew my mind! I wore that thing out then bought another and picked up Boy while I was at it. I also turned into a crazy, screaming, crying FanGirl the first time I saw them live (think Beatlemania). Up, up, upper tier; crying so hard I was afraid I would topple over the railing and fall to my death. And being totally OK with that scenario cuz I would be dying quite happy. Sheesh.

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