When I was growing up, my parents had a relatively large record collection. I would occasionally look through it to see what kind of things they listened to. Sometimes I would find something worth checking out. There are a handful of albums that I found in my parents’ record collection that had a lasting influence on me. The five albums that I discuss below have had a lasting impact on me and my music.
Meet the Beatles – Most young adults in the 1960’s probably had this album. My parents were no exception. I would have been 2 months shy of 2 years old when it was released. I don’t know when my parents got it, but it was being played when I was old enough to start noticing songs. I learned to put records on our turntable at an early age. I’m sure that this was the first rock album that I played. It gave me a love for pop and rock music at an early age. It is still one of my favorite albums.
At Folsom Prison - Most of the time when we listened to the radio, we listened to top 40 stations that played pop and rock music. The main alternative was country music. My parents also listened to plenty of country music. This album came out in 1968 when I was 6. My parents must have bought this album soon after it came out. Johnny Cash became a superstar as a result of this album and I followed his career from that time on. I was too young to appreciate much of what the album represents. I was too young to appreciate some of the humor. I had no idea what the song “Cocaine Blues” was about. But this song ingrained my appreciation for country music. And “Folsom Prison Blues” was the first song I picked out by ear on the piano. For that reason alone, this album holds a special place for me.
Whipped Cream & Other Delights – This album was released in 1965. I am sure that the use of several of the song on the popular TV show, “The Dating Game,” prompted my parents to get it soon after it was released. I remember the songs from the show. I also remember the songs playing in the house but I don’t remember seeing the album cover. As a teenager, I was thumbing through my parents’ record collection and ran across this album. Of course the picture on the cover made me more interested what music I might find on it. I was pleasantly surprised to find the songs from the show I loved to watch when I was younger (and I’m sure that I didn’t understand). Next to this album I found Herb Alpert’s other album Going Places that had more songs from “The Dating Game.” As a young teen, I listened to these records a lot. I paid attention to how different instruments were used. I think it helped prepare me when I started recording my own music. I still love this music. I have a Herb Alpert CD in my alarm clock and every morning I wake up to “The Lonely Bull.”
Curb Your Tongue, Knave! – Another show that I watched as a child but didn’t get was “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” Their show seemed to be similar to most of the comedy-variety shows of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I enjoyed their humor even though I didn’t understand its political angle. I also enjoyed hearing their music. Any love for folk music comes more from them than anyone else. While this album was released in 1963, I didn’t find it in my parents’ collection until the mid 70’s. By that time, I have started collecting comedy albums. I was surprised to find this gem.
The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart – I knew Bob Newhart from the television series he starred in from 1972 through 1978. I watched the show and thought it was funny but I never considered Bob Newhart particularly funny. I had no idea that he had ever done stand-up comedy. I probably had a chance to discover this album at the same time I found the Smothers Brothers album. If I noticed the name on the album, I probably didn’t think it would be worth listening to because I didn’t think he was that funny (yes, I was a comedy snob). I probably didn’t recognize his picture on the cover either. My first listen to this album would have been around the time that his 70s television series was wrapping up. The album was much better than I expected. I was surprised by how funny it was. It was years later before I found out how groundbreaking this recording was. It was released in 1960, almost two years before I was born. It was a #1 Billboard Pop album. It was a Grammy for Album of the Year. Not, Comedy Album of the Year, but Album of the Year. Yes, the big prize. The award for Best Comedy Album that year went to one of his other albums released the same year. He also won a Grammy for Best New Artist. His comedy albums have become some of my favorites. His humor, like the Smothers Brothers, has been a major influence in my music.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller