Your Earliest Musical Memory

Bloggers are lazy. You know it. I know it. And on Fridays, as the news week ramps down, we often put up a musical post--10 songs from our iPod's or whatever. But when I read Deb's post, it brought back some really intense memories. I'll get to those in a minute.

The question I want to pose is the following: What is your earliest musical memory? Now it might be your mother cooing "Rock-a-bye Baby" to you, but I'm betting that it isn't. I'll bet there is a song, an album, an experience that you have that sticks, and I want to know what it is.

So what do I remember? Believe it or not, it's my Dad's reel-to-reel tapes of Herp Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. As early as the age of two, I can remember hearing A Taste of Honey and jumping up and down in our living room to Alpert's rendition of Zorba the Greek. I can remember my Dad's enormous earphones. He would balance on my head even though the speakers where at least 2 inches from my ears.

After 35 years I just got the CD reissues, and you know what? I can't stop listening to them.


Herb Alpert is great. I used to pick up his albums at garage sales for a quarter and add songs to the greatest mix tapes. My earliest musical memories are The Beatles, the Monkees and Kind Of A Drag by the Buckinghams. That song got a lot of play in our house by my older sister when I was young.
Two that stand out for me as early memories are Spinning Wheel and In the Year 2525. Does that peg my age? =)
Earliest? Very earliest? I think the first song I remember was Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley, which, I think, was on the Lucky Strike Hit Parade in the year one or something.

After that - Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. I had my own copy of that, but I never got the coonskin cap.

Then, of course, there was Elvis on Ed Sullivan. Even the grade school kids knew that something big was going on with that.

How's that for being dated?
"At the Hop" ... oh yeah, sock bopping all over the floor with my babysitter in her cute ponytail & poodle skirt! Then "77 Sunset Strip" (snap, snap). Some Buddy Holly stuff, too. Really though, did not truly understand the power of music until The Beatles. Who's dated now? hmmm, zenyenta, was Daniel Boone before or after Davy Crockett cuz I remember singing both those songs, too. D.K.
"Silver Bells" is one of my earliest, possibly sung by Bing Crosby and heard by me when I was innocent, like when I was 4 or 5. Or maybe it was "C'est Si Bon" (sp) by Dean Martin on my granma's record player. She had one of those oldies with the heavy tone arm that you would swear produced curly vinyl shavings as it played the LP.

I used to have a little record player with all kinds of music for young people... my early favorite album was "Little White Duck" and other songs by Burl Ives. I also had a 45 with the songs "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along" and "The Hobble-de-Hoy"... 45 is long lost, artist's name is long forgotten, but I would almost kill to find a copy again.

Starting around 1965-66, for pop music, it might be "Action" by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Paul Revere and cohorts, not the Beatles, turned me on to rock and roll. My first rock album was the Raiders' "Just Like Us", but right after that came headier stuff for a then-9-or-10-year old... Jimi's "Are You Experienced", The Who "Sell Out", "Buffalo Springfield Again", Johnny Rivers' "Realization" (his nod to the hippie generation), and The Sunshine Company (long-forgotten LSD folks playing gentle folk/pop music) and the Airplane's "After Bathing At Baxter's", which I still think is their finest moment. It was hard to find other kids my age who listened to that kind of stuff, so I had to talk music with the neighborhood teenagers.

I posted links to some of my Amazon.com "listmania" music lists. If you go there, you may discover some interesting things! After this post and after these comments, I think I need to go there and do one of my first favorite albums.
Sorry, I forgot to mention: when I was in grade school, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was a real favorite of mine. One of my best friends and I would put it on at his house (it was his parents' record) or he would bring the record to my place and we would listen repeatedly. We were both musical kids, and the music was so perfect it made us laugh out loud from sheer joy from time to time.

Another friend burned me a CD of the Tijuana Brass' "best of", and I have been loving it to death. I could listen to "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" over and over and over!!!
Disney songs from the movies. I remember playing and singing over and over the songs in Cinderella...Bippity, Boppity Boo. And the one with the mice singing with Cinderelly while they helped her get ready. And I later became a fan of Herb Alpert in high school.
We have similar childhood memories. Except I was fascinated with the Whipped Cream album. For some reason.
My parents favorites were Herb Alpert and Brazil 66. I sought them out on Cd's a few years back and sent them to all my siblings. NOTHING could take us back more than that music. A family get together is not complete w/o it.
zenyenta! You are my girl! Davy Crockett was my first little yella record. Then came some song about the battle of New Orleans. Then came Hounddog. I was done for at age 6. I still miss Elvis.
Great comments all. Wish I could respond to each one, but you caught me while I was asleep. Anyway here's a few additional thoughts...

It's odd that my parents even owned Herp Alpert, since they are die-hard classical fans. Maybe it was for parties, but because of my parents tastes, I didn't develop much interest in rock/pop until the late seventies/early eighties--well into high school, almost in college.

Quick comment for Sue..."Hounddog," by Elvis? That's a song by "Big Mama" Thornton, right? :-)
Musically, I remember Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I guess I was destined for electronic music nearly from birth.

But as I very young child I remember identifying more with album covers than the music sometimes. Some of my favorite album covers...

Cream, Wheels of Fire
Pink Floyd, Wish you were Here, Dark Side of the Moon
Emerson Lake and Palmer, Tarkus
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Any other good cover art for kids?
Way out of my league, you guys. I have to go back to Johhny Ray and just a walkin in the rain and walking my baby back home. Both of which fused into one in my early child brain.
That sort of dates me... The Davy Crokett - Tom Dooley stuff was mid primary school.
Herb Alpert & TJB aren't my first musical memory, but they're one of my best. I have most if not all of their vinyl. I've been converting the old scratchy cuts onto CD, but now you've shamed me to break down and buy clean re-releases.

My strongest first musical memories were of Elvis - Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog. I remember singing one of those songs (or trying to) to my 3rd grade class at recess - what a dork I was.

zenyenta - I had the coonskin cap. And the Superman shirt, and the Roy Rogers lunchbox, and god knows what else. Like I said, what I dork I was.
Oh yeah, and the Micky Mouse Club ear-hat.
christman carols.
I remember it very clearly becasue we are at some christmas pagent and i remember the bells and the lights.
i may have been 3?
Goddamned Mantavani bullshit my father used to listen to on the fucking easy listening station ("WPAT, Patterson New Nersey, and now here's Mitch Miller with Bridge Over Troubled Water.")
Listening to Willie Nelson in my Dad's pick-up.
Listening to The Cows Come Home on my grandma's front porch... Now, they may not have had an agent, a label, a tour, an album or never have released a tune, but this is my earliest memory as I sat next to my grandma on the porch with a cup of coffee...literally the cows coming home.
Two come to mind. The Grease Soundtrack was everywhere just as I was asuming consciousness. That's a tough cultural deficit to overcome.

There was also a Garfield album--on vynal--and one of the songs was called, "Big Fat Harry Deal" and I would play that shit over and over! It was great, man!
mom always had that crappy easy listening junk on 24/7.
I grew up listening to my Mom's 45 record (you remember those, right?) of Happy Together by The Turtles. I used to LOVE that song. That was always the first record to drop down from the stack of 45's I would play as a kid. Second to drop down was Delilah by Tom Jones. Those were the good old days :)
I met the turtles at a concert in LA &%#* years ago. They opened for The Mamas and The Papas. I volunteered at this theater every other Saturday and I got the best place in the house to stand. It was at the soundmans station which just happened to be where they all came out of their dressing rooms...and I'd get to meet them and talk to them before they would walk the isle to the stage (in the round). That was heaven for a teenager. I met lots of other bands and actors too...they did broadway musicals sometimes. Oh...the good old days.
Robert, Rb-E, I had sort of assumed that most everyone's memories would be good, but your comments were the only two that weren't. And interestingly you both mentioned easy listening.

My guess is that on a daily basis we all hear more easy-listening than we do anything else--lite rock, smooth jazz, Muzak. Sad.
Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini and 16 tons. I'm glad I sparked memory lane for you. Music is how I place my memories. I like musical flashbacks. That's why 10@10 is one of my favorite radios shows.

When we were stationed in Germany in the 70's it was Old Gold Retold on AFARTs. I love music and can't play a note unless it is on the radio.
Chuck Berry's "Greatest Hits, Vol. II" on the Chess label, my older brother's record. I thought it was heavy metal. I love the tone.
Sitting in the back of my Dad's Volvo, when he would come to pick up my brother and I and my Dad (latent hippie math prof) would belt out either Silva's Mother, or Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook. He was a terrible singer (as am I) but he put his heart into those songs. It was YEARS later I actually heard them on the radio performed by Dr. Hook, and I thought HEY! they're performing my Dad's songs! I still love Dr. Hook, and can know all the lyrics to both songs, and a few others....

Well we are big rock singers, we've got golden fingers
And we're loved everywhere we go
We sing about beauty and we sing about truth
At ten thousand dollars a show
We take all kind of pills to give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll get you when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
Chuck Berry's "Greatest Hits, Vol. II" on the Chess label, my older brother's record. I thought it was heavy metal. I love the tone.

ProgT...Chuck Barry. Very cool.

my Dad (latent hippie math prof) would belt out either Silva's Mother...

Callooh, quite the opposite for me. My Dad is an excellent singer--might have had a career in opera if he'd made different choices, and he's still a huge fan. We don't go together often (I'm not as big a fan), but when we do, he still sings under his breath.
My first musical memory was holding a Three Dog Night 8-track while riding in my dad's van. But I didn't listen to it, because I think back then, I was scared of dogs or something. Hey, I was a kid.

But. I have a better one.

When videocameras first came out, my parents decided to buy one (it was a black-and-white recorder), and they thought it would be a great idea to videotape me dancing to the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack. So I did. I think I only danced to one side of the record, but the highlight was me trying to mimic a pair of clear, plastic go-go boots had seen on TV once, by placing two plastic bags on my feet. Aah, good times, good times.

Somewhere in my parents house, that tape is lurking. Must find it before I make the big time and it leaks out on YouTube or something.

Oh, and by the way? Loving the new layout.
Paperback Writer by the Beatles, Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones, and Johnny Cash. Still love them all.
Mags, you need to go and acquire that tape...right now! And thanks on the layout. CSS ate my brain for two days while I struggled with this.

JuBlu...Paperback Writer. I like it. My father had some Beatles reel-to-reel mixed in with those Herb Alpert tapes I started with. So I have fond early memories of the Beatles as well.

Add a comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link