Fangirl

The last few weeks have been very exciting for an old gal like me — there have been three significant events all revolving around music I love, and the thrill of them all have taken me back to days when I tape recorded my favorite bands being interviewed on the radio or poured over music magazines on the floor of Tower Records.

I’ve never been able to play an instrument, but I sure have spent hours obsessing and idolizing those who can. I’ve pondered over the possible meaning of liner notes printed on the inside of a cassette tape, I’ve memorized discographies and argued over release dates. I’ve crushed on guitar players, tried to copy the style of lead singers and choked when I’ve had the opportunity to meet them in person. I’ve seen big bands play small venues, small bands play big festivals and I plan weekends around live video feeds from Coachella (Viva COUCHella!).

Viva, Couchella!
At home for Couchella. on left: Wild Flag, 2012; on right: Jack White, 2015.

So after Couchella 2015 came to a close, Record Store Day came and went, and I stood in line for 2 hours just to buy merch from the Third Man Rolling Record Store, I was about as high as I thought I could get. And then like she was completely reading my mind, I saw an Instagram post by one of my idols, Carrie Brownstein, talking about the beauty of being a fan. Her post was so charming and I just couldn’t stop going back to it. And after about the 14th time I realized where she just summed it all up perfectly — “Fandom keeps me hopeful and engaged, a participant.”

Carrie Brownstein and Cindy Wilson
Repost from Carrie Brownstein (@carrie_rachel), 4/22/15

I wanted to post what is one of the nerdiest, most all-out dork pictures I’ve taken in a long while. This is me in Atlanta, GA last night meeting one of my music idols, Cindy Wilson from The B-52’s. The look on my face is one of pure glee and excitement. In high school, a friend of mine made me a mix tape of the first three B-52’s albums: s/t, Wild Planet and Whammy. I immediately became obsessed…
… I saw the band on their Cosmic Thing tour. That night, at age 15, I pressed to the front of the stage, sang at the top of my lungs, and went home with bruises on my ribs and a heart filled-up and transformed, like it was pumping a whole new kind of blood into my veins. This is what it is to be a fan: curious, open, desiring for connection, to feel like art has chosen you, claimed you as its witness. To this day I still am a fan, of many, many things. Fandom keeps me hopeful and engaged, a participant. And I was a fan last night in front of Cindy, rattling off a whole bunch of incoherent, half-strung together thoughts about her songs, her voice, her band, her brother. And it felt, well, awesome.

collage-RSD15This year thanks to Couchella, I am a newly obsessed fan of Brittany Howard — the Alabama Shakes set was magical (and I’m pretty sure I’ll never get over her voice). Waking up at 5:00am to get down to Fingerprints Music on Record Store Day was something I had to do. (Not only was I trying to get my hands on a re-issue of Elvis’ first recording, thanks to Jack White — I also needed the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan double-LP, on red and white vinyl especially for Record Store Day.) As I stood there, probably 100th in the line going down the street and curving around the block, I felt connected to other music fans, giddy over the prospects I was looking to score and most of all — alive, just from the thrill of the hunt! (I did get my hands on that White Stripes wax that morning, but no Elvis, unfortunately.)sunSo thanks Carrie Brownstein, for putting into words what I didn’t know how to say. I’m proud to be a fangirl and I hope I’ll always stay that way.

Sharp coats, Swizzle sticks and a Super-cool record collection

1971_navy_apt_4Judging from everything I’ve ever heard about my Grandfather and all the pictures I’ve ever seen, he was one seriously stylin’ and dapper man. He was either sporting a fedora or his hair was perfectly styled and glossy. There was either a cigarette between his fingers or a pack in his front pocket. I’ve seen him pictured wearing sharp coats, flashy bow ties and behind the wheel of classic American automobiles. He had a huge collection of swizzle sticks from very swanky lounges and I know that the set of tiki mugs I inherited were his. Unfortunately, these artifacts and photos are all I have to go on, since I was just 3 years old when he died.

Fast forward thirty-something years, and almost everything I love and cherish has a “retro” or “vintage” slant to it. I swear I was born in the wrong decade. I love making old-school treats like popcorn balls and fudge, and of course — I’m obsessed with a lot of vintage music. And in the most perfect timing there could’ve ever been, my newly-retired father has decided to clean out the garage and give me access to boxes of vintage vinyl, just a month after receiving my record player.

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To say that I am amazed by all of the records I keep finding in these boxes would be an understatement. They are not all my Grandfather’s — there’s a huge collection of gospel that undoubtedly belonged to my Grandmother, a smattering of ’70s easy listening which appears to be my Mom’s, and of course, the extensive Barbra Streisand catalog that absolutely belonged to my Dad. But all the records that keep catching my eye and have me anxious to play all have my Grandfather’s name on them. Yes, even the prized Johnny Cash record found deep in that box has an address label stuck to the center declaring it owned by Mr. E.A. Facey.

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Skeeter Davis, Johnny Cash, Petula Clark … 45s, 78s and LP’s … so much stuff  I love and so much stuff that would’ve been amazing to talk with him about. Right now, its all of his records that seem to be what I’m interested in collecting. It’s hard to explain the feeling, but I do know I’m finding out so much more about my Grandpa through these boxes of records. To think that decades later, I am appreciating the very same music he appreciated enough to curate such an impressive collection of is not only super cool — its pretty moving.

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I’m enjoying getting to know my Grandpa better through these records, and I smile when I think he might get a kick out of all this old stuff I keep finding — especially the honky-tonk! I’m pretty sure if he were alive today, I’d be hanging out with him. But even though he’s not here, I still think he’s one of the coolest guys ever.

I wonder what he’d think of me?

A new obsession begins

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I am the most excited girl ever. Look what I got today! The mister totally surprised me with an awesome turntable and a set of 3 re-issued Sun Records 45s by Third Man Records. I was completely stunned and speechless after receiving this gift for our self-proclaimed “Parents Day”. I had NO IDEA this was coming (he told me no gifts!) and I am so incredibly excited to finally start a vinyl collection! It’s going to be pretty cool that the kiddo will grow up knowing what a record is, too.