Your music has gone to a better place

Like many once-maniacal music collectors of my age, I still have a dozen feet of vinyl that hangs out in an out-of-the-way part of the house mostly ignored, like an old dog that can’t be troubled to move around much anymore.

I imagine that many such collections just disappear one day; I’d come home and my wife, trying to be kind, would say that my music hadn’t died, it had just gone to live on a nice farm upstate.


“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” a heinous but mind-altering composition.

NCPR seems to be that farm upstate, because every so often boxes of old vinyl LPs just turn up here. They are of every different breed from classical to comedy to rock to folk to jazz. And the various music hosts comb them over, looking for lost purebreds among the many mutts.

Radio Bob was spinning discs from one such adoption yesterday in the mini-studio next to my office. Usually I ignore the hubbub, but I suddenly found myself up out of my chair, looking over his shoulder while “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly twisted the air. Now this is a 17-minute audio cliché–to modern ears a truly heinous bit of composition, overblown and self-indulgent. And yet I was instantly transported to a day in 1968 when I ran across a friend peeling the plastic off the just-released LP cover, a twelve by twelve square of riotous color, immense hair, and chubby Art Nouveau lettering. He was heading toward the library at (then) Potsdam State, where they had listening carrels decked out with pretty good turntables and a library necessity, headphones.

My own home audio gear consisted of a fiberboard-encased portable record changer made by Montgomery Ward, with tinny speakers latched to it by buckles and hinges. Nothing in my 15 years had prepared me for this–Psychedelic. Rock. On. Headphones.

I’ve never really been the same since. Clearly, my day’s work was going to be put on hold while I relived a time in my life when there was nothing more important than what music you bought and played, what bands you followed, what concerts you hitch-hiked to attend, what posters were on the bedroom wall.

No music that came after those teen-aged years has had such life-changing consequences. And though the music itself is not so great looked at through the perspective of nearly half a century, I retain the belief that music is a mind-altering substance. It should change your life. It’s magical and important; it should be a really big deal.

Is there a particular piece of music that first blew your mind and rocked your world? Say what and when and why in a comment below.


13 Comments on “Your music has gone to a better place”

  1. Tammy says:

    I absolutely love the online articles of Dale Hobson. I look forward to them each Saturday morning while I ease into my weekend with a nice cup of coffee. Thanks Dale!

  2. HCW says:

    In high school the choir director had a free pair of tickets to a symphony concert in Hill Auditorium at University of Michigan. I heard Respighi’s Pines of Rome. I could hear the pines. I’ve loved classical music ever since. But I also have to say the memory of singing the last movement of Rossini’s Stabat Mater still sends chills down my spine.

  3. Pete Klein says:

    The first Rock & Roll band I liked was Bill Haley and the Comets. I was grateful when the Beatles came along because Rock had become too toned down and commercialized. The Stones and the Animals put an edge to the music. One thing I will always remember is going to a Bob Dylan concert at Forest Hills where he was booed by the Folkies who objected to him going electric. That was the smartest move Dylan ever made.
    Rock & Roll continues to have its ups and downs but I do believe it has more staying power than Rap or any of the other popular categories around today. I think Classic Rock will stick around for quite some time but am certain there will never be Classic Rap. Why? Mainly because Rock at its best incorporates all the music that came before it. The Classics, Folk, Jazz, Western & Country and all the instruments used in these various musical formats. Nights in White Satan is a classic example.

  4. Hank says:

    Nothing unusual here for someone of my age —- almost anything by the Rolling Stones up to and including “Satisfaction”; I had never heard anything quite so raunchy before – and I loved it!

    On the other hand, A Day In The Life (which I heard for the first time on the then-staid old CBC in the summer of 1967 at the very end of a special they had done on The Beatles) left quite an impression, especially how it blended in right after a repeat of the opening track of Sgt. Pepper.

  5. Rod MacIvor says:

    Dale: my favourite Album from the good old days!…
    Iron Butterfly drum solo……..phew!

  6. Paul says:

    Similar experience for me was a visit to my friend Doug at Wagner College in Staten Island in 1970. He put a pair of headphones on me and turned on “Re-fried Boogie” by Canned Heat. I won’t say life changing but none-the-less memorable.

    Bringing home the Beatle’s LP’s as each one was released and unwrapping them and poring over the album art (especially the white album) while listening was an experience I wouldn’t want to have missed either!

  7. Galen says:

    Dale, thanks for your good thoughts about music. I fully agree that it is mind-altering. When I was young, I had no money for records. (Those of us in central Michigan listened to WOWO-AM from Fort Wayne, IN. We could receive it after dark.) When I got my first job, I was finally able to purchase records. I was in my late twenties by then, so I had a lot of catching up to do. I loved the Beatles, of course, and I remember being blown away by a Doors album someone had at a party in the late 60’s, but it was Dylan who made the strongest, and perhaps darkest, impression on me. I remember finishing my dissertation during the winter of 1971 (my first year in a full-time position), and when I was done writing each day I would listen to “Desolation Row”. Every day. I also listened to lots of others of his songs, but that one is inextricably tied to my dissertation. The writing was going pretty well, so I’m not sure why that particular song was so central to me. I can still recite most of the lines, perhaps not quite in the right order, but I promise not to do so when I see you next.

  8. stu kuby says:

    Dear Dale,

    Thank you for your wonderful reminiscences via vinyl. It was the Dell Vikings for me: “Come Go With Me/Whispering Bells” that hooked me at ten years old. Pow right between the eyes, ears and legs! I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life there and then. Since then, I have produced people like Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Whitney Houston and more and more and all because of the Dell Vikings little 45.

    I am now the president of the Hudson River Music Hall in Hudson Falls, NY, where, among other things, like putting on live music three nights a week, we are building a music library of books, sheet music, turntables, vinyl, headphones and coffee for all to come and hang out. I sure hope you will come. Best regards, stu

  9. George Nagle says:

    Surprised by Beethoven’s Ninth, which happened to be on AM radio when I was 14 (yes, a long time ago), which led me to believe that such beauty could only come from One Who is Beauty, and changed my life.

  10. Claudia says:

    Hi Dale, I received a turntable this past Christmas at my request. All the years collecting record albums, then cassettes now cd’s…nothing has pleased my ears like all those record albums I finally gave up in New Mexico aprox. 20 years ago. I’ve missed them since and have been picking up albums at thrift/antique/junk stores and garage sales. Just listening to Al Hirt while reading your missive. Wondering: what do you and the follks at the station do with albums you choose not to use?
    If you’re into donations or selling, I’m definitely interested.

  11. Robin says:

    I remember the day I got Country Joe and the Fish’ “Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.” It wasn’t that iconic protest song that captured my heart–although it was a powerful, if cynical, reflection on the time–but the sorrowful “Who Am I?,” “Pat’s Song” and “Rock Coast Blues. It was on my great old Dual turntable every other record that summer of 1967 and still today I could listen to it over and over. There have been others that came close–Their Satanic Majesties’ Request, Savoy Brown and Incredible String Band to name a few–but I think I would still recite (as singing is something people request I do NOT do) all the words to “Who Am I?”

  12. bill shaver says:

    Rockabilly, J Cash, W.Smith, R.Orbason, C.Perkins, B.Knoxx, etc, etc….wish we heard more of it, its all on youtube though….rock 7 roll ruby, ubangi stomp, flying saucer rock & roll, etc….

  13. Alexander Korycinski says:

    To Dale Hobson:

    I’ve enjoyed and looked forward to your Saturday musings ever since subscribing to the NCPR’s newsletter last year. My wife and I purchased a camp on Fish Creek (Black Lake) and our only link to the outside world is radio (no satellites) and for us the only station worth having on is NCPR.

    Anyway, back to the vinyl. You have me beat; I have maybe 7 feet of shelf space devoted to lps. Not squirreled away but front and center in my music library in my basement study. And I won’t even endeavor to measure the cds.

    Music is a mind-altering substance. And yes, the bringing of a 12″ lp into the house back in the day was an event. Examining all in minute detail with (hopefully) lyric sheets and lots of photos on the record sleeve.

    It’s been years in the completion, but the entire collection has been recorded onto cd and downloaded/transferred/digitized to me desktop pc and compiled onto other cds. It’s quite the extensive collection.

    First lp ever bought for myself? Electric Light Orchestra’s 1979 “Discovery”. Glorious gatefold jacket with rich Arabian art and photos of the band members and lyrics. That was heaven and mind-altering in a good way.

    Like lots of things with the digital revolution, ownership of the physical has gone by the wayside and collections such as ours can fit on an MP3 player or in the “cloud” or digitized in some fashion that “exists” somewhere but not on a shelf. No more kicking back in the recliner with record jacket and sleeve in hand and having a multimedia 40-minute experience.

    The analog sound was richer (there was simply more “sound’ there) as compared to digital files. That’s why, Dale, if you have the time and want to preserve that glorious lp sound (and not have to get up to flip the record), I suggest getting a top line cd recorder, and record your lps onto disc. This captures the rich lp analog sound in a digital format with all the sound that was originally there. Downloading the same lp is never going to sound as good because there’s so much “less” of it there to start with.

    Keep doing what you do, and thanks for the trip down memory lane,


    Alexander Korycinski

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