99-cent Barry Manilow

He said it made his day. 

I lugged the record player and the bag full of records up the stairs and entered their townhouse. Kuz and I had picked out a small collection of vinyls to bring back, much to his roommates’ delight.

Especially our friend Kevin. His face lit up when I gave him the 99-cent Barry Manilow records we’d scored at a thrift store. 

We watched the new Walking Dead episode as a group (it’s a weekly ritual) but then rifled through the records I’d brought back. 

From Barry Manilow to Queen to Styx to The Beatles; we were happy campers. We sat around until midnight, dreading the return of classes in the morning. 

“Can we just skip classes tomorrow and do this, instead?” Kevin asked, jokingly. 

I wish.

I knitted and sang, enjoying my friends’ company.

“We listened to a lot of music today,” Kuz said.

Yeah. We really did.

What a perfect day.

Just listen

If you’ve been reading Blackbyrd for as long as it has existed, you might be aware I purchased a record player when I was fifteen (if I remember correctly). I hauled up my parents’ old records, dusted them off and stuck them under the needle. I found Joan Jett & the Black Hearts, Pat Benatar, Boston, REO Speedwagon and the like. Like anything, I discovered a favorite among them: Styx.

Whenever I put a record under the needle and let it spin with my dad in earshot, he appears in my doorway. It never fails. He’ll stand there for awhile, just listening. Each song that comes on with the different pattern of lines on the record receives a “whoa, good song!” and he’ll sit. We sit and just listen. Records are flipped, removed and added.

During the ride hom from the Bona game (WE WON AFTER TWO OTs!), I plugged in my iPod Classic and scrolled to find Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Supertramp. From there, I made a playlist and we listened to whatever song came on. The driving conditions were not preferable, and yet we sat with the music blasting, turning it up when the beat picked up and turning the dial to the left during softer parts. “Time For Me To Fly” got us to sing every word (of course, we know every word) and “Too Much Time On My Hands” got me clapping. If I know the company riding with me, I tend to play music I know they would like. The plus side with Dad’s music is this: I love it just like he does. We both enjoy it, and each time, a story about his childhood and teenage years comes out of the songs. He tells me how he was able to relate to songs Styx put out when he was a kid. He loves how their lyrics come from situations they faced in real life. Everything about Styx is relatable.

We drove those black, rainy country roads in a purply-blue Bug singing our hearts out.

I couldn’t help but think nights like tonight are what I’m going to tell my kids about.



One time we watched this concert on TV. It’s amazing (and I have a huge crush on Tommy Shaw, which is quite strange seeing as how I think he and my dad look very alike…).

It’s Blitz!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPods and the fact that I can download new music in a second, but there is still something so satisfying about purchasing a new CD or vinyl. The last time I went on a big CD shopping spree I bought MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular, Tilly and the Wall’s O and Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2. Three CDs in one trip is a lot when you figure that you have to make the time to listen to all three enough before you buy another CD to add to the collection.

For Christmas, my brother bought me Flyleaf’s Memento Mori. Album versions are always better and this was proven when I compared the quality of the songs on the CD to the versions I already had on my iPod. I thought the songs sounded great on my iPod, but they sounded even better coming from the CD.

I borrowed my boyfriend’s copy of 1997’s On The Run and have yet to even pick it up and listen to it because I went crazy buying CDs yesterday (well, not to too crazy by some people’s standards, but crazy for me).

My brother and I went to FYE and I went up and down the CD aisles looking for a trace of Tilly and the Wall, The Bird and the Bee, Eisley or Silversun Pickups. Instead, different CDs caught my eye. I picked up a copy of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz! that was only $9.99 and kept it in my hand. On the way down the aisles I picked up Marilyn Manson’s The High End of Low, some Huey Lewis and the News, Radiohead and Garbage. In the end I decided on Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Garbage and Radiohead – the last two being cheap used CDs that I had wanted but never wanted to pay the full price for.

The reason why I rarely listen to CDs anymore is because of this: http://www.last.fm/user/xEmilyBemilyx

My friend got me hooked to last.fm and I eagerly started to build up my profile and play count (I failed to realize I could have scrobbled in what I had already listened to on my iTunes from years previously – if I had realized that I would probably be up into the 20,000s by now). What I listen to on my iPod transfers to the website to count toward my play count. This is the reason why I never listened to CDs. All I wanted was to build up my play count. But, now that I am nearly at 10,000, I feel satisfied enough to listen to the CDs I bought and not worry about it counting toward something. Though I thoroughly enjoyed listening to lots and lots of music in a short amount of time, I knew I was listening to it for the wrong reasons. I had even stopped listening to records; something I had enjoyed.

I’m done listening to music for the wrong reason. Now that I’m at 10,000 plays I feel satisfied enough to dabble into my record player/CD player/radio once again and not worry about finding my radio hookup for my iPod so that the plays count for something (what I listen to on my iPod can count for track plays once hooked up to the computer). I’m going to keep listening to the CDs I bought and not give a crap.

It all started with a record player

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a record player. I was ecstatic to find it at such a good price, and was beaming as I walked out of the store with the box in my arms.

When we got home, I immediately took it into the Living Room and set it up. My parents taught me how to use it and to be careful not to jump around whilst listening to it. My mother and I ventured into the cave (our basement) to retrieve some of their old records to bring back some of the past. We carried armload after armload upstairs to the Living Room and left them in stacks all around the room. I left the ones I bought earlier that day (Coheed & Cambria and a Fueled By Ramen package that were extremely cheap) on the couch and my dad and I had a look-see to pick out what I should listen to first.

I thought my brothers would think it cool for me to have purchased a record player, but they avoided me like I had the plague. They seemed pretty pissed off and jealous that I got to one first and because my parents’ old one needs a new needle thing. Trevor especially because I bought Coheed & Cambria. Because he likes them, I’m not allowed to. Oh well.

My dad sat on the couch as I rifled through stack after stack, holding record after record up seeking his approval. All of the ones with his name written on them were the ones approved – all of the ones with Barbra Streisand on the cover were kept in a pile that I would not listen to. Sorry, mom.

I have discovered a whole new music taste thanks to my record player (though it does have a CD player, radio and iPod hookup included, I tend to listen to records on it more). I found out that I love the bands Sweet, REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, The Knack, Boomtown Rats, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, London Town and some Pat Benatar. I still love Escape the Fate, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, and all of the other bands I have always loved, but I am now broadening my music taste. It’s cool to think that my parents played these records once at the same age I am now. I wish I could go back and meet the teenage versions of them. My mom and I would be identical, and I bet my dad and I would have fun listening to music together – just like we do now.