Ever heard a record that made you want to get down like this little kid? The first record I ever bought on vinyl was Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I was 10, it was 1994 and the record was still bumping on the radio fifteen years after its original release. New, old, fresh, or dusty, the music got to me, put me in a mood I was unable to describe at the time. My mother had never seen me so intoxicatingly excited about anything before; she didn’t really know how to react. She worked hard with a no nonsense policy always enforced around the house. She gave me the money I asked for to get the record just to get me out of the house. “Now go on outside and play and stop pestering me,” she barked after slapping the dough in the palm of my hand. Out I went. After buying the record and enough candy to last me ‘till the end of time, I raced my bike across town – a very small town -- as fast as I could to my grandparents’ house, where I retreated to the basement for some serious privacy. My grandfather, who used to own a record store, had a lonely turntable set up at the end of the long, terribly lit basement for special occasions just like this. I got my boogie on for a couple hours, doped up on food coloring and high-fructose corn syrup, poor lighting and all.
It wasn’t long before music got to me the same way the youngest member of the Jackson 5 did. In 1995, just one year after my first magical music moment, I discovered Prince. My cousin let me borrow 1999 on cassette with the promise I return it promptly. 9 months and 101 excuses later, she was forced to steal it back from me. Prince was my forbidden fruit. Never listened to him out loud, always played him in my Walkman for fear my mother would forbid me from listening to it. I’ll admit, the vulgarity and promiscuity that Prince exudes is a bit much for any 11-year-old, but like Michael Jackson, all I ever wanted to do was dance. I had to listen to music that made me want to move, shimmy and shake ‘till the exhaustion kicked in and forced me to call it quits. Lyrics be damned-- I didn’t understand what the heck they were talking about anyway, it was gibberish to me. It was about the beat, the rhythm, and the evoked emotion.