Can people stop asking me ‘What is the first album you bought?’. It’s annoying. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a useless trivia fact.
Whenever you’re getting to know someone and their music taste there’s always the same recurring questions: What is your favorite artist? What are you listening to at the moment? These are great. Tangible insights into someone’s taste and who they are as a person. Plus I always like to get some new music recommendations.
But the question that often accompanies this is the ‘first album’ question. We even do it on the podcast when there’s a guest on. Learning that I bought the Spiceworld tape to play on my Dennis the Menace cassette player certainly paints a picture. But it doesn’t really tell you about me, beyond the fact that I was growing up in the late 90s. You can see that with other answers to this question on the podcast: Steps (Sam), Big Hits 99 (Tom) and The Verve (James). If you mix these answers all up, I don’t think I would be able to guess who’s guess was who’s.
When talking about this question I think James hit the nail on the head: ‘At the time I didn’t realize it would be a significant life event’. And well it isn’t. At least it shouldn’t be. When I look back at my relationship with music the Spice Girls do not feature strongly. But there are other firsts that are more interesting. Or at least more telling. So how about we try some of these out to see if you agree?
What was the first album you bought with money you earned?
Well this feels like cheating as all I have done is add a condition on the original question. But I think there’s quite a difference between an 8 year old who just got a bunch of Xmas money, and a 13 year old who was earning a couple of quid an hour on a paper round. That money meant a lot more. Plus my pick of Linkin Park’s Meteora is a much more formative album for my taste. It is still a favorite, and their brand of nu-metal dominated my early teens.
What was the first show you went to purely on a recommendation?
I like this question as it tells you about the folks that were around you. Especially when you were most open-minded. For me the answer is The Rumblestrips at Brighton Concorde. Though they haven’t stuck with me, it is such a touchstone for the indie boy obsessives we all were. If there’s not jaunty and angular guitars we did not give a damn.
First song that your partner got you into?
The most influential person in my taste as an adult is my spouse. It’s not surprising as I spend more time with them than anyone else. Our first dates were littered with the questions I have been talking about. So it’s only fair that this question features. And though the answer is less cut and dry. It’s normally quite clear when one person’s obsession becomes a shared obsession. So what is my answer? It’s got to be ‘Cha Cha’ by DRAM. It’s really emblematic of a shift in my taste. As much as I still like dark and broody. What I’m looking for more times than not is music that is fun.
So what do you reckon? Can we get past the novelty ‘First Album’ question? We have a bunch of alternatives for when we are feeling lazy. And while we’re clearing house, maybe we can stop asking people about guilty pleasures.
Words by Matt Paul