|My Promotional Copy of An American Prayer (1978)|
This week for Sue’s Sunday Sojourn (SSS) I will be covering Led Zeppelin. SSS started out as what I thought was a cool idea and many of you confirmed that it was. This is only the fourth set I’m preparing and it has already evolved into much more for me than I had ever dreamed. Judging from the reaction after the recent Jethro Tull set, I think it has for you too. My prep for this set has taken on a process and a formula and I’d like to take a minute to share it with you along with some thoughts, plans and updates.
The idea behind SSS was never to tell the story of the artist or band, but to tell my story. How did I first learn of them? What special memories do I have? Do I have any fun anecdotes or stories? A good example of this was my blog post on Jimi Hendrix. I never covered his second band, Band of Gypsies, nor did I cover any of his other albums (Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, etc.), besides his debut and a few posthumous one. I never even mentioned the drug charges or trial in Canada. It was never my intention to tell Jimi’s story. I wanted to tell my stories and memories.
The set itself would let you into my library and really allow me to share with you some precious gems I’ve accumulated through the decades. Instead of playing only the hits, I can showcase a few interesting curios I have and share things with you I might never get the opportunity to otherwise.
I now have a set procedure for how I put this all together and I look forward each week to doing this. I sit on the floor in my living room with a stack of vinyl by the band in question and the occasional CD. Almost every CD I own is ripped to my music drive, which I attach to my laptop and open on the floor with me. With a pad of paper handy, I begin. I do this every Tuesday now and I look forward to this time every week.
I go through the stack, taking my time and the memories flood back. I’ll come across an item I forgot I had, or maybe there is a fond memory on how I obtained a particular record, like running out and buying Songs from the Wood the next day. Memories come to the surface of my radio station days and sometimes events and concerts too. There are some things that come to mind that I haven’t thought of in decades.
I take notes as I do this and those notes grow into the blog post. This I mostly write from my own memory and I do no research. I do look up the occasional date or fact, like I had to look up the year Jimi went into the Army and I had to look up the date of Jethro Tull’s keyboardist’s sex change operation, or the fact she changed her name to “Dee.” So, a few of these little facts I do look up but it is mostly created from my own memory so I warn you now. There are probably errors. After all, you are looking at things through my eyes and memory and I am not perfect by any stretch. Doing a researched term paper each week wouldn’t be fun, but sitting down with friends and reminiscing just from my head has become cherished time for me.
This session ends with a list of the curios and notable special items I plan to include on my set list. Some of these I need to rip from the vinyl but often I have digital copies already on my music drive. Next, I go to my desk top computer and I enter in the list so far, as the beginning of a set list. I then go through my digital library once again adding the songs I feel should be part of the set including studio versions of the hits and a few obscure ones that happen to be personal favorites of mine. I look at the list when I’m done and it is seldom two hours or less. It is usually a lot more and I begin the process of trimming it down. Which ones can I live without? I could not get the Stones set down below two and a half hours and I’m afraid Led Zeppelin will be the same deal, but I did for Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Tull. There will be the occasional two and a half hour set, I’m afraid.
During the rest of the week, I take my notes and I write the blog post when I can find the time. That is pretty much how I do it. I find the process quite enjoyable as I recall so many wonderful things.
A Word about DJ Sue’s Music Vault…
I often throw the term around, but what is the vault really? Let me start by saying it in no one place or thing. My vinyl collection started with the first record I ever purchased in 1968 or 1969. It has grown into the monster it is, due to my life long obsession with music. By the time I graduated high school, I had a music library that was amazingly impressive for anyone, let alone an eighteen year old.
My obsession continued after graduation but it was when I began working at the radio station that it turned into a full blown disease. Radio stations could get promotional copies of albums to be used for airplay. Sometimes the record company might supply the first one for free, but the station could obtain additional copies for a nominal fee of like fifty cents (50¢ or $0.50). Our Music Director would take orders every week and we could get albums at the station’s cost. It was not unusual for me to get like 20 in one week and this added up over a few years. The only catch with a promotional copy was that the record company retained ownership and could demand the record back at any time, but that has never been known to happen. From this point forward in my life, the biggest concern when I move is not my furniture, it’s my vinyl.
|Close-up of the "Promotion Copy, Not for Sale" sticker on the above pictured album|
Compact Discs (CD’s) came out in the 80’s and soon I began amassing those. I no longer worked at the radio station but a portion of each paycheck went to music. Some of the CD’s I bought were replacements of well-worn vinyl, like Songs from the Wood, Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt. Pepper or Led Zeppelin IV, but there were plenty of new additions too. As we started the new millennium, I began to rip my CD’s to my computer and start my digital library. I now often download my mp3’s directly to my drive after purchase
Today, my library is quite substantial and I have not met anyone with a larger one than mine. At the base is a Western Digital 4 terabyte Passport Portable hard drive. This contains the music library from which I DJ from every week. Most of my CD’s have been ripped to it and I buy music digitally each month to add to it. In my living room one wall, floor to ceiling, has a shelf unit that is all vinyl. On the adjacent wall is a less substantial, though still impressive, CD rack full of CD’s. This holds the CD’s, though ripped, that I want to keep at hand for reference. All of my other CD’s are packed away in my storage unit, which I guess is a vault annex. In my spare bedroom is another wall of shelves, more vinyl and in the closet of that bedroom are milk crates of vinyl. It is all organized so I can find anything almost instantly. I’m afraid my disease is now terminal.
What Bands Do I Plan to Cover…
So far, here are the ones scheduled:
Led Zeppelin – February 5
Linda Ronstadt – February 12
The Moody Blues – February 19
Here is a list of the ones I’d like to do (no particular order):
Paul Revere and the Raiders
Crosby Stills & Nash
The 13th Floor Elevators
Eric Burdon & the Animals
Blue Öyster Cult
Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Neighb'rhood Childr'n
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy
The Electric Light Orchestra
The Grateful Dead
A Word on Requests…
I usually love taking requests but I don’t think they work here. I recently got a request for an artist and I have already placed them on the schedule for February. I said “yes” because I hadn’t realized how important it was to have a lot of special memories tied to the band or artist, hence the list I made above. I also find it hard to say “no” to anyone. If the person who made the request is reading this, please don’t feel bad. I agreed but I am still learning about this process and myself. I had not realized these things before.
Please, do not request I do “this band,” or come at me with “I don’t believe so-and-so is not on your list.” If I agree to add them, and knowing me I will, this will become a chore and I will burn out pretty quick.
The same goes for individual songs. I spend about three hours on the floor and at my desk setting up just my two hour set list. What’s the point if I get a bunch of requests for this song or that one? The requests I have gotten so far were all already on the set list so I just changed the order, but please don’t make requests. I will probably say “yes” to it and end up dumping a song that was important to me to include.
This has become something I truly love to do, even though setting it up takes several hours a week. I figure if I do one every week, the above list should last until the end of September. I’m usually not about “me.” I often work in the background and try to serve others, hence I have trouble saying, “no.” However, if this is to work and not become a chore each week, it needs to be about me. It needs to be the bands I have lots of fond memories of, my memories, my favorite songs, etc., else it loses the original spirit and meaning. If I’m to have fun, it needs to be about me, for once. I’m sorry if this offends or upsets anyone.