As far back as I remember, my Dad was the one that I looked up to for musical knowledge. He was the musical one in the family, playing guitar in the evening after work somewhere in the house. Now that I think about it, I think it was more of a coping mechanism that helped him deal with the stresses of his 9 – 5 gig. Dad never played gigs in a band or smoke-filled bars to make some extra cash on the side. If he did live that rock star life style, he never told me…he found solace in playing guitar with the church choir.
It’s funny how people that you encounter in your life shape your taste in music. I’ve been fortunate to have grown up with open ears. Yes, there are things that I don’t enjoy as much as others, but I will give it a listen and then decide whether or not it is worthy of my playlists. I can’t remember how old I was when I heard Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. I do remember this…we were on vacation at my Uncle Michael’s house. He had those huge speakers from the late 1970’s. I remember one of the center cones of the speakers had been pushed in by a very young finger (not mine) but I don’t remember if it effected the sound at all.
I do remember the excitement that my Dad and Uncle Michael shared when he announced that he found his old copy of Tubular Bells on vinyl. Being inquisitive why they were so happy, my Dad just said that it was an old album that he and Uncle Michael would listen to ad nauseum. Looking at the record, I didn’t understand why there was only two tracks and Dad explained that the tracks were so long that they had to split them up. Track 1 on one side and track 2 on the other. Up until that point in my life, I don’t think I had heard a song longer than 8 minutes, and these were clocking in at about 30 minutes a piece!
My first thought about something being that long was that it was going to be a yawn fest. The only music that long was classical music, I thought. As I heard the first couple of notes on the first track, I was mesmerized by the piano. I heard nothing like it before! For the rest of the trip, that was all I wanted to listen to. That was it. To the point that my parents would tell me to, “give it a rest!”
Flash-forward to the early 90’s when Tubular Bells II was released. I recognized the iconic album art, albeit a different color from the original, at the CD store. I checked the back of the album to see if it was the same, and I noticed that there were now 14 tracks. A little confused, I brought the CD up to the cash register and inquired about the difference between Tubular Bells II and the original. The clerk said, “It’s like a re-mastered version of the original with some extra stuff thrown in, I think.”
Well, that was good enough for me. I took it home and listened to the opening piano melodies and it brought me right back to the vacation at Uncle Michael’s house in Cornwall. I always enjoyed the album as a whole and there were certain tracks that I favored more than others, but it wasn’t until I started listening to the CD through headphones that I started to really appreciate the engineering and instrumentation. Then it became my favorite album to listen to while I would try and fall asleep.
Through the miracle of modern technology, we have the ability to join CD tracks and rip them as MP3’s. So now I have Tubular Bells II as 2 different versions, the version with the original 14 tracks and the original original version with simply Side 1 and Side 2.