[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick measuring contest, but it usually turns out that way. In a couple of hours, I’m going to propose to my girlfriend. In anticipation of that, here are three records I know she hates but will have to tolerate in the name of love. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your own big finds!]
Records: Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade (1984) on black, Prince’s Purple Rain (1984) on black, and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. (1984). I didn’t plan on all of these being from the same year, but there you go.
Place of Purchase: Zen Arcade came from Mad Platter Compact Discs in West Chester. Prince was purchased at the defunct comics ‘n’ vinyl mecca Legends at the Plymouth Meeting Mall. Bruce was inherited from my folks.
Thoughts: Music has played a crucial role in the relationship between my girlfriend and I. She’s almost as big a music fan as I am. Almost. And yet, I don’t think Michelle understand just how much time I dedicate to listening to music. I play it as much as I can, and there have been times when she can’t believe how obsessive I am. Something as insignificant as a two-minute car ride still requires the perfect soundtrack. One band I went through a fierce infatuation with is Hüsker Dü. Michelle doesn’t like them because of Bob Mould’s singing voice (Too much like The Hold Steady, whom she also dislikes). Which is a shame, because I’m going to blast the shit out of Zen Arcade when we move in together. The dissonance and feedback that created “Reoccurring Dreams” will surely soundtrack many a shelf-building. Besides, it was my first Dü record. That’s a special moment for every little boy and girl.
My girlfriend loathes Prince. Truthfully, I’m not sure how any woman could love Prince. He’s been terrible to most of the women in his love life. But… but… his music from 1980 to ’87 is unimpeachable, and sporadically great after that. I started my Prince collection with a greatest hits package. When I started digging deeper, I was surprised to learn that half of Purple Rain ended up on that compilation. Then again, it’s Prince’s crossover record, by which I mean his most rock-indebted. “Let’s Go Crazy” is one of my favorite Prince songs, thanks to its propulsive drum beat and shredding guitar, although “Purple Rain” is a close second. The Prince’s vocals and guitar work are so raw on that track. Sign O the Times is better, but Purple Rain is Prince’s most accessible album.
The real test of our relationship, though, came via Bruce Springsteen. Having come of age in the ’90s, Michelle dismissed Springsteen as a joke. And to be fair, the ’90s were the worst decade for Bruce, commercially and creatively. But Michelle’s preconceptions of Bruce were ill-informed, stemming mostly from his hammy videos for MTV circa the mid-’80s. Born in the U.S.A. may have been good to Bruce monetarily, but it’s been hell on my relationship. Springsteen is a big deal on my dad’s side of the family, with U.S.A. being a sore subject. Basically, in my family, you’re a poser if you like Born in the U.S.A., with its overbearing ’production and delirious abundance of synthesizers. But it’s got some good songs. The title track is still one of Bruce’s best, angriest tunes, while “My Hometown” is a somber reflection that closes out the record beautifully. And then there’s the pop perfection of “No Surrender” and the longing of “I’m on Fire.” Truthfully, I think U.S.A. gets derided, both from hardcore fans and detractors, for two songs, sequenced back to back: “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark.” I’ve shown Michelle how many songs Bruce has that are far superior to those. Now I just need to sell her on his voice.
UPDATE: SHE SAID YES.