First music ever bought with own money?

How old were you?

Ten, probably.

What did you buy?

Johnny Cash, at Folsom Prison. I can still see the cover and the record as it was when I bought it, still shiny and black and unscratched.

My allowance at the time was maybe $3/week, out of which I was supposed to buy school lunch. But if I made my lunch at home I could keep the school lunch money, so that’s what I did. I saved up and bought the album at a record store in Utica.

Why Johnny Cash?

He was my favorite. I grew up listening to him and to the other old-school country greats: Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette. But Johnny was always front and center, for me. He still is.

Did you ever see him perform?

I did. I must have been about the same age as when I bought the album. My family and I were on one of our summer road trips – we were in Canada and we saw him at an outdoor concert in Toronto. It was night, and it poured down rain and we sat there with our jackets over our heads. It poured on the stage too, and Johnny’s guitars kept getting soaked. When one got too wet he’d toss it off the stage and they’d toss him another one.

“If you all are going to sit there in the rain then I’m going to keep playing in the rain,” he said.

And he did.


  1. Karen · August 28, 2012

    “If you all are going to sit there in the rain then I’m going to keep playing in the rain.” Oh, I love that!

    I think the first album I ever picked out on my own (not sure I used my own money) was Elton John, Jump Up! I’m pretty sure it was for the song “Empty Garden.” I wonder if I still know all the words?


  2. oreo · September 2, 2012

    i can’t believe you saw johnny cash live. my love is going to be so jealous when i tell him. i was thinking of you the other day when we cranked up johnny cash on our road trip, belting out every word with him as the teenager rolled her eyes in the back and popped in some earbuds. there’s just nothing like johnny as the american scenery is rolling by.


  3. alison · September 10, 2012

    Karen, I love that you bought Elton John. I fully expected you to have bought some exquisite classical recording that I would then look up on youtube. But Elton John! Now I’m singing Tiny Dancer.


  4. alison · September 10, 2012

    Oreo, so with you on the road trip + Johnny equation. I swear, Johnny has a song for every mood, every place, every emotion.


  5. nicole · September 17, 2012

    what a great story! I love that he kept playing in the rain. Big Johnny cash fan, so awesome you got to see him live (esp. on a family road trip!).


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