First Music: Electric Light Orchestra + Jerry Jeff Walker

What was the first music you ever bought with your own money?

Jerry Jeff Walker’s A Man Must Carry On, AND the Electric Light Orchestra’s Out of the Blue (a double LP).

Both? That’s an interesting (a word which sounds better than wacko) combination.

I don’t know if you could buy two more dissimilar albums, but my taste has always been a bit scattered.

The Jerry Jeff thing was the result of these really cool kids I hung out with at Hopkins South Junior High.  A couple of them had older brothers who had introduced their younger siblings to Jerry Jeff.

Where did you buy them?

Third Stone Music in Hopkins, Minnesota, just across the street from Mr. Donut, where I had earned the money to buy them. My friend Dan and I actually bought the Jerry Jeff Walker album together:  I paid 2/3rds and kept the album; he paid 1/3rd and made a cassette tape on its first play.  The first side has a country dance song, a song about getting out of L.A., and one with a chorus that begins, “Up against the wall, Redneck Mother!”        

I bought the E.L.O. album on my own, however.  I hear some of the songs from that album on the radio today.

Any favorites?

My favorite track never got any airplay.  It’s called “Sweet is the Night,” (on side four) and each time I hear it, I think about this girl I had a huge crush on.  I actually fell for her the night before I bought the album.  I was at a school dance; it was the last night of third quarter sophomore year, and I was slow dancing with a girl I had been friends with since junior high.

I looked over and saw this other girl (who was way out of my league but still friendly to me).  She was dancing with a really, really cool Junior.  For the first time in my life, I fell in love in a moment.  I can still remember exactly what she was wearing.  I bought the albums the next morning, played them after work, and that one song hit me and I fell for it–sweetly–just like I had fallen for the girl.  Both of them still hold a certain power over me, to tell you the truth.

(John Zdrazil, Elbow Lake, Minnesota)


  1. Tessa · September 9, 2012

    Wow, love this. This question is such a great vehicle for storytelling. Thanks so much.


  2. Lucy · September 10, 2012

    Me too, me too for Out of the Blue! With my best mates, (who also blog, oddly enough, at The Phoenix and Twisted Rib) we had a passion for that album the last summer we were all at school together, when we were sixteen. We went to see them at Wembley Stadium, and came back high as kites, just on the music, and youth, and love. I screamed for Sweet is the Night until I was hoarse, because it was the track I loved most of all too, but they didn’t play it. They did play ‘Sweet Talking Woman’ because we shouted for it, though, or at least seemed to change the order. I too still hear some of the tracks, and they played ‘Mr Blue Sky’ at the London Olympics closing ceremony, but I’ve not heard ‘Sweet is the Night’ since I was a teenager. I think I must seek it out…

    Thanks so much for the reminder!


  3. alison · September 10, 2012

    Tessa, I loved your story about you and your brother and the bunk bed wars. Such a great tale; it’s making me smile all over again to think about.


  4. alison · September 10, 2012

    Wow, Lucy, I love this story! We were listening to the same music at the same time across the pond. I’m going to check out your friends’ blogs. In the meantime, maybe this will tide you over:


  5. Nicole · September 17, 2012

    i am loving this series so much Alison! So fun. Thanks for doing this 🙂


  6. Lucy · September 22, 2012

    Only just got back to listen, that was just fab! I had to listen twice then to some of the others… should I get it again on CD I wonder?

    Thanks again!


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