There's the influence of others, and then there are the choices you make yourself.
As a young kid, I'd duck into my older brother's bedroom and play various titles from his vinyl collection. It wasn't unlike little William Miller being handed a stack of records by his older sister Anita in "Almost Famous" — especially when I recall playing The Who's Tommy and, like, William, hearing the instrumental "Sparks." I was both DJ and a rapt audience of one as I repeatedly spun Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits, the Beatles' "Red" and "Blue" compilations, Aqualung, every KISS album up to Dynasty, Physical Graffiti, Quadrophenia, Aerosmith's debut... you get the picture.
I listened intently, while obsessively flipping through and reading the tall stack of Rolling Stone issues Jeff also had in his room. In total, it was a cascade of sound, imagery and words completely exotic and reflective of a sophistication and lifestyles light years away. As I gazed out the window and saw cows grazing in a pasture across the street, that distance could not have felt more pronounced.
However, that relatable "older sibling" influence on musical taste, as weighty and enduring as it is, isn't the focus of what I've been asked to share in this space. What follows is a recollection of the decisions I made when it came time to buy my own music. My world expanded, I conspired with friends at school regarding these matters, and, importantly, my media diet began to include MTV, so its influence looms large, as it does with any Gen Xer.
As requested by Wisconsin Public Radio Technical Producer Joe Hardtke (@PublicRadioPunk on Twitter), here are my first 10 albums, effectively the first LP purchases I made (or persuaded family members to buy me) in my youth.
At Joe's direction, this list is unfiltered, dispensing any notions of being cool (not that there was any real risk of that). Fun fact: It was the Reagan era, so all but one of these were bought on cassette.
John Lennon - Imagine
Krokus - The Blitz