Here’s a postscript to the few lines I wrote about Dan Deacon’s America last week.
A couple days ago, with the best-of post still in mind, I pulled out that album and listened through it again. The song “Prettyboy,” which I hope you’re already taking in via the clip above, reminded me — with a touch of embarrassment — of an album I hadn’t heard in probably 25 years: Deep Breakfast by Ray Lynch. Released in 1984 and a gift from my hippie aunt, it was the only thing I owned, as a teenager, that fell into the category of New Age music. According to what sounds like a self-authored Wikipedia page on Lynch, I must not have been alone in my appreciation of this release: “He and his wife Kathleen sold over 50,000 albums out of their small apartment in San Rafael, California before licensing the music to a distributor.”* I played the hell out of that cassette tape, especially at bedtime, and when I listened to it on YouTube the other day I realized how deeply it’s still engraved on my unconscious. For your pleasure:
You have to admit it’s a stunning album sleeve if nothing else, an invitation to consider your place in the cosmos, or to wish you were a space alien hovering over Sedona red rocks in your spacecraft, hoping to make contact with Tom Cruise or Shirley MacLaine. Certainly, as an extraterrestrial, you would have been friendly to Earthlings, especially to Navajos and piano teachers, but all the same you would remain glad you were from a different star system. This album prepared me for Kid A, I’m sure. For the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin. For Dan Deacon’s “Wham City.” For America.
Who knows what I thought about while I listened to this album as a teenager. I do remember, though, that one night when I was 18 and back home from my freshman year in college, I took my girlfriend to the local high school football field, where we spread a blanket on the fifty yard line and listened to this — or was it Lynch’s 1989 follow-up, No Blue Thing, which I also owned and would have just been released? We played it on a beat-up old boombox, staring at an Arizona sky stuffed with stars. We weren’t supposed to speak, and we weren’t supposed to make out, though I’m not sure how well that went. Somewhere in the middle of the second side, just before the spaceships land, the sprinklers came on. We hauled in the blanket and grabbed the tape player and scrambled for the parking lot. If a door had opened up for us leading into a different dimension, somehow we must have missed it, distracted, soused, still not quite adults no matter what we thought.
And you? What’s the most embarrassing record that left the deepest impact on you as a kid? I want full confessions.
*Also from the Wiki page: “Ray Lynch, under his given name of Raymond Lynch, has been at work for more than a decade on a book about mathematics, music, and harmonics, which also explores ancient cosmologies and mythology, the nature of number, metrology, geodesy, the mathematical constants of physics, human spirituality, the precession of the equinoxes, human prehistory, and the meaning of ‘history.’ No release date as yet.”