Flavorwire Roundup: The First CDs We Ever Bought


Despite how easy it is to go online and quickly download an entire album in just a few seconds (which we are paying for, of course), there’s nothing particularly special in purchasing music from the ether. Gone are the days of driving to the mall to browse through the racks of CDs at Camelot Music and Sam Goody; no longer can we fill out multiple Columbia House order forms for seemingly free albums. CDs were the last physical music objects, and our first purchases say a lot about us as much and the time in which we grew up. (For the record, I like to tell everyone my first CD was the Reality Bites soundtrack, but it was, regrettably, the revival Broadway cast recording of Grease! featuring Brooke Shields as Rizzo.) I asked a few friends from across the Internet to share their first CD purchases. Click through after the jump, and share your stories in the comments!

My first CD was Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s Spanish Fly. Although this contains their biggest hits (“Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion” both went to No. 1 on the Hot 100), it does not contain their coolest hits (“I Wonder If I Take You Home” and “Can You Feel the Beat” are harder dance classics; “All Cried Out” is an overflowing well of melodrama, which is not cool but is very impressive). But whatever. I was a pre-gay nine-year-old. I stand by this choice. — Rich Juzwiak, Gawker

I purchased TLC’s CrazySexyCool and The Beatles’ Abbey Road on the same day. I felt very proud of my eclectic taste. — Ann Friedman, writer and editor

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians: Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars! Still have the copy too. — Ed Droste, Grizzly Bear (buy their new album, Shields!)

My sister was a member of BMG and Columbia House throughout most of the ’90s. After I was given my first DiscMan, she let me piggyback on one of her big “Pick 12!” (or something) orders — I could choose just one. So I chose the soundtrack to Jurassic Park. — Bobby Finger, writer

My first purchase was No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, which I had to buy as a replacement because I’d borrowed it from my friend and lost it or broke it, I can’t quite remember. Sadly, I think my second CD purchase was Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 2. — Chiara Atik, author of Modern Dating: A Field Guide

My first CD came with my first CD player, and it was Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch. That was a gift. A few years later, when I bought my own CDs, I purchased Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, but only because it sounded like Nirvana in my head. — Ricky Camilleri, HuffPost Live

My first CD was Pearl Jam’s Ten. Because I wanted to impress a boy who had half his head shaved and the other half really long and wore flannels and waffle-weave thermals and jeans with comically large and deliberate holes. — Emily Gould, Emily Books

Mine was a double purchase of the Wayne’s World soundtrack and Boyz II Men’s CooleyHighHarmony. I’m not sure how I afforded to buy TWO CDs at once; it must have involved birthday money of some type. From the Wayne’s World soundtrack I predictably only listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the Tia Carrere songs. Off the Boyz II Men album I only listened to “Motownphilly” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.” It probably would have been thriftier to buy some combination of cassingles. I have no idea what the third CD I bought was. Oh, wait, it was The Bodyguard soundtrack I bet. Why did I like soundtracks so much? — Bennett Madison, author of September Girls

Ha! Eagle Eye Cherry, Desireless. (“Save Tonight.”) — Edith Zimmerman, The Hairpin

CrazySexyCool. (Obviously.) — Julieanne Smolinski, writer

My first CDs were a bunch of used ones from this store next to the bakery where I worked in high school — I upgraded to a stereo with a CD player and got paid in cash. That store took so much of my money over the years and ruined me forever. They were cutouts, although I didn’t know why the UPC codes had holes punched through them. They included the self-titled album by Enuff Z’Nuff, which still rules, and Electric Boys’ Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride, which has one FANTASTIC single. — Maura Johnston, Maura Magazine

Remember those old Columbia House offers in the back of Rolling Stone? You could get “19 CDs FOR THE PRICE OF 1” and the thing is, you really could. The only caveat is that they’d keep sending you CDs every month, and it was a pain in the balls to cancel. Not that I ever tried to cancel. I’m pretty sure I did this with three different names and six different mailing clubs, not paying a single one, and as such, The Great CaseLogic Collection of 1995 was born. So, that said: I have no idea what was actually my first CD. It might’ve been a CD single, and a truly bad one, as my first two cassingles I actually do remember (Warren G and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate” and KWS’ “Please Don’t Go”). But I can only assume that the first blank I ever filled out on a Columbia House form was something (A) I heard on the radio, (B) that was also in heavy rotation on MTV, and (C) was something my parents weren’t likely to get me, which eliminates Bush’s Sixteen Stone and possibly Aerosmith’s Get a Grip. I didn’t discover Metallica’s Black Album or Crash Test Dummies’ God Shuffled His Feet until the summer of 1996. So that leaves one of two possibilities: Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill or Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill. I’m pretty sure it was Licensed to Ill, because my friends owned it on tape, I had already overdubbed theirs, and I wanted to listen to “Fight For Your Right To Party” and “Girls” on repeat, as my best friend and I pushed each other off of trampolines and tried not to put too many holes in each others’ parents’ drywall. But one of those other 18 boxes was definitely Alanis. — Foster Kamer, Complex

My first CD was Spice Girls’ Spice. Don’t judge. I was 13. — Jessica Wakeman, The Frisky

I was 13 years old, and I figured that the perfect time to get into the indie/folky/pop-crossover-y charms of the 10,000 Maniacs was at the exact instant that Natalie Merchant was leaving the band. Whatever, MTV Unplugged was everything to me and in many ways still is. That seamless run from “Because the Night” (which I still prefer to Patti Smith’s version) through “Stockton Gala Days” is all I need. — Joe Reid, writer

Talking Heads’ Little Creatures, which I dragged around with me for 20 years through three different states and God knows how many apartments until they finally remastered the catalog. I don’t think I’ve listened to the actual disc since. Maybe I’ll do that tonight. — Alex Balk, The Awl

My first cassette was (What’s the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis and I really wish you were going to ask me about that. Alas, my first CD was Sweet Dreams by hugely embarrassing German Eurodance duo La Bouche. I purchased it because I took kenpo as a kid and our instructor Louie would often play the album in the dojo while a bunch of eight-year-olds beat the shit out of each other. For energy. So, I bought the CD and practiced katas in my room to “Be My Lover.” — Ashley Cardiff, author of <Night Terrors

My first CD was Def Leppard’s Hysteria. I was fascinated by the band’s one-armed drummer, and the audacity of a song requesting my favorite carbohydrate, sugar, be poured on the lead singer. But it was the hit single “Armageddon It” that really drew me in. Even though I only knew what one of the two titular words meant, and I was not yet conversant in puns, the song spoke to me. And it said: let’s jam. — Joe Berkowitz, Fast Company’s Co.Create

I was kind of a late bloomer when it came to buying music, if you consider ten years old “late.” I was a scrappy kid, coasting by on a dollar-per-week allowance and saving up to blow my cash load on something. (I think I’d accumulated, like, $15 by the time I bought my first CD). My older broski, who’s three years my senior, was already ankle-deep in pop culture and was buying albums on the reg, introducing me to bands like Pearl Jam and Goldfinger that I would drink to forget years down the line. One day, we went to a record store called Scotti’s in Summit, New Jersey, and I decided it was time to start my CD collection. So I did what any sage young sprite would do at that age and picked two albums off the new releases shelf that had fun-looking covers: Dave Matthews Band’s Crash and The Cranberries’ To the Faithful Departed. Yes, my taste was as garbage then as it is now. I took them to the register and the cashier rang them up. Only problem? $15 does not get you far in the land of DMB and Cranberries. So, I remember making a decision that I would forever remember: I pushed the Cranberries album to the side and went home with my freshly purchased copy of Crash. I think I listened to it once. The moral of the story: don’t buy albums based on their covers. Also, don’t buy Dave Matthews Band albums. That’s all. — Steven J. Horowitz, MySpace

Sore subject, but apparently I’m not alone. I always try to lie that my first CD was either Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill or even Ace of Base’s The Sign because both came soon enough after and are less embarrassing than truth, which is that my first full length CD was Aqua’s debut, Aquarium. As an aside, I’d like to note that my first “cassingle,” or cassette single, was Monica’s “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days).” Aquarium was the one with “Barbie Girl” because I wasn’t even cool enough to appreciate Aqua b-sides, although I still have a fondness for “Happy Boys & Girls,” the first track, which had a message from Satan hidden inside if you played it backwards. J/k, that’s a total lie. But to be honest, it could be true and I wouldn’t even know because it’s not like I also had it on vinyl. See, that type of shit would’ve totally redeemed me. — Lindsey Weber, Vulture

I don’t remember my first CD, which is funny because I know my first cassettes (purchased in one trip!) were Faith No More’s The Real Thing and Warrant’s Cherry Pie. I can also confirm that the first and only CD I ever stole was Hole’s Live Through This, which was in ’94. I take very lame pride in that. I stole it from Blockbuster Music. — Blair Koenig, author of STFU Parents: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare

The first CD I owned was an Christmas-stocking compilation of big numbers from Broadway shows; I played “Oklahoma!” during an elementary school project on the 50 states but generally favored Andrew Lloyd Webber. My parents also bought me Paul Simon and Miles Davis records, and that was nice. But the first CD I remember buying for myself was Madonna’s 1990-2000 greatest hits compilation, GHV2. This whole thing feels really late in life, but I tended to listen to Top 40 radio, not albums. It also feels like a really big cliché, but things become cliché for a reason, I guess. I listened to “Deeper and Deeper” on the big headphones at a Borders because I had a notion that I really ought to love Madonna, and I bought the album with what must have been babysitting money. The Erotica/Ray of Light/Music eras of Madonna are now the only ones for which I feel any unironic affection. Maybe it’s just Stockholm syndrome, in light of how often I listened to the record while trying to convince myself she was not just an icon but an artist. (“Deeper and Deeper” and “Secret” are both legitimately great, though.) Seven years and many (marginally) better music purchases later, her Hard Candy was, though I didn’t realize it then, the last physical CD I’d ever buy. — Daniel D’Addario, Salon

It sounds like I’m lying, but it was the double CD set of Into the Woods. Those CDs were a revelation, because unlike the tapes, or — because I’m really old — the records, which only had selected lyrics printed on the back, you got that whole little booklet in the middle with the entire libretto in it. Which I would just read, over and over again, even when I wasn’t listening to CD. I used to see this man around the NYU campus who was obviously some sort of savant, who was always sitting in Starbucks or wherever with this sheaf of sheet music, conducting whatever was in his head… That’s not too far off from me, as a child, with lyrics. — Rachel Shukert, author of Starstruck