Alison and I spent a few days before New Year’s at a converted barn near Ellenville, New York–across Monhonk Mountain from where I grew up in New Paltz. The barn was a great space with two bedrooms, an open sleeping loft, and an open kitchen-living room with a large fireplace downstairs. One of the great features of the barn, in addition to the “read one, leave one” book collection and well-equipped kitchen, was the large vinyl collection. Though it was heavy on 80s pop there were a number of rock and folk gems that we enjoyed while sipping wine in front of a well-stoked fire. Below is fairly complete list of what we listened to.
We started off with “Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs. I hadn’t known I was familiar with his stuff and enjoyed what turned out to be some familiar tunes.
I hadn’t listened to Janis Joplin’s Pearl in ages and it was one of my parents’ vinyl albums I listened to regularly. They really don’t get much better than this.
Next came One Day At a Time by Joan Baez.
Home Free by Dan Fogelberg.
Breakfast on our first morning was cooked to Beggars Banquet. It was nice to hear the album in full, contextualize the hits with the songs I didn’t know and hear the album the way it was first heard.
Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel was on very heavy rotation and was the great discovery in the collection. The album leads off with “You’re No Good,” moves on to a stirring version of “Dark End of the Street,” and peaks with the one-two punch of the tight harmonies on “When Will I Be Loved” and the what might be the best version of Little Feat’s “Willin'” out there. It would have been worth driving to and from Ellenville only to discover this album.
Alarm Clock by Richie Havens came next. I knew my dad was a fan but hadn’t heard much of Richie Havens. I enjoyed alarm clock and we bought tickets to his show with John Gorka at Joe’s Pub once we got back to Brooklyn.
We also listened to Linda Ronstadt’s Different Drum. It was good but it’s no Heart Like a Wheel.
I couldn’t resist listening to Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell though it did break the folky mood some. All I can say is that this album really comes through well on vinyl. The guitar solos just had a little something extra and the Scooter’s voice never sounded better.
John Denver’s Spirit.
We closed it out with Heart Like a Wheel, but before that we listened to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. It made me want to relisten to all of their albums on vinyl. It was just fantastic–deep and warm.