15 Stories: The First Album I Ever Bought

Our readers wax nostalgic about the 33s, CDs, and cassettes of our youth

By Nerve Readers

My very first album was Peter Gabriel's So, which I bought on cassette (!) with money that I had won from an essay contest. I think the cassette might still be in my parents' basement, with billions of microscopic holes in the tape. Remember that, kids? Playing a piece of physical media till it actually wore out? — Premee


I think I bought M.C. Hammer's Too Legit To Quit and Bryan Adams' Waking Up The Neighbors at the same time. They were both on cassette, and I listened to them both constantly. I know I was always claiming to be doing the hammer-dance, but I'm not even sure I knew what it was, as we didn't own a TV and I'm pretty sure I had never seen any of his music videos. — Rachel


The first album I ever bought was Dookie by Green Day when I was twelve-years old. I still remember the day I bought it, from the mall music store that's still there. At the time, I decided that I would always like that kind of music  music which now sounds like a pretty boring succession of three chords. I listened to that album for years; I can still probably sing “Basketcase” from memory. Dookie was, and still is, one of my best CD purchases, because for many years it was the confirmation that life existed outside of dull suburban life in Pretoria, South Africa. It told me that somewhere in Oakland, there were people who felt the same apathetic way about life as I did. — Jenna


Milli Vanilli on cassette! I felt so betrayed when the truth came out. — Merrill


I was visiting relatives in China one summer with a goal in mind to start listening to pop music before high school started. There are CD and DVD stores everywhere in China, where, of course, everything is pirated. I went in one and decided upon The Marshall Mathers LP, either because he was one of few music artists I'd heard of or that this particular CD cover was the only that didn’t appear to be re-drawn using colored pencils. That night I used my dad’s old Walkman and started listening to the CD as I was going to sleep. — Gene


My older sister signed up for one of those mail-order record deals — the ones where they give you a bunch of cheap CDs, but then sell you a CD a month for all time. (Seriously, it’s been two decades and I’m not sure her credit has recovered). You had to pick twelve albums to start, but we were kids, and we didn’t know that many bands. So we grabbed a few extras at random, one of which was Wyclef Jean’s The Carnival — which I still love. That taught me that I could really love a record by someone I’d never heard of — and that it was actually a good thing to listen to music your friends didn’t know about. Good lessons for a ten-year old. — Ben


Weird Al Yankovic, Off The Deep End, at a K-Mart that is now a Target. It was the first of many Weird Al albums I would purchase; I had some idea that the "Smells Like Nirvana" song may have been a reference to something, but the rest I assumed were original. To this day I still discover random '80s songs that I know: "Wait, I know this! This is 'King Of Suede!' But the words are different..."  Tadge


I was twelve-years old and on a field trip at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. I snuck away from the group and went to the bookstore, where I purchased, with hard-earned money, Carole King's Tapestry and Rod Stewart's Sing It Again, Rod. I couldn't wait to get home and drop the needle on my new treasures. I wore them out, then replaced both, first on eight-track, then on cassette, and finally on CD. They've remained favorites over the years. I no longer have the vinyl, but my CDs sound as good as the day I first heard them. — Max


Duran Duran, Rio, on vinyl  not because I was a purist, but because that was the only format my Fisher Price turntable would play. I was five- or six-years old, shopping with my dad in the National Record Mart chain, and was torn between some Police album and Rio, so I asked these tween girls for advice. They recommended Rio with conviction, so I bought it. It took me a while to get around to buying anything by The Police. — Kenneth


Prince's Purple Rain on vinyl in 1984. I was in third grade and the only kid in school to have it. I didn't understand half the songs, but I was the coolest kid in school. I still have the album and the mini-poster that came with it to prove it. — Jamay


Rusted Root, When I Woke. Damn straight I still own it — and love it. It’s one of the few albums I can listen to all the way through. They were also the first concert I went to without my parents. It was the first time I saw people smoke marijuana, and the sheltered, white suburban kid in me freaked out a little. — Dave


I joined the Columbia Record Club with paper-route money, and I got to pick twelve cassettes for the price of one. Among the selections I remember ordering were: Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill , The Pretenders, Billy Squire, Duran Duran, The Police’s Synchronicity, Eddie Money, Paul Simon, Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, and U2. All cassettes. I’d still have them today, except years later, when I was in college, we had a massive party at our house, and the whole collection was stolen. — Timothy


I think it was Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet, LP followed by Def Leppard’s Hysteria on cassette. I still have both (and I also ended up owning Slippery on tape and CD). I think I beat the cassettes for both albums (and Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill) to death with my Walkman while mowing the lawn — I seriously think I can smell freshly cut grass anytime I hear a song from those three albums. I was able to buy tons more, after those three  with money raised from mowing lawns, of course. — Mike


It was either Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette or Pieces of You by Jewel, both of which I will freely admit to still enjoying. My brother once made fun of Pieces of You, saying that each song started with the same chord. I protested, but he did a demonstration and was basically right. I cried. — Morgan


The Breeders' Last Splash on cassette. I was twelve. Honestly, I have no idea how this happened, because I was not cool enough — then or now — to have that be my first album purchase. I've been riding high off of that unearned hipster cred for almost twenty years now. I still bring it up whenever anyone makes fun of me for liking Marilyn Manson in high school. — Graham

Commentarium (64 Comments)

Jun 30 11 - 12:08am

The Green Day one is pretty endearing to me.

Jul 01 11 - 1:00am

Yes, I was happy to read about Dookie, considering my first store-bought record was Weezer's blue album, also at age 12. (And on cassette, because my parents made a virtue of being behind the times.) I would love to say my first record was some vintage-cool, throwbacky gem, but nope--twas Weezer who shape my preadolescence.

Jun 30 11 - 1:30am

1995, I was six years old. I used my birthday miney and bought the Take That Back for Good tape. I never admit this...I usually skip to buying Jagged Little Pill in 1997....harhar.

Jun 30 11 - 1:42am

Mom's money: Sesame Street (age 6). Allowance money: Brain Salad Surgery (age 10). My hard-earned cash: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (age 17).

Jul 11 11 - 8:14pm

ELP ROFLMFAO haven't thought about them in decades...

Jun 30 11 - 5:23am
Biggie Smalls

RHCP- By the Way aged 12. Don't really like it that much now but its a good album I suppose. Definitely not one to be ashamed of anyway!

Aug 05 11 - 1:16am

Oh yes it is.

Jun 30 11 - 7:29am

The first records I bought were Rhapsody (now: of Fire!!) with Legendary Tales, Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth and Something Wicked This Way Comes from Iced Earth. The first CD I ever wanted to have and got as a gift was a 7in/45rpm vinyl of David Hasselhoff's Looking For Freedom when I was 5 or so. Still have the record, hanging on a wall.

Jun 30 11 - 8:55am

The first albums I bought with my hard-earned birthday money was the soundtrack to Mary Poppins. I played the heck out of that album. I can STILL sing most of the songs, much to the amusement of my fiancee.

Jun 30 11 - 9:04am

the aqua album with barbie girl on it. i liked most every song on there and loved that cd intensly. thank god my music taste has matured since then.

Jun 30 11 - 9:15am

It was Christmas morning and I received a bright red plastic Fischer Price cassette player and my first tape ever - Asia's eponymous debut album. "Heat of the Moment" was the hot song at the time, I think maybe 1982, and I remember wearing that cassette out for a week straight. At least until I bought my second album Freeze Frame from the J. Geils Band. That had my next favorite song "Centerfold" on it and also the very edgy "Piss on the Wall."

Jun 30 11 - 9:35am

8 years old, Metallica ...And Justice For All. I bought it at the swap meet where they had bootleg tapes 3 for $5. I thought it would piss off my parents after seeing the 'One' video on MTV(remember when MTV had videos?), but it didn't. They were like, "Hey, at least he's into something." I also picked up Motley Crue Dr. Feelgood and G'N'R Appetite. They were OK, but the raw energy of 'Justice' still gives me goose-bumps. That record changed my life.

Jun 30 11 - 10:13am

I totally did the Columbia House thing with money from my paper route! The first album was P.M. Dawn "Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience"

Jun 30 11 - 3:16pm

Thank god I never gotten taken in by them. But oh was I tempted.

Jun 30 11 - 10:49am

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness!

Jun 30 11 - 10:54am
Danielle Gibson

Stole Tragic Kingdom from my brother, and that has to count, because otherwise my first CD was the soundtrack to Starlight Express, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical about trains (trains!) and that is just the worst.

Jun 30 11 - 10:54am

Little Stevie Wonder live at the Apollo. "Fingertips".

Jun 30 11 - 11:01am

Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" on vinyl.

Jun 30 11 - 7:57pm

thumbs up!

Jun 30 11 - 11:06am
Oar Kestra

Sometime during the Carter years, there was a Tax Rebate. Mom & Dad decided that my sister and I could have some of it. Sis bought doll stuff. I bought classical LPs. I still have The Rite Of Spring and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, among others.

Jun 30 11 - 12:54pm

Michael Jackson - Thriller. I think I was 6 or 7.

Jul 17 11 - 11:11pm

u so evil

Jun 30 11 - 1:18pm

Either Michael Jackson - Bad or George Harrison - Cloud 9 (I got both around the same time on cassette). I would have been 9 or 10.

Jun 30 11 - 2:18pm

geeze sounds like everyone wuz born in 1984 or later....! Mine was Bryan Adams Reckless....and i still rock that son!

Jun 30 11 - 7:58pm
Young Punks!

Paul McCartney's first or second solo album - don't recall which one of the two.

Jun 30 11 - 2:46pm

Jenna, lets go get married.

Jun 30 11 - 7:59pm

Only if you tie me up and cornhole me every night, big fella.

Jun 30 11 - 2:58pm

Haha, I think I might be the worst one yet -- Good Charlotte. I was 10 or 11, and really, should have known better. But I didn't. After that it was Avril Lavine, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard and Panic at the Disco.

I seriously didn't even get that good music was a thing until about halfway through high school.

Jun 30 11 - 3:42pm
I got you all beat!

Crazy Horses, by the Osmonds. Vinyl. I was 7. No judgements until you hear the title track (find it on youtube)...it friggin' rocks!

Jun 30 11 - 7:10pm

Michael Jackson- Dangerous... I think I was 7? I liked the Hieronymus Bosch imagery on the album cover.

Jun 30 11 - 8:07pm

I always tell everyone my first album was an Oasis "What's the Story" vinyl. In truth though, it was a Simple Plan cd... =(

Jun 30 11 - 8:31pm

the partridge family

Jun 30 11 - 9:25pm

Billy Joel ... The Stranger, on cassette.

Jun 30 11 - 11:36pm

I was seven years old it was The Fugees...Score.

Jul 01 11 - 12:24am

i would say my first album was green day dookie, which i appropriated from my dad's cd collection when i was in 3rd grade. i learned all the lyrics from the booklet inside the jewel case but i had no idea what most of the words meant such as "melodramatic" and "masturbation". but the first one i actually bought were 2 at once and one was the presidents of the united states of america and the other was oasis wonderwall LP

Jul 01 11 - 12:45am

tidal by fiona apple, 10 years old.

Jul 01 11 - 3:19am

I broke my leg and my mom brought me to the music store to buy me a gift... I chose Hysteria by Def Leppard and to this day i'm still listening to the cassette... it makes strange noises on my favorite songs from rewinding it over and over ! Love bites !!!

Jul 01 11 - 10:19am

Rolling Stones, _Made in the Shade_, vinyl. Played it over and over on a mono turntable in a tweed box. My mom wouldn't let me buy _Sticky Fingers_--she thought the album art too vulgar. (She obviously hated "Squeezebox" by The Who: "I know what they're talking about, and it's not nice . . .")

Jul 01 11 - 12:16pm

On "Squeezebox": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9WivuyE_PU

Jul 01 11 - 11:29am
Red Octopus

Mmmm I don't remember my first album - but- I do remember my first record, a 45 by Joe Bennett & the Sparkle Tones - Black Slacks. It was the fall of 1957, I was 16 and had ridden the bus from Cranford to Elizabeth, NJ to buy it.
I don't think there were rock 'n roll albums back then; I had boxes and boxes of 45's..

Jul 01 11 - 12:26pm

that really sucks about timothy's cassettes being stolen, what an asshole thing to do

Jul 01 11 - 1:11pm

Falco's "Falco 3," with "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Vienna Calling." Terrible, but I was so into it, and I believe that I phonetically memorized the Austrian lyrics. I recall that I NEEDED to have this album, having heard it at a friend's birthday party. I was extremely amused by how ridiculous rocking songs and ballads sounded when all the same vocal cliches and conventions I was otherwise used to hearing in Top 40 songs were sung in a foreign language. Also, it made me fall in love with the parody song "Eat Me, I'm a Danish" ("the Danish was invented a long time in - I don't know - Germany?").

Jul 03 11 - 2:17am

First album I ever had was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, but that was a gift. First album I ever got
with my own money was Zenyatta Mondatta by the Police. Pretty proud of that.

Jul 03 11 - 2:21pm

The HELP! soundtrack by the Beatles on CD. I was eleven or so, still have fondness today for most of the songs.

Jul 03 11 - 8:50pm

blink 182 dude ranch. oh man. i loved every moment of that.

Jul 04 11 - 12:11am

Well someone has to be the geezer. Around 1964 in High School I bought a Joan Baez LP, a Peter, Paul and Mary LP, and the LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. During that period my Mom was convinced that Bob Dylan had totally warped my sensibilities. Apparently that was the case ...

Jul 04 11 - 12:31am

Fuck yeah, old guy/lady on Nerve!

Jul 04 11 - 12:33am

I just realized there is an older guy/lady above you, so let me say: fuck yeah, all old people on Nerve!

Jul 11 11 - 8:15pm

Wait - so, let me say: fuck yeah, all people that fuck yeah any people on Nerve!

Jul 04 11 - 6:41am

Harvest by Niel Young-money from paper round

Jul 11 11 - 8:16pm


Jul 04 11 - 2:57pm

My first album was "Help" by The Beatles on cassette (American version). I didn't have a cassette player so had to beg my grandfather to borrow his. He said it was "noise" except for the instrumental parts. Then I stole the piggybank my parents were saving for me, which was full of solid silver quarters which, even then, were worth far more than a quarter (but I didn't know) and took them to the record store and bought about 10 45's.

Jul 04 11 - 8:59pm

Bought a stereo when I was fifteen and still didn't own a real record (20 Now Hits from K-tel doesn't count). Bought Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic and Born to Run from some guy I'd never heard of because the record shop guy threw it in for a buck. Still play both copies now and again. Every scratch and pop are there waiting to remind me the story of how they got there.

Jul 04 11 - 9:59pm

First record I asked for "Sgt Pepper" First record I saved up for with my own money. "Mad Dogs and Englishmen"

Jul 05 11 - 1:22pm

Mid 70's--Eagles, Jefferson Starship, Fleetwood Mac

Jul 06 11 - 2:08pm
G Unit

Blue Oyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening album. I bought it because the grim reaper album cover looked awesome to my kiddie eyes, I had no idea who the band was. But I ended up loving "don't fear the reaper" More cowbell!!

Jul 06 11 - 4:28pm

Wild Cherry, on vinyl. From the discount bin in a Thifty Drug. Not so much because I knew who they were, more because I had saved up a dollar, and wanted my own record to play. After a while I began to identify with "Play That Funky Music", being a white boy and all.

Jul 07 11 - 8:45pm

My 1st Record was a 45 of Hall & Oates ManEater I played it on a brown plastic fisher price record player
I still get psyched when I think about it

Jul 11 11 - 8:17pm

Not Fragile, by Bachmann-Turner Overdrive

Jul 14 11 - 6:04am
Steam Powered Boy

Mine was the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever"

Jul 17 11 - 11:10pm
John Son


Aug 29 11 - 1:28pm

I love reading these articles bcaeuse they're short but informative.

Nov 17 11 - 6:03pm

i was 9 and i bought britney spears' baby one more time.....

Nov 27 11 - 3:36pm

The Ventures Swinging guitars on vinyl. The cover has 7 guitars on it which I stared at for hours