The Vinyl Obsession Starts
By Sharon Mitchell
I love cds. I have one whole wall covered with them in my study at Longview, and it was a long job adding songs to my iTunes when I got my first iPod back nine years or so ago. It was a small one, and so I only uploaded a few of my cds, although now there are over 15,000 tracks on my newest 160gB ‘pod.
About six years ago, we bought a vinyl converter – a turntable that plays LPs and converts them to MP3 format and adds them to your iTunes.
That prompted me to go out into the library where my old vinyl was kept, cool and flat, and virtually unplayed since we started buying cds in the early 1980s.
And then I found out that the earliest Green Day music was only issued on vinyl. Oh, dear. I swear my wallet let out a little scream of anguish.
It is sort of fitting that the very first Green Day related vinyl I acquired was Look for Love. Billie recorded this in Fiat Music, Pinole, in 1977, when he was just five years old. The song was written by the husband of his piano teacher, Marie-Louise Fiatarone, and they decided that the blond and curly angel-faced Billie was the perfect child to record the song. That started an early career for the singer, going around local old people’s homes and hospitals, entertaining them.
The single was pointed out to me as a ‘buy now’ on eBay – for the sum of $500 – or £250 at the exchange rate at the time.
I HATE bidding for items on eBay, and I was aware that the last time I had seen this record on sale, it was for £1,000. This one was a quarter o that price, and I really could not resist.
When it arrived, I almost hugged my poor postman again. It was perfect, both the record and the folded sheet music that came with it – even more so when I saw the name and address of the seller. I had read an article about the band’s use of vintage amps to get their distinctive sound, and a name had been mentioned, that of a school friend who still was involved in keeping the amps in perfect working order.
That (unusual) surname was the same as the seller, and his address was in Rodeo. In collector’s terms, the provenance was perfect.
For anyone that hasn’t heard the song, it is a sickly-sweet little ditty, sung in a typical five-year old’s voice, and over-listening may require an emergency shot of insulin! The reverse side is an interview with Billie Joe, conducted by Marie-Louise.
The first part is the intro to Maria that can be heard on International Superhits and the rest of it is just adorable. The Armstrong child claims that he has been playing piano ‘for many years …’ and says that he wants to carry on singing to the whole world when he grows up. Well, he did that alright.
In 2011, we were lucky enough to meet Marie-Louise. She is part-retired, and only works in the shop (which has moved a couple of doors down the street since the days when Billie went there for his lessons) for a few hours a week, but our luck worked, and she was there.
She is very proud of Billie, and all that he has achieved, and talked for ages, showing us one of the shirts he wore when he went to entertain the old people. She told us that she taught him to extend his arms when he finished a song, so that the audience knew when to applaud, and was delighted that he often still does that on stage. She also told us that she watched the band get an award on an Italian music show, and when asked if he knew any Italian, Billie quoted the motto of the Fiat School of Music as the only phrase in that language that he knew.
That woman has no idea what she started, and you can be sure that I said thank you to her. Several times.