In what’s become an annual Thanksgiving celebration here at Modern Vinyl, our team of writers each reflect on an album that, fittingly, they’re thankful for. These reflections are in every way a personal spin on a traditional look at a release and we’re excited to share this series of unique recollections with you throughout the week.
My name is Deanna Chapman. I host the Missaligned Podcast. The record I am thankful for is The Clash’s “London Calling.“
The other week, someone I work with didn’t know who The Clash was and I had to pause for a moment to let that sink in. Maybe it was naive of me to assume that everyone knew at least “London Calling.” A lot of thoughts started racing through my head when I was asked who they were. All I could muster up was “an older punk band.” Looking back now, I’m quite disappointed in that answer. I could have rambled on and on about the band and when I had a chance to, I didn’t. I spent a good chunk of a quarter at Drexel reading books on The Clash just so I could write a paper about the relationship they had with their manager. I love this band after all, yet I didn’t give a better answer.
Anyways, enough of the story. Let me tell you how I first got a physical copy of London Calling, which sadly was quite late in the game after I started listening to the band. It all started when I received a CD copy of The Singles and I instantly fell in love with it. For whatever reason, though, I never bought another album of theirs until I was in college. I had started using Spotify by then, so I of course had access to their catalog, but it just wasn’t the same. So I took a trip to AKA Music in Philadelphia with some friends and started browsing the aisles, relatively uninterested in what I was seeing, until I came across a copy of London Calling for a few bucks. Now, this was before I really got into the idea of having a record playing and even collecting vinyl, so it was just a CD copy, but the case was a bit beat up like someone else had loved the album just as much as I did, and still do.
“London Calling” and “Train In Vain” remain two of my favorite songs by The Clash. Once the album started, I couldn’t wait to get through the whole thing. And I wanted to play it over and over again in my car when I was home on break. The slightly busted up case just felt so right. And then, the vinyl obsession began. It started with commandeering my mom’s record collection before realizing my parents didn’t have a record player to go with them. I then received a record player for Christmas, but after fiddling with it for a while, realized it was more for hooking up to your computer to create digital versions of the records. Not too long after that, I did some research and decided to go with buying an older, used record player since I had been told they were built to last. Long story short, the first one broke and the owner of the store was kind enough to just let me pay the difference on a different one they had since they were unable to fix mine. It was at that same store, Pepperland Music, that I finally bought London Calling on vinyl.
You’re probably thinking that I’ve said a whole lot without really explaining why I’m even thankful for the damn album in the first place. So here it is. That album is the one that made me realize how much I enjoyed the early punk era, despite not owning it as soon as I got into the band. You could even call this the “gateway” album for my foray into the punk scene. I may even be able to thank the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games for leading me towards punk music. After all, American Wasteland did have a great soundtrack and ripped off the cover of this album, which was a rip off of an Elvis album to begin with. How punk is that? So thank you to The Clash for being some British rebels, who gave a damn about their music. It will forever be a favorite of mine.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!