3:17pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Mom And Dad's Record Collection

Loving An Album To Death Makes A Music Fan For Life

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 5:19 pm

All this summer, All Things Considered is digging into the record collections of listeners' parents to hear about one song introduced by a parent that has stayed with you.

Among the many records Darrin Wolsko spun while donning a red cape around 1985, The Beatles' self-titled release best known as The White Album got the most plays — "to the point where I destroyed the album. I shredded this album to pieces," Wolsko says.

"When I hear the jet engine [on 'Back in the U.S.S.R.'], it really does bring me back to that point when I was a little kid in my room playing these records," says Wolsko in an interview with NPR's Melissa Block. "And it was my dad's copy of The White Album."

Darrin's father, Paul, went into the Army in 1966, and when he got out three years later, "the whole country had changed; it wasn't the same America."

"The big FM stations were blaring the same thing every day, and it became a pain in the ear," says Paul Wolsko. "So I started buying up albums. I picked up The Beatles' White Album and, to be honest, I didn't even like The Beatles. I liked certain songs, but like every album you buy, [there's] some good stuff, there's some stuff you're not crazy about. I played the White Album, but I wasn't the type of person to listen to an album endlessly."

"I was," his son quickly replies. "You know, the importance of music in my life is really because of the guy sitting across the way from me. The fact that he let me destroy a numbered copy of this White Album — you know, you could've put me through college with this thing."

With about 500 to 600 vinyl albums at the time, Paul was very protective of his record collection. But working two jobs, it soon became too much to keep up.

"So I figured, 'Look, what good is a souvenir?' It's like a little bit of feng shui," Paul says. "If it's not essential, useful or beautiful, what good is keeping it? So I thought to myself, 'Self, let him play with the albums.' And he did."

Music was constant in the Wolsko household, and for Darrin, that was and is important.

"Material possessions change, but music as this bond is always going to be between my father and I," he says. "The whole car ride up here, what did we talk about? We talked music, and we talked about albums, and we talked about the CDs he gave me to listen to last week. So 30-plus years later, we're still going strong."

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Many of you have written us with stories about your parents and their music for our series Mom and Dad's Record Collection. Today, we're going to hear from father and son Paul and Darrin Wolsko, who join me from New York. Paul and Darrin, welcome.

DARRIN WOLSKO: Hi.

PAUL WOLSKO: Hello.

BLOCK: And let's start, Darrin, by cuing up the song that you steered us to. It starts with an airplane. Here it comes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Oh, flew in from Miami Beach, BOAC. Didn't get to bed last night. On the way, the paper bag was on my knee. Man, I had a dreadful flight. I'm back in the USSR. You don't know how lucky you are, boy. Back in the USSR, yeah.

BLOCK: So, Darrin, "Back in the U.S.S.R." from The Beatles' "White Album"...

WOLSKO: That's it.

BLOCK: ...you met in 1968. Where were you listening to this?

WOLSKO: I was, oh, maybe about 1985 or so, and I'm staring at a picture of myself right now in a cape that my mom made for me. I had this little blue record player, and I used to play all these records all the time. And I would just sit and play them and play them and play them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

BEATLES: (Singing) Well, the Ukraine girls really knock me out. They leave the West behind.

WOLSKO: And this is one of the ones that I played and played and played and played and played actually to the point where I destroyed the album, and I shredded this album to pieces.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

BEATLES: (Singing) Oh, come on.

WOLSKO: And when I hear the jet engine, it really does bring me back to that point when I was a little kid in my room playing these records, and it was my dad's copy of "The White Album."

BLOCK: Let's bring your dad, Paul Wolsko, into the conversation. Where did you get the album? Do you remember when you first bought it?

WOLSKO: Well, yes, I do, but I guess you have to understand how it came to be in my house.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Yeah.

WOLSKO: I went into the Army in '66, and I was out in 1969, a couple of months after "The White Album" first came out. And then when I got out, I found out that the whole country had changed. It wasn't the same America that was there when I went in, and now, things were different. And the big FM stations were blaring the same thing every day, and it became a pain in the ear. So I started buying up albums. I picked up The Beatles' "White Album" and, to be honest, I didn't even like the...

(LAUGHTER)

WOLSKO: ...I didn't like The Beatles.

BLOCK: You didn't like The Beatles.

WOLSKO: I liked certain songs, but like every album you buy, you know, just some good stuff. There's some stuff that you're not crazy about. I played "The White Album," get it, you know, you listen to it a few times, but I wasn't the type of person to listen to an album endlessly.

WOLSKO: I was.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Yeah. So, Darrin, that's where you come in.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

BEATLES: (Singing) Back in the U.S., back in the U.S., back in the USSR.

WOLSKO: You know, the importance of music in my life is really because of the guy sitting across away from me. And the fact that he let me destroy a numbered copy of this "White Album" - there was a number of them pressed in an original pressing, you know? When I found out later that I had, you know, overplayed one of these, I said, oh, my goodness, you know, this, you know, you could've put me through college with this thing.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLSKO: Oh, I can add a little bit there.

BLOCK: Yeah, Paul.

WOLSKO: I was still into the phase where I was very protective of my record collection. At that time, it was maybe five, 600 vinyl albums, and I'd take them out of the sleeve, and I'd have this flannel...

(LAUGHTER)

WOLSKO: ...thing that took the dust off the album and...

WOLSKO: I remember this.

WOLSKO: ...I sprayed the flannel block, and I moved it around...

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Mm-hmm.

WOLSKO: ...and put it on. But, of course, you know, there was the fact that I was working two jobs and, frankly, I got tired. So I figured, hey, look, what good is a souvenir? You know, it's like a little bit of feng shui. If it's not essential, useful or beautiful, what good is keeping it?

BLOCK: Mm.

WOLSKO: So I thought to myself, let him play with the albums, and he did.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

BEATLES: (Singing) Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out. Come and keep your comrade warm. I'm back in the USSR.

BLOCK: Darrin, were there other songs on this album that you remember just loving?

WOLSKO: I remember the transition between "Back in the U.S.S.R." to - I think it went to "Dear Prudence" next.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.")

WOLSKO: I probably didn't understand it at 9 years old, but I can remember the emotional change. You know, oh, here comes "Dear Prudence."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR PRUDENCE")

WOLSKO: You know, I get that now, but I didn't get it then. You know, they had a vision in mind to take you from point A to point B, and I think I was aware of that in some way when I was a kid.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR PRUDENCE")

BEATLES: (Singing) Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

BLOCK: Paul, do you remember realizing that your son, that Darrin was listening to this one album, this double album over and over...

WOLSKO: Of course.

BLOCK: ...and over and over?

WOLSKO: Of course, because it drove me nuts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR PRUDENCE")

BEATLES: (Singing) Greet the brand-new day.

WOLSKO: There was always music on and, you know, that's kind of why I think we're here is that music was really important. And, you know, material possessions change, but music as this bond is always going to be between my father and I. And the whole car ride up here, what did we talk about? We talked about music, and we talked about albums, and we talked about the, you know, the CDs that, you know, he gave me to listen to last week. So it's definitely, you know, 30-plus years later, we're still going strong.

BLOCK: Well, Darrin and Paul Wolsko, it's been great to talk to you. Thank you so much.

WOLSKO: Thank you so much.

WOLSKO: Thank you very much.

WOLSKO: It's a pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR PRUDENCE")

BEATLES: (Singing) Look around round, round, round, round, round, round, round, round, round, round.

BLOCK: That's listener Darrin Wolsko and his father, Paul, and they're now raising a third generation of Beatles fans. Darrin's 9-year-old son and his new baby boy listen to "The White Album" on the iPod.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR PRUDENCE")

BEATLES: (Singing) Dear Prudence.

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.