Some of the best memories of my life involve music.
I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of artists, all of whom defined certain parts of my life: Childhood christmases with The Chipmunks, afternoon nap times with Abba (Super Trouper still puts me to sleep), Sunday family lunches with Ray Conniff, Sinatra sessions with my dad, racing home as a school kid to either sing along to 90s divas or “harmonize” with boy and girl bands of the time, dreaming of forming a band (Doc Martens optional) inspired by the 90s rock gods (Nirvana, baby!), saving up to make a mix tape/CD (or to just buy a very good CD, such as Jagged Little Pill or Frenté’s Marvin The Album) of all my favorite songs and play them over and over again, getting a first generation iPod to finally take my music from the clubs to my car and the office, and finally downloading Spotify (this generation’s better version of Napster) to make a multitude of playlists to match my moods.
Maybe it was because of a severe attack of nostalgia, or the fact that the people from Santa Ana Gin included a vinyl with their swag box during their online launch last year… but I suddenly found myself itching to get a record player. This was after swearing off buying one as being “too hipster” for my taste, then eventually realizing that there’s something about listening to the jazz greats I loved in their original format.
My husband being the freakishly amazing human being that he is decided to gift me one for Christmas, along with a couple of Sinatra vinyl records. This led to the birth of my new – and dangerously expensive – hobby: Listening to records over drinks and a good book.
Here are a few of my favorite drink and vinyl combos:
The Vinyl: Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits
The Drink: Beer
There is something so otherworldly about Janis Joplin’s voice, and her ability to convey the sound of her generation. Her music is so beautifully unapologetic, earthy, guttural, and rough. My all-time favorite song of hers, “Me and Bobby McGee”, makes me think of all things beatnik (peace signs, bell bottoms, unkempt long hair…), which I find perfect with a pint of beer. Nothing highbrow… Something accessible and could be bought by the case without breaking the bank.
The Vinyl: Peanuts Portraits – The Classic Character Themes
The Drink: Gin and Tonic
At first glance, people would think that Peanuts – because it’s a cartoon – is for children. The topics in their original cartoons were actually a lot more adult. They discussed racism, death, and even talked about commercialism in Charlie Brown’s Christmas. In fact, Vince Guaraldi’s arguably very adult piano jazz music served as a backdrop in some of their best episodes… a music genre that makes me think of hotel lobby bars and a good, simple cocktail such as a G&T.
The Vinyl: Ella & Louis
The Drink: Coffee
There’s something so comforting about Ella Fitzgerald’s vocals. Her smooth, ethereal voice juxtaposed with Louis Armstrong’s gravelly, sandpaper-like one is just a match made in musical heaven, which is why I absolutely needed this vinyl in my collection. Mood-wise, I love listening to “Moonlight in Vermont” on a rainy afternoon, preferably with a cup of something warm like coffee (decaf for me!).
The Vinyl: Je Ne Regrette Rien
The Drink: French wine
I mean, c’est La Môme Piaf. I’m old school, I know… but whenever someone says “French songs” to me, she’s the first chanteuse that pops in my head. I love listening to her music whenever I miss Paris (more so than normal because of this stupid pandemic). What better way to enjoy her very French songs than with French wine… like a rich red for a colder evening while listening Piaf telling a British lover that it’s cold outside (“Milord”), or a crisp rosé for a sunny afternoon while listening to “La Vie en Rose”.
The Vinyl: Maria Callas in Paris
The Drink: Champagne
I recognize the irony of opera being perceived as something so bougie and finding a Maria Callas vinyl in a dollar bin in Old Temecula. Regardless, I first got interested in Callas because of her reputation as a true-blue diva and her relationship with fellow Greek Aristotle Onassis (who was married to Jackie Kennedy Onassis). I decided that the vinyl was a steal and was probably a good introduction to her music. I find that it’s enjoyable with an equally bougie bottle of Champagne… or a crémant, just to keep it in the French family (it is, after all, Maria Callas in Paris).
The Vinyl: 25
The Drink: English Breakfast Tea – with a little cream
Yes, I own vinyl from this century. There are very few artists I’d pay top dollar (and travel) for a concert, and Adele is one of them… her concert in Sydney was so worth it. While tea in a very regal cup is so fitting of her (The Queen), Adele has actually confessed to cutting back on her tea consumption to aid in her weight loss. Meanwhile, I still can’t stop myself from knocking back a couple of cups a day, preferably while listening to “When We Were Young.”
The Vinyl: This Is Sinatra!
The Drink: A double shot of whisky
Some of my best musical memories growing up involved a huge collection of Sinatra cassettes and my dad listening to them… which is why the first records Chad and I got were of Sinatra. My dad and I had different favorites… mine being “Young At Heart” (but I would go into an “I’ve Got The World on a String,” “Tender Trap,” or “I Won’t Dance” phase), and his being “Day By Day.” Sinatra was a member (if not the member) of The Rat Pack, along with entertaining giants Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin… and wherever these men went, there were parties. I could totally imagine them downing a couple of glasses of proper whisky, which is why I enjoy listening to Sinatra’s crooning over a shot (or two).
For Daddy, who shared his love of Sinatra with me during his last days. I will cherish these memories until we meet again, and I know you’ll live forever in my heart. I love you.