cover of Tom Morley

Interview with violinist/musician Tom Morley #vinyl



The transcript is a conversation between two friends discussing their love for vinyl records and their experiences with collecting and listening to music. They talk about the impact of vinyl records on their lives, the pleasure of discovering new music, and the regret of getting rid of their collections. They also share memories of specific albums and artists, such as The Beatles, Dave Mason, and Chicago. The conversation highlights the emotional and nostalgic connection that people have with vinyl records and the joy of finding rare and unique albums. You're listening to The Vinyl Experience on BRC and Audio.com. I have a special guest on Zoom with me today. Tom Morley is a friend of mine I've known for a very long time. He is a multi-talented musician and educator. He's played violin and or fiddle, depending on the music format, with numerous groups, duos, trios, quartets. He's played for a number of years with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and a great group called Mithral, based out of the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Tom and his wife Fran now live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and leads a weekly Facebook violin play-along session, which we're going to talk about in a bit. Please welcome my friend Tom Morley. Hi, Tom. Hey. How are you, Tom? Good. Just a couple of Toms here. How are you? I'm doing fine here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You're right. Ever since the pandemic, a big majority of my focus went online. I do have, since March 2020, a successful run of online sessions, both on Facebook and Zoom. People tune in from around the country and even farther away, Scotland, Ireland. It's been very unique. I had no intention to do anything like that. I hadn't done any online thing other than obvious Facebook posts, I think, about the best you could imagine up to that time. I've become fairly savvy on it all. It's been a crazy different profession for me or a different version of my teaching and sharing tunes and that sort of thing. It all went online. I had a quick learning curve, of course, obviously, but now I feel real comfortable. I'll have, on a Zoom session, I'll have 20 or more people on the screen and be able to lead them. Also, during the pandemic, I was teaching at various fiddle camps and string camps. Those went all online and some still are. I can have 50 or more people on the screen and still do these string camps that I would have been live in person for before. Crazy world. It's fantastic. I'm sure, like you said, who'd ever thought that something like this would grow just exponentially? I think that's a tribute also to your style of teaching and making the material easy and saying, hey, it doesn't matter what level you're at, come and join us and let's play along and have fun. I know for a fact, since I play acoustic and I join you on these Facebook sessions whenever I can, that's been great fun because for me, learning how to do that Irish rhythm, there's a specific way to play. It's not so much about the left hand holding the chords, but the right hand and everything you're doing there in order to support and drive the song. That's one of those things. It's been great fun. I told you before, I promise you, I'm going to stop in your place one day and bring my guitar and we're going to have a session, man. That'll be fine. If you're coming through Chattanooga, you let me know. Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Let's get on to one of the things we talked about the other day, which you mentioned, referred to as your sad vinyl story. Right. You said you wanted to interview me. I said it would be an interview full of regrets. That's what you want. What's funny is that you're not the only one. There are tons, millions of people everywhere, people I've run into and I've talked to them about their record collection. They have this downcast look on their face when saying, oh, let me tell you what happened. I have a story just like that. Please share. Well, yeah. I think most of us boomers, the majority of us did get rid of our albums at some point in the late 80s or early 90s, I guess, would be, you couldn't even buy albums. CDs completely and cassettes completely took over. At this point, I was still in Nashville and my favorite place to go is Tower Records. Oh, yeah. Tower Records. Oh, my gosh. I told people, if you can't find me at home, go to Tower Records. That's where I'll be at the end. You'll be able to bump into me there. But I'll see hours, many fond hours looking through this stuff. But the vinyl department got smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. And then the CDs took over and they had the long boxes so that they'd fit in the old vinyl. Yeah. So they were 12 inches high and you'd flip to them that way. I used to even save those boxes for a while. But then, yeah, until the vinyl was a tiny little one bin left of whatever mixed stuff. And I think we all said, well, I think that's it. And so we bought all the CDs and replaced a lot of our LPs, I'm sure. That's another thing that Baby Boomers did. I can't think how many times I bought Rubber Soul at this point in every configuration. But yeah. And somebody made me a deal. I had over a thousand albums, well over a thousand, maybe fourteen hundred plus and that I'd collected. And yeah, OK, you know, less than a dollar a piece. And then, oh boy, I'm rich now. But I had so many. I was a completist. And growing up at all the albums, all the Beatles is what got me started. I pulled a few out. I wasn't sure that we were going to be on video or just audio. But things reminded me, still had my original copy of Rubber Soul. Oh, maybe my first album I ever bought with my own allowance money. You know, that's my parents had a furniture store where you used to buy records. That's a that's a UK copy, isn't it? Yes. Yes. Oh, you're too. I'm not sure I that's I don't have the original anymore. Oh, no, no. Of course. No, but you had all the UK and the releases. But you're right, because it's yeah, no, no white. You could tell. Right. Oh, you got you caught me. Oh, no, no, no. Get away with that. Not say anything. And to be honest, I just read something the other day on one of these Facebook forums, of course, that I'm a part of. And one of them mentions about vinyl records. And this guy was trying to make a case of why the American version of Rubber Soul was even though it was a quick thing that Capitol did, you know, to try to move tracks over and create a down. Exactly. So by what the plan was, evidently, according to this person who wrote, it said that Capitol moving a couple of acoustic songs from help over to this and then deleting some of the other tracks, they actually created something that was supposed to be more in line with the folk rock. Yes. Of that time, beating with the birds or what have you, you know, right? Yes. And, and, and, yeah, I've read that same interview, the man who was in charge of trimming tracks and being able to make an extra Beatles 65. And exactly. The extra albums were where we only got 10 tracks on an album. And I have both and I'm in the seat once again, and how many times have I bought Rubber Soul, but I also have the, the CD that was re-released as an exact copy of the American release. Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. Oh, it's so much. Have you seen that? I mean, that's an, this is an exact miniature copy of the original American. No, I don't think I've ever seen it. Yeah. They put, they put out one of everything and when you pull it out, it even still has the, uh, you know, capital at the time. Oh, how awesome. Yes. So that's a fun thing that, that I like. So I'm going to, uh, I'm going to drop in a track from that in our segment right now, and I'm going to play, I'm looking through you. Oh, my favorite, my favorite song. Yes. Because that's got the false start in it. Right. On the American version. Yeah. And, uh, you know, oh, we're going to geek out here for a bit, but I'm going to play, I'm looking through you right now on the vinyl experience. What did I know? I cannot hear. I'm looking through you. You're not the same. You're thinking of me the same old way. You were above me, but not today. The only difference is you're down there. I'm looking through you in the wind. Why tell me why did you not treat me right? Love has a nasty habit of disappearing all the night. I'm looking through you. Where did you go? I thought I knew you. What did I know? You don't look different, but you have changed. I'm looking through you. You're not the same. Maybe I've changed. I'm looking through you. That was the Beatles. I'm looking through you. Man, that brings back so many great memories. You were starting to show me another one there. Well, another capital CD release of the Yesterday and Today that included a sticker that you could stick over top of the original Butcher cover. So I've got that too. I thought I collected everything Beatles related, and I've never seen that before. You can get all the Beatle capital releases as albums, and their little paper, their exact replicas. Oh, that's fantastic. Yeah, I like those. That's great. Well, I never did get rid of all of mine, much to the chagrin of the missus. We moved out to Texas for a few years. When I was doing, I got back into the active duty Air Force stuff, and then moved to D.C., and I, hey, the Air Force paid for the moving. So I said, box all these out. Okay, then, yes, because they're incredibly heavy and take up huge amounts of space. I went to, my albums were in a, I found a company called the McCoy Coop Company, who made chicken coops of all things. I found it like an apartment life magazine, and I bought 15 chicken coops that were open on the end and were meant for albums, and perfectly fit about 100 vinyl albums. And of course, you line a wall of your place, your den, or your second bedroom, or whatever, and that's a whole wall, and it must weigh hundreds of pounds. And that's how I kept mine intact for so many years. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Now, I did keep some. Now, this is my actual original copy of Magic History Tour, which I still love because it has a booklet in it, a little, it goes along with the, and cartoons in it. Plus, my favorite track of all time, maybe, which is Penny Lane. Oh, yeah, absolutely. I also did keep some things like my copy, this is my original copy of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Yes, yes. And I was a huge Jethro Tull fan. And these are my original copies of Benefit, which is really cool. I didn't keep Stand Up, which is stupid. And the Big Tooth album set in the booklet of, with the Living in the Past. These are real, yeah, they have a lot of story in my life. So, let us close our eyes, stop trying to lie, go on much faster. Oh, yeah. Living in the Past, Jethro Tull. Need to bring back a lot of memories when I, when I, and I'm glad I kept a handful, at least. You talked about how it's hard for us. Well, actually, I even heard a reference that someone mentioned some time ago about typically in your early 20s, sometimes your late teens, early 20s, is really when the majority of your musical education happens. A lot of the music of your time, because you're learning who you are, and the music that you listen to that really speaks to you and just ingrains itself. It's so hard to move away from that in a certain sense. You learn new musical genres and new favorites and so forth. But ultimately, there's always a special place that you can, you go back to and listen to music that you grew up with. And it just has a certain harmony. It's like fused to your memory, in a way. Yes, yeah. And yeah, because when you're growing up, your brain, you know, that you, and you connect that so closely. That's the soundtrack of you growing up. Exactly. You know, really. And so that's with you forever. I'm sure people, once again, can remember exactly where they were when they saw that Beatles album or whatever in the store, and they bought it and brought it home. And of course, back then, you know, you'd listen to him over and over and over again. You'd get, you'd look at the album cover, and you'd study it, and you'd look at the lyrics, and you'd live with, you know, it became a part of you. And it was not disposable in any way. It was pretty important. And I think us baby boomers grew up at some of the best time of music because, you know, the Top 40 could have Hey Jude on it, and Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkins, and What a Wonderful World, or Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong next. And, you know, Born Free, you know, and Herb Albert and Tijuana Brass. I mean, you loved everything. All the, you know, you didn't compartmentalize music, but, you know, the Top 40, as I would listen on WLS in Chicago, had everything on it. Oh, yeah. That's one of those things that we didn't have the sharp divisions of all these categories. People on satellite radio or just anywhere that they listen to music, they're left on their own to discover things. And because it's just subdivided so hard in that respect. In our day, they didn't have any of that. They just piled it all on one station, and you liked it. Something really spoke to you. Amazing arrangements as well. So many of the songs of the day had amazing full orchestra arrangements underneath them, strings and all. And me growing up learning to play the violin, you know, that was as important to me as hearing Bach or Beethoven or anything. You know, you think of Up, Up and Away, Fifth Dimension or The Beatles, you know, and just suddenly the whole strings would come in. And it was just an amazing time to hear these great arrangements. You mentioned about all these different types of musical genres. One of the favorite things that I've had the pleasure of, it's pretty interesting when you run across some of these videos on YouTube and, you know, they're doing a reaction video to something. And they go, oh, we're going to play The Carpenters' Superstar, I think was the track I saw. This young lady listened to Karen Carpenter, the first verse, and she had to stop it and start wiping the tears from her eyes because she thought to herself, I have never heard someone deliver a lyric or a sound like that. Because, you know, not saying that there's anything wrong or different, you know, but today in YouTube or at Pro Tools and all these folks that are recording, you could get anyone to sound like, you know, anything you want, you know, but with all the technology tools that you have. But go back when they didn't have those things and one or a band or a group come and just deliver something that is so profound that it just takes them by surprise. And of course, those of us boomers, we sit back and go, yeah, we could have told you that. Every day you turn on the radio and within an hour's time, you wouldn't believe what you heard. Yeah, I know. Exactly. You would have the education in music that you just would not believe that is possible. That's fantastic. Do you have any other favorites that you want to share? Some things that you were talking about? How about the one that got away? Yeah, one that you really just, oh, that's a head slapping moment. I'd have to think about that. The first couple REM albums, Murder and Reckoning, real sad that they got away. And I had Colored Vinyl. I had plenty of neat things. Dave Mason, Alone Together. I remember that being on the Swirly. Do you remember that? The reason I remember that is because I was at Seasick Records in Birmingham. See, you remember where you were. Yeah, about, well, this was recent, Tom. This was a week before Record Store Day, which was on the 22nd or the 23rd of April. Yeah. And they had boxes and boxes. I guess they were trying to clear out a lot of inventory of things that people have just come and maybe they had duplicates of or they, you know, that didn't move or something in a certain amount of time. Boxes and boxes of them that were listed at three dollars a piece. And I start flipping through and I'm trying to find, oh, let's see if there's anything interesting here. You know, there's a lot of Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones and what have you. You know, nothing against Tom Jones fans or Engelbert fans out there. Not at all. But then I came across a British copy of Alone Together by Dave Mason. Yeah. And it's on the Harvest label. You open it up. It's got the little poster thing, you know. Yeah. That is a fantastic album. Yes. There's every track on that is just great. I love that. The marble vinyl. No, this was just a black vinyl, but it was on the Harvest label, which is a UK. Yeah, I remember that. The marble vinyl was the one that was in America. Yeah. Yeah. And then another one I found, I know you would love this one, too, is the first album by the Chicago Transit Authority. Oh, yes. A great double album set. All those early double albums, I played the absolute bejesus out of those. And as a string player, but I fell in love in high school. I tried to get some of the horns from our high school orchestra and I found you could buy the arrangements in our basement. We tried to start a band like Chicago and I tried to play like I had no three chords. And of course, it's amazingly complex. But I loved it. The thing about it is I found it and it's a double album set, like you said, three dollars. And I looked at it, I pulled it out, said, well, it doesn't look like somebody had used this for a Frisbee. Maybe I can take this home and clean this up a little bit. And I did just that. It sounds great. Oh, well, sometimes you luck out. Yeah. The cover looks kind of, you know, like it'd been sitting in somebody's basement for a little while. This is my latest find for three bucks. John Barleycorn must die by traffic. And I only have a few vinyl albums now. And I just have a Victrola player from the most expensive cheap one, as I like to say. And I wish I bought a better one yet now. And I might have to at some point. But I have a lot of trouble spending $30 for any album now. I know that's the running rate, 25 to 30. And I can't do it. I just, I can't. I think I replaced Murmur for about 20 bucks. I bought the new album by Molly Tuttle. I love a variety of bluegrass and things. But very seldom can I force my... And so I should spend more time looking at the used ones because there's plenty of good copies out there. You just have to be lucky. And it's fun when you are. Makes it into a treasure hunt, I guess. I'm thinking of other... I had the gold, the yellow vinyl. We're an American band. I had Grand Funk and stuff like that. And maybe my biggest regret here, you're going to really groan on this, is that all through my life, if I would go to a concert or something, then I would keep the ticket stub and I would tape it or glue it into the album or something. And when I sold my albums, I just, I didn't think about that. I let those go too. And now, oh, where's that ticket stub from the R.E.M. concert I saw back at the Opry House in 80-something? Tom, I'll be happy to send you a bottle of Advil in the mail. Yeah. A little crying rag might help. Something I can blow my nose into. Oh my goodness. Yeah, but you know, that's what we all did. Oh my gosh. I feel your pain. I will certainly have to make sure to send you some links to my program so that you know what these original vinyl records sounded like. Anything else you want to share with us before we wrap up today? It's always fun to talk about these things, even if it makes me sad. I mean, my life revolved literally around buying albums and and enjoying them. As I told you, in college at Ball State University, I became the student, the manager of a student-owned radio station there on campus. My wife, she came in to be a disc jockey. And so we would get, I pretended like we were as big as WLS and I wrote letters and contacted Electra and Capital and Columbia and everything. And they put us on their mailing lists and would often send one or more double copies of anything. And that's where a lot of my white eclectic tastes came from all through my college years is getting these, every album that any major radio station would have, college radio was big then. And you remember Crawdaddy Magazine? Oh my gosh. Yeah. So I remember them. Actually, they had a list of college radio stations and ours was in there, you know, WAGO. You knew you were big time, man. Well, I was big time, yeah. That was my biggest days. I couldn't tell you two classes that I took at Ball State, but I can remember everything about being on the radio. You can remember every record that came in from the distributors. I honestly think I do. And so that's where I got a lot of records cheap and on the sly. But boy, that brings back so many memories of getting a box and pulling each one out and, oh my God, oh, here's the new album by Pink Floyd or whatever, and playing it just over and over. And as you walk down the hall in the dorm, there's the Moody Blues blaring out here and Genesis blaring out here. And you can just, you know, I can remember that. Probably the best memories of college, really. Like we talked about before, memories like that just ingrain themselves in your building of your personality and who you are. It's sad, you know, then you see, you know, Gordon Lightfoot passes away and, you know, one at a time, you see, and it just really hits you. Younger people don't understand. You suddenly think of all the times you heard that album and you put it on. Actually, I put it on Gordon Lightfoot. I started streaming as many acts of his that I could remember. And, you know, where you were, I remember having the single of, if you could read my mind. And, you know, it brings back tons of memories in the air. There's another guy gone, you know. Well, Tom, I hate to do this, but we have got to wrap up. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes and talking about albums and vinyl. And I've got all sorts of things I'm going to send you, Tom, so be on the lookout. You talked about regret. Oh, I know. I know what you mean. I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you so much for jumping in the program and talking about this. Let's do this again. We've got a lot we need to talk about. Let's do it. Thanks. All right. Thank you, Tom. Thanks for having me on. Back in the pouring rain, it's very strange. Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen. He likes to keep his fire engine clean. It's a clean machine. Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. More efficient fingers, pies in summer. Meanwhile, back behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout. Her prettiness is telling poppies from a tray. And though she feels as if she's in a play, she is anyway. Penny Lane, the barbershop, another customer. We see the bank waiting for a train. And the fireman rushes in from the pouring rain. Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen. He likes to keep his fire engine clean. And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen. Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. Penny Lane. What a suitable ending, I think.

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