Before there was streaming, viral media, sub-Reddits, hashtags, and a sea of cellphones at concerts, there were songs to be listened to, album covers to ponder, and liner notes to be parsed.

The first music that resonated in my young and impressionable ears burst out of 45s played on my older cousins’ monaural record player: Beatles, Stones, Monkees, Byrds, Lovin’ Spoonful, Turtles, Dave Clark Five, Peter and Gordon, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Chad and Jeremy, and countless other bands and one-hit wonders. At home, I fell asleep each night to the playlists on WABC-AM, and later on to WPLJ-FM in New York, the DJs seducing me from a radio housed in a Sony cube alarm clock, listening as long as I could until I drifted off to sleep. And so, consciously and subconsciously, the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies of that music marinated my brain in pop goodness and sent me off in search of something I couldn’t put a name to.

Until I found the guitar.

I took lessons, learned folk songs from my mother’s singalong book and Pete Seeger records, and tried to solve the mystery of how I might make the leap to making music like that on my cousins’ 45s. The answer finally came in the form of an electric guitar (Univox), a coil cord (Sam Ash), and an amp (Fender Vibro-Champ).