First single ever purchased: Mississippi Queen, by Mountain
What I know: I was seven. Earlier, my parents had made the mis-timed choice of taking us on a family driving vacation through upstate New York; I remember looking out of the station wagon as we slogged through endless traffic jams of horrifyingly pitiful people heading into/out of Woodstock. 1970 Bloomington, on the other hand, was simmering rage and protests on Dunn Meadow and People's Park. My cousin, probably 12 years older, was in the SDS at IU. The world seemed out of kilter.
I probably first heard Mississippi Queen on WNAP, out of Indianapolis, while watching my brother the pyro igniting piles of homemade gunpowder on the model train tracks. Now I hear a cross between Cream and Hot Tuna. Then, I only heard heavy, sludgy guitar runs. I had to have it. Purchased at Wasson's department store.
It was not the first single that I ever owned. That would be a copy of The Royal Guardsmen's Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, given to me by my parents a year or two earlier. It planted the seeds of garage rock deep in my identity: Vox and Rickenbacker guitars, Farfisa organ. In the video, there's a guy who dances and shouts like he could be in Happy Mondays or the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Exactly 40 years later, I would learn that the Royal Guardsmen are the only band to break big out of Ocala, FL.