Valley music aficionados know the face and name of Eleni Austin. She graced the front desk at Record Alley for many years, offering both positive vibes and helpful recommendations. She writes for CV Weekly, reviewing albums with insight and knowledge. Austin is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are her answers.
What was the first concert you attended?
The Osmonds at Angels Stadium, 1972. My mom’s best friend worked for Gene Autry, so we got to go to the sound check. I was 9 years old.
What was the first album you owned?
First album: The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits. First real rock album: James Taylor, Sweet Baby James.
What bands are you listening to right now?
Beebe Gallini, Derrick Anderson, Bird Streets, Chris Price, Paul Weller, Val McCallum, Rival Sons and Ani DiFranco. There’s always time for Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Prince and David Bowie.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?
Where do I start? I’m an old lady, but I try to pay attention to new stuff, since I worked in music retail for over 40 years. Clearly, I succumbed to the allure of a boy band in my youth, but the appeal of BTS alludes me.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Prince, in a small club.
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?
“Guilty pleasure” typically means corny stuff. I’m still a sucker for Donny and The Osmonds.
What’s your favorite music venue?
Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?
“Bye Bye Love” by The Cars.
What band or artist changed your life? How?
Elvis Costello. A friend gave me a Police tape for my 17th birthday that I already had. I exchanged it for Elvis’ new album, Get Happy!!, and I wore it out. It was his fourth album; I backtracked and got the old ones. His lyrics were literate and vitriolic. The melodies were crisp and concise, a cut above most new wave. I’ve opened my mind to a ton of artists and genres that I might have avoided if not for Elvis. He made a country record 40 years ago, exactly when I was deep into punk, and that made me re-evaluate that genre. He covered a Dylan song I didn’t know when I was 21 that sent me down a rabbit hole. He’s mastered a plethora of styles and turned me on to NRBQ, Richard Thompson, The Pogues, Aztec Camera, Chet Baker, Mose Allison—I could go on and on.
You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?
I’d ask Rickie Lee Jones when she was returning to the desert to play a show, because I have loved her since I was 16, and I want her to play out here again.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
I’d need four songs: Ani DiFranco’s “Swan Dive,” Beach Boys “Surf’s Up,” Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now” (the 2000 version, even though that douche-y Love Actually movie kind of ruined liking it).
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Water-gun to head: Elvis Costello’s 1982 baroque masterpiece Imperial Bedroom.
What song should everyone listen to right now?
“Crazy Horses” by The Osmonds. It’s surprisingly bad-ass.