Steven Halpern on Christening for Listening


christeningSteven Halpern is yet again sharing a great piece of New Age music history with us. This time it is about his Christening for Listening – A Soundtrack for Every Body album from 1975. He writes:

Over the past several years, I’ve been receiving more and more requests from long-time listeners who have been waiting for me to release CDs of my earliest releases, from 1975 through 1985. I’m always delighted to hear from ‘early adopters’, because they were the ones who helped establish the commercial viability of the field.When I approached metaphysical bookstores with my first vinyl album, CHRISTENING FOR LISTENING, I was typically told, “We don’t sell music. We’re a bookstore, (or a crystal store.) “Cosmically, as I was holding up my album, an older woman walked by as I was speaking with the manager and said, “Ooh, I’ve been looking for music for meditation. Can I buy that one?” At which point I sold my first dozen albums to the first store, East West books, then located in Menlo Park, CA.Q. Why hasn’t that album been for sale?

Today’s sneak preview announcement: It will be, within a month. Bur first I’d like to explain why it’s been unavailable for so long.

There are five reasons, and on its 39th anniversary, I’d like to take a moment to share them with you. Hard to understand.

1. I recorded the entire album in one weekend session. I had planned for each chakra to have a 3 minute composition attuned to its keynote, but did not use a clock. Several of the tracks were longer, and the 25:52 running time was longer than the limitations of the LP vinyl format would allow. After I pressed the first 1000 records, pressing plants refused to repress, and advised me to re-record a shorter version.

2. Even though the album was an immediate hit in the target market, I got a number of letters strongly urging me to remove the 10 minute up-tempo jazz/rock medley on Side B. They didn’t want to get up off the couch, or bed, to stop the music before it shifted from meditative to rhythmic.

I agreed, and hastily recorded a replacement track to ensure that the entire album remained in the meditative, healing mode. In truth, being in the first 8 track recording studio was like being a kid in a candy store. On that jazz/rock track, I tapped into my roots as a musician, and played trumpet, bass, guitar and electric piano. It was all spontaneous, one track unedited overdub for each instrument. Only the drummer and I jammed ‘live’, though unrehearsed.

At the time, I did not know whether this would be my only opportunity to record, so I took advantage of the moment.

Read the complete post here.