You ever can’t stand the sound of a person’s voice and think I wish I had my Walkman so I didn’t have to listen to them? Then you realize you haven’t had a Walkman in aeons. You’re old, possibly cantankerous and on the brink of obsolescence.
I can close my eyes and picture certain tapes I coveted, like the opaque white Ride The Lightning cassette and the OB4CL purple tape. I can reflect and pull from memory who got me into what band when they handed me a life changing object that weighed 1.1 ounces.
Thanks to Sony who dropped the Walkman in 1979, the popularity of the accessible cassette tape sky rocketed, peaking in sales only ten years later. I rocked my Walkman all through the nineties, reluctant to switch formats, I played and replayed every tape I bought from Coconuts or any mixtape that was graciously bestowed to me.
Dombo gave me a tape. It had Madball’s Demonstrating My Style on side A and 25 Ta Life’s Keeping It Real on side B. DQ gave me a tape. It had Minor Threat on side A, Tripface’s Some Part Sorrow and Youth Of Today’s Disengage EP on side B. Cannibal gave me a tape. It had Cannibal Corpse’s Tomb Of The Mutilated on side A and Decide’s self titled album on side B. All of these bands except one I still listen to on a regular basis, (Sorry Ian Mackaye) but all led to more musical exploration.
How many people listen to Nas, but will never understand the line, “Never put me in your box if your shit eats tapes.” Let that sink in. Feel that? That is you dying slowly.
I’ll continue to think about cassettes fondly and reflect how I easily I could shun the entire world by placing a tape into my walkman and headphones to my ears. It could drown out my parents arguing or any other thing that probably didn’t matter too much but at the time drove me mad. I suppose you could do it now with earbuds but it doesn’t have the same feel, nothing does.
The bulk of my collection were jettisoned with my 1987 Camaro that died on Parsons Boulevard. The entire backseat was a small ocean of tapes, and a skateboard that I was unable to do any tricks on except for a shove-it. I removed the plates and regrettably let it all go to hell.
These days I watch old shows and movies from when I was a kid with my children. Many of them can be found quite easily. G. I. Joe streams round the clock on the Hasbro YouTube channel and all of the G1 Transformers cartoons are available on the Hasbro Pulse channel. My son enjoys them as I had when I was his age.
There are certain characters he gravitates towards, but Gunnar especially likes Bumble Bee, Shockwave and Soundwave. He hasn’t asked yet but I’m waiting for it. What is it that he turns into? What are those things that fly out of his chest? How the fuck does a massive robot turn into a little cassette player? He would not be the first person to scratch his head at that.
He doesn’t even have to ask I know my son has no idea what a cassette is and that makes me feel old. And though he might not grasp the functionality of that particular Decepticon’s transformation, he still finds Soundwave to be cool, because he is.
Soundwave, a loyal confidant to Megatron, and communications officer for the Decepticons. Soundwave transforms into a cassette recorder, and deploys mini-cassettes from his chest that transforms into Laserbeak, Rumble and Ravage. Bad ass.
And now everything sucks. I don’t even have tapes that eject from my chest to do my destructive bidding. Pathetic.
While tapes are resurfacing I don’t see them surpassing vinyl sales or car manufacturers installing tape decks back into dashboards but it’s cool to see a modest comeback. The last tape I purchased was about two years ago, it was Christ Head’s Modernism Blues, my old friend Jimmy is the drummer, and it was released on Sunken Temple Records. Go on and check them out. It feels nice to have the something physical in your hands. I just saw recently that Exhumed is rereleasing a bunch of older albums on cassette and I feel compelled to buy them all. I might just have to grab a used Walkman on eBay after all.
Those moments are gone. The best days are behind us. Believe that. And remember you will never romanticize looking back and fondly recalling the fucking time and place where you were when your boy copied a url and pasted it into a text, and sent it to you.
Keep it analog.
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