Taped

I was struck by an interesting, out of the blue thought recently, as I worked away at my job. It happens. In fairness, I’ve been at the post long enough that my mind can safely wander a bit while I provide my customary excellent service to the company.

***

The Preamble: We receive a lot of cassettes on donation. People ditching entire collections, purging attics and garages and crawl spaces of boxes full of cassettes. Honestly, a lot of it is stuff no one buys: Christmas collections, homemade mixes on blank cassettes, old country artists whose names are lost in the mists of time, Celine Dion. You get the idea.

But we also get some really cool albums, sometimes, ones that might even be difficult to find on CD. Those get bought up with fair regularity, so out there somewhere people are still listening to cassettes. I like to think they have old cars with tape decks, and these albums are getting second, third, fourth (or more) lives in the beat up old cars that rattle around my town. Either that, or the hipsters have found the store’s collection and are hoarding them all against some future day and a half when they’ll have perceived value.

My Out Of The Blue Brain Fart Was This: I grew up on cassettes. Yes, LPs were around, of course, but as a kid in the 80s I went for cassettes. The first album I ever bought was on cassette. We had Columbia House and BMG and it was all tapes. And I loved them. I played the whole thing, both sides. Drop it in and let it go. The deep cuts and filler tracks got equal play. We made mixed tapes, well, once we eventually got a double cassette deck, we did… They were all small, portable, and convenient. The nostalgia for them is strong. I was even nostalgic for that noise they made at the top of the side.

Now, I know they have a shelf life, that the quality of the physical copy can be suspect, that they hiss like crazy and I know the general sound quality is also far lesser than CD. Buying a cassette in a thrift shoppe these days is definitely a game of Russian roulette, too. And I know you’d need a super-expensive cassette deck to make them sound close to good. A cassette comeback is pointless and stupid. I know some bands are making cassettes again and that’s cool, have fun, but it shouldn’t happen on a large scale.

But I had this moment, true story, of thinking how easy and fun it could be to go back to them. I could get them even cheaper than CD, they’d work for a while or maybe forever, and I could just let them play like I used to do. I mean, I just let CDs play too, but they’re easier to skip tracks and, well, you get my point. They’d be easier to store, there’d be titles I wouldn’t buy on CD, and they are in seemingly endless supply. And yes, I understand there is a reason for that plenty.

In Sum: It was just a passing thought. I’m not saying I’m starting a cassette collection. In fact, I ditched a majority of my cassettes a couple of culls ago. If I was truly into it I’d have kept them all. Plus, I think the cassette deck in my Sony component stereo is on the blink, somehow, so all I’d have is my walkman. Wait, no, I have two walkmans (walkmen?), I think. Anyway. It’s not going to happen.

It was just a thought that passed through my mind, a wave of nostalgia. All I had to do, once I got home, mind you, was lie down and the feeling went away. But it was a fun flight of fancy and wave of nostalgia while it lasted.

You’ll say I’m nuts, no one should even entertain the thought of tapes, and I get that.

***

Lol. Zack Gobshite. Good ol’ Zack.

52 thoughts on “Taped

  1. Double K says:

    I surely wasn’t the only enterprising, broke kid in the 80’s to do this, but I do remember my best friend and I ordering the 7 for a penny through BMG (or whatever it was back around 1985-86). Knowing full well our parents would be pissed at the prospect of us joining BMG and having to buy cassettes at full price over the next few years, we came up with the plan to record them all onto blank Memorex tapes, and then we sent the originals back to BMG because they had that 30 day return/free cancellation guarantee. I remember that actually working. Lol.

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  2. 2loud2oldmusic says:

    I have bought a few cassettes and I have no cassette player, but I am really only doing it so I have some have my favorite albums and band in every format. No other reason. My last batch of cassettes were $0.50 a piece. You can’t beat that! Well, except for free.

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                1. keepsmealive says:

                  Yup it’s all about getting sounds in my ears. I care about good sound, and appreciate t, but I’m cool with whatever probably moreso than most folks. One of my favourite bands recorded many of their early efforts in a basement, on a boombox, hammered. LoFi indeed.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Lana Teramae says:

                    In a basement really? Wow! I mean with technology nowadays, you can record albums anywhere with the right equipment. I swear I saw in a One Direction TV special that the band recorded their ‘Four’ album in a hotel room (well parts of it, I’m not sure if they recorded it entirely in that hotel room).

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                    1. keepsmealive says:

                      Jackson Browne recorded at least one song for one of his biggest albums on his tour bus, and that was years ago. Robert Johnson was recorded in a hotel room. Frank Black converted a semi trailer into a studio and recorded between gigs. The Roots made a whole album with Garage Band just because they could. Anything’s possible.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Lana Teramae says:

                      What?!?! I love ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’! Well, I love the clips that I’ve seen from the show. I don’t watch regular TV, so I haven’t seen a single episode of the show.

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                    3. Lana Teramae says:

                      Oh there’s also this great clip from September 2021 where Steve Burns (the original host of ‘Blue’s Clues’) makes a surprise visit and he and Stephen hug!!! That clip hit me in the feels because ‘Blue’s Clues’ played a huge role in my childhood.

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  3. jprobichaud says:

    Nope. I can’t. I mean, I have lots of great memories of making mixed tapes (indeed, I still have some of them in the basement) but I can’t see any good reason to going back to cassette tapes as the main method of listening to tunes. Fun thought though.

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  4. Neil says:

    I miss making mix tapes it was a totally different experience than a playlist. You had to play every single song all the way through it was a real time labor of love. I only ever bought cassettes when I had to ride the train from Liverpool to Brighton every other week.

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  5. bigbadburch says:

    I have a bit of a tape collection. I had to find a cassette rack and wound up ordering one through some church supply company. I kept getting catalogs from them for years after that, it was kinda annoying but hey I got a tape rack. I don’t plan to expand beyond that rack though and honestly the tapes are there mainly for looks.

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  6. mikeladano says:

    Paging Dr. Bop, paging Dr. Bop…

    I could point you in the direction of many YouTube videos of guys playing cassettes that sound GREAT. But they have great equipment.

    What I need is someone who can replace the belts on my Technics deck. I want to be able to play and enjoy cassettes better than I can right now. Like you said…cheap. But I need the belts replaced. And I’ve watched YouTube enough to convince myself that I am too ham-fisted to do it myself.

    I do have a lead on a guy who might be able to help.

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  7. 80smetalman says:

    I started buying cassettes when I was in the service due to my very limited living space. Plus there was the added bonus that I could play them in the car. I still have them up in my attic, many in those ammo cans but I have no intention of breaking them out in the foreseeable future.

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