The New Vinyl 

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It's like the Eighties almost never left.

My recently broken stereo, that dust pile that was my lifetime's first major purchase, arose from the dead to blurt out tape tunes again.

Cassettes are good enough for me again.

People talk with nostalgia for records all the time. My record player still works as well as that day back in 1980 when my parents bought it. I listen to mariachi records while I houseclean. I still have all my childhood records: Abba, one Depeche Mode record (everything else up until Violator I have on tape), the Song of the South soudntrack from which I still annoy family members with renditions of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, a gazillion Barbra Streisand LPs. I have no idea what people are talking about when they say they miss vinyl.

What I miss are tapes. None of these sissy iPods and MP3s. Or the arch-enemy of the tape - the damnable CD.

Tapes were hardier than CDs. Leave a tape out of its case and it can't get into too much trouble. Leave a CD on your coffee table and invisible gnomes will scratch the Backstreet Boys into oblivion.

The point is, tapes were character-building: kids these days, they know nothing about the hardship we children of the Eighties endured.

Who of my generation doesn't remember the irritating task of trying to forward or rewind to just the right spot on a tape? If you didn't want to listen to the songs in order, you spent more time listening to the whish of fastforwarding. You couldn't just go off in a corner and let the tape player do your work for you either. You'd have to rewind back again.

Imagine, children of today, not being able to hear the song you wanted to hear when you wanted to hear it. Imagine having to wait by the radio for hours until your song du jour came up. Your finger raw and bent out of shape on the record button. Imagine, too, the horror of accidentally taping the DJ's voice talking about sock sales at the Bay when there were a good twenty seconds left to the song.

You kids have it easy these days. You can listen to your goddamn CDs in your CD player, on the computer, in a DVD player, or into whatever the hell you can insert those things.

Not like in my day. You couldn't just stuff a cassette into a toaster and listen to it. Nothing was more disastrous than a precious tape spewing out brown streamers.

In those days, we couldn't just download a song - we lived on potatoes and grits and had to collect pennies off the street to make enough for the Samantha Fox tape.

And the sound quality - you kids today have no clue what it meant to listen to the same song over and over and over again, until your cassette player sliced your cassette into shreds of lacerated sounds.

It was bound to happen.
You little punks.

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