When I was younger I had a cassette player. Maybe it was called a “deck”, a cassette deck. After the Mr. Microphone 8-Track, but before the Boom Box that I got for Christmas.
This middle music machine was just a one deck cassette player. It was black, had a handle and when I pushed eject the plastic thingie would pop up for the tape. The RECORD button was bright orange. The speaker was pretty tiny. I don’t remember what the sound quality was, hell when I was younger I didn’t really think about sound quality. This was before Beats and Bose, I just wanted to hear something, play, record something.
My mom still had the turn table in the living room with the smoky plastic cover. Records were fun, 8 tracks were…odd, but the cassette was freedom. I could take music with me, into my room, to a friends house, eventually in the car. I fell in love with music on a turn table, but cassettes allowed for recording songs off the radio. I made mix tapes like all righteous 80s girls.
I will say that I hated when the tape would get stuck and then I’d have to jicky jack to get it out of the machine without breaking the tape. That was not fun, sort of like trying to untangle a necklace without becoming impatient and pulling the damn thing apart. I remember hastily ruining a Lionel Richie cassette and more than once my little cassette player attempted to eat Men at Work. That one was salvageable. I rolled it back up with the end of my pencil.
The Boom Box brought things to a whole new level. Dual cassettes. Music was work back then. If I wanted a song and I didn’t have the money to buy the whole cassette, I would lay on my bed with the Boom Box, fingers poised over the PLAY and RECORD buttons. I would listen all night if I had to until the coveted song was announced and then push the buttons. Worth the effort because then I could listen to that song anytime I wanted to. Super exciting.
Now if I want a song and I have 99 cents or a dollar something, I go to iTunes and in seconds the song is mine. Sometimes it seems too easy. I don’t have to save up, roll quarters, troll the local music store. I don’t even listen to the radio anymore.
Things have changed, it’s strange that kids, teenagers, of this time will never know what it is to hit RECORD when they finally hear The Smiths at midnight during alternative hour on the radio, and hope the DJ doesn’t talk too much and ruin the beginning of the song where the cows are mooing. They will never get a cramp in their fingers from pushing PLAY and then REWIND and then PLAY and then REWIND until they get to the beginning of the song.
Technology is great, but sometimes effort makes stories, interesting experiences.
Encyclopedias were a pain in the ass, no question, but cassettes…cassettes were cool.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Late Night Dedication.