You kids don’t know how easy you have it. In my day, if we wanted to hear a song we loved, we had two choices: buy the album or record the song off the radio.
Buying the album was the easy way out, but we didn’t have the disposable income to go buy every album under the sun just because we liked one song. Of course, that changed towards the end of the 80s when the “Cassingle” was introduced. But had to be the song you wanted. If it was buried towards the end of the album the chances were you would never get it in that format. So, that leaves you with option two; record it.
Recording was a bitch, even with one touch recording. If you had the time and tape, you could set up the radio to just record an hour’s worth of music and then just hope to find the song you liked. Again, it had to have been released on the radio, but it was doable. Problem was, most songs had incessant DJ chatter over the beginning or end of songs which usually took up the instrumental opening of most songs. OR… they’d lower the volume of the song at the end and cut it short.
Then, came mp3s and iPods and iTunes and YouTube. Now, you can get to any song, any version, live or acoustic recordings, and even mash-ups all at the click of a mouse. The precision timing of a record/stop movement on a boom box equipped with a TDK DNR 90 minute cassette is a lost art form. Go ask your mom and dad and get off my lawn.
But to that point, did you ever have a song that you wore out with repeated replays? Was there one song that forced you to break out the No. 2 pencil and do reconstructive surgery on the wheels of a Maxell or Memorex, because of continual rewind and replays, over an evening of dark sunglass brooding due to a case of heartbreak or unrequited love?
I remember setting up one tape to record every time I heard Bryan Adams’ “Everything I do”. That way, I could just run through 30-45 minutes worth of Michael Kamen/Canadian Pop Rock God influenced cheese to fulfill my inner dork. Eventually, I had one or two versions intact among all the DJ chatter and overlapping of other songs. After a marathon session of gaming on my Apple IIC on a lonely Friday night, I’d set the boom box to just play that one tape and I’d slowly doze off into dreamland. Of course, the harsh reality of the world would snap itself with the end of the tape and that distinctive “CLICK” of the end of the tape.
Other times, I’d just turn on the tapes and just relax, trying to focus on the music. In a teenage state of constantly over analyzing the universe, I’d want to focus on every note and every word of a song. Ultimately, my mind would drift off and I wouldn’t realize that the song was over and I missed it. So, I’d reach up from my horizontal state, and with one finger, REWIND, REPLAY, and REMEMBER.
When I graduated high school, I found another song to replace Bryan Adams… I already had the Robin Hood soundtrack on CD by then and could simply just choose “Repeat One” on my boom box. So, the need to focus on capturing that one song was no longer an issue. So, I obsessed on one song that sort of became my anthem of change. It was an anthem of letting go. It was the song I used in order to deal with life’s changes. I was a freshman heading 600 miles to school, trying to find my way to an "Ordinary World".
Yes, roll your eyes, Internet. Roll your eyes at the concept of an 18 year old male, stuck in love, and 600 miles away from his high school girlfriend, listening to an early 90s Duran Duran song on Cassingle. The other songs were an acoustic version and Save a Prayer, by the way. I wore that tape out so much that the cardboard sleeve disintegrated before Sophomore year. My Walkman hated me for always piping that song through my foam covered earphones again and again as I rode my bike through the quiet campus in Myrtle Beach. And when we broke up in 1995 and I would find myself wrapped like a cocoon in my dorm at Pitt, single and lonely, I’d reach up and click, with that one finger, rewind, and then replay. It was so I could remember.
I heard it today on the Lite FM station, coming into work. I wish I had a rewind button on the radio, but I didn’t. I just tried to sit there and be absorbed in the, now, 38 year old’s anthem for coming to grips with the world of change. Slowly trying to get his life in order and learning to survive with all that has gone down. I know I haven’t REALLY talked about it and it’s just not time yet. There are things to consider. People. Privacy.
But for now, I do what I can.