In January, for Christmas, we received a new-to-us car when my parents bought us my sister’s old Ford Escort. So we sold the Toyota and now we have the Ford and the Pontiac. I drive the Ford around the neighborhood for errands and play dates, and James drives the newer car regularly to work in Springfield.
The Pontiac, being a 2005 model, is equipped with XM satellite radio and a cd player. The Ford, being a few years older, and a car my sister purchased as a teenager, boasts a tape deck and a couple of speakers that have trouble handling a certain level of bass. Well, because I’ve been tooling around town in a car that only picks up the commercial and talk-filled regular radio, I decided it was time to bring along some of my own music. So I dug out the shoebox in which I had stowed all our old cassette tapes.
So now I get to listen to all the music that I never bothered to upgrade to cd or mp3. And it’s been wild, let me just tell you. Because most of the music I have on cassette is from high school. Grade school, even. Yes, there’s the Wayne’s World soundtrack. A bunch of Bon Jovi. Peter Gabriel. Metallica. Even some Phil Collins. Yeah, I have no idea where that one came from. It’s a total trip down memory lane.
For example, there is one cassette in my auto bag merely labeled “mix tape.” It is my handwriting and the tape itself is one of those cheap ones that lacks even a brand name such as “Maxell” or “Memorex.” I haven’t listened to this one yet, but I’m looking forward to popping it in the next time I drive somewhere. Because I’ve already had the pleasure of listening to a “Mostly Metallica” mix that Ben made for me way back when. And at the end of the Metallica songs on “side B” he threw in a little bit of REM, Garbage and Nick Cave. These songs were clearly written on the insert in his chicken scratch, but what was not written and therefore totally unexpected (but not really when you realize that Ben made this tape for me) was the Mr. Ed theme song. Which actually played as James and I were both in the car on our way back from Costco yesterday. I started cracking up immediately, and he looked at me and said, “What the hell is wrong with Ben?” I am totally amused.
Also, I was listening to another mix tape that another friend of mine made for me when I went off to Boston, and I can’t be 100% certain, but listening to it now, I’m thinking that this particular friend probably had kind of a thing for me at the time. But hey, isn’t that why we made each other mix tapes back then in the first place?
I’m probably a little too amused by all this outdated technology and wacky memories, but truly it has been so cool to step back like this. To remember how you used to have to fast forward and rewind by intuition and instinct in order to skip just the one song and not overshoot the mark instead of just magically skip to the next track as in digital media. That there are “A” sides and “B” sides instead of “music” and “video” sides. I remember records. I remember 8-tracks, but that was my parents’ media, more than mine. I came of age during the time of the tape deck. I made my first mix tapes off the radio or by holding the speaker of my sister’s player up to the microphone of my own. We used to listen to tapes as we fell asleep at night. And I remember how I had one particular cassette that I loved so much I completely wore it out.
I suppose I could make some new tapes from the music I currently own and listen to on the newfangled digital technologies so I could listen to that stuff in the car, too, but I probably won’t. At least not right now. This retro stuff is just too fascinating at the moment.