Cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, etc. Part 1.

Firstly, let me just say the words you are longing to hear in these troubled times: Donny and Marie sing “Johnny B Goode” but instead, it’s “Ronnie B Goode” as in Ronald Reagan, as in the 1981 Inauguration ceremony. If your soul isn’t dead already, let me do it for ya.


About 25 miles from West Seneca to Attica.

No one else in my department came to work today. everyone is afraid of traversing the slippery roads, but I, ever brave and true and dedicated to the company that will be spitting me out unceremoniously in a few days (unless “Can we have our access card?” is ceremony to you) am imbued with a withering Protestant work ethic. So here I am, writing in my blog. Casey says that blogs are a 2008 thing. But I know you can’t live without my thoughts on various nonsense so here again am I.  (cue harmonica music)

When I was 7 years old, the Attica Prison Riots occurred. I had no idea what that meant. However, shortly thereafter, my mother had in her possession a book (paperback) that detailed the entire unpleasantness. With pictures. Men being lined up naked, processions, even lines marching back to law and order. And it shocked me. I had never seen a naked male form before, much less dozens, shackled, emasculated, tamed.

So I naturally put our new 8-track living room console stereo with attendant low impedance microphone to good work by constructing a little free-form rap about it. I still remember it, too. I kept going until the track ran out. CHUCK-UNGGG! Let’s see. Imagine a 7-8 year old uttering the following in a living room somewhere in the poor part of West Seneca, New York. This is non-sense, I know, but it is what I said. All of it is [sic].

“…So we got a Attica book, and it showed a man’s DINK. That is not in the question, so when we got our record, then we go’ed it down. We used to think that we were great, even though we didn’t play our instruments at they…we used to…” CHUCK-UNGGG!

This was a hell of a thing, this 8-track console stereo. I’ve never seen one like it. You COULD record right off the turntable onto the 8-track. But I used it to record my own ramblings. Though you couldn’t play it back right away, the fidelity was much better than a cassette tape because the speed of the tape itself was faster, therefore less information per inch of tape. The same applies to audio recorded onto a VHS tape. Higher speed means better fidelity.  Usually.

The rotten part is that there’s no “rewind” button, so, since the blank tapes were usually 60 minutes long, you’d have to wait 15 or so minutes to hear what you just did. So when Paul and I started “Leo” when I was 11 and he was 12, we used cassette tape after cassette tape, recording anything and everything we did together. Writing songs, talking, passing the tapes back and forth between us. An economic anthropology. Labeling them, titling them like albums. “Leo VIII”, “Leo ’77” (an EP), “Sparks”, “We’re Comin’ For Ya”, etc.etc.

So copious was our archive in such a short time that one could literally spend hours on the floor, on your stomach, arms crossed in front of you for support, pressing rewind, fast-forward, or play and fast-forward at the same time, thereby enabling you to hear, in chipmunk voices, the next “incident” or stray recording on the cassette. Many MANY a night did I spend thusly. When we met Dan, that didn’t help. You could tell we all did the same thing. Little sentences here, a lyric there, maybe a riff or an attempt to flesh out an idea. There must have been hundreds of these tapes floating around at one time or another. Each sacred in its own way.

And here it is, 35 years later, and of all the tapes Paul and I did, I have one.

More later.


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