The other night I discovered a ‘mixer tape’ I had made for a reunion of sorts for a bunch of high-school friends at Blue Lake Lodge, oh, a decade or so ago.
The reason I know it was Blue Lake Lodge, near Boston Bar where we went river rafting, is not because I have a great memory, I don’t, but rather because I’d written it on the cassette tape I’d made for the occasion.
So, just for old times sake I started playing the thing to see what kind of music I had prepared to share with my friends, to be honest I don’t remember if I even played the thing but, hey, it’s the thought that counts.
I hit ‘play’ on the old cassette/radio device that now is mostly just used for the radio part, in the kitchen of course, and it promptly stopped.
Right, I remembered, you have to flip it over to the other side when that happens.
However, soon the lyrics “I remember when rock was young, me and Suzie had so much fun……” began to blast out of both speakers and it brought a smile to my face.
“Hey, I know that song,” the youngest son piped up, and it was kind of cool that he knew Crocodile Rock, even if he couldn’t name the title or even guess the artist even when I gave him five or six clues, including the initials EJ, for Elton John, of course.
It was getting late at night, and being impatient I fast-forwarded (which is actually painfully slow by today’s standards by the way) to uncover Joe Jackson, ELO, The Knack (guess which song?) and other treasures like The Cars.
“Hey, I know those guys, it’s on my iPhone,” said the oldest one to the sounds of My Best Friend’s Girl.
Again, he didn’t know the artist but it was, again, kind of neat that he had a song from my youth on his phone.
So, this, of course, launched a sermon, lecture, commentary, or even musing if you like, from yours truly on the changes in technology and how things were so different in my day. Gee, I’m getting old.
But he did his best to listen as I did my best to keep it from sounding like a rant and a secret longing for yesteryear.
“Do you know how long it would’ve taken me to make this 90-minute tape?” Of course I wasn’t looking for an answer as he stared at me knowing that I would probably keep going before he could even begin to answer a question that in this day of downloading music in a nano-second put him at a distinct disadvantage in even having a clue of what to guess, let alone know.
“I would have to get out each album for each song, or maybe two on an album, play the entire length of the song, stop, then get out the next album, play the entire song, stop, and keep going until I filled up the one side, 45 minutes of songs, which is like 12 or 13 songs, and, of course, not screw up by cutting anything off or forgetting to press record and play at the same time or……
“Wow,” he said.
I had to smile and slow down my rant just a little.
“It would take me literally most of the day. But you know what, I loved it. And it was fun and it felt good to share something with friends. Making a good ‘mixer tape’ and giving it to a friend, who hopefully liked it, was considered one of the greatest gifts around. Partly cause it took so long. I still have some I treasure that friends gave me. Of course I have no idea where they are but I treasure them and will stumble across them one day and…..”
He cut me off.
“You know what, I think music meant more to you guys back in the day,” he suggested.
OK. I’ll take that, and thanks.
And, I think, it was partly cause we worked harder for it, and spent all our money on it, and the album covers were works of art (sometimes) that helped define our space and time on this planet etc. (which is also why I still have all of them and play them, even though I could download them in a nano-second) and the lyrics meant something and they take me back to when….
But you know what, I feel another rant coming on so I’ll just say thanks for saying that son, and some of today’s music is pretty cool, too, no matter how you get it, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be defending it to your offspring one day.
In the meantime, everybody sing “My Sharona, come a little closer…….”