Anyone ever notice that VHS, Betamax, vinyl records, Laserdiscs, CEDs and even 8-tracks get lots of nostalgic love, but audio cassettes don’t? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone mention an audio cassette? Okay, so for me, the last time was today, but before that? Can’t even remember.
Why no love for cassettes? Well, I’ll tell you why I have no love for cassettes: they were very breakable, got mangled by car stereos very easily, they didn’t sound all that great in the first place, especially not after 18,000 plays– there’s nothing worse than trying to listen to a song when it sounds all warped and garbled. I understand that they were an important technological stepping stone, and they made music in the car much more practical, but compared to CDs or records they were pieces of shit. I had to put up with cassettes for a long time because I couldn’t afford a CD player and it made me sad, so I guess that’s why I don’t get very nostalgic for them.
That’s not to say that I don’t have any nostalgia for them, though. Cassettes were fun to play with. I used to use my dad’s equipment to record my own pretend radio show and other silly things like that. They also made piracy easy and fun– my dad knew how to use them to record audio from VHS tapes and we made my own bootleg Disney movie soundtracks.
Oh, don’t forget those read-along book-and-tape sets. I had plenty of those and I’m pretty sure they were part of the reason I knew how to read at four years old. I also had those Disney Children’s Favorites tapes– they had nursery rhymes and old-fashioned songs on them, classic stuff like This Old Man and Skip to My Lou. You know, those songs that kids these days don’t know anything about. I played them to death and knew every word because of the accompanying illustrated songbooks.
Also, one year, my dad bought me a Sony Walkman and I was in heaven– not because it was a portable cassette player per se, but because it was portable music. I’d ride my bike and listen to my Garth Brooks tapes and bootlegged Disney soundtracks all the live long day. (Yes, I said Garth Brooks. I was a stupid kid; leave me alone.)
I guess I had a little more nostalgia for cassettes than I thought I did.