Out of the blue, I received the following message via FB Messenger…
I get it that no one reads this blog. I mean, I have access to the stats, so I know that NO ONE reads this blog.
However, if you are one of the one who does, you know how vital cassettes were to my survival in this particular lifetime, especially during my middle school/high school epoch. Therefore, an offer like this indeed registered on my personal Richter Scale.
The stellar human, total dude, and polymathic stud—he’s possessed of mad wood working skillz, he’s woke on podcasts, he has total nostalgia recall capabilities, and he’s hella gracious—who made the offer, just happens to live in the other neighborhood I periodically inhabit. You see, I split my time betwen Minneapolis (where my kids live) and Atlanta (where my wife lives). Trust me, you’ll understand it after I write my magnum opus and accept my academy award for “Best Adapted Screenplay”. But for now, just go with it as a “different” normal.
Anyway, being offered a two Nike shoe boxes and a Case Logic 15-cassette caddy overflowing with cassettes is not an unheard of experience for someone like me: an “audiophile” who covets all recorded music mediums (save 78s and Edison Phonograph Cylinders—gotta draw the line somewhere). But to be offered this volume and caliber of recorded music on compact cassette tapes, which incidentally are “Better Than You Don’t Remember“, was a straight thrill—I ain’t gonna lie!
Full disclosure: when I get an offer like this, I’m torn. On one hand, I obviously want a well-curated compact cassette collection from the late ’80s—duh! On the other hand, I know what it would mean to me if I still had my own collection rather than hawking it at Down in the Valley in the early ’90s, only to turn around, literally, and buy copious amounts of used Eagles, Bob Seger, and (The) Who CDs with the proceeds.
My total dude southern neighbor assured me that “getting back into cassettes” was not on his radar, or his kids’ radars, or the radars of anyone with whom he was aware, related to, or casually associated…except me!
On a sunny March afternoon in ATL—sun in MSP in March is as rare as an OG cassette copy of Sublime’s Jah Won’t Pay the Bills on Skunk Records—my wifey and I swung by and picked up the magnetically coated polyester-type plastic film booty. It was a kick—I ain’t gonna lie!
Needless to say, the Pioneer mothership soundwall is located in a basement rumpus room in MSP, not in the unfinished basement storage zone in ATL.
And my big bad TOTL Pioneer CT-F1250 was exactly 1,117 miles away from the two boxes of tapes and one Case Logic caddy that I was cradling in my arms. Hence, I was going to have to endure the tedious yet familiar two hour and two minute return flight from ATL > MSP before I could hear the majestic notes of someone else’s teenage dreams.
Upon arriving back home from my trip home, I carefully unpacked all of the jewels and dropped them strategically in the open slots of one of the myriad wall-mounted Napa Valley Box Co. wooden cassette caddys that adorn my basement walls.
Tape by tape, I rolled my way through my neighbor’s teen epoch. In the process, I picked up a decent amount of music knowledge, such as…
As I’ve always suspected, John Hiatt has one of those so-distinct vocal styles.
.38 Special was indeed special!
Anyway, I can’t adequately describe how delightful my trip through my latest acquisition has been. As my idol Bruce Springsteen once said…
“There is nothing so satisfying as busting the plastic seal on a new cassette, cracking open the case, and inhaling that new cassette smell.”
Actually, it was I who said that. And, older tapes present a completely wonderfully different bouquet—like that new record smell vs. an older mustier gem.
As I perused the cache of old-new stock tapes, I was struck by something.
Among us diggers, there is a thing commonly referred to as: “record Karma”. It’s a pretty simple concept that takes a bit of time to explain and is best understood via example. I’ll give a first-hand account form my own experience, as only a first-hand experience can be accounted…
There is a Goodwill a scant three miles from our MSP home. Without getting mired in the intricacies of my custody arrangement, I see my kids every other weekend (and other days during the week). On my weekends, my daughter and I usually hit as many thrift stores as we can, and we hit ’em hard! We are ninja-like in our dismantling of any given outlet, and we know each store’s strengths and weaknesses.
On one particular trip to our local Goodwill, I ran across a freshly donated collection of AOR standards hastily crammed into the makeshift LP rack—actually a repurposed magazine rack—at the rear corner of the store. We’re talking High Infidelity, Against the Wind, On the Border, and so on, and etc…
Normally, despite previously owning at least a half-dozen different copies of each of these LPs at any given point since my 2009 vinyl Renaissance sparked my thrifting Odyssey, I’d snap them up for any number of rational (and irrational) reasons. Mainly, I’d snap them up strictly on principle. But, on that particular day, I was struck by the need to contribute to, rather than draw from, the well of record Karma.
I left that vein of vinyl gold and platinum—every LP in the run had been certified gold or platinum (many times over in some cases)—in that rickety white metal magazine rack for the next teenager, hipster, or oldster to discover. I wanted those records, but someone else likely needed ’em. I hope whomever needed ’em got ’em.
To my simplistic way of thinking, I believe that if you stack up enough of these displays of restraint, grace, and gratitude, really cool shit like your neighbor gifting you like 75 cassettes happens.
That’s what I’m going with anyway.
Thanks Matt! Your tapes will be graciously absorbed into my collection of 900+ cassettes and live to roll another day…many other days in some cases (like that Warren Zevon tape).
© 2020 – ∞ B. Charles Donley