My keyboard has been silent since March. Perhaps the world is better off but, regardless, welcome back for another installment of “thefabulous80s.”
Today’s article features an old trick that we had to rely upon when we really liked a song but couldn’t afford to drop $1.50 on the cassette single, which was likely for sale at “The Wherehouse” (remember those?) or Sam Goody.
For us music piracy felons in the 1980’s, we didn’t have the internet, Napster, a computer, CD’s that burned a full album in 5 minutes or anything else that delivered stolen music to us quickly. Instead we had the following:
And if you were SUPER rad, you had a boom box with dual cassette decks so that you could record from cassette to cassette. (of course, if you lacked a boom box with dual cassette, there was always the technique which you thought you were so clever for thinking of: “Hey, lets just put two boomboxes next to each with the speakers facing. I’ll play the tape on one, and hit record on the other and record it through the mic. Ya….you can’t tell the difference, almost the same quality!”)
However, what about that one song you wanted, but none of your friends had the cassette? You raided your parents cassettes, but all they had was Bruce Hornsby & The Range and Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits, Vol. II (the awful one with “Coming to America” on it) seen here:
So that really left one option: record the song from the radio. Listen to your favorite radio station on the boombox until your song happens to come on.. and then hit the record button… and hopefully you have the cassette loaded… and hopefully its already in the spot where you want to start recording. And so then it starts recording. You’re about a minute into the song, everything seems to be going great and you’re feeling pretty smart (despite the fact that the first 5-10 seconds of the song probably aren’t captured on the recording) and you start losing reception RIGHT AT YOUR FAVORITE PART! So you hurriedly move the antenna on the boom box back and forth, which may require moving it off the shelf because the damn antenna is 3 feet long and you need a full extension to get rid of the static, but you can’t because the shelf above the boom box is in the way.
So after all that, the song is now approaching its end….but well before the fade-out, the DAMN D.J. starts talking and you hurriedly hit stop. Stupid D.J… totally ruined my tape.
A copy of your song which was captured by the boombox microphone recording the sound coming out of the speakers and missing about 25-30 seconds of it over all (including the time it took you to finally get to the boombox and hit record when it came on and the time you had to cut off the end once the DJ came on), placed randomly in the middle of your cassette tape that you likely have recorded over at least 20 times before, reducing the quality even further.
EVEN WORSE if you did the boombox-to-boombox recording.
But hey, you saved $1.50. And, you got a 12-pack of TDK 90 minute tapes for dirt cheap at Price Club (this is what Costco was called in the 1980’s – refer to it as such to the free samples lady next time you’re there and I guarantee you you’ll get a free extra sample of the ravioli they’re pitching that day), so you’re golden.