Saturday, June 24, 2006

Changes coming round real soon make us women and men

Since I laid my cassette obsolescence wager with Andy, I have been spending a lot more time with my extensive tape collection. It lives upstairs in my bedroom, which is appropriate, as my bedroom is (among other things) a place for reflection and private thoughts, and my tape collection is a little seam of such things, which sits quietly, waiting for me to mine it.

It spans my life from the age of about 13 to about 28, with a big emphasis on ages 17 to 22, when I heard more music than I had ever heard before or have ever heard since, but had no money, so I taped everything instead of buying it.

There are many many shit recordings of shit albums (The Eagles Greatest Hits, anyone?), which really I should grit my teeth and chuck, and a fair few recordings of albums which I now own on CD, so they should really go as well. I baulk at both as my tape collection is organised (and numbered) chronologically -- by the order in which I recorded them, not the order in which the music on them was originally recorded.

So if I died tomorrow and someone wanted to write my biography (ok, unlikely), they might learn something about me from my tape collection that they would never glean from my CDs. My tapes are a chunk of me - either I made them, or someone who cared about me made them.

The best tapes of all are the compilation tapes. The compilation tape lasts 90 minutes, but takes (took) probably double that to create, and is usually a one off. My compilation tapes were mostly made by boys especially for me, and just thinking of them sorting out the track listing and adjusting the recording levels is almost enough in itself. But a significant subset of my compilation tape collection is home-made: I made them for someone else and took a copy, or I just made them for myself.

When I made them, I always gave them a name, which was usually a snatch of lyric. So here is the first in an occasional series - the track listing of tape #42: possibly my first ever compilation tape, created in I think mid 1987.

Title: Changes coming round real soon make us women and men

Side A

Born to run: Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Thunder Road: Bruce Springsteen
Summer of '69: Bryan Adams
Footloose: Kenny Loggins
Jack and Diane: John Cougar Mellencamp
Crazy Crazy Nights: Kiss
Backstreets: Bruce Springsteen
Paradise by the dashboard light: Meatloaf
Heaven: Bryan Adams
Come on: Wham!
Only the good die young: Billy Joel

Side B

Rattlesnakes: Lloyd Cole
Modern Girl: Meatloaf
Wild Thing: The Troggs
Always a woman: Billy Joel
Undertow: Suzanne Vega
Vienna: Billy Joel
Don't you forget about me: Simple Minds
Let's hear it for the boy: Deniece Williams
True colors: Cyndi Lauper
Just the way you are: Billy Joel
Electric dreams: Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder
Absolute Beginners: David Bowie

Now that's clearly too much Billy Joel (some might say *any* Billy Joel is too much Billy Joel, but I had a big BJ phase in my teens, largely due to the fact that Blackpool Record Library had all his albums and not a whole lot else), and the Kiss song is dreadful, but the rest of it doesn't stand up *too* badly, and some of it is still, you know, really good. It *is*.

The only song of all of those which I have on CD is the Suzanne Vega one, and the only one I have as an mp3 is Modern Girl (which I downloaded one night when I was pissed). Most of the rest I own on vinyl and will probably never buy in any other format, and there are a few which I taped off the radio and which don't quite start at the beginning or finish at the end. I played it loud yesterday as I tidied up my bedroom, and I had a wonderful time.

It's a little work of art, the compilation tape. I really don't want it to die.



Anonymous tomato said...

Yes!! I dragged some of my old comp/mix tapes out today when Mister Dusty Walkman came out to play...sooo good!

9:31 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

You're right. I should move them from the kitchen to the bedroom. Orange Musical Heaven and Pink Musical Fear and all the rest (I used to colour code my mix-tapes).

12:32 pm  

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