A few days ago, my dad told me he had a boxful of cassette tapes he wanted to get rid of, and asked me if I was interested before he tossed them.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I replied.
And then I saw this article and was like, wait a second. Maybe I was a bit hasty?
Anybody who knows me at all is well aware of my fondness for vinyl. The only “new” music I actually buy these days is records. Our album collection now exceeds 400. Obviously, I love nostalgia and all things retro. Not just in music; this fondness extends to lava lamps, the VW Bus, beaded curtains, avocado green appliances, and so forth and so on.
But I’m just not a fan of cassettes.
I owned them growing up. Quite a few, actually. I alternated between records and tapes growing up, preferring the sound of LPs but the convenience (and portability!) of cassettes once the Walkman came out. Tapes are such a pain in the ass, though. Forget about skipping to a particular song; you pretty much had to immerse yourself in the whole album experience. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – bands concentrated on cohesive full-length records rather than putting out collections of disposable singles, and music was truly art – but tell that to a 16 year-old who wants to hear Night Ranger’s “Sentimental Street” without having to wade through the drivel that is “I Need a Woman.” At least a record allows you to pick up the needle and skip to the next track, if so desired.
Tapes also fail to satisfy your desire for instant gratification. If you want to listen to “Separate Ways” but your cassette copy of Frontiers is stuck on “Faithfully,” you’ve gotta hit rewind and wait a couple of minutes. Life is too short for that nonsense.
Don’t even get me started on the cassette players’ fondness for eating tape. There is nothing more frustrating than Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” devolving into an incoherent mumble-jumble midway through the song because the tape got tangled up. Unspooling that shit and praying it would still sound okay is one pastime I do not miss.
I guess I should have seen this coming, though. If the hipsters can revive Pabst Blue Ribbon and somehow make that cool
again (strike that; PBR was never cool to begin with), cassettes are simply the next logical step. I would argue that anybody longing for a cassette tape is really craving novelty, not nostalgia. They’ve probably never seen one before, and certainly haven’t been forced to deal with the problems listed above. Things become obsolete for a reason: it’s called technological progress, not regress.
Last week, my beloved favorite band, The Moondoggies, announced a cassette release party for their first album, Don’t Be a Stranger, which came out in 2008. It’s not even available on vinyl.
And damned if I didn’t think, I’ve gotta have that…