Monday, January 15, 2007

Flashback: Music On The Go!

I was reading some older posts that I made here, back when I first launched this blog - and this post struck me as a classic tale of music and my youth. So, I decided to bump it to the front and share it with those that might have missed it the first time 'round ... enjoy!
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In traveling back in time - it reminded me of how much music followed me, no matter where I went. I always had music on - still do to this day. Most nights I sleep with music on all night long.

But HOW I got the music to follow me was quite a transformation. Besides a home stereo or record player, the earliest memory I have of being able to take music with me was...



The ball radio. Every kid had one and you could listen to any of your favorite AM radio stations and it could hook to your handlebars of your banana seat bike, but you had to wrap it around a few times since it tended to bang all over the place. Additionally, wrapping it in duct tape was suggested so it wouldn't break when the chain finally popped off the radio, causing the radio to fall to the ground. On a good note, you could turn up the ball and then swing it around your head faster and faster... it sort of made the music sound better. And, of course, it served as a defense weapon in case you needed to hit someone over the head.

From that, I moved on to bigger and louder. I actually owned this very model...


The classic AM/FM/8-Track player. This baby kicked out the jams!! The coolest feature (besides the black widebelt strap that let you wear it like a purse), was the BUTTON. The big black button right there on the top. Pound that baby and you were on to another song on the 8-Track. Talk about convienent. Of course, the 8-track had 4 tracks and each in stereo (hence 8) and since it WAS tape, each track was the same length of time (since its all the same tape). So, quite often you would be jammin to that cool song from Loggins & Messina and it would stop - and the system would whir and click loudly and then go to the next track and pick up where it left off. Talk about a mood breaker.

But then, the world opened wide and cassettes were invented. Yes kids. Cassettes. They weren't ALWAYS around. Same with CDs... but that comes later. With cassettes I could toss away my trusty white cube above and get me ....


my very own Walkman F1. Now the Walkman started out as an FM-only thing, so I didn't much care for it, since I didn't much care for FM radio in the late 1970s. The only station worth its weight in salt back then was WXPN for its punk music and WCAU for its disco. But I had a stereo for both, and by the late 70s, I was swimming in a sea of cassette tapes. Everyone taped everything and everyone traded homemade tapes with everyone else. Bootleg Gone Wild. So when the Walkman F1 came out - I was on it like a fly to.. well, you get the idea.

But I needed more. The problem with a Walkman was summed up in what we all called it - a Walkmom. It was the radio your mom WANTED you to have, so she didn't have to hear that crap called punk anymore. So, the search continued and once I moved into Center City, I bought myself my very own...


Panasonic-rx5040 BOOMBOX baby! I was performing for the masses, whether they liked it or not! Just look at all those plugs on the side image - each just waiting for something to be plugged into it, to make the shit even bigger! This box of music followed me just about everywhere in the early 1980s. I could probably full a landfill with all the "D" batteries I went through, just to entertain South Street, et al. The thing took 8 at a time! For a while I recall actually having a second box to compete with my trusty 5040. That one was...



my Sanyo. This actually gave the best sound of all the boxes I remember. Plus the casette deck was in the upper corner, which was just cool. And it had red and green lights to prove to everyone else that you were in charge. I think I actually found this Sanyo in an alley off South Street one night on my way home from a club. All I know for sure is I beat the shit out of all these suitcases of music. Then the 90s hit, CDs became the norm and everything started to get small. Goodbye Mr. Music Man. Hello...



Mr. Librarian. Sure I had crystal-clear music. But no one could hear it!! Well, no one but me. So I dealt, just like the rest of society. I became a DJ ;) and with that money, I am two versions away from upgrading to this...


Next, I'll just have one of these installed in my brain...

6 comments:

billy slavin said...

Dear Boy, you forgot pocket rockers...I still have mine...do you?
Circle in the Sand by Carlise was my fav

Anonymous said...

in philadelphia i grew up with my father's transistor AM radio playing only in the mornings getting us ready for work and school - it alternated between kyw and wpen? was it wpen -- oldies but not really motown oldies - sort of glenn miller, big band innocence, etc. weird for a youngster in the early '70's to get ready for grade school, especially on a 'snow day' which was always magically special - the early morning world that shaped me. preparing me (naively) for the intensity that was bubbling slowly to the surface of my world. i headed out with the previous nights cigar smoke hockey night still permeating the living room - grabbing my too heavy book bag. soon to discover the wierdness of dr demento, wxpen, wkdu (finally) and reject the prog rock that bored the hell out of me but so not ready to conform to the disco hell my neighborhood forcefully enveloped. they were forcing an issue unknowingly, unreasonably. i didn't understand the phony exclusiveness. homophobes to this day, terrified - how could they latch on to this genre only to eventually fear the word 'alternative'? looking at it now, it was really only moments away from mr lee paris and the electronic complexity underlying each programmed sound - the brilliance unappreciated in my youthful entrapments. AM radio makes a crossover (its death) - FM to the rescue? the death of innocence, the birth of anarchy? maybe, but not just yet. it was a long time coming, short impact - now imitated, for weddings -- simulacra. was it ever real? and what of it really matters? do we put it on a pedestal - is it worthy? i will always gratefully give credit for what i percieve as my individual enlightenment - my saving. what i still hold on to - talent is just that. our each individual experience is holy - maybe not always universal, but if you felt saved at any point during this - who is to say it wasn't divine? electronic devices, how our music was sold to us, how we found it out, what ever availabe devise we had at our disposal - we acknwledged it, believed, and we really listened. it makes no difference as long as you were inspired, felt blessed, part of something big - lucky to hear it and feel it change you. i've been through many transisters, 8 tracks, boomboxes, walkmen, and now just a simple ipod shuffle - but what i most appreciate is a good old piece of vinyl crackling with the scars of my innocence, my heart, my loyalty and mostly my unconditional love for music and the spirit that believes in its power.

Robert Drake said...

no, sadly billy Pocket Rockets were a bit too young for me - since they hit the stores in the late 80s ...

http://www.geocities.com/pocketrockers/

Megan said...

Ooh I love that ball thing! How mod looking haha

See you Friday. xo M.

Tommy said...

Great post! The boombox brings back memories.. I remember when my parents got me a little one (nowhere near as high-end as the ones in the post) some 16 years ago, I was the happiest five year-old on the block..

Now that I bring my iPod everywhere, it's hard to believe that it was only a few years ago when I was so glad to be schlepping around my little discman (well I guess it was little then). That along with my little flip-book of CDs.. I only wonder what's next and when will it come..

bryan said...

The clue for 4 down on today's NYT crossword read: Sony introduction of 1984 (7 letters).

My first thought was: WALKMAN. Turned out to be DISCMAN. Bothers me to think I can remember any working apparatus not between my own legs in operation in '84 that I still rely on today. Ugh.