Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Tape Deck

After our commuter car broke down definitively with the clang of a rod shooting through the engine block and out the oil pan onto the pavement below, we were in need of another economical and cheap car to get me 40 minutes there and back every day.

We found our sacrificial lamb car, buried on Craigslist like Spanish gold on the ocean floor. It's a twenty-year-old car with very low miles, high reliability ratings, years and years of service records, and


For many this would be maybe a drawback. For me, pure gold. As I dug out my (large) box of tapes that I've never been able to let go, I almost giggled in anticipation of hearing some of those songs again.

I popped in a mix tape that I made in 1991 from the radio.

I know I'm not the only one who made tapes by sitting by the radio with my finger on the "pause" button, waiting for a good song.

Man. First of all, it's been a lot of years since that tape was last listened to. The fact that it still plays is miraculous in itself.

I was transported to my dorm room, with it's clever bed/couch design, leaning against the green back cushion/covered shelving upholstery, eagerly awaiting a song I'd wanted to record for days. It finally comes on and I expertly hit the pause button to begin recording the millisecond that the DJ stops talking.

A few gems:

  • Vibeology by Paula Abdul. I'd forgotten that song existed. 
  • Fishin' in the Dark. Okay, totally different direction from Paula, but I always wanted that song because it's the song I learned to country dance to. 
  • You Think You Know Her by Cause and Effect.   Yes, I have very eclectic tastes. 

Then, some popping, some squeaking, and the sound completely changes. Girls clearing their throats, while music plays in the background instead of from the radio directly.

Is this really what I think it is?

My heart flutters.

There it is. My best friend and I, singing harmony to "Except for Monday"--we both didn't really like country music, except for dancing to, but we'd started singing with it because of the harmonies. So, we did a lot of making fun of the twang while we sang along with Lorrie Morgan.

Wow. My little 96 Lexus is a time machine. I felt like I could reach out and poke my best friend in the arm.

There was more. I liked to change the words to songs, and there was my long-lost recording of "Charity Went Down to the Palace"--poking fun at the aforementioned best friend by way of Charlie Daniels.  I could sing along with my altered lyrics even 25 years later.

I have a lot of cherished memories, and I remember moments and stories that are forgotten by most of the people who lived them with me. But music--music brings those things to life for me.

There's something about a song that taps into the deepest parts of my memory banks and does more than help me recall the memory. It pulls me back to the moment and makes me feel like I did when I was there.  I was seventeen, living in a dorm room full of people I loved like sisters, doing the one thing I loved to do more than anything--sing.  I was with my soul-sister, who loved to sing harmony (and who I blended with perfectly, by the way)--who liked my humor, thought I was worthwhile to be with, didn't think I was less-than anything.  It was a sort of new feeling for me at the time. It was the extended moment in time when I started finding who I really was, instead of who I thought I was.  In some ways, I long for the empowering, freeing moments I lived in May Hall at age seventeen (and eighteen, and part of nineteen). Sometimes I wish I could go back, just to visit for a little while.

When I listen to my tapes,  I can.

1 comment:

  1. Music does the same thing for me - transports me to a time, place and FEELING! I love it! It's so fun to uncover memories like you did. I have cassette tapes what have my toddler children talking on them. Priceless!!



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