My dad was a devout Beatles fan, who wouldn't give up on playing their music until my sister and I had memorized all the songs. One year for Christmas, our Aunt Tony recorded every single Beatles album from record to cassette tapes, where we found endless use. Thanks to my dad, my first CD was "Abbey Road" instead of "Very Necessary" by Salt 'N Pepa.
The Beatles remained the roots of music in our household--a good baseline standard-- but it was in my mom's car, where I became aware that it's not just about music being good. For it to really take hold, it has to reflect the mood you're in and draw genuine emotion from you. Only from there can you grow.
My mom kept her most prized collection of cassette tapes in her silver dodge shadow. It's from this collection of tapes, where my sister and I would find her in her most vulnerable moment. Her body had been possessed by 80's music, and when unleashed in the car, she produced signature dance moves that would terrify jazzercisers everywhere. As much as we mocked her for it, deep down, we were moved by the music too.
There were some albums with only a few good songs hidden throughout the tape, and for that my mom had memorized how many seconds of rewind/fast-forward time it took to get to the next good one. We played them so often, and rewound, fast-forward, flipped, clicked and rewound again, we never realized that cassette tapes were breakable until they were. And we broke a bunch. The tape sometimes snapped completely. So here, I present to you, our greatest accomplishment, for it took years of car trips and a little jazzercising to break all these cassette tapes. Also included are some quotes that are endlessly burned in my mind. Thanks mom.
1. Elton John- Sleeping with the Past
"...and we can dance real close beneath the pulse of a neon light. There's a downtown smell of cooking from the flame on an open grill. There's a sax and a big bass pumping. Lord have mercy!"
"We lose direction. No stone unturned. No tears to damn you when jealousy burns."
2. The Bangles- Everything
"Say my name
Sun shines through the rain
A whole life so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don't want to lose this feeling."
3. Les Miserables Musical- Tape One (Tape Two is still silently intact in its casing)
"In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever
And I know it's only in my mind
That I'm talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there's a way for us"
4. Sandi Patti- Morning Like This
"He inhabits the praise of His people
And dwells deep within
The peace that he gives none can equal
His love, it knows no end"
5. Dick Tracy Soundtrack
"Encore, once again around the dance floor.
Romance is in the picture too.
Cause I'm following you"
6. La Bamba Soundtrack
"Para bailar La Bamba"
7. Madonna- True Blue
"Don't try to run I can keep up with you
Nothing can stop me from trying, you've got to..."
8. Jim Chappelle- Tender Ritual (instrumental)
Magic Sleigh Ride
9.George Winston- December (instrumental)
Variations on the Canon
10. Various Artists- Red Hot and Blue- Cole Porter Tribute
"You do something to me,
something that simply mystifies me."
11. Natalie Cole- Unforgettable
"That's why darling it's incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too"
12. Beaches Movie Soundtrack
"Oh, the sun beats down
and burns the tar up on the roof.
And your shoes get so hot,
you wish your tired feet were fireproof"
13. George Michael- Faith
"I won't let you down
I will not give you up
Gotta have some faith in the sound
It's the one good thing that I got"
14+ ...and a variety of mixed tapes, one titled "P'Town 1988" that is still considered "playable" although a few songs sound more tired and lapsed than others. This one album truly captures an era with artists like Anita Baker and Phoebe Snow.
"Gonna give it up tomorrow
Got to live it up tonight"
Everyone starts somewhere in their musical roots. I started here. With each artist listed as a seed, I grew, took detours, went through the 60's and 70's in five years, had a dark phase, a reggae phase, an indie phase, a bachata phase, and here I am now, somewhere in the middle of it all, nestled deep between House music and Basement Bhangra, returning sometimes to rest with my comfort food of tunes, the now invincible iTune files arranged in a playlist that I have titled, "Cassettes we broke".