Are they still out there somewhere? Is somebody, at this very minute, carefully inserting my old copy of Wham's "Make it Big" into their boombox and dancing about willy nilly in an oversized neon T-shirt?
I hope not.
In this high-tech world of ours, it's hard to believe that anyone still has a soft spot for tapes. They're still sold, but they cost just as much as CDs — so obviously, only fetishists continue clinging to their fading plastic allure.
After all, we've come so far. Yogurt comes with a built-in spoon now, and I guess they're cloning babies, too!
When wonders like this are possible, the idea of listening to "The Very Best of Cream" on a worn-out cassette seems downright sacriligious. I enjoy the song "Born Under a Bad Sign" as much as the next guy, but do you think I'm going to waste precious seconds fast-forwarding through less-popular Cream favorites just to hear the one I'm looking for?
Not likely, friend. I've got things to do, you know?
Let's face it, tapes were a bad idea. They never sounded as good as LPs (if you're still in high school, just nod and pretend you know what LPs are), they wore out fast, and they had an awful tendency to get permanently stuck in the tape player. There was no worse feeling than getting your favorite tape caught in your car's player; after an hour of digging, your fingers would end up bloody and bruised, and you were no closer to hearing "Led Zeppelin III" blasting from the back-seat speakers.
Compact discs are superior to tapes in the same way that peace is superior to war. If we knew CDs were coming, we could have stuck with records and 8-tracks and used tapes for their only legitimate function: to record childish skits, singalongs and episodes of "Dukes of Hazzard."
Now those tapes, I wish I had. I made hundreds of my own tapes over the years, mix-tapes for road trips, random snippets from everyday life, my own songs, comedy bits — all meticulously labeled in my bad handwriting on the little foldout inserts. But these cassettes are all gone, long gone, as if they never existed in the first place.
As far as I can tell, tapes were really only the No. 1 option for eight years or so, from 1981 to 1988. This era is usually referred to as "The Reagan Years," but I see no reason why it can't be referred to as "The Memorex C-60 Years." During these years, I saved all my spare cash so as to buy the newest cassette releases by The Fat Boys and Eurythmics. Now that's good money management.
I was big on "cassingles," too. Cassingles were good when you weren't sold on a new artist's ability to deliver two full sides of quality. Many times, these plastic one-hit wonders got tossed out of car windows after one listen, or placed under the front tire of the school bus. Cassettes were made to be thrown away. They had a cool sound when you threw them through the air, a whirring of some sort. I can't really explain the sound, but I would definitely recognize it if someone threw a tape at me when my eyes were closed.
Still, I have to wonder where the majority of my good cassettes wound up. I don't believe these would have naturally biodegraded yet, and I'm almost certain I didn't recycle them. I probably sold a bunch of them, or just gave them away.
I'm sure some of them found homes, but most of them probably just got tossed. They're probably all huddled together as we speak, slowly fading away at the bottom of some God-forsaken landfill in the middle of
Godspeed, tapes. May you find a home.