Well they announced late yesterday that the Walkman was not being
permanently discontinued, just in Japan. Okay. That’s great. But I’m not
going to buy a new Walkman any time soon.
Contrast that with 1988. I was riding the Greyhound down to San Diego to
visit a friend of mine. I carried a duffle bag and a backpack full of
cassettes including one I had picked up at Music Plus in their bargain bin.
It was a Roxy Music cassette. Using the Walkman I realized that I was one
of the few American heterosexual boys that loved Bryan Ferry. His voice
forever reminds me of San Diego. That’s strange. The guy’s British and
probably has spent a total of five minutes there, but in my mine, they’re
one. They’re fused.
There were other things I learned on my 4 hour Greyhound Walkman trip.
Batteries in a Walkman last maybe 2 hours of continuous use. Suddenly, you
start to notice songs’ tempos getting slower, and the singer’s voice getting
lower. After a while you realize you’re probably doing irreparable damage
to this priceless cassette. I put new batteries in, the music still sounds
slow. That’s when I incorporated the “smacking the cassette flat on a flat
surface as hard as possible without breaking the cassette” to loosen the
wheels holding the tape. That sometimes worked I was pleased to discover.
I love the digital age. I embrace it. The fact that I can listen to hours
of music on MY PHONE while I’m traveling puts an endless smile on my face.
Cassettes, as nostalgic as I get about them, and the Walkman, even in its
constantly skipping CD state, will never compare to the wonders of the mp3
One particular cassette that I loved I made at a radio station I worked at
as an intern and then later an on-air personlity. The mix tape was called
“Finn’s Fine Young Tape.” This was because it contained the Fine Young
Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” (a new song at the time) as well as a
Crowded House song called “Recurring Dream” and the lead singer of that band
is Neil Finn. Thus, Finn’s Fine Young Tape. I listened to that collection
over and over again. Most of the songs on that were new when I made it in
1988, including a song by a group called Voice of the Beehive called “Don’t
Call Me Baby.” They were a poppy, Bangles-esc band with two female lead
singers a la B52’s and a couple male singers who were from Madness (“Our
House” in the middle of our street). Recently, thanks to Rhapsody, I
That song, “Don’t Call Me Baby,” was playing over and over in my head, so I
had to look them up. Sure enough, Rhapsody had them and that song since
apparently it peaked at number 15 on the American pop charts. I loved it!
My wife thought I was nuts. Soon, however, she was enjoying that and some
of the other cooky lyrical songs they have. The video is typical lame 80’s
pap, but you can get a feel for the song on youtube at
http://ping.fm/7stA0 Oh, and the drummer kinda looks
like U2’s drummer…was he moonlighting?
So thank you digital age, thank you Rhapsody, thank you mp3 player
technology. Even so, I have kept all my cassettes and dust them off once in
a while when I’m downstairs where I have my only cassette player. Some day,
those little bits of tape will completely disintegrate, and Sony will put
the axe on all Walkman production, even in America. But the memories will
live on…even bizarre ones that were made on a 4 hour ride to Bryan Ferry’s
Mike’s blog and podcast are at