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The End is the Beginning is the…

Written by Beth Keating on September 2, 2009

Delving into the past, I’ve been listening to an awful lot of older music lately, letting some of that unjustified nostalgia scrimp through the veins. Rust coloured vocals have been particularly popular – one Mr Tom Waits is a truly refreshing listen whilst staring at a computer screen for seven hours under fluorescent lights.

I’m the first to admit my musical taste borrows a lot from moments in the past, previous to my conception. I grew up with my father’s sporadic Saturday nights spent sitting in front of the stereo, his records splayed before him and the volume dialled right up. Those same records have been in my possession for some time now, treasured and loved.

I can understand the relatively recent vinyl rediscovery by alterna-ladies and gentlemen. I’d be telling fibs if I said the resulting inflation of second-hand records didn’t peeve me off a little (in 1999, I picked up an immaculate copy of Revolver for only $10), but okay, fair enough. There’s something special about the vinyl experience. Album art on records is incomparable to other formats. I’ve always also felt a history buff’s giddiness at the history held in those old bits of plastic. When I was fourteen, discovering the brilliance of my fathers aforementioned record collection, just touching certain albums made me feel closer to the original time in which they were created. It also – in a silly, corny way – felt like I was getting in touch with another version of my father – his self around the same ages I was at the time, experiencing a similar kind of giddiness discovering and relishing this new music.

This afternoon I was outside, when my next door neighbour’s teenage daughter bursted out, calling to her father if he owned a tape deck. “Why do you want a tape deck?”, he asked. “To listen to tapes”, she replied, sardonically of course.

Simple – pretty explanatory answer, but one that left me pretty confused. What is this resurgence of the cassette tape? In my opinion, it seems like part of the hipsters evolution of the listening apparatus. It started with vinyl; the next logical ‘re-discovery’ is the tape. I get the whole retro angle. What I have trouble understanding is why. Eugh. Cassettes. There’s not much that could get me to willingly listen to one of those warpy, muted pieces of static. I don’t care how many flushes of nostalgia are passed my way in the process.

I reference nostalgia quite often in my writing – you may have noticed. Part of the reason I love listening to older music is the sensory attachment to the past it brings up. I love nostalgia. I love indulging in it, reliving it, daydreaming about it, whatever. But why is it that we seem to think everything we remember from our childhood should be automatically asserted into this Hall of Reverence in given time? Are the re-embracings of mediocre inventions that have since been eclipsed, such as the cassette tape, our generations version of ‘Remember the Good Old Days?’.

The thing that disturbed me most about my neighbours request was that she possibly didn’t grow up with cassettes as a primary listening device in the first place. Yep, she was well and truly conceived in the age of the compact disc. My God. I feel old. Let me just reach for my vinyl…

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