LPs were going away just as I was starting to get into music so while J. Geils’ Freeze Frame was the first LP I bought, Van Halen’s 1984 was the first cassette I bought. I got to the store under my own power and purchased it with my own hard-earned lawn mowing money. I’m not even sure if I knew much about them when I bought it based on a word of mouth recommendation from a friend.
This was during that blissful period of your musical life when you only own a small handful of albums and you listen to them constantly. You memorize every single note, nuance, sound, riff, word and feeling so that even if you don’t listen to them for ten years you can still sing every lyric, drum hit, feedback blast…everything. This also messes with your head when they put out a remastered or remixed version and you hear tiny tiny things they changed and exclaim WTF WAS THAT?!?!!?, THAT WASN’T THERE BEFORE!!!!
I pulled 1984 off the shelf this morning to give it a listen and have played it about six times now and haven’t stopped smiling. I love everything about this album. In fact I think I even like the so-called ‘deep cuts’ more than the overplayed singles. ‘Drop Dead Legs,’ ‘Top Jimmy,’ ‘I’ll Wait,’ ‘Girl Gone Bad’ and ‘House Of Pain’ were all just as good as ‘Jump, ‘Hot For Teacher’ and ‘Panama’ if not better.
I thought I was so bad ass carrying my little one speaker portable tape player around with me and blasting this at levels that tinnily distorted the music beyond recognition. I’d get strange looks from other kids, but I didn’t care. As my taste in music got heavier I got more strange looks so I got used to it. Nothing could keep me from enjoying the Hell out of MY music.
Not long after this the floodgates opened as I had a little more money and a lot more mobility, my social network in those days extended as far as I could ride my bike. I also started taping things off the radio before running to the store to buy new albums on cassette. Thus began what continues today as I share my taste in music not just with friends across town, but with friends all over the World. ‘Have you heard this?’ is a phrase that I will never tire of saying, even if some of my friends are sick of it. I will always hunger for new sounds and new music, but the music from the beginning will remain special.
Bonus points go to anyone who can correctly identify the seven cassettes in the picture above.