Don’t laugh. I used to love my Walkman. I carried it everywhere. It was, after all, music . . . PORTABLE. Oh yeah, and the walkman just turned thirty.
Dude, we are old. And to hammer that one home, BBC Magazine handed a Walkman to a thirteen-year-old “tester,” seizing his iPod temporarily and making him live the cassette life.
So how did he do?
For one thing, it took Scott Campbell three days to realize there was ANOTHER side to the tape. No foolin’. Because apparently Dad (it was a nostalgic father, natch, who set this thing up) didn’t give him one of “newer” walkmans that would automatically switch to the other side of the tape and continue looping back and forth as long as the battery held out (or until you tired of Thriller).
He made up for the doltishness with his old school version of “shuffling” songs – holding down the rewind button and letting go at increasingly random intervals. It was effective . . . until Dad explained how walkmans “eat” tapes.
Remember those days? Especially if you left it on a cold school bus in the morning, only to return in the afternoon, hit play and hear that tell-tale “screeeeeeunch”?
The piece seemed apropos this week of all weeks not only for the thirtieth anniversary of the walkman and the analagous references to aging for Gen X. But let’s face it, who dominated the walkman more so than any other artist? You didn’t have to like him, but you heard Michael Jackson pouring out of SOMEONE’s ears at some point, somewhere.
And as we try to explain to our kids who MJ was, so too can we explain the mysterious days before songs came off a computer and thousands fit in a tiny box accompanied by lights and picture. Kind of the way our parents explained party telephone lines and those walks uphill both ways in the snow, right?