Thursday, June 25, 2015

Irene Hoe Walked Into The 80's With Her Walkman

I had wanted to introduce stories about cassette tapes on this blog so when journalist *Ms Hoe sent this anecdote, I thought it could do just fine. Hope you like the song selection Irene. Thank you.

"Just the sound of James Taylor's voice carries me back to campus days.

My brother Roger had let me have his old cassette player - I think it easily weighed two kilos - and I would play over and over again a cassette of James Taylor's first album that someone had copied for me.

It wasn't till 1980 or thereabouts that I spent the princely sum of $390 (yes I was THAT music mad) to acquire what was then called the **Sony Soundabout (as marketed in the USA and a few other places) and would later be renamed the Walkman (the original Japanese name) that I bought my first "original" music cassette. It was, of course, James Taylor's first album.

I sold the Soundabout to an "air hostess" (yup, that was what we called them then) on my way home from a trip and I had enough money only to make a telephone call and ask if someone could come and give me a ride home.

I was bereft of portable music till I had earned enough money to buy another. But this time, it was called a Walkman. And I still have it somewhere, though not the original headset. The sponge tended to disintegrate rather quickly.  As someone who works in an office sometimes and takes planes every so often, headphones are a must.

The quality of some of those old cassette tapes was really good. My Walkman still holds The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett."

*Ms. Hoe was research officer in our Civil Service, leader / feature writer at New Nation, one of 7 editors who launched The New Paper and is copy editor for Digital Life.

** The original Walkman was marketed in Japan in 1979. From 1980, the Soundabout was sold in many other countries including the US, Freestyle in Sweden and the Stowaway in the UK.

Article inspired by:

James Taylor - A Big Part of my Story is Recovery from Addiction.

                      James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind - Video - Rusty Brewer

Images from Google: James Taylor. Keith Jarrett.
Video: You Tube.


Anonymous said...

My first red walkman was from my lovely late grandma after i pestered it for long. Didnt use it often bcos of it was a treasure to me and of course the consumption of batteries usage was high and costly. Played eng lang tape, canto and eng pop 80s songs. Might still have the cassettes somewhere.
I remember the last walkman i had was white, not sure if i still have it.

Ian Urquhart said...

Thanks for sharing!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks for sharing Yen. It's true; battery usage was high but it was such a novelty then. Sound wasn't that great. I always use a term with others, 'so muffled'. Not enough highs or not enough lows, depending on the cassette recording.

I bought a National mini-recorder instead and had fun using it, playing simple chords on the guitar and singing the latest hits. The best or worst part was listening to your own voice... arrgh!


A very good part of musical setup in progression from these very humble components during our growing up days.

Victor said...

I listened to a demo Walkman set which my brother-in-law brought back from his shop Greentown Audio where he was working as a salesman then. I must say I was really impressed by the sound quality coming from such a miniature set. And in stereo too. It was much better than radio or TV sound quality. But of course, our tastes were quite simple then and we were quite easily satisfied.