Over the last year or so I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff. Stuff I never look at, stuff I don’t need, stuff that’s just sitting in a box. After a while it just starts to feel like extra weight, like a burden. Maybe with the exception of the instruments in my studio, I don’t really want to own much of anything at all. I’ve had weird dreams that on the day I die I won’t own anything. Just lying on an old wooden floor of an empty 2nd story apartment. Would certainly make it easier for whoever needs to take care of the situation after I’m gone, all you’d need to deal with is a body.
I have hundreds of these old cassettes just sitting in milk crates and plastic tubs, most of them contain songs I’ve finished, songs I didn’t finish, songs that my friends an I worked on, guitar ideas, horrible synth ideas, live jams, spoken words, songs I love, songs I hate, skits I did with my sister and brothers when I was a kid.
They contain a lot of memories. But they just sit in the closet. Taking up space. Taking up mental space.
I must have spend thousands of hours recording stuff to cassettes. Started with a portable Panasonic recorder, recording what I thought were awesome piano ideas, and incredibly retarded 7-second improvised a cappella songs. I moved up to my mom’s boom-box, and did some crude multi-tracking by playing one tape recorder while recording to another. Sounded amazing, as you may have guessed.
Then finally the day came and I bought a Yamaha MT120 4-track. Came straight home from school every day and sat in front of this machine for 12 hours straight. I must have at least a thousand songs in various states of completion, just sitting there as magnetic particles encased in plastic. From the looks of it, I have at least 100 tapes that I recorded on my Yamaha 4-track, and another 100 tapes that I recorded on a newer Yamaha MT8X 8-track. And at least 60 in my series of “Tune Tapes”, where I’d just record skeleton ideas, musical sketches, guitar parts, keyboard ideas.
What the hell should I do with all of this music?
Let it sit and slowly degrade and demagnetize? Or spend months and months listening through all of this stuff to find the gems? Import the cassettes to my computer? And then do what with it? Now they’ll be sitting on a hard drive instead of in a milk crate.
I could upload unfinished stuff to ccMixter and see if anyone wants to remix it. I could do some sort of strange performance art piece where I do perform the music of one tape per week in various locations around the US. I could actually finish some of these songs I never finished when I was sixteen. Or I could just throw everything away.
After all, they are just memories. Like the photos of my childhood that sit in a shoebox. I look at them every few years, and it refreshes my memory. But it’s also a time that has passed, a time that is getting less and less significant with each passing second.
So, on my last day on this earth, do I really want to still have a crate of cassettes by my side, just to remind me of my past?
An instrumental I wrote when I was 17 or 18
Wrote this for my friend Scott in ’97
My idea of a song, in 1984-ish?
My friend Adam and I did a cover of Midnight Cowboy (in the style of Faith No More), sometime in high school…
I like this one. Not sure how to explain it though.