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Sometimes I Miss Cassette Tapes

I live and die by my iPod.

I love the fast clicking of songs. The ease of skipping the tracks I don't like. The ability to add new tunes by the click of a mouse.

Sometimes, though, I miss the old fashioned cassette tape.

First off, cassettes were always cheaper than CDs, so if you were a little short on dough, you had another option if you really needed some new music in a bad way. Second, the format of a cassette meant you either listened to an entire album - or wasted a ton of time searching for your favorite song. It's because of the cassette tape that I know so many B-sides. I was too darn lazy to hunt for songs, so I just popped the tape into the car stereo and let it play.

Remember when cars and boom boxes came out with the functionality to "skip" songs on tapes? Man, that was awesome. Mind you, I never had a car that could do this - but still. I did have a stereo that would let me go back and forth in Hysteria as many times as needed. Great time saver.

Eventually I got a CD player for my car and the cassette player was no more. While flipping CDs was much faster for me, I sometimes found myself missing the cassette tape.

For awhile, labels released singles on CDs but they were usually way too expensive for one song. The cassette single was definitely my friend. I had tons of those. They were usually two bucks or less and - obviously - featured a band's most recent radio hit. To this day I'm still baffled that labels use the term "single" because there really isn't such a distinction anymore. Sure, there are songs released to radio with deliberate planning to sell albums - but it is very rare to walk into a music shop and see a CD single on the shelves. I guess iTunes has replaced this as well.

So, I love my digital music but I also missed the "forced fandom" of some lesser known tracks that cassettes afforded. I remember using my little Walkman on school trips, playing my favorite "mix tape" of the moment while trying my best to block out the noise of the stupid boys inevitably sitting beside me - belching.

Do you ever miss cassettes?



Reader Comments (25)

I loved tapes, especially singles. I am still not so good with the iPod and am still using cds. I'm sure by the time I get going with my iPod something newer and better will be on the market. Meanwhile, I still have a ton of tapes, and no way to listen to them!
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
I can honestly say, that since CD's have come out, there has not been one time that I missed cassettes.

I've even gone back to vinyl to enjoy the artwork and listening to an entire record.

But, I've never yearned to hear the muffled sound of a cassette.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTodd
i do miss cassette tapes. i loved it when i got a stereo with dual cassettes. many an hour was spent making mix tapes, trying to catch that crucial split second when a song ends and another begins. i also used to record off of the radio which sometimes led to getting a few seconds of the next song played by that station on there or of the dj talking but it was a great way to listen to new stuff.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdon
The *idea* is still cool, but the quality now is better, the media is smaller, and I can transport it from Point A to Point B without loosing it or breaking it. There'also the added bonus that no one can 'steal' it, because any music geek has 2-3 copies of their music collection in digital format. I have 3. After going thru and properly tagging 120 gigs of mp3s, I decided I was *never* doing that again :P.

When I was 14, my cassette of 'Wake Me When It's Over' broke (while in play...just to add insult to injury). I cried so hard and so long that my mom only got me to stop by taking me to the mall to buy another copy :P

So no, I don't miss the *physical* media, but 'tapes' and 'mixed tapes' will be forever ingrained into my skull.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermissy
i wasnt alive then
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
Just listened to the RATT EP cassette on my way to work!
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterccinchillicothe
I wouldn't say that I "miss" cassettes, but I certainly have fond memories. Especially mix tapes. Hours upon hours upon hours of my teenage years were consumed making mix tapes.

I have a ton of tapes that I am slowly converting to CD, but I still listen to the tapes every now and again. Most recently, Kingdom Come's In Your Face. And I still have a stero with dual cassette capicity, should I ever want to make a mix tape out of nostalgia.

And Motley Crue 666 - thanks for making me feel real old! I can even remember when 8-tracks were the hot new thing!

Thanks for the memories, Allyson.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyoVie
I love my stereo with the dual cassette player. I've listened recently to the RATT EP, Lynch Mob-Wicked Sensation and I love the fact that I have the ipod cassette adapter as well that works great. The heads on my cassette player in my car squeak something awful so that bums me out. Do they even still sell cassette cleaners anymore? I do still have all my cassettes in a plastic container under my bed but I was thrilled when cds came out. the fact that you didn't have to wait for a song to rewind or fast forward. yes, cd's just made us all the more impatient (haha). Good blog Ally!
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkari
nope, do not miss them one bit.
I gotta tell you, I watched a VHS tape for the first time in years this past weekend, and the tape got hung up in the VCR (not used to playing I guess) and I almost had to cut it especially in light of that madness I do not want to ever see one again.
Although I never had anything that would switch between tracks...maybe that would have helped. Thats really the whole reason I like CDs...being able to skip around.

also ...too bulky to store.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterr0ck0n
i loved cassette tapes. some i've bought many times over cause they got worn out, such as AC/DC Black in Black, Styx Pieces of Eight and Journey Evolution, among others.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergerry g
I think Don said it all, man you could do anything with a cassette. I dont think I finally bought a cd until 94 or so. Cassette singles... man were they great !
And like Ally said... its prolly the only reason I know some of the more obscure b-sides because of pure lack of enthusiam to forward through tapes. I'd bet I had well over 200 cassettes by the early nineties.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
But it's easier to chop a line of coke on a CD cover then on a cassette case.

I'm just saying... as long as we're talking nostalgia..


Back to work.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterValentine
LOL @ Valentine. Well played.

I hated tapes, but like Allyson said the singles were awesome. I loved how they included non-album tracks a lot of times. But, being forced to listen to an entire album was not that great when there was only one or two good songs on that album.

Which is where mix tapes came in to play, for me at least. I didn't make mix tapes for friends, I made them for myself so I wouldn't have to continually fast forward past the crap.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJT
my 21 month old recently discovered some of my cassettes and promptly seperated the tape from the cassette. i guess he thinks it's fun but now i've got to buy something to lock them up in along with my cds and dvds. today i played some vinyl for him and he loved it but i have to be careful that he can't get into the cabinet. the boy is strong.

oh and i also still have one 8 track that i kept just for memories, i haven't had an 8 track player since the mid 80s. it's one of rush's early ones.

really that's what it's all about is the memories associated with each of these. certainly cds made it easier to skip songs and so forth but man i have some good memories making tapes.

even older than that my best friend had his dad's reel to reel that he used to put a ton of music on. it crapped out on him a good 20 years ago or so.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdon
I used to tape songs off the radio like it was my job, from around age 10 until about age 18. So like 1992-2000. Once I got really savvy with it sometime around 1995, I'd even tape a few seconds of silence between each song so it felt more like listening to an 'album.'

I now own most or all of the songs from the tapes from iTunes (or Napster even), so a couple of years ago I threw away all of the tapes except for one that was extra-sentimental. (My best friend and I bonded over it on a school trip in 10th grade...I snapped my Walkman headphones in half on the bus so we could both listen at the same time.)

Now I wish I had never thrown them away!!! I mean I still have the songs, but it's not the same. Popping in one of those tapes was like GOING BACK to whatever year it was. Sigh.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Yeah, I agree with all of this. Before mp3s, tapes were how I had music whereever I went. And, yes, I got to love songs I'd just have skipped on CD. And of course, I made mix tapes that got played to death. The motor speed on my two tape decks was off, and so when I did a new mix tape, songs I kept from the last one would come over. In this way, I was listening to For whom the bell tolls at at least 30% faster than the album. I was shocked when I bought the CD, I thought it was broken.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
I have to say, I COMPLETELY agree. I used to chose tapes over cds when the stores had both. It did make me listen to the entire album and learn to to enjoy the album concept. Great article, I couldnt of said it better myself.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Crawford
Considering how many tapes I wore out, and replaced with CD's that have lasted much longer, I must admit that I like CD's a lot more. What is messed up is that cassette tapes were cheaper than CD's, but it cost record companies less money to make CD's than it did tapes.

Things that make you say hmmmm.
February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob Rockitt
I prefer CD's. They last longer and the sound is better. But I never used to skip songs anyway. When I listen to an album I listen to it from beginning to end, no matter on which medium it is.
February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterXandra73
in desperate times, you used to be able to cut lines of coke on a cassette case, too! just had to be careful ... 8-]
February 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergerry g

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