Throw Back Thursday: The 8 Track

While stuck in the snowstorm traffic jam at rush hour with my son, we started chatting about things he would be telling his kids. “When I was a kid, we paid for stuff with PAPER printed money”, “We listened to DIGITAL MUSIC”.

Then we laughed and he was telling me about seeing a Beatles album for sale in California when he was there on a band trip. He said it was expensive, $40!!!! I laughed and told him my $5 allowance would pay for a movie – $1.25 for Star Wars, lunch at A&W, and a record.

He asked if the record was vinyl.

umm…yes then I laughed. Records were vinyl and the needle was sharp. But sometimes you needed to put a penny on the arm to weigh it down to get the sound to work. He laughed and asked how I would take music with me in the car if this was before cassettes.

I thought about the time I received THIS for Christmas:

Orange and portable – ish. It took a billion D batteries or you could use the cord. I also received a selection of 8 track tapes for my enjoyment. I had The Carpenters, ABBA, and Shaun Cassidy – that’s right Da Doo Run Run.

I would crank my music and sing in front my mirror with my hair brush as the microphone. Over and over I would play my music until I would hear “THUMP THUMP THUMP” on the floor above me. My dad would yell “Turn it DOWN please” (we are Canadian – it never hurts to be polite) so I would turn it down. Then it didn’t look like I was singing so I would do something else while listening to it. Dad said he never minded the loud music it was the repetitious nature of my musical choices.

I still listen to music over and over until I know all the lyrics. Which is likely why I am AWESOME at music trivia or name that tune type games. Thinking back, 8 tracks sucked and I am glad Sony never made a 8track walkman.

The Top 8 reasons 8 tracks were stupid

  1. They were the size of a large sandwich. You needed a suitcase to haul them around.
  2. You couldn’t rewind them – or at least I couldn’t. I could only replay the entire track and not all the tunes on the track were good.
  3. If the tape pulled out – you were screwed.
  4. If you were lucky enough to have a player in your car, you had to have a suitcase full of music for your friends to choose from.
  5. Record stores would clear out old crappy 8 tracks for $1. My dad would buy these up and re-record over them. What my dad thought was crap, I thought was awesome. I would see a tape of some disco I wanted to listen to and he would have put the Limelighters or Glenn Yarbrough over top. Not cool when you are out with your friends.
  6. They never fit into your pocket.
  7. You needed a Head Cleaning tape and run it through your machine occasionally
  8. If you left your tape in the player for storage, you ran the risk of wow or flutter – it made the music slow in spots.

6 thoughts on “Throw Back Thursday: The 8 Track

  1. I used to rebuild my 8 tracks. The biggest problem I had with them was the tape had to actually slide against itself causing it to leave faint imprints of other tracks on the ones to which one was listening. I agree the actual design was quite “goofy”. But I had a friend just before 8 tracks who had a “car phonograph” mounted under his dashboard. I played a stack of about five 45 rpm records on a spindle one after another.

  2. Used to have an 8 track player in our County Squire station wagon with simulated wood paneling. Right below that was a CB radio that my mom used to disguise with a tissue box so you couldn’t see it 🙂

Keep the conversation going!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s