I remember explicitly the year I received a tape recorder for Christmas. Paired with the small, crackly radio I already had, it gave me the freedom to become my own curator of music. Holed up in my bedroom, I would stand frozen in place, poised with my finger over the ‘record’ button, ready to capture whatever song was played next. If it was a good one, I (silently!) cheered and held my breath for the duration of the recording. If not, I stopped, rewound the tape, and waited for the next song with the hopes that I’d have something good to add to my collection. Sometimes this ritual was interrupted by the raucous noise of my younger brother outside of my door, contaminating the quality of the recording. (The tape recorder captures every sound, not just that of the radio) I wouldn’t say this necessarily brought us closer together. Sometimes I would score doubly – capturing that elusive song I loved, whose words I’d not yet deciphered. I’d slowly transcribe the lyrics, word by word, but even with a technological leg up, I still couldn’t puzzle out what the knife was cutting in Every Rose Has its Thorn. (This is how we languished, in ignorance, before the advent of the internet.)
Surely you can understand, then, my excitement at finding a tape recorder (with tapes!) in mint condition for a coupla bucks at an estate sale. Get ready to live, I told the kids. They immediately holed up behind a chair in the living room to begin their own recordings. It’s interesting to see how Isadora has used it – recording her own music, with the accompaniment of her little brother. She must be a more nurturing big sister than I; he a slightly less antagonistic little bro. Either way, it’s the best spent $3.00 of the summer.