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About Life

The 8 Track Evolution

What was your first introduction to music? Not the rinky tinky stuff that you saw on TV. Music that blew your developing mind and left a permanent imprint. I know exactly what mine was.

It was a home recorded 8-track tape. For those born after 1975, 8-track tapes looked like this.

They were essentially tape loops inside of a plastic cartridge. Every time the tape hit the splice point, the playing head of the machine moved. It made a distinctive “THWOK” sound. I still hear that sound in my head whenever I hear a song that I owned on 8 track tape.

My cousin Bruce sent me an 8 track that he had recorded two albums on. Bruce was my hero. The coolest guy that I had ever seen in my ten years of existence. He was five years older than me. I wanted to be him. He had the thick white belt with the three prongs that only the cool kids had. (Remember, I’m referring to the 70’s here.) He had white shoes, like Billy “White Shoes” Johnson from the Houston Oilers. He already had a decent Foghat mustache. My *%^^&*& idol.

The two albums he recorded and sent me were Sweet-Desolation Boulevard and Aerosmith-Rocks.

34 years later my tastes have expanded to encompass every conceivable style of music. From Buck Owens to Bartok, bedouin tribal blues to Rahsaan Roland Kirk. But for me, literally thousands of LP’s and CD’s and mp3’s later, this is where it started.

And – I miss the “THWOK.

So, what was the first music that rocked your world?

This is the Sweet. Total glammy image, pop metal sound.

This is Aerosmith when they were the best band in America. Kudos to them for embracing the sober lifestyle. Curses on them for the drivel that they have been producing since then.


About Bill Todd

Bill Todd is a spiritual director and speaker living in Franklin TN. He is patiently loved by Jody Todd, and their children Kaleigh, Hannah, and Liam.


4 thoughts on “The 8 Track Evolution

  1. Fifteen years ago, after my parents had left for work and while waiting for my carpool, I turned on the stereo and spun the dial. At this point in my life, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, and Newsong basically made up my entire music catalog. Whiteheart’s “Freedom” album was fringe to me, if that helps to characterize my early youth. But on that morning, I was feeling a little rowdy, ready to see what the radio fates had in store for me. So, I spun the wheel. I was unprepared, however, for the haunting, beautiful, mind-/life-altering sounds that came forth. It was two years later before I was able to put a artist/title to that three minutes of transcendence. As any good child of the 80s would have done, I immediately threw a cassette in the stereo and hit record. I vividly remember that school day as one of many that I wished would end, needing only to get home to listen over and over. Without Google’s aid, I had no search box to query, though I knew the chorus: “I have become comfortably numb.” Even today, rarely do two or three days go by without some Pink Floyd coming through in waves.


    Posted by Matt Hollowell | June 12, 2009, 8:53 am
  2. I look forward to reading more from you! Good luck.

    I enjoy the question you asked, and I knew immediately what music “blew my developing mind.” It was 1983, I was 12, the album was “Speaking in Tongues” by Talking Heads. I can remember walking down the shoulder of narrow blacktop roads, carrying a tape player, absorbing the range that was David Byrne. Rolling Stone magazine described it this way, “this LP consummates the Heads’ marriage of art-school intellect and dance-floor soul.” Quite an expansion from my prior country and folk library. Reading the Rolling Stone description of that 1983 album, I guess it should be no surprise to me that it started my expansive love of music. I still enjoy everything from Andrea Bocelli to Kanye West. “Marriage of art-school intellect and dance-floor soul” – man, isn’t that exactly how we want to be described?!

    Posted by DVD | June 12, 2009, 9:01 am
  3. Great site loved it

    Posted by Dennis | June 20, 2009, 4:06 am
  4. We had a 15-year old babysitter one summer in the mid-80s. One day he had his friends over to the house, and they put in Run DMC’s Raising Hell cassette tape. Mind-blowing, indeed.

    I as “grew up” I quickly converted to hair bands (Def Leppard, Poison, GnR, etc.) and really got into 90s grunge as a teenager. But I most viscerally connect – even now – to a solid old-school rap track.

    Posted by Brian | June 25, 2009, 1:48 pm

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Rants, questionable humor and band recommendations are included at no cost. Because that's what I do.

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