This is a very 1960s story.
Sometime in the middle of the decade, my father, who worked at a television and radio station, brought home a Hosho reel-to-reel tape recorder. This gray metal machine had a glowing green electronic eye (shades of Richard Thompson’s “Calvary Cross”) to indicate how strong the recording signal was.
Captivating. You put sounds in and they came back out. “Does my voice really sound like that?”
I was just turning teenager. Around the same time I began to learn guitar, laboriously hammering out “Eleanor Rigby” and “Rock Island Line” on my sister’s Carmencita acoustic. I have a couple of early tapes that may have been recorded on the Hosho, including Steve Sesto and I torturing “Yellow Submarine.” The die was cast. There have been tape recorders ever since.
Dad bought himself a Panasonic stereo unit in 1968. I would let him use it once in a while. I have a few dozen tapes of music and teenage nonsense recorded on that machine. Four years later, for a high school graduation present, my parents very sensibly gave me a used Sony TC-540, I guess so Dad could have the Panasonic back. I used the Sony a lot until 1987, when its recording function died. It still plays tapes, after a fashion, although my main machine these days is a refurbished TEAC A-1200 that I bought from Play It Again Sam, in Ohio.
I have spun so many tapes, even as the hapless amateur that I am, that the reel-to-reel action is part of my own mechanism. I periodically dream of an unfinished tape reel full of great songs that, once finished and released, will put my music on the map. Perhaps this website has something to do with that.
Here’s a very primitive song and recording made on the Panasonic in 1969, when I was 15:
* “My lady”! Yep, I said it. It made sense at the time.
“Glad to be Free” copyright © 2010 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.
Text copyright © 2012 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved.