Sunday, September 30, 2007

Top 10 Advantages of 8-track Tapes

I’m sitting here in my favorite coffee shop on a Sunday morning in downtown Indianapolis listening to my favorite music mix on my mp3 player. Right now, Michael Bublé is singing.

In my mind, I’m reminiscing about how I used to listen to my portable music. I’m remembering back to around 1970 when listening to music became important to me as a teenager. I wasn’t a typical teenager, at least not when it came to my taste in music. I appreciate the sounds of CCR, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the Beatles far more today than I ever did back then.

At any rate, the portable music device of choice back then was the relatively high-tech 8-track tape player. But you had to have a vehicle if you wanted to listen to your favorite music away from home. It wasn’t like you could strap it around your neck.

The new-fangled music device was meant to eventually replace the venerable vinyl disk, but the technology lasted less than 10 years in its heyday. Stereo cassette tapes wiped them out in the early 1980s. Then cassettes were eventually relegated to history by CDs, as was the vinyl disk.

The iPod and other mp3 players might eventually consign the CD to oblivion. They have huge advantages over all previous music media, including the 8-track player. However, the 8-track player did have a few positive points worth considering, in case you’re still trying to decide on which technology to go with. Here is my top-10 list of advantages that 8-track players had over mp3 players:

10. Your 8-track player was not as easy to lose or misplace because you would know immediately if it wasn’t in your pocket, given its size.

9. If you are into opera, the 8-track tapes had a lot of built-in vibrato.

8. You could get some interesting sound effects from your 8-track simply by applying a little upward pressure on the tape while it was playing.

7. The tape inside an 8-track cassette had a cool shiny piece of aluminum foil that told the player when to switch tracks.

6. It was much easier to make up your mind what song to play, since the 8-track tape could hold only about 11 or 12 songs.

5. Most commercial 8-track tapes had at least one song that faded out at the end of one track and faded back in after it switched to the next track. That made it much more convenient in case you needed a bathroom break while listening.

4. If you had a large collection of music, you needed a huge 8-track tape case, which you could use to impress your friends by its sheer size.

3. The 8-track player was the first portable music device that let you listen to actual stereo in your car.

2. It permitted you to recycle your plastic Dairy Queen spoons, because you needed them to wedge underneath the tape while it was playing to prevent the other tracks from bleeding over.

And the number one advantage that 8-track players had over the modern mp3 player: None of them came with rap music.

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