My brother instilled in me proper care for the media I owned. He did so by being incredibly territorial about his.
In a household of six people, resources can get scarce. Space and privacy were two such resources.
Understandably, my brother was loathe to share anything with his younger siblings, especially given how poorly they treated them. In my case, I really tore my album covers up to shreds. You should the condition of The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack in my collection.
As such, he forbade anyone from handling his album. That meant the only time we got to hear them is when he played them.
He scooped me in acquiring Paul Simon’s Graceland and Sting’s … Nothing Like the Sun. He also possessed the only boombox with a phonograph connection, so he could dub his albums on cassette. Naturally, he would never let me borrow his boombox to make my own dubs of his albums.
My dad also owned a boombox, one without phonograph connections. But it did have RCA connections for line in and line out. I also got my hands on the owner’s manual of the family stereo, where I discovered similar RCA connections with different labels: tape in, tape out.
Did I finally find a loophole in my brother’s prohibition? The only way to find out was to get a spare RCA cord and connect the family stereo to the boombox.
On a day when my brother was out of the house, I put his copy of Graceland on the record player, connected my dad’s boombox to the receiver, put in a cassette tape and started to make a dub.
I played back the results and reveled in victory. If it hadn’t succeeded, the remaining alternative was to put the boombox next to the stereo speaker and hit record. This method did not produce quality sound.
On that same afternoon, I made a dub of … Nothing Like the Sun as well. My brother wasn’t pleased to learn I had succeeded in bootlegging his albums.
Learning how to connect pieces of audio equipment together would manifest into building a home recording studio roughly 15 years later. Along the way, there were mixed tapes to be created.