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.
A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.
In 2008, my collection tapered off with releases before 1987. I went so far as to call 1986 an uninteresting year. I’ve since had time to explore the year in greater depth.
The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
Janet Jackson, Control
Soundtrack, Megazone 23 Song Collection
Paul Simon, Graceland
The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
Prince & the Revolution, Parade
Nakamori Akina, Fushigi
Duran Duran, Notorious
Club Nouveau, Life, Love and Pain
Other favorites from the year:
Anita Baker, Rapture
Bananarama, True Confessions
Fishbone, In Your Face
Run DMC, Raising Hell
Peter Gabriel, So
John Adams, Harmonielehre
Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.
R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant
Pet Shop Boys, Please
Kronos Quartet, Music of Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix
The Human League, Crash
If you told Younger Me that Older Me would like So and Raising Hell, Younger Me would wretch. At the time, Run DMC and Peter Gabriel were so ubiquitous, I felt I would never need to hear “Walk This Way” or “Sledgehamer” for the rest of my life.
One advantage of growing older is no longer caring about looking at all fashionable.
Younger Me would have been puzzled by the inclusion of Dwight Yoakam on the extended list, to which Older Me would have to tell Younger Me to wait 9 years.
Younger Me: Oh, I was wondering whether I should get that Human League album. Is it really that good? Older Me: Yeah, but I don’t think you’d quite appreciate it at your station in life. Wait a few years. Younger Me: Really? How many? Older Me: 30.