I know that music aficionados say that the richest sound comes from vinyl. I know that the best method of digital compression and storage for audio is FLAC. I know that I much, much prefer being able to download an album in 17 seconds. I know that it took me 3 minutes, and the assistance of one of my sisters to work out how to merely open the one remaining cassette player in our house today.
I didn't know that cassettes ran two channels of audio. Or maybe I just hadn't thought of it. Cassettes were a dying breed when I was in my formative music years, but I was there for them. My first ever album was on cassette (it was Hanson. The ones that sang MmmBop. My favourite song was Yearbook.) I can remember friends bringing over their cassettes and CDs and making mix tapes. You couldn't do that in 17 seconds - you did it real time, having one play in slot 1 while you recorded in slot 2.
Today I didn't make a mix tape. Today I did the reverse. Six weeks ago I wrote about a song called The Melbourne Cup which I couldn't find anywhere. My sister (the same one who can remember how to open a cassette player*) told me that it was on the Home Among the Gum Trees cassettes we had when we were little. I looked on eBay, and there was one lonely copy available. I bought it. "That's excellent," said Casey. "You can put it all on the computer for us and then give it to Nanna Joy for Christmas."
So it's on the computer, in 25 minute blocks of 7 songs per side. Digitized by plugging an audio cable from the headphone jack of the almost-never-used sound system in the lounge to mic jack of mum's laptop, and pressing record in my music editing software, and waiting 25 minutes before flipping the cassette. Each channel of audio is different, and I'm breaking it down into little bits by listening to the beginning and end of each song through my headphones, and yeah, one ear is hearing different things to the other.
It's not beautiful sound. There's a lot of noise in the background. Not actual noise, of us putting up our Christmas tree, which we finally did tonight at about 11pm because it was the only time all six of us were home, but the faint buzzy cracklyness of the cassette.
Weirdly, even though I'm listening to it through the sound card on a computer, it feels soothing. Familiar. Songs I haven't heard in 15 years, from a cassette 25 years old. I wonder if it's because of the cracklyness. I'm planning on having a go at cleaning it up some other day, but maybe I shouldn't. Maybe it's important.
Also, I have the worst Deja Vu of my life. Not just cause I'm listening to songs from when I was a kid - I don't think I ever listened to these songs at this house, just in Dad's ute or on the houseboat. But I feel as if I've sorted this audio before. Maybe just because it's taken me the last 4 hours to get halfway through.
Anyway, if any of you remember any of these songs, or maybe want them, or came here cause you too realise that, for reasons beyond your control, your identity is tied up in some songs sung three decades ago and now unavailable to anyone not lucky enough to do the right eBay search on the right day, message me and I'll send them to you.
Home Among The Gumtrees - Bullamakanka
Old Man Emu - John Williamson
Ridin' - Smoky Dawson
The Gondiwindi Grey - Johnny Greenwood
Click Go the Shears - The Hawking Bros
Redback on the Toilet Seat - Slim Newton
I was only Nineteen - Redgum
Downunder - Men At Work
Put Another Log On The Fire - Bill & Boyd
Little Boy Lost - Johnny Ashcroft
I'm The Sheik from Scrubby Creek - Chad Morgan
Theme from Picnic at Hanging Rock - Paul Lennon
Tenterfield Saddler - Peter Allen
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda - The Bushwhackers
Our Don Bradman - (No artist listed)
The Wild Colonial Boy - Smoky Dawson
Waltzing Matilda - The Sundowners
Theme From Rush - Brian May and The ABC Showband
The Melbourne Cup - The Hawking Bros
Santa Never Made it to Darwin - Bill & Boyd
Flash Jack from Gundagai - The Bushwhackers
The Ettamogah Pub - Ray Kernaghan
Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport - Rolf Harris
Come On Aussie Come On - Frankie Davidson
The Dog on the Tuckerbox/Road to Gundagai/Back to Yarrawonga (Medley) - The Sundowners
Theme From Cash & Co - The Bushwhackers
I Still Call Australia Home - Peter Allen
As for craft, today I did none whatsoever.
*The stop button is also the open button.