The Renault Tapes Vol. 1 [Exclusive!]
March 19, 2014 Leave a comment
As some of you know, I recently moved to southern Spain. It has been a great transition, and I am finding pros and cons to European lifestyles versus American lifestyles. Pros and cons may not be the best choice of words, but it’s all I can think of right now. In fact, all of the cons could probably be resolved if my Spanish were better than it is. Sure they tax and fee the shit out of everything around here, but the States have that problem as well. They have to pay for things like somehow as well. On the other hand, traffic circles are an absolute delight! Step your game up America, lose the damn stoplights!
Another wonderful thing about Europe that I absolutely adore is their consistent use of very small cars. I’m not sure if it is the smaller, older roads or the fact that, much like their meals, Europeans don’t seem to have a “bigger is better” attitude. I have seen large families, mine included, pile of tiny little Renaults and Peugeot with ease. Whereas in the states, having one two kids seems to make people feel as though a giant gas guzzling Yukon is a necessity. I am guilty of this as well. But around here, that big ass Yukon is going to do nothing but give you a headache. The roads are crazy narrow, and your never going to find a place to park that big beast. You’d better enjoy those flip down DVD players, because you are going to be watching The Smurfs 2 about a dozen times before you find a place to park on these streets.
And with that, I joined the European ways and means. I recently purchase a 2000 Renault Clio. And it is freaking adorable. It is a pretty common car, much like a Honda Accord in any lower middle class town in the U.S (I had one of those too). I really only drive this car in short doses. Twenty bucks in gas will last me a whole month, which is amazing to do these days. And it has one other great amenity – a cassette tape deck. I was not deterred by the tape deck, not even from the first time I saw these wonderful little car. I thought of it as an adventure. I knew I still had cassette tapes, and thought of this as a chance to bring those old things out again. I’ve always kept a tape deck in my home, as I refuse to completely let go of this great and practically extinct technology.
And with that, I have been enjoying this profound change. In an age when we can manage to listen to whatever we want at any given moment, it is strange to know that if I really didn’t want to listen to the song that is currently playing, it will take longer than a half a second and a few thumb taps or pushing a button on my steering wheel to change the song. And this has led me to digging deeper into a Side 2 of a cassette tape than I ever did in the past. Other great thing about this new found way of living, is that all of these cassette tapes tell a story. The “newest” cassette tape in this collection is 15 years old, so there is obviously going to be some history involved in holding on to anything so long.
So, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the cassette tapes I have been digging into since I was united with my amazing new (to me) car, and see what tales they have to tell. Let us begin.
I am certain that I will never forget this one, although I am not certain how I came across it. Aside from being just an amazing collection of songs in general, this actual cassette tape has some great history, which actually has to do with another car. It was my first car, a 1987 Honda Accord. I adored that car as well. It wasn’t the coolest car in town, as I said before it was pretty common. But it was mine! I was 16 years old with a car and a job! And coincidently I also had a girlfriend that lived about 20-30 miles away in a different hick town. I will never forget listening “Tangled Up In Blue” and “Shelter From the Storm” while driving the 20-30 miles just for 10-20 minute make out and heavy petting sessions. I have much fonder memories in this car, but that is a whole other story. I simply remember that first week of getting the car, and making those trips with Bobby singing in my ear even though I was strictly forbidden to drive so far away from home. I was such a rebellious little shit. Sorry Mom!
Mr. Big – Lean Into It
No matter your thoughts on a band like Mr. Big, this is a very important one to me. This one was given to me with love, and few other Meat Loaf and Whitesnake tapes, by my dearly recently departed grandmother. She was one of the most amazing women in the world. She was kind, sweet, loving….. and had a crazy taste in music. Sure, she enjoyed some of the typical old lady music like Elvis or Liberace. But, she love to rock out. I will always remember and treasure the times we spent in her car listening to Meat Loaf, Nirvana, and Whitesnake. To this day, when I look at the McDonalds in my hometown and think of the times we spent in the parking lot throwing french fries out the window to the birds, I can’t help but smile. Sure Mr. Big sucks, but with memories like this, “To Be With You” is always going a classic.
George Carlin – A Place For My Stuff
I honestly have no idea how I came across this one. But, I am damn happy that I did. George Carlin was one of the funniest people on the planet. His raunchy sense of humor is just as compelling and hilarious today as it was 40 years ago. I will always remember those awesome times spent with my Dad listening to Carlin’s stand up at a young age, and being absolutely awed by such vulgar language, and hilarious tales. His profiles of things in life that should be common sense to most people, but sadly isn’t, was a philosophy in itself.
Soul For Real – Candy Rain
This one actually isn’t mine. This one belonged to my wife, who probably has no idea where she got it, or gives a damn about any memories it may hold. This is because she is not a weirdo like me who could probably make my own mix tape of the background to my life. I did, however, have this album on CD, way back in 1994. I was 9 years old, and completely obsessed with the popular R&B of the time. This was one of the first albums I ever received. I remember opening it on Christmas Eve, as well as the amazingly technologically advanced 5 disc CD Player that was the size of an average record player. I was a huge fan of the likes of Soul 4 Real, Boyz II Men, All-4-One, Michael Jackson, Brandy, so on, and so on. This album actually sucks a lot of butt, but it still reminds of me of all those time belting out “I’ll Make Love To You” in my room alone, not knowing what the hell all of these songs were talking about.
Oh sweet shit of christ, this one. I only recently re-discovered this one. My father actually mailed it to me when he found it in a old CD/Cassette player he hadn’t used in years. I got this little free demo cassette tape when I was 14 at the very first concert I ever attended (semi) alone. The Gadjits were a short lived ska-punk band from Kansas City that you have every right to have never heard of. They were great though, and in this instance they were opening for the great and legendary Reel Big Fish. It was an amazing that I will never forget. I remember The Gadjits sitting in the lobby of The Met (now The Bing Crosby Theater) in Spokane and I couldn’t believe that people were walking right passed them like they were nothing. They had just performed in front of hundreds of people, and nobody seemed to care! I took my chance to talk to a real rockstar and picked up this sampling of their yet to be released album Wish We Never Met. And thus, the birth of my hipster self was born. I remember taking this cassette back to my hometown filled with a bunch of friends with little to no internet who had never heard of these guys, and I thought I was so damn cool. Eventually the dawn of mass information, and the end of ska-punks thriving popularity came and I just moved on. It is ironic though that the first “demo” I ever received still manages to be in my possession, even after hundreds of others have come and gone, lost to pawn shops across the state of Washington most likely. Another fun fact about the show in which I picked this thing up, can be found in my post, Sophia Meets Mr. Marshmallow Man -or- An Afternoon with Newt Gingrich.
Kenny Rogers – Eyes That See In The Dark
Wille Nelson – Yours Always
Loretta Lynn – I Remember Patsy
Loretta & Conway – Loretta & Conway
I group these four together because they all symbolize the same thing. Not just a thing, a person. And not just a person, another truly wonderful human being. These four cassette tapes belonged to my wife’s departed grandmother, who was like a grandmother to me as well. Hell, her whole persona was that of an amazing grandmother, and all around beautiful person. When she passed away, and the dividing of her possessions had to be done, I was passed along these fine cassettes that nobody else was going to want. But, I was happy to hold on to them. There was silverware, jewelry, what have you to be divide up evenly of course, but I wanted to hold on to the music. As I mentioned before, music is a very important part of my life. When I hear Willie Nelson’s “City of New Orleans” coming through the stereo from this tape, I’m not just hearing an old crybaby hillbilly doing his thing, I am hearing memories. I try to imagine what exactly Grandma was doing when she was listening to this music. I also thing of my wife’s also departed grandfather, her husband, who was a saint as well. I imagine the two of them in their RV, fleeing to Arizona to escape the frigid temperatures up north, hands locked together, whistling, and staring at the open road. And all the while, Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty or teaming up on “You Know I Wouldn’t Lie”. And that is just perfect to me.
Toto – Rockmaker
There really isn’t much to say about this one. I just love me some motherfuckin’ Toto!
If you feel so obliged, leave some comments telling us some of your experiences with cassette tapes. Do you still use them? What are some memories you have from the day and age of this brilliant technological advancement?
P.S. Toto disses will be removed. Toto was great and you know it.