Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back In The Day...

We have started the Big Sort Out - which is how I am describing (with intentional capitalization to make it clear this is an 'event') the preparations for our move to our new life in Canada and our new Spiritual Home of St John the Divine in Victoria, BC.

Of course this could just be an excuse to get rid of lots of the crud we have been gathering for decades and replacing it with new crud.  This is something we, as a family, seem to excel at!  But this isn't a post about de-cluttering, emotionally, spiritually or physically - that's something that a quick google will reveal is talked about to the point of cliche...

There is one good quote about Clutter though, which I will share with you.

That'll do.

No, the thoughts that inspired this blog post, if inspired isn't too big, pretentious or overstated a term, were all the more mundane.  I realised that as I started sorting (well, we have four months) I have lots and lots of cassette tapes...

I wonder how many of us still use cassettes.  Of course when I was in my teens they were the best way for us hip young things to get our music from place to place, and we loved making copies of songs to present to that special person, or to a best friend, to share music that meant something.  I loved looking for cheap cassettes in the stores around Notting Hill and I have pretty much kept all of my cassette tapes.  In fact I am now trying to sell/give away/clear out many of them.  Though I am dumping the ones I recorded myself, compilations, copies of vinyl LPs I own etc etc I am sorting the rest out.  And here is how some of them look (my gallery)

You can click on any of these if you want to see my sometime ropey, sometimes inspired musical tastes over the years between 1981 and the mid 90s, which is probably when I had pretty much stuck with Cds, and being the techno-bunny I am most of the stuff I listen to is now MP3/iTunes stuff, or Spotify, or even (recently) various musical podcasts and Cross Rhythms radio.  The cassettes are all available, by the way - just email me :-)

But seeing all these cassettes (and many more) brought back vivid memories of where they came from, how it felt to get hold of them and listen to them, the excitement of hearing music for the first time and of working out what I liked or not.  I chose the title because of all the feelings that these cassettes have brought up and the reflections they have caused - the phrase 'back in the day' is a recent addition to common English, I believe - I think we used tend to say 'in the old days' - but that sounds a bit too historical, so I have decided on a title that suggests more personal reflection!

These cassettes cause me to remember the feeling of discovery - there were few outlets for learning about music in the UK in the 1980s, the magazines (which you couldn't listen to), the radio (which was quite circumscribed), the occasional record shop that would let you take a quick listen if it hoped you would buy something  (not the case in the little Market town I grew up in) - we also had 'Top of the Pops' - a weekly TV show with music from the charts, and women who danced wearing jumpsuits or leotards called 'Hot Gossip'.... But on the whole music was shared around friends, and we relied on each other to get to know different stuff!

I was quite proud  of the fact that I had discovered 'Christian Music' - the UK didn't have the big Church networks, Cable TV and music production facilities of the States, so there were few Christian Artists and few outlets for their material here.  I found a bookstore in the nearest City to my town and I would save up to buy a Cassette of Petra, or Amy Grant, or whatever was in favour at the store that week.

The idea that there was, somewhere, a culture of music and events, and mega churches, and 'Christian Celebrities' and TV shows and all that jazz was exciting and encouraging for our group of friends, who felt like (and probably were) 'Yokels in The Sticks' and whose experience of Church was small, sometimes even small minded, and insular.  It was exciting to see that there were people elsewhere in the world who were creative and dynamic and musical and talented and Christian!  Though I would steer away from many of the commercial aspects of the 'Christian Culture' now, and would never knowingly watch a Christian TV channel I still appreciate the broader perspective that these things, or even the idea of these things, gave me.

And so now I am packing up many of these cassettes and selling them off or giving them away.  I have much to be grateful for about the journey that these were a part of, and lots more I could say - and don't get me started on my heavy metal phase.... will see if I can get that photo uploaded sometime :-)


Cannuk said...

Very interesting perspective from two different times and places. Here, Christian music was usually that hillbilly, right-wing, nasal stuff. Anything that has 'God' and 'gun' in the same verse loses me.

Alternatively, there was Gospel music. True some of that could be trite, too, but there was also the really soulful blues type -- Blind Boys of Alabama, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, The Staple Singers, and many, many more. Thankfully, it's still around.

Bob MacDonald said...

Some of your images have no link :| - just checkin for Bach and Beethoven and the like. We have piles of these too, many recorded by our children, both professional musicians. I imagine you have not met Sarah (Director of music at Selwyn College and at Ely Cathedral - Girl's choir. If you get up to Cambridge before you leave, you might look her up.

Egypt said...

thank you

Bob MacDonald said...

Alastair - I hear from the grapevine that you are going to be our neighbor - Travis's too. Looking forward to meeting you.