A prequel to Getting More Tale #344: Childhood Recording Sessions.
GETTING MORE TALE #615: “Shhhh, be quiet, we’re recording!”
Kids today have it easy! Want a song? Just copy and paste a file. There’s no skill in it. Not like we had to do it when we were really young.
My old Sanyo tape deck didn’t have audio in and audio out jacks. It didn’t have a dual tape deck. It had a headphone plug and that was it. You couldn’t record anything except with the built-in microphone.
Like kids of the 80s always would, we improvised and did the best with the equipment we had. Recording back then required planning and discipline for pretty shoddy results.
How did we do it? In the most primitive way imaginable.
Step one: Phone a friend who also had a tape deck.
No dual tape deck? No problem, all you needed was a friend who also had something to play music on. Come on over!
Step two: Shhhhhh! Be quiet!
We’d find a space in the house without a lot of commotion. In our house, that was the basement. We’d set up two tape decks, facing each other, about three or four feet apart. One for playing, one for recording.
We’d tell all parents and younger siblings to “be quiet” and “stay out”! Once this message was received we could begin recording. Press “record” on one tape deck and “play” on the other. Then, very very quietly, step out of the room let the tapes run until the whole side was recorded, open air style, in glorious mono.
The end product was usually awful, but as pre-teens we didn’t know any better. You could usually hear us whispering at the start or stop.
This is how I first got Styx’s song “Mr. Roboto”. It’s how I made copies of my Quiet Riot Metal Health tape for my friends. I sold them for $1 per copy. I thought I was some kind of entrepreneur! I even recorded the audio of Star Wars off the TV so I could listen to it, before we had a VCR.
Hard to imagine this was the best we could do, but for years we made it work!