Retro Compact Cassettes tape
Music History

I found my old cassette collection in a crawlspace. It brought back these memories.

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

Let me be clear from the outset: I do not like cassettes. Anyone who fetishizes them in today’s digital world probably didn’t live through the era when they were our only option when it came to portable music.

If you’re of a certain vintage, you remember the issues. They sound awful with an ever-present hiss in the background. They jammed. The cases broke. They melted in the sun. Making a mixtape had to be done in real-time. And you’ll also remember why you often needed a pencil to make sure they played properly. Compared to what came later, cassettes are garbage.

But when I chanced upon a cache of old cassettes that I’d stuck in my crawlspace — I have no idea why I kept them and there’s no rhyme or reason to the ones I didn’t throw out — I was hit with a series of odd recollections.

I wouldn’t say I got all nostalgic, but I was transported back to the cassette era. I made a list of what came back to me as I examined my find.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38542 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “I found my old cassette collection in a crawlspace. It brought back these memories.

  • I still have a couple of boxes containing ALL of my old cassettes. I’ll probably never listen to them again, as I have since found pretty much all of them on CD or through streaming. but at the same time, I would get rid of them either. But my memories are all good ones. Yes, I get nostalgic with them. And most of them have elaborate J-cars. Fold outs taking up 5 or 6 panels. Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss not only unfolded on5 or 6 cards, but then it opened UP, for a foldout that was 2X5 or whatever it is.

    For most of those cassettes, I can remember where I bought them, or why I bought them, or triggers memories of something or someone.

    Cassettes, I hate them. but I love them.

  • Cassettes… Ug… Years ago I got rid of most of mine… then a couple of years ago I went through the ones that I kept and digitized anything that was important… such as my own music that I made in the 80s… I had trouble with the tapes sticking and getting crunched up and poor quality and breaking.. I can’t say that I miss the format…

  • Cassette players ate batteries too! A quick drain on any boombox or walkman.

    Although I will say at the dawn of the CD age, getting a player in your car that didn’t skip was a problem, so mixed tapes still ruled


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