The Sony Walkman Turned 40. God, I’m Old.
When I think back to my trusty walkman, I can clearly remember how it became a part of my uniform, pretty much. It was an ever-present accessory in my day to day outerwear. Any place I went, you would see the ear muff thingies as a permanent fixture on either side of my head.
Of course, accompanying all this was a backpack that I never went anywhere without. Inside said backpack was a slew of cassette tapes. I'm not even 100% sure my nephews know what those are. I mean, I guess if I showed them a picture of one, they'd be able to identify it, but I guarantee neither of them have ever owned one.
Whether it was walking to school, downtown for coffee, a long ride in the car with my folks.... I always had that walkman. These days, getting access to music is almost an afterthought. You just take your phone out of your pocket and BOOM! Back then, having ready access to music was something that required some planning.
It required picking out what tapes you wanted to have on you. And often contained a small handful of mixtapes, because sometimes you needed variety. Mixtapes are the original "shuffle". You had to do it yourself. But, mixtapes are a deeply personal subject that we could probably a whole other article about.
When the "Discman" tried to eliminate my walkman a few years later, I wasn't really sold on them. Sure, now I could take CD's with me everywhere, but those first CD players had a lot of trouble with skipping if you tried to stick it in your pocket or something. And back then, recordable CD's didn't exist yet, so no mixes could be made.... Deal breaker.
By the time I got my first iPod, sadly I had pretty much abandoned my tape player. My CD player was getting most of the love, because tapes were getting harder and harder to find. And now, mp3's have pretty much been dominating my life ever since. It's hard to escape the convenience of just pulling out my phone.
Don't get me wrong, now I live in a time where I have instant access to all the music on the whole planet....in my pocket. That's astounding. But I sort of miss the days when your music was truly yours, and reflected who you were, and what you loved. Does Spotify do that? Not even close.
Happy birthday, dear, sweet, walkman.