I’VE BEEN PLAYING all of my 1975 records, and let me tell you, it was a momentous year (They all are), the year I turned 16 and learned to drive, joined the marching band, and began thinking if I didn’t start dating girls sometime soon, people would talk. (Well, talk more.) Musically, it was a transitional year for me, kind of a coming of age, if you’ll pardon the cliché. A look at what I was listening to at the time illustrates it pretty well: Americas and Chicagos Greatest Hits, the Doobie Brothers, and Captain Fantastic on the one hand; Sheer Heart Attack, Physical Graffiti, and Horses on the other.
I’ve talked about that second group of albums before — they made the “15 albums that shaped me” list I posted a year ago. Having just played them again, I assure you, they are still coming with me to the desert island. It may not sound so radical now, but getting that Patti Smith 8-track for my 16th birthday was a watershed moment. Yes, 1975 stands out as the year I started to assert some sense of identity and — dare I say it? — rebelliousness around popular music. Oh sure, my parents had been yelling down the cellar stairs, “Turn it down! It’s nothing but noise!” for years, but this was somehow different. And, as anyone who has sung karaoke with me can attest, my pop-soul-hard rock-punk-alternative eclecticism lives on (or did recently, anyway…it’s been a few years).
That was also the year my music collection turned 8-track — I got my first one for Xmas 1974 (Not Fragile by Bachman-Turner Overdrive); I got Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd for Xmas 1975. In-between, I added Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, Venus and Mars by Paul McCartney and Wings, and Straight Shooter by Bad Company to my collection, among others.
For some strange reason, I miss the crazy technology even though it was pretty bad. It’s hard to believe recording artists put up with their songs being split in half by the clunky requirement that all 4 tracks be the exact same length…but they did. (In my head, I can still hear “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” fading out, ka-chunking to the next track, and fading back in when I play it straight through on the album.)
I got a machine to record 8-tracks, too, and would transfer all of my albums to cartridges for playing in my car. It was fun while it lasted, but it didn’t last long. Within a couple of years, I was back to buying albums, and the 8-track player in my Pontiac Catalina was replaced by a cassette player in the Datsun. I wonder what ever became of all those 8-track tapes?