Waits blog

Cassette (A5 pencil and collage on sketchbook page 2016)

As the excellent Christophe Gowans might say, ‘today I did a drawing of a relic’.

‘Home-taping is killing music’, the record companies tried to convince us in the 1980s. Yet so long as people stand up in front of others to sing, there will always be music. What home-taping probably did was cut into the lavish profits of the handful of recording conglomerates who tried to dictate our taste. With the internet, that particular game was over.

When I lived in Germany and my good friend, Ian, lived in Hong Kong, we exchanged a number of cassettes of our latest enthusiasms. He once sent me a cassette of Arvo Pärt’s Fratres which resulted in my buying, at the latest count, about 15 CDs of the Estonian composer’s music. At some point I sent him a cassette of Tom Waits, and if there is a Waits CD that Ian hasn’t since bought I’d be surprised.

So let us celebrate the humble cassette – a thing that probably played a part in everyone’s musical education by allowing us to share our discoveries with our like-minded friends. Without them I doubt if I’d own half the CDs that are sitting in boxes in my garage.

This scruffy little drawing came at the end of a long day. I’d spent the evening trying to do something else that proved too complicated for my limited skills so I did this nostalgic little drawing in a few minutes, collaging Tom Waits over the top the following day.



31 thoughts on “Relic

  1. Michael, I too was a collector and rerecorder of cassettes. I may still have a few around, though Spotify makes it incredibly simple today to hear that old music. I am also a great fan of both Tom Waits and Arvo Part! Great drawing–especially with loose wisp of tape.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely sketch. Just last night after cleaning the basement all weekend, we played cards and listened to old cassettes we found of Andreas Vollenweider that we had made to play in the car years ago. I sure enjoy the connections you share.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. …anyone else who sat infront of the radio, fingers on the “record”-button to catch a song for the newest mixtape?! How I hated it when the announcer started to talk and the song was still playing 🙂

    My old walkman was sketched few weeks ago and after that the destiny should have been the trashcan… guess what…it’s still lying around here with me, I couldn’ to it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Memories! I recall laying on the floor in front of my parents stereo with my new portable cassette player and microphone at the ready recording my older brothers albums. Quality sound or what? But it was pretty exciting stuff for a teenager. New technology and all. Long before “Walkman’s” even existed. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I still have 2 boxes of cassettes…I was going to sort through them, but I’m not sure. Except they do need to be recycled properly, so I guess I’ll end up looking at them.
    Seeing all the young people sorting through the records in thrift stores though…could cassettes be the next (old) thing? (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great piece, Michael. I would’ve so loved to have been around in that era of mix-tapes and naughty recording. Alas, the only real memories I have of cassettes is them getting chewed up by the player – your sketch plays to that very well! – and just being fascinated by the tape. But I only recently read that cassettes sales have started to creep up again, like vinyl has. Nostalgia perhaps, or maybe just a longing for something more personal than digital can ever offer.


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