My First Tape Recorder

I think in a way I’m lucky to have grown up in an era where a certain number of things have really changed in technology; nothing like my grandmother who saw the invention of the automobile and the airplane and many more significant advancements in her life, but still there’s been some significant ones in the last 42 years minus a day or two.  One thing that I remember very clearly was the advent of home recording.  My introduction to home recording came by way of a little portable reel to reel tape recorder that Stewart bought when I was about 6 years old.  Up until that time there was really no way to record anything yourself unless you invested in very expensive reel to reel machines.

I remember the night Stewart showed me the recorder.  It was dark grey and had a dial like controller on it and a needle that bounced in a window showing you the strength of what was being recorded.  You had to thread the tape from one reel through the mechanism then on to the other reel.  As I sit here and think about it I can remember the room with its dark wood paneling and the plaid blue bedspread that he had in that room.  Stewart turned the dial to record and asked me to speak into the little microphone.  When he played it back I had that reaction that most people do when they hear their voice on tape, although I think people today are a lot more accustom to it; “I sound like a chipmunk!, do I really sound like that? Yuk!”.  And of course everyone in the room that didn’t share bone conduction with me simultaneously said “yes, that’s exactly what you sound like.”

Later in life I struggled with the same phenomena when I first went into a recording studio with my sax.  What I heard back on the tape was not what I heard when I play and NOT what I WANTED to sound like.  Yet, this band that hired me had heard exactly that when I played and liked it so much that they hired me.  Later I bought my own recording equipment and to this day frequently record myself practicing to get a reference of how I sound.

I remember having this conversation with Chloe recently when she recorded her voice into a little digital measuring tape device I have.  This device is designed so that you can measure something and then record the measurements rather than write them down.  She of course said “eeew, I don’t like my voice!”.  But the rest of us, especially me, know that voice well and love it.  I remember the time, for example, when Chloe left me a very sweet phone message when she was like 4 years old “Hi Dad, I miss you…I love you”.  The sound of her voice coming across that phone line instantly reduced me to tears of love.

So I got to thinking the other day about you, something I do a lot of and a rather obvious analogy came to mind.  I remember us having this discussion about how you didn’t like this or that about your appearance or whatever it was; and this lesson I learned from a warbley reel to reel tape recorder came to mind; it’s okay, better even, that people love you for what they see and what they hear or experience.  It may not, and I’m sure in my case anyway, will never be exactly what I’D like, but it’s really comforting to realize that it’s true.  The audience is clapping, they heard what they heard and liked it.  When I tell you I like what I see, hear or experience with you, take comfort that it may not be exactly what you’d like or think it is, but it’s just as real and just as beautiful.