My younger sister, having the good sense to choose a career in radio, is apparently tapped into many information sources related to music. It's actually her job to pay attention to music- imagine! Being family, she has my best interests at heart and forwards me many bits of that information that she thinks I might find interesting to write about. There was one email that she recently sent me, however, that I found quite sad: Sony is retiring the beloved Walkman after 30 years.
I grew up in the era of cassette tapes. When I was younger, I used to put tape recorders next to the radio, trying to make scratchy mix tapes. The summer after eighth grade, I spent my babysitting earnings to buy a boombox. And at some point I received a wondrous gift: a Sony Walkman. This was not a knockoff; it was the real deal and an early model. It was small and elegant in its silver simplicity. It did not have a radio or any fancy gadgets, but I loved it.
While in high school, I loved listening to my Walkman while I studied. My mom had a problem with that, positive that it was distracting me. I found the opposite to be true; if I was listening to a tape I was very familiar with, it had a rather soothing effect and I found that I focused better.
My Walkman came with me to college, and as many students did (and still do) I always took my music with me to study. It drowned out the sounds around me and frankly made the task more enjoyable. It came with me when I studied abroad during college; bringing familiar music with me was comforting in a country where I barely spoke their language.
At some point, I replaced my Walkman with the sport version- yellow, plastic, somewhat waterproof and moderately drop-proof. I can't remember when, but I also acquired a Discman when cassettes became obsolete. And, of course, a few years ago I got my first iPod. That first Walkman, however, started it all and since music has always been the background to whatever phase of my life I've been in, allowed me to always have my music nearby. I would argue that my little logo with the headphones is more Walkman than iPod.
These are the albums (tapes) that I remember playing to death in my Walkman through various phases of my life. There isn't really anything special about them, and their release dates don't necessarily correspond to the years I played them in. Everyone could compile their own similar musical chronology, of course, but this is mine:
Soundtrack from "The Big Chill"
Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"
Fleetwood Mac's "Mirage"
The Cars' "Shake It Up"
James Taylor's "JT"
Eric Clapton's "Slowhand"
Carole King's "Tapestry"
R.E.M.'s "Life's Rich Pageant"
Talking Heads' "True Stories"
The Who's "Who's Next"
Crosby, Stills & Nash's "So Far"
Happy footnote: I learned that while Walkman will not be made in Japan anymore, but it will still be manufactured in China for limited sale in the U.S.