Walkman revival

Words by Freya Lauersen
Art by Matthew Mendoza 

As winter settles in the ‘feeds’ begin to divide, between those sipping Aperol Spritzes on the Amalfi coast and those stuck in Melbourne making the most of their Thursdays with a brief summer #throwback.

Being a humble member of the latter I start to think of better times and wish the words #takemeback were either granted or erased from my grid immediately.

The first terrific thing about nostalgia is the tiny, glowing time machine it arrives in, a perfect place to start if you feel like traveling. Equipped with hundreds of different air fresheners and huge glass windows that only occasionally fog up, this baby can drive you from that insane trampoline your primary school friend once had to grandma’s stinky (but thoughtful) sardine snacks in an instant.

The second and critically important thing is, without doubt, the most terrifying radio you have ever seen with that many buttons taking up half the dashboard. With each curious press of its interface an old feeling of warmth is guaranteed.

Let’s rewind a bit. You know when you listen to something from when you were ten years old and it does something to you? That instant sense of home you get when a scratchy Stones album finds its way back onto the record player or the splendid feeling when not just one but two Nelly Furtado tracks play back-to-back on RnB Fridays? Although that might just be me. Everyone has their own selection of what I like to call ‘home-made-hits’, whether it’s from the first CD you slipped into your slick, new portable Walkman or dad’s rapid, and not short-lived, blasting of James Blunt – we all have those timeless and sometimes tacky anthems to look back to.

So, is it really that surprising to hear cassette tapes are making a comeback? Despite being way past its prime, cassette sales have more than quadrupled in the past ten years, with over 174,000 already sold in the US this year alone. Nelly herself produced a one off single exclusive to only 100 cassettes on her tour last year. It’s catching on. As we fast forward to an age where the internet stores and filters all of our music forever, the cassette tape, however cumbersome, becomes something new and different to those who didn’t get a chance to grow up with it.

When I was in grade six, my mum came home one day with a stack of blank CDs that gradually, each month, I would burn my favourite tunes to and if someone was special enough or if the mood struck me I would create one undeniably hot mixtape to be cherished and loved forever.

Objectively the sound quality of both CDs and cassettes are trash and certainly more difficult now to even use or play, there is a certain beauty in its faulty character and raw frequencies. Yes, like a rare penny, they cost more to make than they are worth, but what rare, retro treasure doesn’t? the endearing charm of exchanging mixtapes is still alive and burning, and it seems the hipster’s hip pocket doesn’t mind. Nostalgia can be a really powerful force; vinyl LPs have made a larger share of the music market every year since the early 2000s. That being the case, there seems no upright reason why tapes should not enjoy a similar revival. Just like Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’, music on tape has a limited lifespan and I think we should stretch it out while it lasts. As Nelly Furtado would probably say “Why [should] all good things come to an end?”      



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