Tag Archives: 8tracks

8 Track Tapes Make Me Laugh

8 track tapes make me laugh. Anything involving 8 track tape references makes me laugh.

Whoever invented the format thought it would be OK to fade songs in and out so they fit the impossibly short lengths of the tape loop.

The player moves the heads between track pairs, ensuring that you’ll never approach any kind of playback fidelity, but gives you a re-assuring thunk as a flam between the fade-in and fade-out in the middle of Renaissance’s Ashes are Burning or Yes’ Close to the Edge.

The format isn’t convenient for anything. If you were ever in a Cadillac (or dare I say, a customized van with a bubble window) with 8-tracks swimming all over the backseat, you know that they didn’t fit anywhere.

By the late 1970s you could find 8 track tapes in the cut out bins at your local record store, and invariably the artists were either those too obscure to sell cassettes or those with songs too long to sell to the mainstream. Or both. My proclivity for listening to Renaissance and Yes frequently intersected 8 track bin searches when I had to kill an hour at Sam Goody’s.

My parents owned an 8-track tape player system that was relegated to the basement as soon as a proper turntable and amp were purchased. It was the size of a small microwave. The amp might have been tube powered. One of the five 8-track tapes we owned was the Mantovani Orchestra, and it’s a wonder I’m not scarred for life as a result.

So anything with an 8-track tape reference cracks me up. My all-time favorite was a Ready.gov parody that interpreted the boom box image as “If your 8-track of Pieces of Eight does not play correctly, you may have experience an electromagnetic pulse”. That pretty much set the bar until I discovererd John Scalzi’s missive this morning about his new term of President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Quoting from his list of ex-officio benefits:

Use of the company car, a 1973 AMC Gremlin, complete with Levi’s jean interior and state of the art 8-track sound system (note: 8-track cassette of ELP’s Tarkus album permanently stuck in player; have been advised by SFWA’s mechanic that removing it will cause car to explode)

What a great start to the second half of the year.