ChangesTheBook Chapter 6

When eight tracks came along, these large bulky reel-to-reel devices didn’t instantly bite the dust. Many audiophiles had invested big money in them, so they kept them. Besides, they were neat, having the capacity to play four hours of music at your favorite party without stopping. You just had to make sure that the party matched the mood of the music.

8 tracks, in the late 60’s changed the car instantly.  For many years, small town America could expect a night of “cruising the drag.”  This was a Friday night occurrence, regardless of the weather, in almost every small town. Your car, cleaned and polished to perfection, you would take whatever spare change you could find, get some gas, and drive the Main Street, showing off your ride, your girl, and strutting your stuff. This could go on for hours.

High-powered “Disk Jockeys”, or DJ’s (Wolfman Jack), that were in many ways even more famous than the music they played, would spin the disks. But now, suddenly, with this new technology of music, 8 tracks made you your own DJ.

Your favorite ride along girl friend could be trusted to respond correctly to the mood you created in your ride with the music. Think about it. You certainly weren’t going to carry along your record or reel-to-reel collection in the car. Not that it wasn’t considered.  But the 8-track, wow, that was different!

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They were very temperamental machines. Temperature extremes would spoil the tapes quickly, but most really savvy guys would haul them in each night. The machine itself needed to warm up if the car was really cold before you could play your tapes. If I remember right, tapes were like $2.99 each then and since hourly wages were about $2.10 per hour, you took care.

This music player brought to life the wonderful knowledge that a car’s interior space was a great speaker box in itself. Stereo was really a new thing. Separate channels were new, and if you had only monaural or single channel, you were not cool. But if you were really on top of it, you would know about quadraphonic. This was designed specifically to lift more money out of the young guy whose car was his de facto home. He could not complete his vehicle with anything less than the latest for fear of the sneers his date, and as importantly, his ‘buds’,  would give him. Quadraphonic was stereo times two. In other words, with fours speakers properly placed in the car, you could enjoy certain special recordings (more money) of groups like the Doors, Jimi Hendricks, Santana, or the Animals, with individual sound from each of your four speakers. You only prayed they all worked correctly  Otherwise, you were tempted to drive down the road in a bit of a lean.

By the way, think of all those names of musical groups. And you had to be a fan of something. You had Rolling Stones and Beach Boys, but then you had all those animal and insect groups. Beatles?


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