I’m in my office, scanning a three-rack stack of old cassette tapes. As my finger runs down the middle column of the lower rack, there are Keith Richard’s Main Offender, T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, The Best of the Band . . . Like everything in those racks, each tape has its own story. I can remember liking “Wicked As It Seems” after I saw the video on MTV, a black-and-white montage that featured a near-elderly Keith Richards emerging from the darkness to mumble his lyrics. I can remember discovering T. Rex after seeing that iconic image of Marc Bolan, face covered and top hat on, the look that Slash was copying. I can remember buying The Band’s album as a primer to that group I’d heard about, the one that backed up Bob Dylan in the ’60s.
And I don’t want to throw them away.
Some of the hundreds of tapes in those racks don’t even play anymore. Every once in a while, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll pop in various ones of them to find that the spools won’t budge. I try flipping it over, rewinding and fast-forwarding— nothing. I try using a pencil to loosen it up manually— nothing. Then I have to make that decision: Do I throw it away? Maybe . . .