27 January 2017

Raised on rock.

I love eBay. Last week, I won an auction for not one but two Guns N Roses cassettes. Included in the duo was their classic 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction, and their last real studio album, at least in my opinion, The Spaghetti Incident?, which is a collection of cover songs that inspired the band during their beginnings, and by all accounts, that albums is not fantastic.

So, why blog about this? Well, I needed to find the tapes as replacements in my collection for the ones I had a kid. They were lost long ago during a move between college dorms or my families houses or something. Who knows. Anyway, as I was shopping for the Appetite cassette, I came across this coupling of cassettes and decided it was a pretty good deal, so I got them. When I checked the mail today and opened the package with my loot, I held the tapes and just stared at them as the nostalgia began to pour over me. So, allow me to tell you why these tapes are so special.

Let’s throw it back to 1992.

When I was in the fifth grade, I discovered music. Not like music, but actual hard and heavy rock. I was over at a friend’s house one Saturday that spring to trade baseball cards and play basketball in the driveway with my friends. You know, typical 10-year old boy Saturday activities. His parents were working, so we were all hanging out in his kitchen looking at baseball cards and doing whatever else when someone pressed play on the old boombox in the corner. Unbeknownst to any of us, I guess, the tape in the player was Appetite for Destruction, and at that moment, “Mr. Brownstone” by Guns N Roses poured forth from the speakers and graced my young ears. I heard the opening guitar riff and was hooked. It was like nothing I’d ever heard.

I remember telling my friend I’d trade him a couple of Juan Guzman rookie cards for the tape, which in hindsight turned out to be coup for me. I also remember demanding him to go upstairs and find the case too if he wanted to get away with the Guzmans. He did. He was also fine parting with the tape. He was getting into country music for some reason and also said GnR had a newer double album called Use Your Illusion I & II out anyway. Well, that sounds exciting.

So, I took the tape home and listened to it incessantly. I bet I played the tape all the way through at least once a night on my stereo (with my headphones on, of course) before going to sleep. A couple months later, I traded some country CDs for my friend’s Use Your Illusion tapes. That summer, I listened to my Guns N Roses tapes on my headphones until the wee hours of the morning every night. I knew every note. I wanted to play guitar like Slash too.

That Christmas, I got a copy of Metallica’s black album in my stocking (Thanks, dad.), and the rest of the school year was spent hanging out with my friend Nick who had just moved to town from Tennessee and checking out whatever cool new heavy bands we could find in Hit Parader magazines. We even traded tapes with older kids. I remember the glee of getting a 53rd-hand recording of …And Justice for All or the first White Zombie album later. Those were the days.

But that’s another story for another time.