The Red 8 Track Tape


Recently a friend went to buy a new car.  He was appalled when he found out there was no CD player in it.  As a music lover, I totally get this.  I want to be able to pop in the music of my choice when I am driving.  Up until recently, the CD Player was a standard option.  Now they provide a USB port for you to plug a thumb drive or iPod into for music.  This wasn’t always the case.

Prior to the CD player, it was the cassette tape that was the choice for music.  You could record your music to these 60-90 minute tapes and have your favorite cruising tunes at your finger tips.  The only trouble was that if you wanted to hear a song again, you’d have to rewind it (or fast forward the other side if there was no rewind option).  Prior to that mode of media – there was the 8 Track tape!

The 8 track was a continuous looped tape that had 4 stereo tracks (8 tracks total), and the player head would move play which ever track it was positioned over.  You could buy 8 tracks with music already on them or, if you had a recorder (like my dad did), you could record your own.  With prerecorded 8 tracks, all the songs played in their entirety with no type of interruption.  My dad recorded his own, and sometimes a track would run out during a song and switch to the next track, so the player would “click” in the middle of a song.  It’s humorous to try to explain it in words here, but if you know what I am trying to explain, you are chuckling!

My dad had quite the collection of his own 8 tracks.  We’d listen to them often.  My mother asked him to put some songs together for her.  He put them on a red 8 track.  He may have had other red 8 tracks, however, this one in particular I remember. It contained mom’s songs … mostly ballads.

As a child, we’d go to Caseville for weekend summer vacations.  From our house, it was approximately 2-3 hours to drive there.  We’d sit in the car bored out of our minds and listen to music.  I remember when mom’s 8 track went it, it was like someone gave us a double dose of Benadryl.  Oh man, TRY to stay awake with these songs on.  The only thing that would keep me awake was listening to my mom mumble through the first 3/4 of the lyric (the part she didn’t know) and belt out the last two words of the line. “mumble, mumble, almost intelligible, mumble, half a word, mumble ….CAUSE I’D REALLY LOVE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT!”

To this day, there are songs that make me think of those rides to the trailer.  When they come on, I think “Caseville 8 Track!”  I remember driving up 53 through the towns of Romeo, Almont, Imlay City, Marlette, Cass City, Owendale, Pigeon, and finaly arriving at Caseville and listening to them all!  Here is a partial list of some of them:

  • Sad Eyes – Robert John
  • Babe – Styx
  • You Needed Me – Anne Murray
  • Heartlight – Neil Diamond
  • Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel
  • Sweet Music Man – Kenny Rogers
  • You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker
  • You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone
  • Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Crystal Gayle
  • Your Song – Elton John
  • If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
  • Lyin’ Eyes – The Eagles
  • Longer – Dan Fogleberg
  • Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
  • Annie’s Song – John Denver
  • Keep On Loving You – REO Speedwagon
  • I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley
  • Who’s Crying Now – Journey
  • Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot
  • Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond
  • Could It Be Magic – Barry Manilow
  • The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand
  • Three Times a Lady – The Commodores
  • All Out of Love – Air Supply
  • If – Bread

….and those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head!  I am sure there are plenty that I am forgetting.  I am sure there are probably a few more Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond songs that should be on here, too.

While most of these songs are never going to make my “favorites” play list, they do take me back to a time when I was a young boy driving in our station wagon up to our favorite summer get away.  They also remind me of mom.  What I wouldn’t give to hear her mumble through some lyrics today.