Driving home after shows at the 9:30 Club or The Bayou or Wax Museum. My ears are ringing. We cruise up 16th Street into Maryland jamming to tunes in the car, drinking the night down, and already my memory is conspiring against me. I try to recall the opening number, the sequence of songs, what'd they play for the first encore? what'd he say then...? Among the bittersweet contents the next day were the hangover, the hopeless peering into an empty wallet, and the piecing together of the show. All very Twentieth Century, I know, a kind of analog blank, replaying an event in my head with only the dubious, faulty aid of memory. Occasionally we'd sneak a mini-cassette recorder into a show — to tape the gig or to ask band members for station IDs for WMUC, the college station where I was a DJ — and the result was usually a muddy roar, a blurred legend on the map.
I sound dreadfully Luddite. I don't mean to. I don't miss ringing ears — remarkably, my hearing is still excellent after decades of rock & roll and I want to keep it that way — though I might miss the dark room that that ringing creates: a room of shifting shapes and memories, half-forgotten shards and story images creating their own, new stories and moments the next day as we wake and begin to sift through what happened. I will resist downloading those stories, I will tell them instead. How long will this stubborn (stupid) tethering to last century last.
"Vintage Tape Recorder Book" via Etsy Vintage.