For Christmas 1975, Amy and I received a portable tape recorder. It came with a 10-minute (!) blank cassette, and Dad, posing as Santa, used it to record a brief message of Christmas wishes to the two of us. It doesn’t surprise me that I still have the cassette, although I believe that we long ago recorded over my father’s “Ho, ho, ho.”
There were also a few longer blank tapes to do with as we pleased. We took the recorder with us that day to the annual gathering at my grandparents’ farm. Amy, my cousin Alan (who’s about six months younger than my sister), and I spent part of that afternoon upstairs, making up brief skits and committing them to tape. I wish I still had a copy of us acting so silly that day.
But it wasn’t long, hours or days at the most, before I stuck the recorder in front of a radio to capture some of the tunes of the day, probably from WSAI. That tape is also long lost, but this weird memory of mine still remembers a couple of the songs on it. One was “Bennie and the Jets,” and I know that it led directly in to one of our favorites at that moment, “Convoy,” which is debuting at #29, all the way up from #82 (and yes, it went all the way to the top).
I don’t know that I memorized all of C. W. McCall’s patter, but I still know most of it—phrases such as “them smokies was thick as bugs on a bumper,” “we tore up all of our swindle sheets,” “them hogs is gettin’ in-tense up here,” and perhaps best of all, “eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse Microbus,” were just plain fun for an 11-year old to grab on to and spit back out. I’ll claim I was too young to really understand the disrespect for law enforcement and antipathy to perceived over-regulation on display here. The CB-inspired novelty music craze of that period is probably just more 70s schlock in the end, but I can’t dissociate it from relatively care-free winter days and fun times hanging with my sister.