A “THANK YOU” FROM A NONMUSICIAN
I have no idea what “per-cent” of the public actively listening to the home-taped cassettes of the ‘80s and early ‘90s were non-musicians, but I strongly suspect the number was considerably under 50%. And I’m so happy to have been in that minority number. If it weren’t for my having always searched (from age 9) for music “under the radar,” I wouldn’t have been there. As it was, I requested to be a reviewer for both OP (later OPtion) and Sound Choice at the serendipitously perfect point in time, after having read an issue or two of each – this was something I had to try to get in on! So I put my nonprofessional cards on the table and must have caught Richie Unterberger and David Caffiardini on a slow day…thankfully for me! Later on I was also privileged to express my admiration for Minóy’s music in a feature article for Electronic Cottage.
Free tapes coming in, along with trades, ultimately about a thousand in number from all sources…unique home-grown music often vastly superior to what was on the mainstream airwaves…getting to personally meet great folks like Don Campau, who lived nearby, and Al Margolis, Minóy, Jonathan and Hilary Caws-Elwitt, and Debbie Jaffe. I count Don and Al among my closest friends to this day, though we live far apart. And I have greatly enjoyed a 22-year correspondence/friendship with Tom Furgas, another of the “first wavers” whose music and efforts helped materially to define the scene. And my being bowled-over by Robin O’Brien’s early works caused me to rave about her and play some of her music for Don on an early No Pigeonholes program…well, he was obviously “impressed”!
I corresponded with many others and got on their own distribution lists for their releases. I even got a small “remuneration” one year from OPtion for my reviews…hey, they’re paying me to do this? In any event, I got to publicly spout-off on my first passion, music, for about six years (ending with OPtion when the editorship changed hands).
My range of musical interests is broad enough to have kept me listening throughout my life to this-or-that work of genius in any of a dozen genres. I moved around a lot and never settled down enough to try to learn an instrument (childhood and early-adolescent piano lessons from my father didn’t work out – I wasn’t disciplined enough and wanted to be “outside” raising the usual high-school-hell). So, my customary rejoinder to musicians having asked me why I didn’t play an instrument usually ran along the lines of “Hey – if I were spending hours and hours learning and playing an instrument, I’d have hardly any free time to listen to your music!” That always got a chuckle, but the truth is that it’s the plain truth. The originality, spark and intensity of much of what I heard during home-taping’s ascendant years revealed wonderful – and challenging – music that blissfully consumed my time. It was an era of an ever-expanding horizon of talent that the humble cassette allowed to be revealed and voiced. All those tapes are occupying custom-made wall shelves in my office to this day, and, yes, they still get played!
So, in closing, I’d like to humbly thank all and everyone who made the effort to get involved in that magical moment in time to regale us – even we non-musicians – with the fruits of your efforts. Music for a lifetime…and more. My grandchildren will hear your music.