By Kimberleigh Forbes
As a child, one of my earliest memories of media was the music my parents used to play. They were really into soulful R&B from the ’80s and ’90s along with an eclectic mix of rock, pop, showtunes and gospel. I remember being a little kid trying to belt out Mariah Carey to my parent’s chagrin. Looking back, I feel a little sorry for all the noise they had to endure while I attempted to sing love ballads by Mariah, Whitney, Luther and Sade.
My cousin and I were both only children and were like sisters. We spent every moment together. One Christmas, she got the Michael Jackson HIStory: Past, Present and Future album on cassette. It was epic. We were in Michael Jackson heaven. My cousin even had a little sequined glove. We got our little tape recorder with the microphone attached, and we created our set list. We thought were the King of Pop. We also covered other artists like Bobby Brown, SWV and Boyz II Men, adding our own flair to popular songs we heard on the radio.
My mother had a fondness of buying popular singles on cassette tape and playing them on repeat. She would record the song on a blank cassette on both the A and B side and let it rip.
We. Learned. Every. Single. Word. Of. Every. Song.
“A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin was one of our favorites. Even now when I play that song, I have fond memories of being in my mom’s Toyota Paseo belting out Princess Jasmine’s verse. My boyfriend marvels at the fact that I know every single word, run, and ad-lib years later.
It’s funny looking back and remembering the archaic technology we had. We had to literally go to the music store when we wanted to buy music and search through alphabetized row after row to find the artist you were looking for. You had to be extremely careful with cassette tapes or they would unravel and be useless. Don’t even let me get started on CDs. One little scratch and you’re finished.
The struggle of yesteryear is no more. Music is streaming from pretty much every single electronic device that one owns. If kids want to record themselves, they can do so through video from their phones. Can you imagine if my cousin and I had that type of technology? The results would have been iconic. We would have been a YouTube sensation and signed to a record label immediately. A regular Justin Bieber story…or that’s what I imagine.
There is something about the struggle of the past that makes you grateful for what you have. Kids these days will never know what it feels like to try and salvage a cassette tape by winding it up with a #2 pencil eraser. (Sigh.)
Viva Apple music.