Songs from the Floorboard: The Eight Tracks

eight tracks

If you recall, I’ve already openly admitted that due to a laziness/disorganization gene I had in my youth (which has now somehow been miraculously transferred from me to my teenage daughter), I managed to destroy around 450 vinyl records by stacking them all up willy-nilly on the floor in front of the stereo instead of putting them nicely back into their covers.  The result of this behavior was a well-rounded and widely varied collection of snap, crackle, pop.

Also present was the stuck-in-a-groove thing, where one snippet played over and over and over until you dragged your weary bones off the couch and bumped the turntable so it would keep going.  What’s that you say?  You weren’t supposed to bump the turntable? Oh. Right. Only a lazy, disorganized person would do that.

In addition to this fine collection of ill-treated vinyl, I also had a large family of eight-track tapes that lived in my car.  They homesteaded in a nice leatherette case in the passenger’s seat, but as the family grew, they soon expanded their territory to the actual seat, then to the floorboard.  As the floorboard settlement grew more and more crowded, some headed for new, unknown frontiers, aided by the hand of fate that would occasionally, in a frenzied attempt to locate one member, toss them through the air, to land as they may in the no-man’s land of the backseat.

Periodically I would have to hand over the Mariemobile to my dad, so that he could do some dad-related thing to it, brakes or inspection stickers or what-have-you.  This would send me scrambling out to the car with a gigantic trash bag to gather up the whole family in one fell swoop so that they could be tossed in the trunk, hidden from prying minds that might be wondering just how much these things cost and thinking this-is-not-what-your-allowance-is-for-young-lady.  When the Mariemobile was handed back over to me, the bag o’ tapes would move to the passenger seat, and the re-population process would start all over again, until the bag was empty.

The good thing about eight-tracks was that they could be horribly mistreated and still be good to go, unlike their sensitive, wilting-flower cousins, the vinyls.  The only thing about the eight-tracks is that they would occasionally stage a revolt by spitting tape out at you for no reason.  And I didn’t know how to fix them when this happened.  Apparently, there is a way to do it, based on my Google search of “how to fix an eight track tape”.  But, alas, this was merely an academic inquiry, because I don’t own any eight tracks anymore.  When I got a new Mariemobile in the mid-eighties that had a cassette player, I bagged up the whole family one last time and sent them on their way to the great floorboard in the sky.

Here are some of the late, great denizens of the floorboard, in the order in which my brain retrieved them.  I had most of these on vinyl too, along with other albums from the same artists.  I know there were more, but unfortunately, I could only remember a portion.  How quickly we forget.

My very first eight track tape was John Denver’s Greatest Hits, which my thoughtful parents gave me so that I would have something to play on my new eight track player in my first car. Snigger if you wish, my brothers and sisters in rock, but I still like “Rocky Mountain High” and I torment my family by singing it regularly around the house.

My second eight track tape was Electric Light Orchestra’s A New World Record, given to me by a nice boy in my class, whom I should have dated, but didn’t.  He was too shy to ask, and I was too insecure to encourage him.  We were great friends, though.  While conferencing about the ongoing melodrama and agony that we called “marching band practice” in my car in the high school parking lot one day, he saw that I only had one tape, the above mentioned John Denver selection, and he went to his car and came back with ELO.  Like I said – a very nice boy.

From this humble (this word will appear again shortly, hint hint) beginning, came…

The Beatles, Abbey Road

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (Talked about that already.)

Santana, Abraxas (You knew that one, right?)

The Who, Who’s Next (Again, no surprise here.)

Neil Young, Comes a Time

The Rolling Stones, Black and Blue and Hot Rocks

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin I & II

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, & Animals

Yes, Yessongs (Have you read my concert review?)

Mountain, The Best of Mountain (You knew that one too, yes?)

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run

Janis Joplin, Greatest Hits

A Jimi Hendrix compilation that I can’t seem to find online, so I don’t know the exact title.

Joan Armatrading, Joan Armatrading

Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection

Gregg Allman, Laid Back

Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive! (Oh, Peter, with your Plant/Daltry-esque blond curls, you were one of my first loves, after “Nantucket Sleighride”. I just need to know once and for all, do you…YOU…feel like I do?  No. No, I guess not, since you don’t know that I exist.)

Todd Rundgren, Something, Anything

David Bowie, Pin Ups (Ziggy was on vinyl. I know you’re wondering.)

UFO, Force It

Journey, Infinity (This was a requirement for all young persons of my era, subject to fine or thirty days in the hole for failure to comply.*)

Boston, Boston (Ditto with the fine and 30 days.*)

Van Halen, Van Halen (Ditto*)

Bad Company, Bad Company & Straight Shooter (Ditto.*) (B.C., when I think about you, I think about…deserting Peter to adore Paul.  Which is exactly what I did.  Sorry,  Frampton, old pal.)  Reference: “Feel Like Makin’ Love” by B.C. and the old “robbing Peter to pay Paul” saying.

Humble Pie, Smokin’ (*Thus the 30 days in the hole.)

Like I said, I’m sure there were more, but that’s a pretty representative selection. I hope I got all the titles right, what with my middle-age memory decline and all. I started to double-check everything online, but then the old laziness gene re-asserted itself and I gave up. So from this wealth of material, what shall I select for our listening pleasure today?  C’mon, you know it.  Just say it.

Of course, it’s got to be “Thirty Days in the Hole”, by Humble Pie.  Gosh, how I miss Steve Marriott.  There’s no telling how many untold gazillions of singers have tried to imitate that powerful, wailing blues-voice that Steve pulled off so convincingly and with such apparent ease.  A natural, I guess you could say. From Oliver! to Small Faces to Humble Pie to getting screwed over by the suits and therefore playing only in local pubs,  he was a true talent.  Anyway, prepare to be rocked.  All right, all right, all right, all right…

How about some black coffee with your pie? I agree with the host’s comments at the end – the three top British rock/blues vocalists of the era (the best era…you know it’s true, there’s no need for any of that “there’s good new music out there” claptrap around here) – Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant, and Steve Marriott.  A trifecta of vocal awesomeness.

Here’s Steve Marriott as the greatest artful dodger the world has ever seen…well, okay, Davy Jones was a great dodger too.

And here’s a young Stevie acting, just prior to the Small Faces period.

Okay, for extra credit…I know you’re dying to hear it, just like me….the man with the voice that makes me think of fine chocolate – it’s so rich and luscious and downright delicious -Paul Rodgers with Bad Company.   My, my, my.  Oh, my beloved rock brethren, we shall be talking about Bad Company again, trust me.  Till next time…rock on.

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6 responses to “Songs from the Floorboard: The Eight Tracks

  1. What a lovely homage to a doomed format. Don’t suppose you had one of those cool spaceman’s helmet portable players? Man, I’d start collecting cartridges if I had one of those!
    BTW, is that an adolescent David Hemmings in the film clip?
    PS. Dare I own up that I prefer the Small Faces?

    • I didn’t have the helmet, darn it. I would have kept that. I still have my doughnut-shaped transistor radio, hahaha.

      I think you may be right – I do believe that is David Hemmings! I looked up some old images of him and there’s certainly a close resemblance.

      Re the Small Faces – love them too. Thought about including Itchycoo Park, but I felt I was already getting too carried away with the Youtube videos as it is. 🙂

  2. Another fascinating read. Eight track passed me by completely. An excellent rummage through your musical likes here, Marie. Pink Floyd and Bowie stand out. I hope you have them on vinyl too. Interesting one there – Peter Frampton. I think I heard on a TV programme recently that that album you mention is/was the best selling live album. He appeared on the programme, looked fit and well, but minus the hair!

    • Hi Jamie, I’m not surprised that Frampton had the best selling live album – it was a humongous mega hit over here! I’ve seen him on Youtube – looks like he’s doing well, and I’m glad. He always seemed to be such a likeable, friendly guy.
      I don’t have any vinyl any more, but I do have a complete collection of Floyd on CD. 🙂

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