December 30, 2013

Happy New Year. Here's Your Tape.

About 15 years ago, the City redeveloped the area around mrguy's studio and he had to move. It was bad enough trying to figure out how to relocate his business and his own belongings, but for years he'd also stored bands' master recordings and mix tapes when they'd forget to pick them up. After ten years of running the studio, there were hundreds of tapes. Argh.

I suggested that mrguy call everybody up and then have an open house -- a last blast for the studio / reunion / tape return. Instead, maddeningly, he insisted on meeting with people individually to return their tapes. Mrguy's strong sense of what is right is one of his more endearing qualities, and one place in which my easy-going Libra doesn't budge. 

His strategy of individual handoffs didn't move a lot of tapes, so they moved with us to our storage space in the old place. Occasionally he'd run into someone at a show who was part of one of the tape-leaving bands, and they would arrange to meet up and hand-off was achieved. Occasionally he'd make a project of it, look people up, and hand off more tapes. Social media (first Myspace, then Facebook), made it much easier. Sometimes he found the bands, and sometimes they found him.

When we moved to the City of Price and Purpose we were down to three 5' high bookcases full of reel-to-reel tape. Now we are down to two very large boxes.

Today began the tape return, City With A View style. Our first visitor was picking up two half inch mixes of his band from 1989. He does lighting now, but lived for a long while in LA (an alibi, it seems, for not being findable before). He laughed when he looked at the track list, which included songs titled "New One" and "Aerosmith," not very helpful when the new song was recorded 24 years ago and you don't remember it. Aerosmith was just what the song *sounded* most like, not what it actually was.

Apropos of tapes, he regaled us with a horrible story of visiting a recording studio in LA that had a back room filled with original tapes from amazing sessions: Aretha Franklin (Never Loved A Man), the first two Television albums -- all just sitting there. The originals. He opened a few of the boxes, and they were the real deal, with track sheets and all. Apparently the record companies that owned them were digitizing them, didn't care what happened to the originals after digitization, and hadn't picked them up. 

Mrguy and I felt ill hearing this. Our visitor opened up Google Maps and showed us where the studio in LA had been. I wanted to drive there immediately and rescue the tapes. Checking, later, a studio no longer exists at that site. Anyway the tape leaver is now a tape haver and our tape collection is down by two little quarter inch reels.

Customer number two today was a friend of a friend from the old days. He's still doing music, like the other guy, and has completed a feature film. How does he suddenly have a twenty-year old and a seventeen-year old? He works for the county and has a sweet house in the county seat. After a nice chat, he gave him a tour of our house.

In the past I have disagreed with mrguy's methodology for tape return, but after two visits today, now I get it. It's really lovely to get to spend some time with these people and give them back their tapes from 1989. I'm ready for the next victim, and wish that I were doing an oral history about this.

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