Wow, isn’t it crazy how years fly when your all grown up. Tomorrow, is December 30th, of 2022. Flip back over 20 years ago, it was, almost, y2K, everyone was scared the world was gonna end. I had these friends, who lived out in the country, and there parents were sams club members, and baught cases, and cases of water and MRE’s. We stood in the church on December 31st, 1999, when the stakes were high, expecting the Lord to come back, we were ready. The clock struck mid night as church members sang, and? We, were still all there. It felt different, as we walked out into the crisp Missouri air, the car started, my Braille N Speak 2000, booted, only cause I purchased the upgrade, lol. We drove home. 22 years later, I’m still here today. It’s crazy how the years fly.
I know it now, like I wouldn’t admit it then. I was, spoiled when I was a kid. Not the kind of kid though who was always a brat, at least, I don’t think so. It was something I focused on then. I got a lot of cool gifts. I remember going to moms a few years back, and played my drum kit, and it felt like Christmas. I thought, this Christmas, man I don’t need a damn thing. If I had all that stuff stored away and only played with it as an adult on Christmas, that’s all I’d ever need.
The first gift which I remember receiving that made a difference in my young life was a micro cassette recorder. My dad sold office products my entire life. He had one that he took voice memos on back in the day. I was probably 2 years old and I was obsessed with his. I remember the first time I felt it on the table, I said, Dad what is this? He told me. I said what is a recorder. He said, well son, you talk in it, like this. He showed me. I was amazed. I don’t think I’d heard my voice on tape before that. Fast forward later that year, and I was looking through a old toy box at a neighbors house. I found something. Why it was in the toy box no one knew. It was, a micro cassette recorder, with out the tape door. I remember rushing to his dad and saying, is this what I think it is? And he told me it was broke, he needed to throw it away. I asked, can I have it then? He abliged, and the thing never worked. I remember being sad, and even later that year, on Christmas morning, I got a brand new one. It came with a pack of three little tapes. It had a strap that would go over my rist at the time, lol, yes, I was that young. It had two speeds one an octive slower than the higher. It had a mono earphone jack and microphone jack. It took two aa batteries. I used it, and used it, always though recording over what I had previously recorded, because, it was easy to get back to the beginning of the tape.
When I was about 5 I wanted to play an instrument. I didn’t know which one, but my parents suggested the piano. We had one in the livingroom. Sure. So it was all serious and we’re going to find you a piano teacher. For Christmas/Birthday, I asked for an electronic keyboard. I remember going to Toys Are Us, and was looking at keyboards in a glass case. I couldn’t feel them, and so, mom asked the sales clerk to get one out for me to touch. As the clerk was doing so, she nocked over something that sounded miraculous in the case! What, was that mom? I asked, well, it’s a guitar. A guitar? I remember dad had a toy one that I had touched up in the closet, so I asked, is it like dads? Well no, it’s electric. It was electric! It had a built-in speaker/amp. I was sold! The clerk got it out of the case. I layed it on the floor and was told I should hold it and shown how. It had a wammy bar, the speaker was small under the strings where a sound hole on an acoustic might be. It wasn’t loud but there was some grit when you turned it all the way up. Um, mom, so can I get that instead of the keyboard? No, lets find a keyboard. 🙂 The keyboard was cool, I rmember it had a motorcycle sounding patch that I had never heard again. It had built-in speakers, probably a casio. I started learning the piano. Still though, my blood ran guitar.
the next year, the entire year, I couldn’t stop talking about the guitar. Oh I was taking piano lessons all right, but it wasn’t the music I listened to. I found hard rock way to young, but that’s another story for another time. two of my fondest memmories in my life were at that time. My vision teacher took me to the mall. They had a music store. This was the second time that I touched a guitar. I had got a litteral toy one that year with no strings and buttons so I new how to hold it. I remember talking to the clerk, and he plugged the guitar at the mall into an amp. I remember I hit the fifth and fourth strings, making a d power chord. I had never felt that excitement before. I would have stayed for hours. The next of the two memmories was going to the local music store with dad, to which, I did stay for hours. I held the guitar and strummed it as dad sat patiently by. When I woke up on Christmas morning that year I went into the livingroom by the tree. There was a different smell in the room, a kind of varnish, a newness. There by the tree, was a 3 quarters Memphis guitar, with a small PV amp. I played that guitar that day until my fingers litterly bled. I played cat scratch fever using fourths, and smells like teen spirit also using forths. That was, the best Christmas gift I have ever received which set the course for my life.
So naturally for Christmas’s to come, the gifts naturally revolved around guitar. A couple years later I asked for a WaWa petal. I got it, but it didn’t sound right. I put a new 9V in it, it didn’t help. I took it to guitar lessons,a nd asked my teacher, what’s up with this? It doesn’t have the throw that it should. It was, a WaWa for a bass. We exchanged it and ooooo!!! Then it was all right! That petal was so fun to learn and brought a new expression to my playing
Years later when I was probably 11 or 12, I discovered the four track recorder. Not the APH one, but the musical mixer which would allow you to layer instruments. Oh how I wanted one. My guitar teacher had another student who was celling his. I remember I didn’t know if I was going to get it or not, but that Christmas morning there it was! A year or so earlier I had been visiting a family friend and he had an old drum kit in his bassment which needed work, and I was so excited about performing the experiment of playing a beet on the drums, without hearing anything, then seeing how it would sound to layer my guitar over that, and vocal two part harmoney on top of that, 4 tracks. I’ll never forget the first time. Listening back to it all together, I had a revelation. I wanted to be in a band, just as bad as I wanted the guitar, and the WaWa petal, and the Four Track. All my friends at the time were into video games the super NES. Now I could be in a band, without being in a band, if I got good enough. That gift too, was crucial in setting course for my life.
Moving away from Christmas for a moment. When I was 4-5 years old, my dad called us boys into his office. This was totally unexpected with the surprise in his voice. Boys, I have a gift for each of you. No, I didn’t get it, my boss was kind enough to get you these. After we open them you are going to call him, and after that write him a letter of thanks. These gifts were extraordinary. Like, I know if it wasn’t for him getting us these gifts, it would have been years later that I would have gotten the gift. My brother Nick loved TV, movies, the old west. For Nick dads boss litterly got him a miniature pocket sized TV. It had a pull out antanna, a digital tuner, about the size of the game boy that would come out years later. It had an eighth inch video in and a mono earphone out. It took 4 aa batteries, had a little speaker at the bottom. That was freakin amazing!! For me, he got, a Sony Discman. Yes, the real deal Sony discman. I didn’t have a CD player, of course not!! shit, my parents had only purchased one a year before that and they hadn’t had a stereo for years! This was incredible! It was big, took 4 AA batteries, had two switches on the front one for megabass, one for hold. On the top were two sets of buttons, play/stop big buttons on the right, and scip/seek smaller buttons above the play stop. a set of four on the left, programming buttons. It was heavy. It had an all metal casing around it. I had never heard anything so clear in my young life. I had it until I was 12-13. It litterly wore out. I wish it hadn’t, I wish I still had it. It would go for thousands on Ebay but I’d never cell it.
When I was going to turn 10, I wanted a walkman that would record from the radio. I didn’t know if there was such a thing. Mom and I went to best buy, and asked the clerk. There was, such a thing! It was a sony. On that birthday there it was. What I learned was much cooler than recording from the radio mobile, was the fact that it came with a stereo microphone. This was incredible in my opinion. Up to that point, my recorded world, had been mono. I remember setting the recorder and the mic in the driveway, as I road my bike by it on the sidewalk. Listening back I heard stereo space/movement as I road by. I remember listening to that over and over again. The only thing that came close in that big of way later in life was binaural recording. Speaking of Christmas gifts, one of my brothers lifes wants was a remote control plane. He got one, and I recorded this flight with that walkman that God I wish I had!!! It was such a cool recording.
Over my life I have received a hell of a lot of amazing gifts! But those described above, are some of the coolest! Which will always remain in my memmory! I know we all have that gift as a kid that has shaped us!!! I’m wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous 2023!