Raging Against the Machine: Record This!

A project1979 friend of mine wrote this on his status today:

Feeling a little older today…Rage against the machine’s first album turn’s 20. I remember buying it on tape at the end of 8th grade…that was a long time ago…but it still is an amazing album…gonna kick ass and blast it into my ears at work today!

I will never forget this song and how I felt when I first heard it. I still listen to it when the mood comes:

And Stereogum wrote a nice piece about RATM’s anniversary as well:

For a period of a few months when he was in sixth grade, my little brother did the same exact thing every day after school: He rode his bike a couple of miles to the record store near our house, the one with the listening stations, and he listened to the self-titled debut album from Rage Against The Machine. Every day. And when he was listening to that album, he didn’t do anything else; he just stared off into space and absorbed it. He never bought the album. Eventually, the clerks at the store started asking him if he wanted to buy it or what, but that didn’t stop him. I think he might have kept doing it even after I bought the album, and I would’ve been happy to lend him the thing. Years later, a friend of mind married one of the former clerks at that long-shuttered record store, and my brother’s routine somehow came up in conversation at one point: “Wait, your brother was that kid? We never knew what was going on with that kid.” Obviously, this was an absolutely insane thing for an 11-year-old kid to do everyday, but I sort of got it then, and I think I sort of get it now.


I feel like both accounts more for their reference to the way things were, especially in regards to the reverence for tapes and record stores. Although I can still get lost for hours in the remaining places that sell CD’s, I realize that their existence, along with the way coffee shops were for reading and drinking coffee are milestones in my generational memory. Record stores are where I learned so much about music, bought my first Tone Loc single and awkwardly pretended to know about the music the cute clerks told me about while meandering in the grunge section. As for tapes, I wish I had all of mine from the beginning (Madonna True Blue), not only for nostalgia because I appreciate that with tapes you had to perspire a little more to get them to work for you. You had to listen to the crunch sound the tape player would make and turn the tape over. You could manipulate the teeth with a pencil if you remembered where exactly the song by gauging the amount of tape in the small window between the wheels. And mix tapes? That was a wonderful listening exercise. Unless you had a super  fancy stereo, you had to be there exactly when the song stopped to press pause…



Thanks, Rage Against Machine for making brave music and thank you for your anniversary which gave me the opportunity to reflect on how access to music has changed in our lifetime. I feel changed because I realize that these things are really in my past, a past not as distant as it feels. It also makes me look at the bigger picture: what has replaced tape making and record-store flirting? How did those activities, along with drinking syrupy coffee with friends at non-Starbucks shape our lives?




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