Happy 2014! On broken cassettes and new CDs…

Gremlins Cassette and CD

The old and the new!

I’m a movie soundtrack junkie; even when I was a teenager, every time I saw a movie and loved the music, I’d beg Mom to take me to The Wall (a long-defunct record store) to pick it up on audio cassette.

Trouble was, unlike today, back then you often couldn’t get complete scores. You could get a release that included the major themes (the original Empire Strikes Back or Raiders of the Lost Ark cassettes) or major themes and certain music played during certain scenes (Cocoon, Jaws, and Jaws II). You could also find mixes of major themes and whatever pop music numbers they stuck in the film hoping they would become hits (Gremlins).

Gremlins (1984) was one of the last movies I saw with my mom. I fell in love with Goldsmith’s score—in particular, Gizmo’s sweet, trilling theme. After we left the theatre, I begged her to stop at The Wall, which we would pass on the way home. I was surprised when she did it (even though, in all honesty, it was never hard to get her buy music for me–she was a musician), and I was a proud new owner of Gremlins: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on a Specially Priced 7-Cut Maxi Cassette!

Gremlins Cassette

The original cassette Mom bought me at The Wall in 1984.

Gremlins Cassette Interior

Even the inside still looks pretty good considering it’s three decades years old.

Recently, I was a guest on an episode of Dark Discussions focusing on Gremlins. The conversation was lively and had lots of reminiscences about the way things were in the 1980s. Eric, Mike, Philip and I are all around the same age, and I mentioned my audio cassette. They cracked up, surprised that I still have machines that play cassettes in my house. But the truth is, of course I do—I still have a cassette collection of close to 300. And even though many of them are almost thirty years old, most are quite playable.

Like Gremlins. Well…up until last week.

Since the cassette is pretty much part of my Christmas music collection, it comes out every year, and I play it at least a few times. This year, when I put it in the machine, it sounded like everything was underwater, like high-pitched gurgling. I tried it in a few different machines and got the same thing.

For a second, I just stood there in a kind of shock—how could this be broken? It’s been part of my life for almost thirty years! It’s a fixture! It’s part of me! But nope—it was, indeed, gone for good.

I have a rule. I don’t replace any music that I have on cassette with its newer counterpart until the cassette is gone. So it was time to cough up the cash and replace Gremlins—hopefully on hard CD. I was hoping I could get the same version of the cassette.

What I found was something even better than I’d hoped.

In 2011, Universal Music Special Markets, Retrograde Records and Warner Brothers teamed up to release the entire Jerry Goldsmith score. Complete. From opening of film to end, with a few bonus tracks—among them additional versions of the famous “Silent Night” sequence, with the melody and without. I couldn’t believe it (I also couldn’t believe the reviews on Amazon—apparently, there are lots of other breathless Gremlins geeks out there). It’s like I always say—wait long enough, and what you want will show up. What was even better? This was a two-disc set. Disc 2 was an exact copy of my original Specially-Priced 7-Cut Maxi Cassette. I was going to get to have my cake and eat it, too (just not after midnight). And they even went so far as to include a pretty awesome booklet that is chock-full of liner notes.

Gremlins CD

The new double-disc soundtrack. Gremlins geek? Here’s the link: http://amzn.com/B0067LGMQM

So, it’s out with the old and in with the new. I’m hooked up, listening to the score as I write this. Still, it’s hard to say goodbye to the cassette…I’m going to keep the original insert and hope that the next time something else breaks I’ll get just as lucky. And sometimes isn’t that what moving on to something new is all about?

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, is a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her horror novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on December 31, 2013, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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