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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Author Bob Deakin Returns: Take a letter Maria...and read it!

(While editing some changes Blogger burped and brought this post to the top. Oh well, it's a good entry from Bob. Enjoy this re-post)

I have an open invitation to anyone (and I mean anyone!) who would like to contribute a story of something they've discovered either at a tag sale, or their own attic, basement, or garage. I have been thrilled to receive several story's in the past 2 years because, well, it means I get a night off. My friend Bob Deakin whose own site is on my list of favorites has found something within a "find" and in his own way is looking to connect, or should I say 'correct' the previous owner.

Letter to the Owner of the Nakamichi Cassette Deck
By Bob Deakin

Dear Maria Santoro,

You don't know me but I feel compelled to write you regarding the cassette tape player I just purchased at a tag sale in Bridgewater, CT. I found your Eustis, Florida name tag and address inside of it when I started cleaning the tape heads and oiling the rollers.

It's a beautiful deck. Nakamichis were some of the best decks available in the early 1980s when this was manufactured. Looks like you took good care of it and for that I thank you very much. Quite forward thinking of you to put your name on it in case it was ever stolen or lost, which I hope was not the case with this one as I intend to keep it.

The reason I am writing is because of the cassette you apparently made and left in the deck. It was a mix tape you must have made some 30 years ago and I have listened to it a number of times and am impressed with many of the musical selections. It's not every day I hear Eddy Arnold doing a soul song or Glen Campbell singing Jimmy Webb.

What does not impress me is the ebb and flow of your unruly assortment of songs. Early on Side A you follow Jose Feliciano's “Light My Fire” with Elvin Bishop's “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.” These two songs could not be any more different in feel, construction, style or even time period. One is a Spanish acoustic guitar driven ballad while the other is pure blues rock.

This sequence has me puzzled.

Another combination I have a big problem with is Richard Harris's “MacArthur Park” followed by Seals & Crofts “Diamond Girl.” What we you thinking? An Irish actor singing a dramatic, lyrically confusing love song followed by an American duo know for their ultra new age religious beliefs? 

Bad segue and it detracts from the quintessentially American wholesome, sunshine feel of the Seals & Crofts piece.

Late on Side B you made the awkward decision to include Ronnie Milsap's “It Was Almost Like a Song” followed by “If Loving You Was Wrong I Don't Want to be Right” by Barbara Mandrell.

Emotional confusion anyone?

First of all the Luther Ingram version of “If Loving You...” holds ten times the emotional impact over the Mandrell version but I'll give you a pass in that Mandrell's country sensibilities work better on your tape. The two songs should not follow one another, however, in that Milsap's song laments a genuinely innocent lost love while Mandrell's song selfishly brags of an illicit affair that everyone should be ashamed of, including you for putting the two songs back to back on your tape.

I could go on but I'll keep the criticisms to a minimum. The quality of the tape was good and living in Eustis, FL in the early 80s surrounded by nothing but orange groves, pickup trucks and Richard Petty fans you must have had a lot of free time on your hands to over-think the choreography of your musical mix.

Sometimes too much thinkin' makes for bad thinkin'.

I will hold onto the tape if you don't mind but if you really want it back send me an email or a self addressed stamped envelope and I'll put it in the mail. I can even, dare I say, burn a disk of it if you want, but the audio levels of your mix are so dynamically inconsistent that I fear the audio to digital conversion will sound like crap on your home stereo, computer or whatever contraption you listen to music on these days.

I wish you the best of luck and thank you again for taking good care of this deck. I get the impression you are a nice person and I think we are – to some extent – kindred spirits in our musical tastes. The Nakamichi still works well and will sound even better with some maintenance and more sensitivity to musical selections.

Bob Deakin

P.S. I mean no disrespect but next time leave more than one second between songs. A more dramatic pause makes for better listening and the music search feature requires at least two seconds to work properly.

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