Bootlegs – Part 3 Analog vs Digital, or, The Death of Aural Retentive Tapes

After many years of tape trading, it was beginning to wear on me. I loved the tapes I had no less, but the whole process was starting to strain my enjoyment of them. I realized that I was listening to the tapes once to get a feel for the quality so I could list it accurately (including timing them) and then never getting back to them to actually enjoy listening to them.

My tape decks were starting to break down, resulting in the loss of a couple of tapes and leaving some with issues. This Nirvana / Roy Buchannan tape had a crinkle in the beginning. Every time I played it on the playback deck it got worse. I had to remember to play it on the recording side.

A few of my tapes were missing.

There was a box of tapes by the stereo that needed to be listened to and some that I had recorded from TV or other sources that had post it notes on them to remind me what they were. Some had no notes on them. I was pretty convinced that I had accidentally recorded over a bootleg here and there. It was out of hand.

I decided to stop trading and get caught up. That break lasted, well… forever. I stopped trading.

In large part, this was due to digital downloading. I found what I thought used to be called (but apparently wasn’t, as this is now a Bob Weir / Phil Lesh band, note to check that out later that had concerts uploaded by band fans, of bands that allowed taping of their shows. Hmm… now I was legit. They had Blues Traveller, John Mayer, Neil Young and a host of others, including the Grateful Dead which incited another Dead resurgence in my life.

I downloaded a staggering amount of music from there. This also lended itself to being portable and listenable at work. So a lot of this I actually listened to. Amazing.

The modern-day equivalent of this is

Music junkies like me can get lost for days looking at the band list and downloading questionable amounts of live shows. For instance after going with Dalton to see the Smashing Pumpkins documentary movie “If All Goes Wrong” (amazing by the way) I found myself downloading all of the residency shows mentioned and featured in the movie. I sampled several of the tapers shows, picked the one I thought had the best sound and downloaded his entire run of shows. I have them all from the movie. It made me feel strangely connected. That was a week of my life.

These days I try to stay away from the site. I am too much of a collector to be tempted.

At any rate, I never went back to tape trading. I quit. Closed up shop. I either finished the tapes I had in progress or tossed them. I could download in a handful of minutes what took me weeks to procure from other tape traders, and it was free, legal, and fast.

I boxed my remaining tapes and they went to the basement, not to be seen until this past summer. The season of digitizing.

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