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Joy of the 8-Track

via YouTube
via YouTube

Everybody remembers their first car. No, not the one your Daddy let you drive. I mean the first one that was actually yours.

It might have been a ’51 Ford, a ’78 Chevy, an ’86 Pontiac or ’48 Dodge. Depends on your age.

For me it was a beautiful ’63 Chevy Impala, white with a red vinyl interior. Of course it was a 2-door hardtop. It had to be a 2-door hardtop, because in those far away days if you were drivin’ a 4-door, well, that was your Dad’s car. Why did we just have to have a 2-door? Well…uh…’cause it was just cool!

Anyway, that was my first car. Now, it was the summer of ’72 when i bought it. $500.oo cold hard cash, that’s what it cost. I paid $300.00 out of my baling money, Dad kicked in the other $200.00. I paid him back…at least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. A little liability insurance and I was stylin!

It took more oil than gas. Put that pedal down and a beautiful blue cloud would pour out the back. Yep, you didn’t want to be drivin’ behind me.

The car was basically, as we used to say, shot. And I loved it. Why? Because it was mine!

My brother at the time (wait a minute…I suppose he’s still my brother) was in the Air Force down in Missouri and he came back home one time with an 8-track player. It was used, something he was able to pick up cheap. And it was red. I remember it as being red, so it was, just like the interior of my ’63 Chevy.

I immediately went to the store and bought a pair of those cool plastic Kraco speakers and went to work putting them in by the back window. I’m not sure they were the best speakers, but I’m pretty sure they were the best 15 or 20 bucks could buy. And, at least in my foggy memory, they sounded real good.

Me and my friends hooked those speakers and wires up in the shade of a big tree by our yard light pole. And yessir, other than that little buzz, they sounded fine.

The first 8-track I remember having was Elton John ‘Honky Chateau’. Over the next months that one was joined by the Grass Roots, Creedence Clearwater revival, Jim Croce and others. And remember that lovely ‘klunk’ in the middle of your favorite song when it changed tracks? And there was just one itty bitty thing you had to be aware of….if there was a bit of a wobble in the music….PULL IT OUT! PULL IT OUT! PULL IT OUT!

Too late…all of a sudden there was Elton John all unraveled on the floorboard. Might as well have a memorial service, ‘Honky Chateau’ was dead and gone.

The 8-track player is dead and gone now, too. And so is the ’63 Chevy, replaced by car’s like the ’66 Tempest, the ’68 Olds, the ’71 Ford and others. Other nameless, colorless cars. But there is one thing…

That 8-track player and that ’63 Chevy? They may be long gone, but they still live, they still live and breathe. And Elton still sings ‘Honky Cat’ out of those black, plastic Kraco speakers. And yes, that blue cloud still puff’s out the back of that car, too. It’s just that you can’t see them anymore.

But I can.


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