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This music was made for walking

2009-07-01 14:08

30 years ago Sony released the nifty cassette player that you could strap to your hip and while you strutted your stuff to your favourite tunes. Sure you’re kicking it with your colour-coded iPod today, but without this revolutionary invention you’d probably still be walking around with a ghetto blaster on your shoulder.

So what were you listening to when you got your first Walkman? Don’t be embarrassed. Okay, we’ll go first…

Niel Bekker
I had an older cousin who introduced me to some pretty ass-kicking stuff just as I got my first Walkman. Sure, I listened to The Cranberries. But I also got my hands on The Foo Fighters and, sadly for my parents, The Offspring. “You stupid, dogs&*t, g*&damn mother*(&*&)#!”.

Ulpha Edries
New kids on the Block, 5ive and Backstreet Boys… no comment on the boy band phase please…

Jean Barker
I went to stay with my grandfather for a full week during a school holiday. He was ahead of the game when it came to Joburg’s paranoia about crime, and used to lock the upstairs part of his house off when he went to bed (at 8.30pm sharp) and turn off all the lights to save electricity. Boredom forced me to spend my life savings on a walkman, a few packs of batteries, and copy of Dark Side of the Moon which I bought from Hillbrow Records. It had “Money” on both sides for some reason. I must have listened to it about 100 times. I think the resulting depression only finally wore off sometime last week. “Great Gig in the Sky” is still one of my favourite songs.

Jannie Momberg
The soul funk band Imagination and good looking punk wannabe Kim Wilde.

Sam Brighton
It was the only tape I had – Springbok Hit Parade ’87. From Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and U2’s “With or Without You” to something from Queen, I played it over and over until my walkman chewed the tape out of the cassette.  Damn you, batteries! And then I had to be satisfied with homemade radio mixtapes that I recorded while praying the DJ didn’t speak over the best part!

Chris McEvoy
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. I bought an overpriced TDK "metal" tape and recorded my vinyl copy - which btw, was also the first record I ever bought - on my dad's Sanyo music centre. Hi-tech shit. I distinctly remember thinking, "Wow, nothing will EVER sound as awesome as this!" while sitting on Muizenberg Beach, getting drunk and refusing to take off my Docs.

Kelly Wheeler
My mom bought me all the Roald Dahl books on tape... so probably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Does that count?? ;)

Ashlin Simpson
I received my walkman on my 7th or 8th birthday; it was baby blue and white. I got it with one of those listen & read books - so you got the cassette and the book, think it was Sleeping Beauty.

Soraya Abdulatief
I got my first Walkman as a birthday gift rather late in the day. I had two tapes that I listened to until they stretched; Madonna’s Material Girl and MJ’s Thriller. Later I had made mixed tapes of whatever was on the radio; Bobby Brown, Fine Young Cannibals, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Neneh Cherry, Simply Red and Gloria Estefan. I also remember getting into trouble for taping over my mom’s Country music collection that she had ordered from the Reader’s Digest catalogue. So I guess I should add Dolly Parton to my list.

Shaheema Barodien
I discovered a well-worn tape amongst my aunt’s things during a weekend visit when I was 12. It had a crude sticker on it that just said ‘Mariah Carey – Music Box’. I had never heard any of her albums before, and outside of her music videos, I was actually amazed to discover that singers didn’t make music videos for every song they recorded. The idea of an album was quite novel. I spent every moment transfixed by songs like “Hero” and “Dreamlover” and her version of Harry Nillson’s “Without You” was the first song that made me cry. I eventually wore the thing’s batteries out (and the tape) by repeatedly rewinding, stopping and rewinding again as I tried to transcribe the album’s lyrics and brag to my friends at school that I knew all the words by heart. They chose me to sing the lead in “I’ll Be There” for our annual Spring Festival that year. Well worth the burning, Walkman button imprinted fingers, I’d say.

Duncan Alfreds
Walkman! Who even remembers the great granddaddy of the MP3 players? It was the 80s and I had big hair, ugly clothes and mirror shades with Lionel Ritchie (Dancing on the Ceiling) playing on my Walkman. For me, the struggle was always to try and bend the ear phones to fit through my big ole 'fro. My Walkman was yellow and cost a small fortune in batteries, but I looked so cool. Sometimes, when I played my Michael Jackson tapes (recorded from the radio – remember 2:30 Date) I would do moves that even today, should be classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you were listening to when you got your walk on. Then download something old-school to your iPod today. Why not start here?
Happy Birthday Walkman! We remember what we were listening to when we got our first Walkmans many years ago.

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