When I was 3 years old my family moved to India on what my father later called “a quest to find the Truth.” It was a kind of theological investigation, to which we definitely found answers (but that’s for another post). We lived in India for four years. But in 1995, when we found ourselves in danger, we quickly moved to our family’s home for a month then flew back to the United States.
Just before we left India, our family gave us parting gifts of toys and music. I remember one toy, a funny contraption made of a lighted flashing spinning top that glided along a metal rod railing when tiled back and forth. It played a tune. I loved it. I have tried googling for pictures of it a couple of times, but haven’t been able to find it. Our family also gave us cassette tapes with music. Some of the music was contemporary, from the early 90s. Some of the music was from much earlier, with songs my father used to listened to as a young man.
I enjoyed those Indian music tapes from the age of 7 until I left my hometown to go to college 2600 miles away. It’s more than nostalgia when I listen to those songs. (I’ll pour my heart out, at the risk of sounding sickeningly dramatic.) I have always felt that listening to those tapes awakens an ancient and guarded part of my soul and gives me wings to live with more passion and content than any other music (with the possible exception of celtic music). There is something special in the lilting voices, the deep beat of the drums, and the sometime sinuous, sometimes simple melodies played by flutes or strings or horns.
It must have been two or three year ago that my father let me pack three of these gems and travel with them from California to Massachusetts.
When I first brought them here, I played them on a small, frankly dilapidated hand-held tape player. It served me well for a while, but died last year. No more Indian soul music for me – until I visited In Your Ear last week.
In Your Ear is a wonderful store for new and used records, cds, dvds, tapes and more. I was yapping about how I needed to start looking for a new tape player when the fellow behind the counter said they had two for sale cheap. Said he’d even throw in the cables you need to hook it up to the receiver for free. I bought the bulkier one from the mid-80s that wasn’t plastered with images of Dora the Explorer for only $10. Great deal!
She’s a beaut. The machine is like new. The huge push-down buttons feel so great – so real, as opposed to the touchscreen world we live in. The sound quality is wonderful and I love to hear the crackle of blank tape just before and after a song plays. The red lights on the right track the “power levels.” The two rows look so cool racing each other to the music.
Best of all, I can listen to those three Indian tapes again. I can remember my time in India, I can let the nostalgia of my childhood wash over me, I can let the music capture me.