File Sharing: 1971 Style
Arthur and Howie agreed, and who was I to argue? I had wanted them to record me a cassette tape of Retrospective: The Best of Buffalo Springfield, but I was soon made to understand that this made no sense. After all, Buffalo Springfield had only recorded three albums in the two years they were together, and there hadn’t been a bad song on any of the six sides.
“So why not have them all on one tape?” asked Howie.
Why not, indeed? And so the next time I saw Howie he handed me a 120 minute cassette. It seemed like an impossible dream, but here it was: Everything ever recorded by Buffalo Springfield, right there in the palm of my hand. I thanked him profusely, or at least I hope I did, and headed out to my car to pop my new tape into the boxy, fifteen-pound tape-player slash radio that my parents had given me for graduation.
I don’t know which I found more exciting, that I now had the equivalent of all three Buffalo Springfield albums, or that I had gotten it for free. If I spent even a second feeling guilty about having possibly taken food out of Neil and Stephen’s mouths, well, I don’t remember.
Howie had recorded the albums in the order of release, as anybody would have expected him to. I leaned back in my car seat and pulled out of Howie’s driveway to the opening notes of “Go and Say Goodbye,” and drove around burning up 38 cent gasoline until the fading last strains of the simple and elegant “Kind Woman.” Then I flipped the tape and started all over again.
I played the hell out of that tape all summer long, and then in September took it with me to my freshman year of college. The tape served me well right into my sophomore year, but alas, it is the nature of all things to wear down, and my cassette containing every song released by Buffalo Springfield was no exception. And so one day, without the slightest bit of a warning, the tape just broke. I was sad when that happened, perhaps sadder than one should be over the loss of something as mundane as a cassette tape, but we had, after all, spent many happy hours together.
Right now I can click over any number of music websites, type in ‘Buffalo Springfield,’ and listen to every song that was on my old tape, and as often as I want. Additionally, I can hunt down alternate renditions of these songs, unknown songs that were never released, live performances and doctored versions where I can hear isolated vocals, guitars or a cowbell. Still, that was a pretty good little tape.