As someone who likes vaguely bionic shit that invites fidgeting, I was sad to see this New York Times article about the demise of the cassette. Sometimes, I think of cassettes as little caged birds that sing to you before being devoured by the very machine that wrings forth their paeans to “Letting Her Cry” or “Only Wanting To Be With You.” (I’m specifically thinking of my dubbed copy of Cracked Rear View that got eaten a while back.) Not to mention that they are, as the article points out, still useful for those who listen to audiobooks; the audio track stays in the same place once it’s been stopped, making it easier to pick up the story in mid-chapter.
At Blackstone Audio, which produces cassette versions of its roughly 340 annual titles, Josh Stanton, the executive vice president, said there was still demand from libraries and truckers, who buy them at truck stops. But he could forecast only that his company would produce cassettes through 2009.
I’d personally add that, though the music industry has (logically) abandoned cassettes, I’ve bought a few over the past couple of years. A minor smattering of noise/punk bands (the presently on-hiatus Finally Punk comes to mind) have adopted the format, usually for limited releases or minor works. Each band probably could give you a different answer/aesthetic justification as far as continuing to use tapes, although I’d bet that most of these reasons hinge around collective nostalgia, something else the NYT article touches on.
So yes, cassettes will heal the divide between the underground, the intelligentsia, and the stereotypically red-statey profession of truck driving. Everyone else can fuck off and skip around their recordings with ease, and I’ll leave you with something that ties into last night’s Mad Men premiere and the discussion of nostalgia and its friends in circular technology :