How an 8 track player changed my life


In October of 1974, I got my driver’s license, which changed my life. For my 16th birthday in April (6 months earlier), my Dad brought me to get my learner’s permits for both a motorcycle and a car. He also paid to register the motorcycle that I had been riding in the field behind our house.  As soon as we got home, I was on the bike riding it all over town.  I rode that thing everywhere for the next 6 months in all types of weather until I was able to take my driving tests that fall.
I worked 6 days a week on a rubbish truck that whole summer and saved as much money as I could. This gave me enough to buy my first car, a 1966 Chevy Impala. I had also saved enough money register it, paint it and buy an 8 track player for it!
My very first 8 track tape purchase was Madman Across the Water by Elton John. I had heard the songs Levon and Tiny Dancer on the radio, but I really wanted to be able to listen to the entire album. I was not disappointed! I pretty much wore the tape out after a few months.
After that 8 track, came many more from Elton. Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player was next, then Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, etc. For the past 50 years, Elton’s music has been a staple in my life.  I have owned all of his work on vinyl, then 8 tracks, then cassettes and then CDs. I kept all of my vinyl, but I have donated all other media types in favor of Spotify’s streaming service.
I still enjoy Elton’s earlier work today. I especially love his self titled first release and his first live album 11-17-70.  These were made when Elton only had a bass player and a drummer with him when he played live. My favorite album of his is still Madman Across the Water. It has stood the test of time for me and it will forever remind of the freedom that I felt the first time I popped the tape into the player in my old orange Chevy!
I play his music regularly on vinyl when I paint. It relaxes me and washes over me like a warm waterfall. It also takes me back to many important moments in my life. In other words, it encourages me to freely create. I do listen to other music when I paint, but I still find Elton’s to be the most inspiring for a lot of my work.
Have a great week!