This activity fits comfortably in the category of “things our children will never do”. After all, if you want to listen to a song, you can just go to Spotify, right?
It wasn’t once so simple.
On a Sunday evening, you would find us huddled in a room somewhere — somewhere we wouldn’t be interrupted by the dog barking, the budgie tweeting, or an announcement that our tea was ready — preparing to tape the weekly Top 40 chart show that was being broadcast on Radio 1.
You’d have to be dextrous with the record, play and pause keys. (One-touch recording? You could go whistle for that in those benighted analogue days.) You needed to be quick, too, to pause your recording before the DJ started talking over the end of the song. Worse was when they rabbited all over the intro.
The British Phonographic Industry, a British music industry trade group, contrived to convince us all that our simple act of homage was, in fact, illegal. In the 1980s, they ran an anti-copyright infringement campaign with the slogan of “Home taping is killing music.” In case we didn’t get the idea, their logo had a skull and crossbones on it.
Piratical it may have been but, in the 1980s, an estimated four million of us taped the top 40.
We’d often then go and get the words to the songs from Smash Hits, as well.
(Ah, Bon Jovi was livin’ on a prayer, not a prairie.)
In cupboards and attics across the land there must be mountains of these treasured home-compiled cassettes, quietly decomposing alongside our mixtapes.
Downloading is much less of a faff, and you don’t have to worry about the DJ cutting in. Then, once you have your songs, you can carry them all around with you in your pocket.
Still, taping the charts was a childhood pleasure now forever lost to the digital generations. Somehow, I think they would welcome the return of tapes with the same enthusiasm as they would ration books. There’s a reason it’s called Progress.