I never even thought to look when I was looking for a new truck.  It never dawned on me.  Something was missing, and it didn't really hit me until I went to use it... and it wasn't there.

In 2013 it's possible to get a truck with technology like constant monitoring of tire pressure, monitoring my gas mileage & receiving a satellite signal delivering music to me (I don't listen, of course... I choose REAL RADIO), but getting a CD player is apparently too much to ask.

Can you imagine trying carry one of these with you in the car for a road trip? Photo courtesy iStock Photo

My earliest musical memories come, of course, from my parents.  My dad used to do his impression of radio DJs in between songs (I wonder how I became a radio DJ), and I loved the radio from an early age.  In addition to listening to Armed Forces Radio in the Philippines, my dad had a record player we used to listen to at home.  The songs will never change, but you can't help but marvel at the changes to how we get our music.

We've come a long way in my 35 years of life.  I've listened to music on record players, 8-track players, cassette decks, CD players & mp3 players.  From the time I bought my first cassette tape it's really been the only thing I've "collected".  I have a small sports memorabilia collection going, but my music collection is the only thing I've held on to through years of moving.  I still have CD cases I bought in 1998.  The CDs may be scratched & unplayable, but they're still there, a relic to my past.

Record players came in all shapes & sizes over the years.  I've heard from folks about record players even being installed in the car dash just like we'd see later with cassettes & CDs.  There's now technology that transfers music from vinyl to digital, but I've heard people say they love the "rich" & "full" sound that only comes from that needle hitting the record.  My dad had a small collection that was mostly filled with Beach Boys albums.  He also, for some reason, had Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album, which I could never wrap my head around.  The funniest thing that ever came out of that record collection is my older brother dabbling in the world of R & B/hip hop as a teenager.  He tried his hand at scratching records like the hip-hopsters do it.  Unfortunately, "Help Me Rhonda" doesn't translate well in the world of sampling in hip hop.

The 8-track was an experiment gone wrong when it comes to user-friendliness, but it was the first truly mobile playing device available.  8-track decks could be found in most cars at one time, and I even have an old stereo I got from my grandparents' house that still plays the few (not surprisingly) Beach Boys 8-tracks.   The huge problem with 8-tracks is that, unlike record players, you couldn't skip from song to song.  If you wanted to listen to that particular song again, you'd have to flip over the 8-track & listen long enough to get back to the beginning of the song on the other side.  I know... it's like the dark ages.


I've got two turntables and a microphone. Photo by Jamie Garrett

After the 8-track age (thankfully) ended, in came the cassette era.  Cassettes were the smallest musical delivery system to date, and for the first time you could carry your music in your hands.  My Song Walkman went with me everywhere.  I always had a backpack filled with my Walkman, spare batteries and anywhere from 1-100 tapes.  The problem I always dealt with was the tape unwinding, forcing you to get a pencil & reel it back in.  I hated when the batteries started to run low on my Walkman.  Instead of just shutting down you'd hear the song start to drag & slow down.  From that moment on I'd always hear that song & think it was slowing down.  I know, I'm weird.

Eventually the idea of rewinding or  fast-forwarding a tape seemed like too much work, and slowly but surely, as the cost of CD players became more affordable, the tape faded into memory for most of us.  The only use my tape player in my car got used was when I'd use the tape that connected your CD player to your car.  I used to drive around in my car with the CD player in my lap, trying to keep it from skipping.  My CD collection dwarfed any kind of tape collection I had.  I held on kicking and screaming to the CD era as long as I could.  When I traveled I made sure I had a fully stocked load of CDs.  I'd have hundreds of CDs with me at all times.  I found keeping those CDs scratch-free was too much to ask, and my CD collection became infamous for its dozens of unusable CDs I'd just hold on to, regardless of their uselessness.

From the moment I first got an mp3 player I was in love.  Suddenly those hundreds of CDs could be in the palm of my hand.  When I got my first iPhone, combining phone & music player I thought it can get no better.  So far I'm right.  I've got over 1,000 songs on my phone.  Any mood I'm in at any time, I've got a song for it.  The mp3 player is the pinnacle of music delivery in the 21st century thus far, but made-to-order music services like Pandora are catching up fast.

Everybody has their musical memories attached to life at the time we heard the music for the first time.  I bought my first cassette in 1989, and it's been a wonderful (and expensive) collection ever since.  What about you?  Are you into the new technology, or do you go old school with the vinyl?