Your Walkman Memories

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 12:28 PM

A Sony WM-FX421 Walkman, for stereo cassettes. A Sony WM-FX421 Walkman, for stereo cassettes. (Evan-amos/Wikipedia Commons)

You may not have caught this breaking news over the weekend, but on Friday Sony announced it was discontinuing the portable cassette player known to the world as the Walkman. In July 1979, the first Walkman rolled off the assembly line and into the hands of music fans who were suddenly free to take their mix tapes on the go. Three decades later, Sony thinks there's no longer a place for the device in an iPod world (at least in Japan, where it has been discontinued).

Do you remember the music you were listening to on your first portable player? Send us what was on your first Walkman mix tape and we'll relive the memories on the air.


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Comments [22]

Eve MacLeish from KFAI Mpls, MN

While walking my dog in the frigid MN winters, I listened to salsa music (unavailable in Minnesota at the time) taped from WBGO & WKCR on my Walkman, on tapes sent to me by my brother in NYC. The Walkman fit perfectly in the pocket of my Army surplus parka!

Oct. 27 2010 07:47 AM
Debbie from New York City

I guess I am a nerd. I bought the walkman to listen to All Things Considered while I was running. I used to train for marathons and did not want to miss out on NPR news. Over time, I also used the walkman to listen to Sting and Genesis.

Oct. 26 2010 02:56 PM
Heather from Staten Island, NY

My Walkman was my constant companion through my pre-teen and teen years. For my 11th birthday in 1990 my mom bought me my very first Walkman. The first tape I listened to in it was "After the Rain" by Nelson. I also remember laying in bed at night before I went to bed listening to various NYC radio stations. I also remember constanly listening to "Core" by Stone Temple Pilots on the bus home from school, walking home from the bus stop and while doing my homework. Ahhh, memories!

Oct. 26 2010 01:58 PM
David Garcia from San Angelo, Texas

1987, I was just forced into a Christian private school during my 7th grade year by my parents. On out-of-town field trips I played Mettalica's "Master of Puppets" through my yellow Sports Walkman and refused to talk to anyone. I know as the reculse outsider with a jr. high school class of 40.

Oct. 26 2010 11:21 AM
James from Oklahoma

I was a 12 y/o and earning my first money by mowing lawns in 1982, the first things I ever spent my own money on were a Sony Walkman and the album/cassette Signals by RUSH!!

Oct. 26 2010 10:35 AM
Helena from Stoughton, MA

I used to listen to "Zouk La Sé Sèl Médikaman ..." from Kassav' (Antillean Creole for a local dish made from cassava root) is a Francophone zouk band formed in Paris in 1979. Very popular group (compare to U2) in the Francophone countries.

Oct. 26 2010 09:52 AM

Grateful Dead bootlegs. While skiing. An experience made more immersive by the greatest technological innovation introduced in the Walkman: Auto-reverse!!!

Oct. 26 2010 09:46 AM
Lynée from Grand Forks, ND

I listened to The Police "Synchronicity" I loved my Walkman!

Oct. 26 2010 09:10 AM
scott from michigan

Sonic Youth nearly killed me. I was cutting my parents lawn while listening to Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation at full volume on my Walkman. My own sonic daydream was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires. I had nosed the mower into the street, not noticing or hearing the oncoming car. My neighbor, having witnessed the incident, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "You almost met your maker, son." I wish I could say I learned a lesson in volume control, but....

Oct. 26 2010 08:42 AM

I remember with absolute was Duran Duran's Rio. Why this tape? It was the first album (and last for a long time) that I bought on cassette instead of vinyl. The actual albums had the advantage of large covers with big photos of sexy men like John Taylor and Simon LeBon (and Andrew Ridgley--the "other guy" from Wham!, and Paul Young, and all of the other British pop stars with whom I was completely smitten). But Rio had that Patrick Nagel print of the woman with long black hair. I didn't need a big album cover of her. Hence the cassette.

Oct. 26 2010 08:33 AM
Claire from Brooklyn

Bon Jovi. Slippery When Wet!

Oct. 26 2010 08:28 AM
Layton Sumpter from Austin, TX

"Fight for your right" by The Beastie Boys on their 1986 release, Licensed to Ill was a constant jam on my casette walkman.

Oct. 26 2010 08:09 AM

Adam Ant, Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, and Culture Club.

Oct. 25 2010 08:41 PM
ben johnson from SHAOLIN

The Walkman was one year old when I was born.

By the time I had grown up enough to push the buttons on the thing, they weren't really mine to push--the Walkman technically belonged to my teenage brother. We also shared the small store of dub and mix tapes he'd made with the stereo while listening to the radio, or copying some of the LPs he or my father had: The Police, Michael Jackson, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue," along with an entire Lord of the Rings trilogy--thanks to our Public Radio contributions.

I can remember what it looked like, with it's three wheel counter, brushed-silver face, and the little window for watching the tape play or rewind. I remember the scotched-tape headphones. The metallic taste of it when you needed to fix something with your canine teeth. I remember when the over-used 90-minute Maxell started making your mix sound warbly and thin, and trying to detangle the thing when a tape really got messed up in the tiny moving parts.

A few years later I had my own Walkman, and started dubbing my own stuff--the excellent soundtrack to "Top Gun," with the Righteous Brothers and Kenny Loggins. Pretty much everything by The Beach Boys. Early 90s "greats" like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, and C & C Music Factory. Even later came the best of Seattle Grunge mixtape, the "Pavement Songs Nobody Likes But Me."

What was in my Walkman could be shared with friends, could help define who I was and what I was about. More than any other technology, the Walkman revolutionized the idea of listening as a personal and portable experience, long before the Discman or the iPod. As far as I was concerned, it was the Gootenberg Bible, the Model T of electronics. I fell asleep with it on, took it on long car rides and adventures, and used it for pre-T ball pump ups.

Rest In Noise, Walkman. You were the first, and I'll never forget. I'll miss you terribly.

Oct. 25 2010 04:31 PM
By text from Columbia, SC

Run DMC and Dee Lite

Oct. 25 2010 02:35 PM
Duncangela - By text from Detroit, MI

Alanis Morrisette

Oct. 25 2010 02:35 PM
By text from Warren, MI

The first album I ever bought and listened to on my walkman was Natalie Imbruglia's "Left of the Middle". I still listen to the CD when I'm feeling nostalgic, but my walkman is long gone.

Oct. 25 2010 02:35 PM
By text from North Haven, CT

I actually listen to the Takeaway every morning on a Sony Walkman I bought for my wife I have no idea how long ago! I rarely use the TV function because it's such a battery charge hog. I used to listen (earpiece) to the Who and Cream while mowing my lawn.

Oct. 25 2010 02:34 PM
By text from Pontiac, MI

Not only what, but where and When: July 1981, my HS-Sr. trip, walking through Jerusalem, 1 ear bud in my ear, the other in hers, listening to "Walking On The Moon".

Oct. 25 2010 02:34 PM
By text from Florida

New Kids On The Block!

Oct. 25 2010 02:33 PM
By text from Fort Lauderdale, FL

I got mine overseas while on leave. I still have the original. "The one and only, A Sony".

Oct. 25 2010 02:32 PM
By text from Michigan

Green day: Dookie.

Oct. 25 2010 02:31 PM

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