I found a cassette tape at the bottom of a shoebox while cleaning the attic. The label said Jim Reeves Roast, June 1978. When my grandfather retired from Sears, his colleagues threw him a party. They roasted him in front of his coworkers and recorded it on a Sears cassette. Now that I own a tape player again, I can listen to it. Yet I’m wary of this unexpected field recording. What if I discover a terrible side to my grandfather? Late one night I punched the play button. Patches of conversation broke through: “And that’s how he made it out of the marketing department.” Laughter. “Last time he was ever given an expense account.” More laughter. The sound of silver dinging on glass, a call for attention:

“Do you remember New Orleans?”
“I always will,” said my grandfather.
“Boy, we got so drunk with them gals from—”

Jim Reeves Roast Cassette

I stopped the tape. A few phrases got caught in my delay pedal and made a nice loop which I paired with a bit of vinyl crackle, some rumbling feedback, and a pitched-down guitar from a dollar-bin record called Silva Y Villalba’s Antologia Musical Colombiana. The result is an eleven-minute track with some reverb, knob twiddling, and double-time delay at the end. Perhaps someday I’ll work up the nerve to give my grandfather’s roast a proper listen.

Do You Remember New Orleans?

From American Decay | 2015 | Bandcamp

A track from American Decay, a collection of loops and reverberations recorded between 2009 and 2014.

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11 years ago

Wow. What a treasure. Though I appreciate your reticence, I can only imagine hearing my grandfather’s voice again after 3+ decades. I would encourage you to archive it to digital just in case.

11 years ago

Wow this takes me back! I’m an audio lover, its funny to see how technology has changed. I love the old sound of vinyl, compared to new digital computer published tracks. Thanks for sharing.

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