Jean-Michel Jarre and the Yellow Sony Walkman
Though the title of this post might have you thinking otherwise, this is not a slightly bizarre children’s story. Last week in Cambridge my wife and I entered Fopp after accepting the CD challenge, which required us both to buy a CD, no excuses. This shouldn’t be such a hard task, given their range and how much music is out there, both old and new. I have to be in the right mood though, and what might seem like a must buy album one day, won’t even get a look in the next. Last Wednesday seemed like one of those days, until I was about to leave the store and spotted a new Jean-Michel Jarre album in the section of recommendations near the door.
I had no idea Jarre has a new album out, having not released anything since 2007 he’d pretty much dropped off my radar. Needless to say it was an instant purchase, along with my wife’s choice of Disney Princess Christmas Album, a CD she was just as happy to get as I was with an album with someone I’ve admired for almost 30 years, and why not. Some music makes me happy, some makes me sad and some sparks transports me right back to specific times in my life. Jean-Michel Jarre has the unique ability to not only elicit all kinds of emotions, but his music takes me to a completely different world, somewhere in the future, a place of fantasy, but most importantly away from whatever may be on my mind.
I first listened to Jarre in 1988, which also happened to be the same year I was given my very first Sony Walkman. Until that birthday in July I’d been using a personal stereo made by budget technology juggernauts Alba, which had been loaned to be my childminder a few year’s previously. The Sony Walkman Sports I had chosen had many features new to me, like the much sought after rewind button and a solar powered clock on the front. I have no idea why I wanted that clock, but unlike the myth about magpies I’ve always been drawn to shiny new things and superfluous features on my gadgets. That’s probably why this particular Walkman being waterproof in hard yellow plastic and rubber seals was also a huge bonus to me, at the time. It also had two headphone sockets, which would be fantastic now as a married man, but at the time I was some years away from having anyone to share my music with, at least in the intimate setting of a duel socket Sony Walkman. In many ways this particular tape player was ahead of its time, my time at least.
I had a lot of love for that Sony WM-B52 Sports Walkman, and from the previous paragraph it’s evident I still have, but what does it have to do with Jean-Michel Jarre? Well Oxygene was the first cassette I ever played in it, and on that day of my birthday I bought the newest album, Revolutions in the Oxford Street HMV in London. Buying Jarre’s latest album Electronica 1: The Time Machine last week, brought a slurry of memories flooding back, about Jarre’s music and that Walkman, so much so that I am hoping to procure one on eBay as I type. Will I be successful in my quest, and will that lead me to moving from vinyl to cassette as a way to cling onto my childhhood? I’ll keep you updated, at least until the next spark of nostalgic inspiration becomes my latest obsession. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the new album is fantastic.