Hair and Spliced Tapes

When I was a kid we used to listen to Hair, the soundtrack. Now, for those of you who are familiar with Hair and know I grew up the daughter of missionaries, you might be surprised that we listened to that kind of thing. It’s not exactly Christian missionary kid material. But I knew the soundtrack by heart. Or so I thought.

We had piles and piles of cassette tapes when I was a kid. I don’t know if it was intentional on the part of my parents, but one of the ways I connected with US culture while growing up in Latin America was through the recorded cassette tapes my folks collected. We had everything from ABBA to Leon Redbone to Mannheim Steamroller to Bach. Mostly classical stuff, but lots of other goodies too. Including a few soundtracks to musicals like Hair and Godspell.

When I went to college, I began my own cassette tape collection. One day I ran across the Hair soundtrack and, feeling nostalgic, I bought it.

The first time I listened to it was a moment of awareness.

Imagine me singing along and suddenly, “Wait. #wut? What did they say?” There were words missing from songs and a whole song I had never heard.

Laugh if you will. But apparently my dad or some older sibling had spliced the tape to remove the bad words and a few songs that were too full of bad words to splice out. I guess someone like the music, but figured that it wouldn’t pass the parental controls so they made it work. Clearly we listened to it a lot, since I knew most of it by heart.

I recently heard Age of Aquarius on the radio and (as I sang at the top of my lungs to the chagrin of my children) I got to thinking what my parents would have done if cassette tapes hadn’t been the way we consumed music. Splicing a tape was easy. Find the spot, cut, tape. Done.

You can’t do that to a song on an online music service. I would have missed out on some great music be issue in pretty sure uncut Hair would not have lasted long in our house.

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