Posted by: Kate | March 24, 2011

My Yellow Walkman

I remember when they gave it to me, for Christmas when I was 13. From that day I was in a new realm of music, one that was private and all my own. The walkmans were new – my dad loved to buy me new gadgets. We had a computer in the 80s, and a VCR. For the Christmas that I was 17 he bought me a pocket translator that was also a clock and a calculator. Gadgets tickled his fancy, and he liked to share them with me.

The walkman allowed me to listen to my own music. I took it skiing, flying down the hill while listening to the top 100 of 1986. Best radio tape I ever made (my friend still skis to it). I bought my first parent warning tape when I was 14, listening to it in the back seat on the way home from a ski trip to Crystal Mountain while my mum glowered in the front seat. Guns ‘n Roses. I tried to get her to listen to some of the songs, but only her friend would.

It came camping with me, allowing me a break from all the family time. I’d lie on the grass with music playing in my ears, not disturbing anyone, just enjoying my own space.

I heard on the radio yesterday that ipods changed the way we listened to music, because you could load a thousand songs and put them on shuffle. But my walkman changed the way I listened to music. I made mixed tapes, played tapes until they wore out and I had to buy another one because I loved it so. The walkman – bright yellow, snug on my hip or in my ski jacket pocket or tucked on my bedroom pillow late at night – was my little piece of independence no matter who I was with or where I was.

This all seems so normal now, in an age where everyone seems to be plugged with a wire in their ear, but back then? That yellow walkman was something new and exciting.



  1. Ah, you were ahead of your time! Great story, thx Kate :)

  2. I could tell a similar story. And it’s why I associate so many of my memories with particular songs. Funny how lately I tend to have a movie on in the background rather than music…and sad. Music just draws me in…I get so enveloped I tend to stop what I am doing and just listen. Movies that I’ve seen before don’t do that so I can multi-task with them on. Interesting shift from younger days.

  3. What nice memories. You are younger than I. I remember seeing Guns & Roses in clubs in LA before they were famous. Way before any notion of parental warning labels on music. That crazy Tipper Gore.

  4. oh i miss mix tapes….

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