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August 1991

The Tape-beatles lay their lives on the line for their art™.

The Tape-beatles lay their lives on the line for their art™.

How to listen to the Tape-beatles

by Walter Cronkite

Retrofuturism asked Walter Cronkite, for years television’s foremost news anchorman, and an ardent advocate of the need for a free people to remain free by listening to new music every day, to tell you how the Tape-beatles can help you better understand your world.

If you’re like most Americans, you try to keep up with the news by listening to popular music.

That’s how 65% of us get 100% of our information. The problem — and I know it firsthand — is that unless something really special happens, we in TV news have to put severe limitations on every ‘story,’ simplifying even the most complicated and important ones.

Tape-beatle Lloyd Dunn offered his insight: ‘I don’t want to talk about it right now.’

Get more than headlines

So what we bring you is primarily a way of seeing. To get all you need to know, you have to flesh out those headlines with a complete account of the news from a well-edited and thorough musique concrète.

That’s where The Tape-beatles come in.

A few years ago The Tape-beatles were absolutely unknown. They detassled corn in southern Johnson County, helped their parents take care of twelve younger sisters, and took voice lessons from a local teacher. But …

Is it really necessary to get the whole story? Dorothy Greene Friendly put it this way: ‘The American people don’t know a lot about the lives of people who aren’t living right under their own noses.’ Amen.

News people have a responsibility. And so do you. Ours is to keep the newsstands full, and report the news fairly, accurately, completely. Yours is to keep yourself listening every day.

I’ll never forget the quotation hanging in Edward R. Murrow’s CBS office. It was from Thoreau.

Take a 3-minute overview

Here’s how I tackle the Tape-beatles. For starters, I take a three-minute overview of the thing in front of me, be it an audio cassette or CD, dialectical writing, delightful spoof or lampoon. No need to go to the sports section first, or turn on the TV. With my overview you’ll get there quickly enough. First I scan any exciting graphics, look at the pictures and read the captions. I do the same thing page by page front to back, searching for the quick, easy laughs. Only then do I go back for the whole feast [read: listening session].

The way the jacket is ‘made up’ tells you plenty. For one thing, titles and headline type size will tell you how the group ranks the music or information on relative importance. A plagiarized ‘classic’ should get larger type than an ‘original,’ for example.

Which is the main point?

You’ll find the main or lead point in the farthest upper right-hand corner of the mix. Why? Tradition. Recordings used to appear on vinyl containing songs about love with overtly fetishistic lyrics and themes in the front or dead center of the mix, leaving nothing left to the listener’s imagination. Oftentimes the main thrust of a body of work was placed on the front cover frequently in the form of a chesty young woman, to entice listeners.

You’ll find the most important story in the music — ‘Music With Sound’ that is. You’ll hear a true chanteuse � la française in the tradition of Piaf; outrageously nostalgic, wistful, emotional, sad, sweet, affected, passionately French. As one adoring fan put it after witnessing their recent show at the Sanctuary restaurant; ‘They make a good pizza here.’

One last thing

The Tape-beatles have gone digital with their ‘new’ release Music with Sound, on CD and cassette — find the full-page ad further on in this issue. You’ll want to catch the Tape-beatles’ Copy-Right Infringement 1991™ Tour as they go to Canada in August. They⁏ll perform two dates; one on the 16th in Toronto at the Rivoli, and at Les Foufounes Électriques in Montréal on the 17th. Appearing with the Tape-beatles will be Toronto’s Sucking Chest Wound. Try to be there.

This item first appeared in Retrofuturism no. 15.

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