This is about the earliest song I wrote that I am willing to admit to. The lyric has that youthful quality of saying true things ironically, such that if anyone calls you on them you can just shrug and say it's a joke. Now, I've got to admit (as if you didn't know) that I really did want to be a rock and roll messiah, and probably still do. Imagine that!
Ol' #1 here is actually a new old number one that I found on the Bay, the original Ol' #1 having fallen to pieces a very long time ago. This tape recorder has a couple of unusual features.
Firstly, it can only be powered by batteries- 4 D cells. There isn't any option for plugging it into mains power. Secondly, the tiny little microphone is permanently wired into the machine. I mean, why not? Otherwise it would probably get lost.
The third and main thing is that this tape machine doesn't have what's called a capstan and idler wheel to pull the tape at a constant speed. It relies entirely on the right-hand take-up reel to move the tape forward, which means that the tape speed is constantly changing, depending on how much tape is on that reel!* This is an ingenious way to make the thing cheaply, and as long as you are playing the tape back un-spliced and on the same machine everything is jake. If you've had the tape break or made a splice in it at sometime, the tape can end up being a different length and the pitch will be shifted. But they knew this might happen and built in that wonderful variable speed control knob there, to adjust the playback til it sounds about right.
Forthly, there is no way to adjust the volume of what gets recorded onto the tape. The A.L.C. (Automatic Level Control) does it for you! The only thing you can control is how close you put the microphone to whatever you are trying to record- a really good way to learn about mic placement.
So, rather than being what I would call a recording device it turns out that this GE reel-to-reel is basically an effects box. Not so bad, really.
Rock and Roll Messiah
I wanna be a rock and roll messiah
Wanna be delirious and have a lot of pain
Drive a fancy car just like Bob Zimmerman
And not know when to come in from the rain
I wanna learn to speak the truth so plainly
That no one else will ever understand
Go danciní with the devil and St. Christopher
And let good fortune take me by the hand
And having plumbed the depths of my poor psyche
I will babble on with madness born of age
Take shelter in the corner of a confidence
And drink myself to jelly on the stage
If fate would know why I so strongly seek her
Itís because I want my voice to live for years
Imprisoned on a little wheel of vinyl
Bringing everyone who frees it joy or tears
*This is not a completely insane idea. Even though a turntable rotates at a constant rate, the relative speed that the needle moves through a record groove is also constantly changing, depending on how close to the edge it is.