Bukowskis earliest home recordings? dating?

do we know the date of his very first home recording and what was on it? It definitely was before Carl Weissner or John Thomas started recording him.

Was the 1962 KPFK broadcast recorded at his home by himself or in the studio? ( I'd bet he didn't record that in public/studio then.)

In a letter to Doug Blazek (Apr 12, 1065) he "turned on a tape I made while drunk and I layed on the floor listening to my quips and madness and singing", which in all its easiness doesn't quite sound like the reading for the radio. (I also am pretty sure, I've read even earlier letters, where he mentions taping.)

The first mentioning I remember now is in the poem 'remains':

[...]
but I even have her voice on tape
and she speaks some evenings,
her again,
so real she laughs,
says the thousand things, [....]

which (if it's true) had been recorded before Jan 1962.
(The poem itself dates not later than June 1962, since it had been sent toghether with a letter of that date to Sheri Martinelli.)

Was it so common to use (and maybe even own!) a recording-machine for private purposes back in 1962? (and was it even affordable?)
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
[...] Was it so common to use (and maybe even own!) a recording-machine for private purposes back in 1962? (and was it even affordable?)

Yes, very common in the 1960s and even in the 50s. People made tapes of their favorite records, conversations, non-professional playing of musical instruments, singing, etc. Many people owned reel to reel and later cassette tape recorders. They were almost as common as TV sets and radios. Not expensive for a consumer quality machine. As a kid in those days, my family had both reel to reel and cassette machines, as did many of my friend's families.
 
thanks rekrab,
that answers the biggest part of my question.
For some reason I had the idea, this was a technique too elaborated to be that common (or at least affordable).
 

mjp

Founding member
That being said, I know Bukowski borrowed recorders for his first tapes. He may have bought a machine at some point, but I don't recall ever reading anything about that.

I also assumed that the KPFK tape was done in their studios. But I haven't listened to it in a while.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I think a home tape recorder cost about the same as a radio and less than a tv set in those days. I have an early 1960s electronics catalog -- I'll look for an ad with prices.
 

mjp

Founding member
According to Johannes in this early thread, Bukowski also read at KPFK in 1968. So he went into their studio at least once.

I think a home tape recorder cost about the same as a radio and less than a tv set in those days.
Well, there was a wide range of recorders. I can see a cheap recorder being the same cost as a radio:

aiwatp50450.jpg


But not a reel to reel intended for use with a stereo:

magnab204503.jpg


Those were very expensive. We had a big Magnavox reel to reel (it sat inside a big Magnavox console), and I'd hazard a guess that it may have cost more than our TV set.

It was definitely a big purchase. I had to wait until my parents left the house to play cards or go to a dinner party to fuck around with it, because they wouldn't let me touch it when they were around. But I was only eight or ten years old at the time, so maybe their reluctance to let me loose on it was justified.
 
Well, all this assumes he bought a machine to record on. It makes more sense for him to borrow a machine for a few days to record and just pay for the tapes. It seems much more likely that in the 1960s he borrowed machines for home recordings or went to other people's homes to record. This is more realistic than him owning a machine. Think about it: if Buk owned a tape recorder he would probably have recorded quite a lot and quite frequently and we would have more of those recordings today, in original or commercially released. The fact that there are relatively few recordings suggests he didn't have a recorder in his home for lengthy periods. Also he would likely have mentioned in his letters being at home and recording poems. There are plenty of poems/letters about his typewriter being broken or in hock but no mentions (that I recall) of a tape recorder being used, damaged or repaired. Suggests he didn't own a tape recorder.
 
thanks bogdan.

" I made on my machine"

clarifies not only, where he'd recorded that, but also that he owned the machine
(which makes one think: how many tapes may he have made and how many of them may still exist somewhere? He sure wouldn't buy a recorder for only 2 or 3 times of use.)
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Right, mjp. High end reel to reel machines were expensive, probably more than the average tv.

And as you say, Joseph K., Bukowski probably borrowed one.
 
Last edited:

Skygazer

And in the end...
Don't know which type of recorder it was, but in Post Office he describes buying a tape recorder to learn his route; whether he recorded any of his poems on it is another question:
True or not, I decided to try the tape recorder. My worries were over. I could leave it on while I was sleeping. I had read somewhere that you could learn with your subconscious while sleeping. That seemed the easiest way out. I bought a machine and some tape. I read the scheme sheet onto the tape, got into bed with my beer and listened:

Bukowski, Charles (2011-10-31). Post Office (p. 86). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
 

mjp

Founding member
We're all thinking open reel (which he did use early on), but there is also the possibility that he had an inexpensive cassette recorder at some point. By 1966-67 they were becoming pretty common in the U.S. I had one when I was a kid in the 60s.

cass.jpg
 

Johannes

Founding member
just a short one, and you needn't respond ... right off, only to say, no, don't want tape back, I have a machine, a bad one, true, but if I feel like making more sounds, it's there. I got it orig. to record some classical music, build a collection of sounds and what not, but since getting it, have done little. Your tape bad tape, tech. that is; Sears-Roebuck or what, and they have tendency to dry and split. Now have a couple of rolls of "mylar" which is tougher, like me.

- Beerspit Night and Cursing, p. 249, Letter from 28.09.1961
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Nice find, Skygazer.

Sheer happenstance Rekrab:) although I'm tempted to claim clarity of vision and intellect.
Was digging about on account of that other thread; Was Bukowski a total skivver?? ( Buk and Work ).

- Beerspit Night and Cursing, p. 249, Letter from 28.09.1961
That kind of fits Johannes, given him passing the route exam ( for which he bought the recorder) and becoming a regular postie, and the radio readings. he must have practised on it, don't you think, looking at the timeline? which would make it early sixties possibly.
 

mjp

Founding member
Yes man, Panasonic! I probably had half a dozen of those too. I think my Panasonic brand loyalty has its roots in cassette recorders like that one.

I recently dubbed a cassette to CD that I made on a Marantz Superscope (mono) "boombox" - or more accurately the precursor to boom boxes - and even though it was a shitty Realistic cassette, it still sounded surprisingly good.

They don't make nothin' like they used to.

superscope1.jpg
 
Lest we diverge too far from the thread topic...ah, screw it. Those condenser mics were just fantastic, right? Like recording something broadcast from a dumpster on Pluto.

Little-known info on these things: Keith Richards recorded the distorted opening chords of Street Fighting Man on an acoustic guitar held close to the condenser mic of a cheap cassette player; probably much like the one you posted, mjp. Talk about using everything at your disposal. Those chords are great; a totally fresh sound.

Source: Richards, K. 2010. Life. Back Bay Books; Little, Brown and Company, New York, Boston, London.
 

mjp

Founding member
I don't know, I recorded my bands - such as they were - for a few years on that Superscope and while those tapes certainly aren't high fidelity, they're as good as (or better than) later tapes made on a "better" stereo portable.

Though yes, of course the microphone makes all the difference. If you plug a $2 microphone into a five thousand dollar Nagra you're going to get a $2 sound. Maybe $2.50.
 
One would think that a Panasonic mic would be at least as good as one on a Superscope (what a great name; very 1968), but I always found that the condenser mic on mine was fairly lame. But who complains when you're 10 years old and you're holding space-age technology in your hands? :eek:
 
  • Like
Reactions: mjp
You see? Never underestimate the outstanding importance of John what's his name!

I really enjoy reading these letters.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
It looked like the Webbs went as far as advertising it in the press or something, a shame it all fell through for them
"...record Bukowski TALKING won’t be out in April. Chi. Lit Times ad only pulled in about 20 sales so far, they just don’t have the kind of $$$ to put it out now. October better, would take $600 at least to press the record, broke, might do the Henry Miller book submission first, that would give them enough money to get into #5, the Patchen issue, and then, in October, the record. I busted my ass, shooting mouth into a borrowed tape recorder, laying on the floor first on one side then the other because my ass was too sore to sit on, I got them fresh mad tapes for their April deadline, and now I find I had until October, maybe forever..."
Letter to Douglas Blazek April 6 1966
 
This site has been archived and is no longer accepting new posts.
Top