Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
February 6, 2011
Record store owner and music producer Bucks Burnett has finally realized his long-held dream of finding a permanent home for America’s one and only Eight-Track Museum. This cleverly curated tribute to the portable-yet-bulky musical format (rendered obsolete in the 1970’s by that upstart cassette tape!) opened on Christmas Day in the Deep Ellum arts district of Dallas, Texas (at 2630 East Commerce Street). In the past, the collection was temporarily installed in a number of other locations, including an art gallery and a former lingerie factory. Regular hours begin this month (W, Su 2-6 pm) and admission of $10 gains entrance to the 700-square-foot exhibition space.
The eight-track was invented by William Lear (who also came up with the Lear Jet) and was in mass production from 1965-1988. Some owners of the technological marvel may recall youthful car trips with their trusty 8-track players, inserting boxy cartridges impossible to rewind or fast-forward — and which issued a loud, ill-timed mechanical thunk — sometimes in the middle of a song — with each advance to the next swath of stereo goodness. Ah, eight-track!
Since then the cartridges have been frequently found piled up in the corners of dusty thrift shops, although an eight-track enthusiasts community has been in continuous existence throughout the years. Now the form is on an upswing; not only is Burnett opening his museum but he’s also starting up an eight-track only label called Cloud 8 to release music in the format, including an upcoming limited edition Tom Tom Club “Genius of Love” remix collection.
At the museum, about 1,000 cartridges are on display, culled from Burnett’s personal collection of 3,000 plus. He’s been collecting since 1988, although these days he prefers to listen to music at home on CD! The opening exhibit is “Conceived in Cars: Birth of the Eight Track 1965.” The displays include a Yoko Ono eight-track conceptually perched atop a white ladder and an over-sized mock-up of the infamously unpleasant Lou Reed release “Metal Machine Music.” There are also eight-track players of all shapes and sizes including a period car stereo store display.
Bucks Burnett has experience reviving interest in other out-of-fashion pop phenomena; he ran the Mr. Ed Fan Club for a decade and managed uke troubadour Tiny Tim in the twilight of his career (well past his “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” heyday).
But now Burnett devotes his time to his pet project: providing a physical center for fans of a much maligned music delivery system. As the poster on the wall reads “Format War is Over! If You Want It!” In these polarizing days of unrelenting bickering overload, we can’t agree more.
[Post by Anne D. Bernstein]
Eight Track Museum
- Deep Ellum Community Arts Building, just west of downtown.
- Sept. 2015: Reported closed.