Petty in the Attic

At the weekend I decided to clear out some boxes of stuff from the loft. I found an old box of cassette tapes from my early to mid teens. I forgot about some of the music I used to listen to. I had also forgotten about cassettes and the joy of home taping. There was something else I’d completely forgotten about which was a pleasure to rediscover.

I approached the box like an overclocked Marie Kondo. My goal was to throw everything away. But I wanted to rummage through the items for sentimental reasons first. The only things I planned to keep would be in digital form.

I found a few letters and postcards from old friends. I photographed them. There were about 20 mixtapes that I wanted to keep so I photographed the track listings.

I found the first digital stock photography catalogue in Europe. I chucked it.

Digital Stock CD
Digital Stock CD

I found an estimate from Rose Morris to get my dream guitar shipped in. I photographed it.

Rose Morris estimate
Rose Morris estimate

Horror of horrors I even found this. I burned it.

What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?

I grabbed a handful of some of the last cassette tapes and blew the dust off them. A copy of Tom Petty’s Into the Great Wide Open emerged from the grime. 

This was a keeper. I remember learning every guitar lick from this album. But that’s not why I wanted to keep it. Despite being in the loft for 20 years and likely unplayable. This one was different, it wasn’t just a cheap cassette tape copy. I had drawn myself a copy of the album cover as well. Using my best colouring pencils.

My hand-drawn album cover
My hand-drawn album cover

I taped the album off my friend, Patrick around 1992. I probably reused the tape from my limited pool of cassette tapes. Who knows what I taped over.

BASF was my friend when Maxell wasn’t at home
BASF was my friend when Maxell wasn’t at home

I still remember measuring the album cover insert. I remember cutting some paper to size. I remember my pencil box, sitting at my drawing desk, my lamp, my old chair, the view across my parents’ garden.

My version vs the real thing
My version vs the real thing

A few years later when studying Art History I realised the artwork was a piece by Jan Matulka (1890–1972). I had always assumed it was something Tom had commissioned for the album.

Jan Matulka (1890–1972)
Jan Matulka (1890–1972)

I have since bought the album, and his others, on several formats. I messaged Tom Petty on twitter to let him know that this act of bootlegging was a one-off.

I hope he can forgive me.