Humanities Moments

Sounds of a Thing in Indiana

Contributed by Daun Fields, 42, Punk Singer, Ph.D. Student in English, University of Florida
Cassette tape
The following text is a transcript of the above recording.

My name is Daun Fields, I’m a punk singer and a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. I’m 42 and this is my Humanities Moment.

So, my humanities object is the Fisher Price tape recorder. It’s a brown, chunky, hard plastic kid’s tape recorder from the 80’s. It was manufactured by Fisher Price from 1981-1987. The space in which it existed in my life was in the very back room of a (four room) single-wide trailer in southern Indiana, Franklin, Indiana, in a bustling trailer park. The back room of the trailer was my younger sister Jessie and my bedroom. We had a bunk bed, the walls were stacked with board games and dressers and toys, and in the corner of that room was a taxidermied barn owl. Which was illegal to have in the state at that time and I think still is. At that time that’s what that space looked like. This tape recorder, I suppose I chose it because it was the first time that I ever heard my own voice projected back to me and I was probably 7, or maybe 7 or 8 years old around that time.

The reason I chose this object is because, looking back, in that moment when I first heard my voice back to me, I realized that there was a lot of the world and sounds in the world and words that people said and sounds that came out of humans that I could save. That I could stop, and rewind, and listen back to them. So instead of always kind of replaying things in my mind, which I did as a child, being musically inclined from a really young age, hearing songs and being able to sing the words right back and sing the melodies right back and always kind of having songs in my head and singing out loud and humming and being really focused on sound and melody and the way that people talked; the volume at which they talked or the pitch at which they talked or the music playing in the grocery store and things like that...this tape recorder was such a big thing. It was just such a big thing in my life.

One of the things my sister and I would do is we would record ourselves playing cards. So we would play Slapjack or we would play GoFish and all these card games that were really exciting that would just get us laughin’. We would record ourselves playing those games and then record ourselves laughing. One of the interesting--I think maybe a better word--important or more profound reasons this tape recorder was so, just, I guess so powerful for me, is because I would record things and it wouldn’t necessarily be like I would record now as an adult. How I would record vocals or background sounds that you would want to edit out or you would want to filter and compress and get everything sounding really perfect, or the pitch, or the autotune. It really was just, you would hit record, and any sounds going on around the area would also pick up. So it was more just a full soundscape. Looking back, it really reminds me of how much is always happening. That it may not just be this one singer singing this song or this one person speaking. But there’s all of this other life that’s happening all around.

I would record my sister and I laughing or playing cards. Sometimes when my mom and dad would be fighting a couple of rooms up in the front of the trailer My sister and I would get really quiet and get behind the door and we would record them. And I would have these fights that I would have on tape and I would listen back to them. I’d listen back to them and I would hear my mom, who was very quiet normally, her voice would be very deep and she would be really loud. And sometimes the fights would go on for a long time and eventually I didn’t want to listen to those again so I would stop, rewind, and then I would go maybe into a different space. I would go outside, or I would go to my grandma’s house where it was really quiet, in a big brick farmhouse that was about two miles from the trailer park--really close--surrounded by nature, surrounded by cornfields, and I would record the cats in the barn. I would record the dog or I would record myself kind of singing along with the creek or my sister and I singing a song we learned in church, at the Baptist church down the street.

When I would listen back to these recordings, I was just listening. I wasn’t listening to find mistakes, I wasn’t listening with notes or ideas on how to improve the next time. And that object itself, that chunky, hard plastic, brown, corduroy brown, corduroy 1980’s brown, two-toned tape recorder, it really shifted me. It helped me to hear myself. It helped me to, I suppose, understand that I was a thing, just like the bird that I recorded or the cat that I recorded, or the humans that I recorded--that I was also a thing. That I had sound to contribute. And I had things to sing.

Title

Sounds of a Thing in Indiana

Description

The following text is a transcript of the above recording.

My name is Daun Fields, I’m a punk singer and a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. I’m 42 and this is my Humanities Moment.

So, my humanities object is the Fisher Price tape recorder. It’s a brown, chunky, hard plastic kid’s tape recorder from the 80’s. It was manufactured by Fisher Price from 1981-1987. The space in which it existed in my life was in the very back room of a (four room) single-wide trailer in southern Indiana, Franklin, Indiana, in a bustling trailer park. The back room of the trailer was my younger sister Jessie and my bedroom. We had a bunk bed, the walls were stacked with board games and dressers and toys, and in the corner of that room was a taxidermied barn owl. Which was illegal to have in the state at that time and I think still is. At that time that’s what that space looked like. This tape recorder, I suppose I chose it because it was the first time that I ever heard my own voice projected back to me and I was probably 7, or maybe 7 or 8 years old around that time.

The reason I chose this object is because, looking back, in that moment when I first heard my voice back to me, I realized that there was a lot of the world and sounds in the world and words that people said and sounds that came out of humans that I could save. That I could stop, and rewind, and listen back to them. So instead of always kind of replaying things in my mind, which I did as a child, being musically inclined from a really young age, hearing songs and being able to sing the words right back and sing the melodies right back and always kind of having songs in my head and singing out loud and humming and being really focused on sound and melody and the way that people talked; the volume at which they talked or the pitch at which they talked or the music playing in the grocery store and things like that...this tape recorder was such a big thing. It was just such a big thing in my life.

One of the things my sister and I would do is we would record ourselves playing cards. So we would play Slapjack or we would play GoFish and all these card games that were really exciting that would just get us laughin’. We would record ourselves playing those games and then record ourselves laughing. One of the interesting--I think maybe a better word--important or more profound reasons this tape recorder was so, just, I guess so powerful for me, is because I would record things and it wouldn’t necessarily be like I would record now as an adult. How I would record vocals or background sounds that you would want to edit out or you would want to filter and compress and get everything sounding really perfect, or the pitch, or the autotune. It really was just, you would hit record, and any sounds going on around the area would also pick up. So it was more just a full soundscape. Looking back, it really reminds me of how much is always happening. That it may not just be this one singer singing this song or this one person speaking. But there’s all of this other life that’s happening all around.

I would record my sister and I laughing or playing cards. Sometimes when my mom and dad would be fighting a couple of rooms up in the front of the trailer My sister and I would get really quiet and get behind the door and we would record them. And I would have these fights that I would have on tape and I would listen back to them. I’d listen back to them and I would hear my mom, who was very quiet normally, her voice would be very deep and she would be really loud. And sometimes the fights would go on for a long time and eventually I didn’t want to listen to those again so I would stop, rewind, and then I would go maybe into a different space. I would go outside, or I would go to my grandma’s house where it was really quiet, in a big brick farmhouse that was about two miles from the trailer park--really close--surrounded by nature, surrounded by cornfields, and I would record the cats in the barn. I would record the dog or I would record myself kind of singing along with the creek or my sister and I singing a song we learned in church, at the Baptist church down the street.

When I would listen back to these recordings, I was just listening. I wasn’t listening to find mistakes, I wasn’t listening with notes or ideas on how to improve the next time. And that object itself, that chunky, hard plastic, brown, corduroy brown, corduroy 1980’s brown, two-toned tape recorder, it really shifted me. It helped me to hear myself. It helped me to, I suppose, understand that I was a thing, just like the bird that I recorded or the cat that I recorded, or the humans that I recorded--that I was also a thing. That I had sound to contribute. And I had things to sing.

Source

Fisher-Price Tape Recorder

Date

1986

Contributor

Daun Fields, 42, Punk Singer, Ph.D. Student in English, University of Florida

Identifier

sound-of-a-thing-indiana

Referrer

NHC Summer Residency Program

Location