"It's my job to remind people," he says. "Because it's my calling. Because I'm a formatician—and I just made that word up. "

His mission is simple.

"People need to stop throwing music away," he says, his normally calm demeanor suddenly replaced with visible disgust. "And don't apologize to me for throwing your music away, either. No. No. Fuck you."

"This is just the tip of the iceberg that is our collection," says Arlington's Dan Gibson, who has helped turn his wife Kathy's business into an entity that can service pretty much any demand from the eight-track collector crowd.
Alison V. Smith
"This is just the tip of the iceberg that is our collection," says Arlington's Dan Gibson, who has helped turn his wife Kathy's business into an entity that can service pretty much any demand from the eight-track collector crowd.
Burnett's obsession with eight-tracks began in 1988, when he bought his first tape, a copy of the Beatles' white album, at a garage sale in the M Streets. Now, in addition to the entire Beatles eight-track
catalog, his collection boasts around 3,000 tapes.
Alison V. Smith
Burnett's obsession with eight-tracks began in 1988, when he bought his first tape, a copy of the Beatles' white album, at a garage sale in the M Streets. Now, in addition to the entire Beatles eight-track catalog, his collection boasts around 3,000 tapes.

He pauses.

"This isn't so much about eight-tracks," he continues. "This isn't so much about dead formats. This isn't even about all formats. It's, for me, about physical formats. Are we going to just throw away our history?"

Here's the thing about Bucks Burnett: At his core, he's a salesman—and a great one at that. Like every strong salesman, he's a good talker.

His favorite subject, it shouldn't surprise, is music—something on which he is qualified to speak. Aside from his extensive work in various record stores (he's worked in so many, he can't recall the number), Burnett has spent the past three-and-a-half decades as a flat-out music obsessive, writing songs, playing in bands, and speaking out about the Dallas music scene. He's a fascinating figure, one who can speak as intelligently about the past four decades in Dallas music history as just about anybody around. He's seen it all, he's quick to remind.

More than that, though, he wants to push the local scene's boundaries.

Last year, when his band Rachel Bazooka released its debut album, that alone wasn't enough. Burnett, who clearly enjoys terms like "first" and "only," made a point to release the disc as a double-album—the first double-album debut from any Dallas act and, far as he can tell, only the fourth double-album debut in history, behind releases from Frank Zappa, Chicago and George Harrison. And that's saying nothing of the fact that he further obscured the release, called Colorbl nd, by making sure there were no words or images on its packaging, just colors. Even more interestingly, he marketed Rachel Bazooka's debut by claiming that the band's music was the debut of "The Dallas Sound."

He has a point: Dallas has had some distinct movements that have shaped its past—the blues of Deep Ellum in the '20s, the country music of the '40s and '50s, the alternative rock 'n' roll movements of the '80s and '90s and, perhaps, the rise of the local hip-hop scene these days—but none of these have been massive enough to give the local music scene a singular identity to call its own.

Burnett is aware of this. And whether Rachel Bazooka's bluesy take on rock is indicative of the "Dallas sound," turns out, isn't all that important. What's important is that he tried to find that sound—and, when he couldn't, he decided to define it himself.

"If you can't be the best at something," he says with a smile, "be the first at something."

Coupled with his other efforts, ideas like this might qualify Burnett as Dallas music's greatest provocateur. Beyond his museum and his band, he also currently runs a micro record store housed in East Dallas thrift store Dolly Python—a record store, he's proud to report, that made a profit last year. And, along with the opening of the Eight-Track Museum, Burnett has launched a new eight-track-exclusive record label—one which will debut its first two releases at the museum's grand opening. Called Cloud 8, the label is no slouch: Burnett has signed two acts to the label, local folk favorite The O's and '80s Talking Heads offshoot the Tom Tom Club. To go with the more traditional CD and vinyl releases of their new efforts, which will be released through other entities, both acts will release limited runs of eight-track versions of their albums through Cloud 8—simple collectibles to some, but entities that will nonetheless function in a working eight-track player.

"I want credit for being the guy in Dallas who's trying to make the scene cooler," he says. "I've got a record store, a record label and a museum. What else do I need to do? I've lost too much money in show business to not get a trophy for it. This is all I care about. And I'm gonna stay in it to win it."

And with eight-tracks, obscure as they may be these days, Burnett thinks he may have finally found a winner in his constant search for the Dallas music scene identity. Sure, there's a certain amusing quality to it all, but Burnett, who was once profiled in a documentary on eight-track obsessives called So Wrong, They're Right, truly believes that eight-tracks could be the foothold on which Dallas music forms its next identity.

"It's at least five percent joke," he says of his support of the eight-track. "I'd hate for it to lose that quality. I can laugh with the people that laugh at me. I get all that. And it's justified. But there's a very serious side to it, too."

For Kathy and Dan Gibson, eight-tracks have provided them a means to a lifestyle. While raising their three daughters in Arlington, the couple was searching for a way to support their family and to give Kathy the chance to work as a stay-at-home mom.

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17 comments
jesusissavior.chris
jesusissavior.chris

Please bring back 8 track decks, players, and recorders back into the production line again.  Also please bring back quality cassette decks back into prouction line again  I would like to see  8 track and cassette decks brand new in stores in my hometown.  Also, bring back the cassette boombox.

Joshua
Joshua

Well, I can play them all in my 1975 cadillac eldorado convertible that was MADE for top down, nite time cruisin with the volume up to compete with the wind noise...and smokin those ole cigars. yeeeeehhhhh (kinda like ole Howard Dean's campaign swan song washout..)

JoseF
JoseF

Hated them , it wpould stop in the middle of a song to switch to the next track, terrible.Cassettes were/are better.

Cdkase07
Cdkase07

"Go Bucks Burnett" I am glad you are bringing more attention to this exciting format.I have several players and loads of tapes.I taught myself to repair them a few yers ago(a must if you want to play them).A lot has been said about the disadvantages of them but I have to say..being an audiophile with high end vintage equipment such as Marantz,Pioneer,etc..I love the sound of 8 tracks..I have a pioneer hr-100 tape deck (a beast) and the sound when playing a good tape (new splice and pads are a must) is superb..I mean shockingly good..I understand peoples frustration as there are a lot of varibles which must be met(proper tape speed,good pads,etc) but when all the stars are "aligned" (the tape head too !) the sound in my opion is even better than the flat, compressed,sound of digital.Sure digital is great for instant track access but for the remainder of us who do not have A D D and enjoy listening to an entire recording it is quite an experience ! KEEP ON TRACKIN'Chris Kase

Snail22858
Snail22858

i have lots of 8-tracks if u but them u may contact me at snail22858@yahoo.com also on facebook

Dplanedplane
Dplanedplane

"More Than 20 Years After Their Death?" It's closer to 30, but I digress. 8-track tapes, at the time, were a welcome format due to their portability. Home, car, boat, etc., one could finally take music virtually anywhere. Quite a novelty at the time.

Yes, there were problems with the format as the tape casings themselves were usually glued together, being but one. And, yes, the playback head did move up/down the tape itself to the desired track which caused not only wear on the tape, but alignment problems of the head, as well. Old-timers may remember 'cross-talk' on 8-track tapes. Tape speed was 3.75 ips which was standard on most reel-to-reel decks. The demise of this format came about mainly to a lack of quality or high-end equipment, the slip-shod glued casings, and transfer capability - recording to an existing blank 8-track tape, among others.

When good sounding, financially viable cassette recorders/playback machines became available in the late 60's, I like many, switched to this format because the tape shells were reliable, they had multiple heads which alleviated alignment issues, and even though the tape speed was half that of 8-tracks, they were superior in sound, much smaller, and one could record up to 120 minutes on a single cassette. Then Nakamichi introduced the Tri-Tracer in '74, and the hand writing was on the wall.

Continued to play 8-tracks in my cars until 1980. They were a source of great enjoyment for myself and others for many years. The idea of the museum is a cool idea. I mean, why not? Take the kids (grand kids?) and tell 'em what old grand dad used to listen to. Of course, if you really want to freak 'em out, show them a 45 rpm!

tiedye
tiedye

As a veteran to the audio repair industry with 25 years of experience I have a real problem with 8 tracks. Some ideas are just bad. 8 track was one. 8 track's one advantage, being able to switch between 4 songs at the push of a button is exceeded by every format in digital. Keep in mind you didn't get to jump to the beginning of songs, you switched to a random place, usually in the middle.The list of disadvantages:The tape head has to move up and down. This makes alignment difficult and not very precise.The tape has to slide against itself. It requires lubrication which eventually fails and the tape self destroys. IT sis very bad in cold weather.The tape to head speed is relatively slow which means sonically the medium is inferior (Nathan Brown is either totally ignorant or he expects readers to be gullible. There were very few highend 8 track players ever built, none could stand up sonically to a good turntable and record. I have a good turntable and would bring it out for a head to head A/B comparison any day. (It would be a landslide)

After resisting the switch to Cassette tapes for years I finally threw my Akai 8 track recorder and about a hunerd tapes in the garbage bask in the 70s. I still have a hi-end turntable and about a hunerd albums. Many of them out perform the digital recordings of today. Super CDs come close. 8 tracks not so much. If you don't believe me ask ANY older audio repair technician what he thinks of 8 track.

Mike butts
Mike butts

Good to see it. Have about 200 myself. Also in 1967 had a 4 track player installed in my car with 2 speakers for 29.95$ .

Jada
Jada

I don t mind 8 tracks resurrection. I would love for cassettes to come back strong. C D's are terrible, scratches and they dont even last near as long as an 8 track or cassette tape. and bring back polaroid film too, no joke.

nathan brown
nathan brown

geez...i mean, i get why people have such a miserable view about 8 tracks. for one, making fun of them is built into pop culture (even if there is no prior experience), and we'd hate to disagree with the majority, right? also, most people's experience is hearing them through a mono speaker in a crappy portable player or in a car system from the 70s (most car manufacturers didn't start making stock systems/speakers actually sound good until the late 80s). i have no need for nostalgia or novelty. i'm a musician and most of my music has been recorded digitally from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s. then i discovered analog recording and 8 track listening. according to my ears, what i record onto my 8 track recorders is what i get out. that's what you want from any transfer. 8 tracks' bad rap is not because of the technology or tape itself, but rather due to lack of care in the manufacturing, materials, presentation, and consumer. i used to think records sounded great until i heard refurbished 8 tracks through a good deck and sound system. digital...it literally falls flat and i can't stand to listen to it anymore. then there's the issue of having patience while listening to 8 tracks as they move at their own pace without scanning or skipping around (though some decks offer "advanced" options). 200 years ago anyone of us would have been blown away to even hear live music. now we need every album in our pocket. a bunch of spoiled a-holes we are (myself partially included). i like subjecting myself to one of, if not, the closest format to hearing a band live on their time/terms - 8 track. listening to 8 track makes you a better listener.

K8Tracker
K8Tracker

Fun interview. Very nice (and long) article Pete! Thanks for taking the time to come out and talk with us. We've been able to do so many things because of these crazy 8-tracks. We've met some cool folks like Bucks and many others. Got VIP tickets to the taping of Wheel of Fortune and met Vanna and got our picture taken behind the wheel. Shipped 8-tracks all over the US and around the world. Recorded new 8-tracks in the 21st century. 8-tracks... who would have thunk it!

akquillabootay
akquillabootay

Anyone remeber quadrophonic 8's?Quadrophenia by the who?

yokel
yokel

Wow. Does he also have a collection of brick phones like the one made popular by Zach Morris on Saved By The Bell? While somewhat technologically significant, historically speaking, they are crap so why the fuss over an 8-track collection?

Hardly Coffin
Hardly Coffin

I've still got an 8-track of Burl Ive's "Jimmy Crack Corn ... and I don't care". Wonder what it's worth?

Dr. P
Dr. P

Everyone always waxes nostalgic over the 8 track tape. No one seems to remember the front runner to it, the 4 track tape. Was introduced a year or two sooner. Same technology but monaural. Both sucked. No way to search...listening to your favorite song meant listening to an entire track...and then, when you least needed it...the tape would start the dreaded squeaking, the harbinger of death!!

nathan brown
nathan brown

yes!! chris, so glad to hear that you've met the right combination that unlocks the excellent sound quality 8 tracks can poses. this is the exact situation i'm trying to promote through my 8 track label/production company - the dead media. please feel free to contact me through my website - deadmediatapes.com - as i'd like to discuss a couple of related items with you.

nathan brown
nathan brown

yeah, i've run into plenty of you "vets". wish there were a way to invest money in your opinions. then i could put a wad of cash in your mouth to do repair work for me. if you did your research, you'd know that part of my interest in 8 tracks is reversing consumer laziness and utter convenience that has obviously swallowed you whole. a baby boomer you are, no doubt. in all fairness, i am ignorant....ask my wife.

 
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