I Miss … Mixtapes

I miss the old-style cassette mixtapes of the 80’s.  Seriously!

There’s a great description of mixtapes on wikipedia:

A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape’s intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O’Brien has called the personal mixtape “the most widely practiced American art form”, and many mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs, much as an album of pop music in the post-Beatles era can be considered as something more than a collection of singles.

The mixtapes that I had were like old friends.  On long cross country drives, there were only certain tapes that would do, tapes that would allow your mind to free itself and remind you of long lost friends and experiences.

Mixtapes were also a very personal way to express yourself to another person.  How many of us put together mixes for a loved family member or boyfriend/girlfriend?

The process of putting together a mix was almost as important as the finished tape itself.  Songs were played, chosen, rejected, and reordered to set just the right mood or sentiment.  Recording to tape required time and effort because you had to manually create the tape, one song at a time.

Burned CDs and iPod playlists are just not the same.  It’s too easy!  Dragging and dropping files just doesn’t have the same sense of thought and commitment.  They are too easily changed and replaced.

My favorite mixtapes took on their own unique character over time.  Imperfections in the tape, little mistakes in the recording process, the unavoidable and crushing damage caused by heat and time.

Mixtapes also had a lifespan.  We all knew that sooner or later our tape deck would eat our favorite tape and our friend would be gone, to be replaced by some other.

I guess there’s a life lesson in mixtapes.  To everything there is a season.  Things too easily replaced lack an honest and redeeming value.

(check out the “I Miss …” page for other stuff I miss, if you wanna)

2 thoughts on “I Miss … Mixtapes

  1. I am just a smidge too young to have made or exchanged a real mixtape, but I have a couple of sweet mix CDs! As far as old music forms go, I am still a fan of radio. Of course, I listen to online radio a lot of the time, but the ability to hear new (or new-to-me) music and not just listen to a single artist is really valuable. It’s why iPods have shuffle despite the ability to customize playlists. Sometimes you just need randomness.

    Oh, and I also think the mixtape reference in B.o.B.’s “Airplanes” is pretty priceless. They may be gone, but they’re not quite forgotten yet!

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