Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mix Tapes

It’s where the Beach Boys and the Beastie Boys converge. Where Garth Brooks meets Skee-Lo…where Firehouse’s “Love of a Lifetime” can be preceded by Dire Straights “Walk of Life,” and followed by “Ice Ice Baby.” It has evolved to take many forms and has many names, but nothing will ever be as awesome as the original Mix Tape.

Being able to have all of MY favorite tunes on one tape for my listening enjoyment was a radical concept when I first encountered it. But, it quickly became a mainstay for me during my childhood and teenage years.

The thing that made mix tapes so rewarding was that they were something you put in a lot of time to create. So, once you were finished, you knew you had a quality product. Additionally, if you ever made one for your favorite guy or girl or even for a friend, they could know that this was a well-thought out gift. And let’s be honest, these artists are often better at expressing what we want to say on our behalf via song than we are. What girl wouldn’t melt at the sound of Mr. Big’s “I’m the One Who Wants to Be With You,” or REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight this Feelin”? Nothing says let’s go steady quite like Chicago’s “You’re The Inspiration.”

Likewise, when you and your boyfriend or girlfriend were going through a rough patch, nothing says, let’s put this petty fight behind us like Air Supply’s “All Out of Love,” or “Here I Am.”

Creating a mix tape was a chore in and of itself. Collecting all the tapes, coming up with the perfect order, recording them on your duel cassette boom box, not an easy task in the least! Not to mention making sure you have enough tape space at the end of each side so as to not cut off a rockin Huey Lewis and the News or Michael Jackson tune.

Naming mixes was always a good time as well. I would often name my mixes after one of the songs that summarized the contents therein. Names such as “Sledge Hammer,” “Can’t Touch This,” and “Bad,” often donned the white strip on side A of my mixes. Plus, you could also name each side of the mix like “This Side,” and “That Side.”

Upon completion of a mix tape, I would spend hours up on hours listening to them on my awesome yellow walkman. We made sure there were enough batteries around so that the music never stopped for too long!

Since the inception of the mix tape, several advancements have been made in mix technology. People can now create mix CDs, and even create personalized playlists on their iPod or MP3 player. But you know and I know that nothing will top the original. No drag and drop gizmo allowing you to listen to thousands of songs all in a row will ever be able to match the pure sound of a hiss of the beginning of a mix tape, the awkwardness of the transitions as you try to make each song fade in and out smoothly, and the simple joy found in the completion of and subsequent grooving to and excellent mix tape.


  1. So I'm wondering, if "Mix Tapes" are so great, why haven't I ever gotten one?

  2. You got a mix CD, which is a distant cousin of the mix tape.