When I was a kid, one of the easiest ways to let someone know you liked them was to make a mixtape. Those TDK tapes had so much power. Unfortunately, the mix tape is something of a lost art.
My friend Andy used to create these elaborate boxed sets of mixed music on cassette and CD. Sometimes it had music I hated, but it always had music that I had never heard before and loved. It’s pretty amazing how he used that talent to essentially make the box of music used at the end of Elizabethtown. Yeah, that’s Andy’s handiwork Orlando Bloom’s character is listening to as he spreads his father’s ashes across America.
There’s a good chance, you have been a maker or a receiver of a mixtape/mixcd. Since 1999, I’ve sent a Christmas CD mix to all my friends as my yearly Christmas present/card. It’s something that I’ve actually started thinking about already for this year… which is kind of scary.
When I was a kid, I used to spend hours finding the right “message songs” and putting them in just the right order. It was always easier for me to have Dennis DeYoung sing, “Don’t Let It End” then it was for me to say it to that special someone.
Today, I think the mp3 has destroyed the power of the mixtape. Now, anyone can download 10 songs from iTunes and slap together a playlist, but it isn’t the same. Adding in personal touches such as your own voice is more difficult in this digital age unless you have the right equipment. The hours spent writing that perfect little speech to say at the end of a mixtape and then recording it, playing it back, hating the sound of your voice, re-recording it and so forth was the kind of process that I look back on and smile.
There’s a little joy in compiling the songs and making that one of a kind Maxell cassette tape and label. Sometimes, it was the act itself that made it all worthwhile. I can’t tell you how often I made a mixtape and then never handed the tape to my crush/girl of my dreams.
I still have plenty of cassettes, not that I listen to them anymore. As I was cleaning out my closets, I came across a couple of mixtapes that were made for me back in high school.
The songs are such a reflection of the times. It featured titles such as, “One Lonely Night,” “All Out Of Love,” “Will You Still Love Me,” “Send Her My Love,” “Broken Wings” and “Against All Odds.” I haven’t listened to these tapes in a very long time, but I’m smiling as I’m reminded of that innocent and wonderful period in my life.
It makes me want to make a mixtape.