Some Thoughts On The Mix-Tape

Ah, the mix-tape. Remember those? C30, C60.C90 (my personal fave) and, near the end, C120. I spent countless hours making mix-tapes; for my friends and for myself. The planning of a mix-tape was of the utmost importance, and each song had to be sequenced perfectly so it maintained a semblance of continuity. You also had to time it perfectly, ‘cause there were two things you didn’t want to happen:

#1.Have the last song on a side to cut out in the middle due to lack of space.
#2. Have too much space at the end so the listener had to fast forward or listen to 2 minutes of tape hiss.

Some cassettes I created were based on genre, some on overall mood, and others were based on a particular band—my very own “Greatest Hits”, if you will. Jesus, I even painstakingly created my own cassette covers! Cut ‘n’ pasted, usually from old back issues of the NME and Melody Maker.

The thing I really miss about the mix-tape is the fact you had to actually listen to each song as you recorded it, forcing you to really get into the music.

Remember those terrible “Home Taping Is Killing Music” campaigns? A precursor to illegal downloading perhaps, but as a kid I never gave it another thought. Most mix-tapes were intended to be a sampler of different bands, for either long road trips or to introduce a friend to some new tunes. It was my experience that my friends and I would buy the album if we liked the music and thought that the music industry should be kissing our feet for spreading the good word.

If you were a serious tape mixologist then you always chose metal or chrome tapes. Without exception. The 120’s were more convenient but prone to some major stretching issues. I unraveled lot’s of C120’s from my cassette player, let me tell you.

The cassette, along with the 8-track, are the two ugly middle children, nestled between Vinyl and CD. It’s true you can make mix-CD’s, and I do; but it’s not nearly as rewarding or fun.