Thursday, August 19, 2010

GBGC Top 40 Countdown: T-9, Spending the day reminiscing about mix tapes

If it weren’t for mix tapes, I don’t think I’d be half as cool as I am today. This is a song I got from a friend who made me a total of ... well ... three or four mix tapes. That’s not many, considering the letters we wrote to each other over the years probably number over a hundred. Still, each one of these tapes was so carefully crafted - the cover art, the handwriting, the selection and ordering of the music. To receive such a tape was always an honor, and I would come close to overestimating my status as the recipient of one had I not made a plethora of them myself.
Don’t get me wrong, that is not to say that people I make mix-tapes for mean nothing to me. Au contraire! The honor of receiving a compilation from me is not one bestowed upon many. Nevertheless one should always take into account that making a mix-tape is also a very selfish endeavor. 
Much like the portrait artist, for he does not paint only to please the king whose face he must depict, making a mix-tape appeases one’s own artistic expression:
First, finding the right songs to fit the theme of the tape, varying slow and fast as to not become too monotonous, finding those rare 43-second tracks to fill up the ends of cassettes in order to avoid white noise or - shudder to think - silence before flipping to the B-side. Or on the occasion that I have made multiple tapes for someone, to take care to not repeat a song from a previous mix. Then, painstakingly perusing old magazines for cover art images, writing the song titles on the inside cover with colored pens, making up catch phrases to write on each side of the cassette, making sure to space the letters evenly and stick the labels on straight....
Alas, the invention of the compact disc and the capability to burn them (as in make recordings, not actually ‘burn’ them) has led to the demise of the authentic mix tape. Still, I enjoy making my friends CDs with fancy, computer-generated cover art. And I hope I can share what I find to be good music in my own special way, by presenting my homespun videos on the Bad Guitar Channel.
Thanks, Carlo, for sharing this song with me all those years ago, and thanks to Poi Dog Pondering for writing it.


  1. I love it! and I love mix tapes and cds. They always made me feel special for the person who took the time, the effort and the passion to put together music ONLY FOR ME, hearing on each song a declaration or the unspoken words of sensitive souls.

  2. Getting a mix tape in the mail from Christy was always a moment of anticipation and mystery. Kind of like that old experience of going to pick up your photos and then greedily devouring them with your eyes before you even left the photo counter.

    And yet totally different, because the mix tape would always be a 90-minute roller coaster ride of audio excitement that you could enjoy again and again. More ups and downs than any old flat photograph!
    Thanks for all the meticulous magic Christy!

  3. Right back atcha, Pilgrim! I still listen to those from you, probably more often than any others, as a matter of fact.