Monday, January 10, 2011

The Art of the Mix Tape

Run: 3.25mi/33:15

I recently received a mix CD from a friend, and it made me think back to the days of mix tapes. Long before the days of buying (or stealing) music online, the greatest option was to record a song off the radio. I had a CD/tape/radio player and I became a pro and knowing when the commercials would stop and when the song would begin. Of course, the only problem with this was not knowing what song would be played next. It was a lot of gambling. I don't remember exactly what I ever recorded off the radio, but it was probably from KISM FM or Z100, and it was probably Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" or something from Ace of Base. I'm not saying those were it, but that's my best guess.

Then a few years down the road came the desire to make a mix tape for a friend. Today most people throw together a playlist on itunes, and the computer can tell you just about everything you need to know for fitting all the music on to the disc: how many songs you have, how many minutes you have left to fill, etc.

Not so back in the day. If you wanted a supreme mix tape, you had to know how long those songs were and add up all the time. While some tapes or CDs told you how long the songs were on the packaging, some did not, and you had to figure it out for yourself. I usually ended up with a 60 minute blank tape, which allowed for 30 minutes on each side. If I added up 6 songs, and they were over 30 minutes, one had to be cut. Not a big deal, unless you end up with 4 minutes of blank space at the end of the tape. Not cool. Obviously not planned out. Rookie mistake.

And don't forget the flow of songs. Today we're used to skipping around to whatever we feel like. I do it on my running playlist on my ipod all the time. Don't want to listen to it? Skip it. On a tape, it's a little harder to do, so the ideal is to fill that tape with not only good songs, but songs that go well together.

And finally, the packaging. This was always my weak area. I was never quite as creative as my friends, and I usually, in my very organized way, just wrote down the songs and artists in order.

These days it's the mix CDs, and still, every once in a while, I get out a mix CD from early college and remember when.

Did you ever make mix tapes?

And right now I'd like to take the opportunity to say how excited I am for Duck football tonight. Anybody else watching?

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