Thursday, December 9, 2010

regarding mix tapes.


Last night, my girlfriend and I were talking about what items we're going to leave behind when we move in together next year, when it occurred to me that I will no longer need my mix tapes. It made me sad.

I attended La Salle College High School from 2000 to 2004, in that last gasp before the iPod revolution. Mp3 players were around, but they weren't really all that great. Filesharing was certainly going on, but kids would burn those illegally ripped tunes to CD-Rs. There was still a slight physicality to listening. Like many an unhappy white middle class American youth, I spent a lot of my free time in my car, driving around and brooding. I dubbed mix tapes for myself, agonizing over the song selection, making sure to pick songs that I loved but knew I wouldn't get sick of, and even tossing in a few potential new favorites. I still have most of those tapes.

In later years, I became obsessed with things like energy flow, making sure each song segued into something complementary. I also just got sucked into the act of making a tape. I would stay up all night perfecting a cassette, play it in my car for a couple of weeks, then make another one. I think you can tell when I hit the a.m. mark in each dubbing session, because suddenly the song selection drifted towards more atmospheric fare like My Bloody Valentine and Autolux. But the intros were always punk rock.

There are rules for making mix tapes - Open strong, dial it down a little, then kick ass again. Only use an artist once per tape. Have a good closer. Oddly enough, I never thought about that stuff on my first tape. I just recorded songs I liked.

I have always been reticent about upgrading my technology. Because it's expensive. Because you never know what format is going to survive. Because my old stuff still works. But once I finally upgraded to an iPod, I was pretty much done with tapes. I've kept my collection around, in my closet, for those rare moments when I drive my dad's car, which still has a tape player, but now that I'm moving out, I doubt I'll ever use these tapes again. I'd give them away, but who even uses that format anymore?

I shouldn't be this sad, though. I mean, I still own The Smith's "I Know It's Over" - on compact disc and vinyl, no less. I can listen to these songs whenever I want. I could even recreate the mix tapes as playlists on my iPod. I think it's just that the format afforded me an escape from the mundane and the depressing when I was 17. It gave my friends and I something to sing along to. It meant so much when I was at an age where everything meant so much. Now, it's just more clutter in my closet.

Here's the tracklisting for the first mix tape I ever made:

Mix of Joy + Shouts?!

Side A
1. Yellowcard - "View From Heaven," Ocean Avenue [This is embarrassing, but whatever. I still love this song.]
2. Jawbreaker - "Save Your Generation," Dear You
3. Sunny Day Real Estate - "Seven," Diary
4. The Reunion Show - "New Rock Revolution," The Motion EP
5. The Cure - "Just Like Heaven," Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
6. The Jealous Sound - "Hope For Us," Kill Them With Kindness
7. Eisley - "Marvelous Things," Marvelous Things EP
8. Death Cab For Cutie - "The Sound of Settling," Transatlanticism
9. Simple Minds - "Don't You (Forget About Me)," New Wave compilation
10. The Sounds - "Seven Days a Week," Living in America
11. Foo Fighters - "Everlong," The Colour and The Shape
12. Allister - "Somewhere in Fullerton," Welcome to the Family compilation
13. Allister - "Love Song," Dead Ends and Girlfriends [I ran out of room on my tape and decided to blast through a couple short songs. Can you tell?]
14. Fizzy Bangers - "Short Attention Span," Short Music For Short People
15. Less Than Jake - "Anchor," Short Music For Short People
16. Bigwig - "Freegan," Short Music For Short People [I went vegetarian about a year later]

Side B
1. The Von Bondies - "C'mon, C'mon," Pawn Shoppe Heart
2. Johnny X and The Conspiracy - "Delivered Vacant," Buy, Sell, Trade
3. R.E.M. - "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," Document
4. Against Me! - "We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)," Reinventing Axl Rose
5. Brand New - "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades," Deja Entendu
6. Rival Schools - "Used For Glue," United By Fate
7. Lostprophets - "Last Train Home," Start Something
8. Without Parachute - "A Song Before the End," Here's Without Parachute
9. A Perfect Circle - "Judith," Mer de Noms
10. RX Bandits - "VC3," Progress
11. Strike Anywhere - "Sunset on 32nd Street," Change is a Sound
12. The Distillers - "L.A. Girl," The Distillers
13. The Bouncing Souls - "The Ballad of Johnny X," Maniacal Laughter
14. Rancid - "Don Giovannia," Rancid (2000)


1 comment:

Red said...

I still have a few of mine. I kept the best ones, and a couple that were made for me. But I don't own a tape deck anymore. That part is problematic.