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I was probably 9 or 10 the first time I made a mix  tape — a practice passed down from my dad.  Mix tapes are the greatest things known to man.  A mix CD or iTunes playlist simply does not compare.  There is an art to creating a mix tape; it is a skill you don’t just acquire overnight. 

Every song counts, as you can’t easily skip to the next song like on a CD.  The songs need to flow with a purpose.  There is also the issue of spacing your songs throughout the length of a tape.  You certainly don’t want to make the rookie mistake of having a song cut off at the end of side A.  Also, the name of the tape determines its awesomeness.  My collection probably stands at close to 75, and it is still expanding; I made my first tape of 2009 about a month ago.

Listening to a particular tape is like looking at a picture book from a certain time in your life.  A tape can remind you of a specific event, or just a general time period.  I think it is a gmixtapereat way to document your life– every picture tells a story… well, every tape tells a story! 

Making a tape is a fun, relaxing activity.  I like to list every song I want on the tape, and then go through and arrange them accordingly.  The toughest call is what will lead off Side A, as it sets the tone for the tape.  Do not mess this one up!!!  The rest of the order comes pretty easy if you know what you’re doing. 

Once, I wrote a narrative to go along with a tape I had made entitled “Vagabond Music.”  I think I was under some sort of influence when I wrote this, but it is legendary nonetheless.  Tapes are a great source of creativity!

You get to know your tapes after awhile and subconsciously memorize the song order so you know what comes next.  You know it’s really one of your fave tapes when you expect “L.A. Woman” to come after “Brain Damage” even when you hear it on the radio or elsewhere!

It warms my heart when friends tell me they still have such-and-such tape that I made for them.  (I assume ex-lovers have since burned theirs…)  I appreciate that these friends realize that they possess a unique gift that is priceless. 

Some things that make each tape special/unique:

  • The tape cover (or jacket if you will)– it has the name of the tape (unique in its own right).  Also, a certain identifiable pen could have been used, the author of the tape should be distinguishable by the handwriting, there may be various stickers or other decorations, the cover may be faded by the sun, etc. etc.
  • Blips in the tape– is a song cut off  too soon?  Does it skip at a certain spot? 
  • Is it timeless, or easily put into a time frame?  For example, “Dylan;s Mix” (see below) is timeless.  But there are tapes with telling songs of when it was made, i.e. if it has “How Bizarre” by OMC on it.  (Not that these tapes are bad, it’s just another way to characterize them.  I love me some How Bizarre!)
  • If you include artists such as the Dead, Phish or DMB, the chances are you used live versions of the songs, so finding which one you used would not be easy for a copy cat if they wanted to remake the tape based on the song listings

One of the greatest mix tapes out there is one my brother made.  I feel comfortable sharing the list because, for the reasons listed above, you will never be able to replicate it completely.  It is very innocently named “Dylan’s Mix 6/10/00”:

Side A

Side B

Feel  Like a Stranger – Grateful Dead Dear Mr. Fantasy – Traffic
Hide Your Love Away – Beatles Wharf Rat – Grateful Dead
Layla – Eric Clapton Here Comes the Sun – Beatles
Wooden Ships – CSNY Black Magic Woman – Santana
Brain Damage – Pink Floyd Wild World – Cat Stevens
L.A. Woman – The Doors Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
The Wedge – Phish Hurdy Gurdy Man – Donovan
  The End – The Doors

You know this tape is good if I’m willing  to overlook the disastrous addition of a Santana song!!

Yes, I realize it is 2009, but cassette tapes will never be out of style for me!

Pet Peeve of the Day: People who use lighter fluid to start bonfires

Quote of the Day: “Yeah the world would swing, oh if I were king.” –Tom Petty

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