The Lost Art of the Mixtape

In trying to think about what to write about for today’s entry, I came across in my room a box of cassette tapes that I’ve had since forever, (well, the 90’s) but that’s like 20 years ago, so I suppose that’s almost forever.  And in looking through these gems, the soundtrack to Street Fighter, Soundgarden’s Down on the Upside, and other things from that great decade of music I saw my large mixtape collection, and it got me thinking about how that is borderline a lost art, if not definitely a lost art to the youth of today. 

 Now, when I say mixtape, I’m not referring to the only thing (to my knowledge anyway) that gets called that in underground hip hop releases, where new artists primarily go, or went rather, in the pre Youtube days, to get their name and their music out there.  No, I’m talking about the kind that you made up of songs you liked but didn’t own, either off the radio or off of your friend’s cds or tapes.  Your soundtrack to your life to whatever time period you were going through.

Well, that was one purpose of the mix tape, and I’ve made plenty of those over the years, until mp3 players came along at least.  Those are always great to take out and listen to when you have the time, and the, now retro technology to play them on, as they were/are veritable time capsules for your life at whatever stage you were going through.

I’ll go through one of them now, to give you a taste of what that was like, unfortunately I don’t have a cassette player anymore, but let’s take a trip back to the past shall we, here’s Winter Mix ’98

  1.  Ma$e- Bad Boys (Right off the bat, you’re hit in the face with about the 90’sest of late ’90s rappers outside of Coolio, what can I say, I have always had eclectic taste)
  2.  Beck- Pay No Mind (still to date one of my favorite Beck songs)
  3. Talk Talk- It’s My Life (okay while this one is from the ’80s, in high school, and today still I listen to a butt ton of 80’s music, it’s the decade I  grew up in, and the original is much better than Gwen Stefani (they say it’s No Doubt by that point it was Gwen Stefani basically with her back up band, cover from the early 00’s.)
  4.  Alana Davis- 32 Flavors (I actually had to look this one up on youtube, cause I did not recall this song at all, but it’s a pretty catchy pop tune)
  5.  Mariah Carey- Dreamlover (you really can’t hate on ’90s Mariah Carey, that was her best decade for songs in my book)
  6. Trebel Charger- Red (another one I had to look up, cause I completely forgot about this one as well. The first bit of alternative rock on this tape, really good song, sounds like it would fit right at home on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dawson’s Creek)
  7. Space- Female of the Species (another forgotten gem, pretty catchy Brit Pop tune, I (re) discovered after looking it up on Youtube just now)
  8.  David Bowie- I’m Afraid of Americans (I know a lot of people didn’t like the stuff Bowie produced in his brief late ’90s comeback, but this one especially *with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails* I thought was just awesome)
  9. Morcheeba- The Music That We Hear (another one lost in my memory to time, but it’s a catchy almost Bond movie intro-esque pop song)
  10.  The Smiths- How Soon Is Now (Another ’80s tune technically, but this song blew up in the ’90s when a cover version was featured in ‘The Craft’, and then became the theme song to ‘Charmed’, first Smiths tune I ever heard, actually, and still it’s one of my favorites)
  11. Sisters of Mercy- More (had to look this one up as well, it’s a good goth/industrial tune though, with a catchy underbeat that would fit perfectly in some ’90s action  flick)
  12. Pearl Jam- Given to Fly (it’s not the 90s without Pearl Jam, not one of their more remembered songs but still a good tune from Eddy Vedder and Co.)
  13.  Curve- Chinese Burn (now this one actually was in an episode of Buffy, I remember now after hearing it again, good industrial/techno hybrid dancy song. )
  14.  Sublime- Summertime (it’s Sublime…Sublime is always good, any time)
  15. Blur-Beetlebum (Admittedly in some ways I preferred  Blur to Oasis, Blur was always more upbeat to Oasis’s moody Beatles esque rock)
  16.  Green Day- Time of your Life (if there was ever a song that summed up the late ’90s in a nutshell, or a montage, it would be this song.  The song that was my, graduation song, and I’m sure was many others since then *except that brief period when Vitamin C was a thing and had that song actually called ‘Graduation song’* )
  17.  Everclear- Everything to Everyone (another late ’90s staple of alt rock radio, still a good song that holds up to this day)
  18.  Shelter- All around the world (I do not recall this song at all, nor the band itself, Wikipedia tells me they were a Krishnacore band, no clue what that is either, and it’s not on youtube far as I can tell in my not really researching this article at all outside of what I can find easily in front of me…so hey it’s kinda like Fox news)

 So yeah I hope you enjoyed that trip down my memory lane.  I’ve got very eclectic taste, what can I say?   But that in and of itself was just the one kind of mix tape, the personal soundtrack.  The other  kind, which I don’t have any actual examples of, was the kind that music fans, especially awkward, geeky music fans would use to tell their crushes how they felt about them.   This one I’ve done plenty of times over the years, well back when mixtapes, or cds were still a thing, you make a tape for your crush, loaded up with a few catchy, recognizable tunes at the start, then you hit her with the emotional stuff, shows how you feel, and then from that point it’s a  a nice balance of the two music types.     It never really worked, well for me, but still there was a kind of art to the whole thing, an underappreciated one, but an art nonetheless.    One that sadly has been lost in time, with music technology being what it is today.  Now, I’m certainly thankful for the boost in technology, still it’s a nice reminder of a more civilized age, before the dark times, before the Bieber. 




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2 responses to “The Lost Art of the Mixtape

  1. Hey, you leave Bieber out of this. “Boyfriend” was a great song. Also, this is why you meet people who don’t own an mp3 player (do those people still exist?) and then buy them some cheap number with some “random” songs you thought they’d like already put on it. Considering you can get them for as low as 5 bucks, that’s a pretty slick move. Thoughtful gift AND a mixtape. Bam.

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