Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mix tapes


After an evening meeting in London and a slow train ride home through the sunset I got back and felt a bit as if I wanted to 'do' something, but I wasn't sure what...and then I remembered...I've been meaning to get back to my blog.  Viola, so.

This evening I've been thinking about mix tapes.  All the cassette tapes I've made friends and family and lovers over the years.  The whole lovely process of the thing, from choosing the right songs, which of course you have to be in the right mood to do, to then selecting the length of tape required (60 min, 90 min, or the biggie: 120 min) and then getting the order of the songs just right.  At least a few of you will know what I mean by this process.  It is a creative endeavour not to be taken lightly.  A type of energy and focus much like writing a poem.

So I was thinking about the last time I made a mix tape, back when my tape deck actually still worked and I was taping songs from cds onto tape because I didn't have a way to make a mix cd.  Yes, back in the dinosaur age.  And then I thought about mix cds and I realised that I have recently made one for my mother from lots of songs on my laptop.  And then I thought about all the emails I've sent to friends with links to songs and then of course this blog, which for me is a lot like making a mix with a collage of song and word and image.  This blog almost always begins with a song lyric in my head, then the rest follows.

All those mix tapes somewhere out there with good intent from me to the recipient, most of them probably in the bin or fallen by the wayside without a cassette player to hear them on or worn out from repeat playing.  I'm getting ready to make a new mix, errrr, tape? No!  A mix digital compilation.  It doesn't quite have the zing to it that phrase.  In the same way it is somehow cool for shops to sell iPod holders that look like 'old skool' tape players.  Well listen up, y'all, I still have my neon yellow and blue sports cassette walkman.  Boo-yah.  So I can officially ride the train listening to real tapes and not just digital mixes with great quality looking like I've got a real deck. Ha.  Hmm.  So I'm already trying to work out when this week I'll have the time for making the mix tape I want to collate.  I've already done step 1: make a list of the potential songs on a scrap of paper in my handbag and I'm working on step 2: find an evening with nothing happening to immerse myself in the experience of mix tape making.

My final verdict:  It can never have the same zing to it if the process is called making a digital compilation so I'm gonna go ahead and still call it: making a mix tape.  And I'm sure the sound quality will be better and it will be more shuffle-able (thus ignoring the perfect sequencing that took me days to get right) but it can be transferred from me to the next lucky owner of a Zee mix tape in a nano second.  At least that beats the smudged ink-on-tape-insert effect that usually sealed the deal.

And this can be compilation 1 of many.  No time limit on the reel or cd.  Maybe I'll come up with a new structuring principle to give shape to this emerging new form.  We'll see.

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