Friday, February 13, 2009

A Labor of Love

A well-crafted mix, a compilation of songs carefully selected to tell a perfect story, has always been a gift of considerable thought. It's a gift that is as easy to bestow on a best friend as a lover, and it's always a bold move to bestow one on a crush.

Technology has advanced the art of creating a mix; cds and mp3s have made it easier to fine-tune selections, to rearrange songs until the mix tells the exact story you want. While I can't complain about these advances (for I'm certain I spend more time now than ever before trying to achieve the perfect song order,) as surely as I date myself writing this, I can say nothing quite compares to the labor of love that was a mix tape.

Mix Tape USB Stick. I love these- they appeal to the mix tape fanatic who still lives inside me.

When making a mix tape, you often had to catch your favorite new songs on the radio. When they played, you waited patiently for the dj to stop talking, hoping he wouldn't talk too much over the beginning (or the end) of the song because you wanted to catch as close to the original versions as possible.

When you did catch a favorite song or when you were recording music from another cassette or a cd, you listened with the greatest of concentration; you wanted to stop the tape at the exact right spot-- not too soon and not too late. Knowing that spot was a well-honed skill that made a mix tape flow more smoothly from one song to the next.

Playlists were compiled with care to make sure they not only conveyed the right mood, but that they were also split acceptably between Side A and Side B; if you weren't cognizant of song length, you might find an unintentionally abrupt stop to the music at the end of a side.

Before embarking on recording the mix, you also had to be fairly confident with the order of your selections. Once a song was sandwiched between two others, a change was only possible if you could find a song of equal length to fill the space or if you were willing to re-record everything after the change in selection. Once an entire side was recorded, there was often no turning back.

Choosing the title of the tape, as well as the right words for the stickers on both sides, felt monumentally important. Fitting the entire playlist on the allotted spaces of the case liner was a creative challenge, and sometimes the cover of the case liner turned into your own work of art.

When the last song had been recorded, the liner notes written, and identifying stickers placed on each side of the tape, you'd slide the cassette into its case. The finished product you then held in your hands was not just a mix tape, but was also a labor of love.

Because I still have a huge collection of my old mix tapes, I love the idea of this product!


Treacy said...

You talk about dating yourself- Ha!! Your reminiscing made me laugh so hard, because I can clearly remember being so blown away by someone, quite a bit more youthful than I, who possessed such highly technical knowledge! ;)

Great post! And the Costco conversion machine looks fantastic.

Tina said...

all these prints & designs are so so lovely, i am seriously in love with the last one, adding it to my "to buy" list!
(it's a solution i've developed to stop me from buying, since my memory is pretty bad, it actually works quite well!)

have a lovely weekend courtney, xx

Cafe Fashionista said...

Mix tapes = love. This is one of my favorite blog posts of the day! :)

vicki archer said...

This is a fantastic post - I remember cassettes only too well! xv

Courtney said...

OH the days of mix tapes. I remember the days I would stand ready at my radio to tape my favorite songs. Over and over...

To this day, my favorite gifts to give and get are personalized mixed cd's and usb's. I love sharing music.

Great post, Courtney, it brought be back.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Cafe Fashionista: mix tapes = love. ♥

I love spending the time choosing songs to stick on CDs to give to someone special.

Great Post!

coco+kelley said...

ok, so i JUST pulled out a box of mixed tapes from the closet in my old room at my parent's house, and was laughing giddily going through them. my favorite was a tape that my bff's made for me when i was leaving for a long family vacation. they not only included music, but they went around the whole school asking people to leave me a message on the tape. that one will NEVER get thrown away!

Chase March said...

I just made a mixtape for a Christmas present and was looking for an image to put on the cover and stumbled across this post.

I love what you've done here. I really think the art of the mixtape is being lost.

I crafted this latest one to fit the person I am giving it to. She has a 20-minute commute so I made a four-sided tape. Each side is twenty minutes long and can fit on on audio CD.

I say we use the technology we have and continue to craft great tapes.