Friday, April 20, 2007

THE REBIRTH OF MIX TAPES

Yesterday’s post has me thinking about mix tapes. I miss mix tapes something awful. There was magic made at the old boom box upstairs in my dark purple, turquoise, and black sponge paint over a lavender wall bedroom. Cuing up tapes, making sure one song led into the next in a proper fashion, making sure your transition songs were not only mere transitions but excellent in their own right. The mix tape was an art. Sadly, it is a lost art.

After a while the mix CD was born. The biggest tragedy, and most excellent feature, when it comes to the CD is the ability to skip tracks. Although Mom’s van had that ams feature so you could fast forward just one song on a tape, it wasn’t as easy as the skip feature on a CD player. If you made or got a mix CD you could listen to it once and then decide which songs to skip. This way, some of the flow and continuity was lost. When you really think about it there are always some songs on any album that end up growing on you. With the CD age, they have less and less of a chance to do so. I try to make myself listen to entire albums as much as possible but I often succumb to the ease of skipping songs that don’t hold my attention.

When I think of mix tapes past I know there were some fantastic compilations that, although I still have, I will most likely never listen to. I also know that some of the greats have been lost a long long time ago. I think I still have “Radio Coolness” (tapes made from songs on the radio) both volumes I and II. I think I have a good number of the “Best of Natalie” series (I believe there were 8 of them). I am certain I still have “Songs For The Hopeless Romantic” the greatest mix tape ever made. I wonder how hard it will be to recreate some of these compilations.

My plan had been to work on this Herculean task this weekend, but that didn’t end up happening. The only tape player that I could think of that was plugged in was the bathroom and I didn’t feel like hanging out in there while there was such wonderful weather outside. Just now, I realized that the record player in the living room also has a dual tape deck on it. My mix tape project just got a lot more comfortable. I don’t know how long it will take me, I fear a great while. However, I know that it will bring me much nostalgia and great joy. Here is to the songs I grew up with. Cheers.

For my songs today I’ll reach out with some strange gems on the mix tapes.

Skydiver, artist unknown- If anyone out there knows a song called skydiver that has lyrics that go “I’m gonna jump right off the face of it I think I’m gonna jump right off the face of it, like a skydiver” please let me know because this song is one Radio Coolness One and I really enjoy it although I have no idea who sings it. My compilation can’t be complete without it.

White Bird, It’s A Beautiful Day
- This song is embedded deep within side two of Songs For The Hopeless Romantic. I don’t know if I will be able to find it out there in downloadable world but I am going to try. The one thing I will miss about putting the songs in mp3 format is the crackly vinyl to tape noises that I have grown to love. Oh well, at least I know the artist.

Glycerin, Bush- I am a little scared of some of the Best Of Natalie series. I think this song is on Volume VI or so. I made some fairly poor choices when it came to music in my high school years and I don’t know if I can listen to Bush and Offspring. I might shoot myself. Back in the day, as I got a new CD I had to make a new mix tape to incorporate some of the songs into my "Best Of Natalie" collection. This is why I will soon be listening to Spoonman. Maybe some of the mix tapes will have to be left out.

18 comments:

dmarks said...

I tend to see boxes and boxes of someone's old mix tapes when I go to garage sales. Usually written on with fading green marker ("Josh's Mix", etc) that you can hardly see anymore.

The tapes even have this faded dusty look, and the box of tapes exudes a smell that screams "These were scattered on the floor of someone's old Toyota Celica and left to bake on way to many hot summer days".

RastaManErn said...

I used to selllll mix tapes, but now I'm an MC! I got the rhymes and beats. I used to rock them tapes!

Danielle said...

I had one mix tape that is well known to me and my sister. It had Troop, Eddie Murphy crooning, Guy, and Kwame to name a few. I wish I still had that sorry mix tape decorated in black marker.

Mom said...

I think I have "It's A Beautiful Day" on CD.

Also, there are ways to get stuff from tape to digital format. We'll consult our tech support guy (aka Dad)...

Yay for mix tapes! And yay for nice weather!!!

Eve said...

Gotta love the mix tapes. I was just thinking about making a break-up tape for a friend.

Natalie said...

dmarks- I don't know if I would want someone's old funky mixtapes. Unless, of course, it was one that I made for them because it would have been an awesome tape.

Ern- You are a goon. I'm mad at your for your vacation.

Danielle- It sounds relatively excellent.

Mom- If dad knows how to do that in a way that is easier than me listening to all mix tapes and manually creating playlists then I am all for it.

eve- I want to hug you for still thinking about making a tape for someone.

Travis said...

I remember mix tapes so well - sitting for hours programming just the right songs in the right order. But that wasn't all - you had to account for the timing of each song so you didn't waste any tape at the end.

Those were the days. I think I have a box of mix tapes that I keep lugging around.

Mom said...

Natalie - There's no way to get title and artist info off a tape (without listening to the tape) because that info isn't encoded on the tape (of course). Sorry.

Michael C said...

I did some pretty good mix tapes in my time, too. Perhaps my best was a summer one and my 'Just got dumped so I should feel down' mix tape. I had the guts to mix Sinead O'Connor and Bruce Ruffin's 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.' I'm tearing up just thinking about it ;-)

notfearingchange said...

One of my exboyfriends is a DJ. One of the first gifts he gave to me was well over a decade ago and it was a mixed tape. He would spend hours and hours of going over his collections of vinyls, tapes and cds so as to ensure the proper mix of songs.
He still makes me CDs - these CDs I listen to over and over again...usually all 23 tracks. I treasure each piece of music he shares with me.

liz said...

reading your post made me realize something: like mixed tapes, radio is a dead art. why bother tuning in to the radio when you can get updated over the internet? the invention of podcasting did not help.

or maybe that's just me. i used to have two radios just to myself when i was younger, but now i don't even have one. sad to say, i don't feel the need to.

terry said...

i'll even go you one better: when i was a kid, we'd all (my peers and i) tape songs off the radio... because we couldn't afford to buy the singles (remember those?)....

plus, i lived in a 'burb that was far, far away from any record (remember THOSE?) stores.

i love mix tapes.

Jaclyn said...

Either you or Brooke has a mix tape with SASH! on it...and I miss me some awful French...what would you call it? Techno? House?

Ecuador!

Natalie said...

Travis- So true, I remember writing out how long songs were and reordering things based on how much tape time I had. Mix tapes were hard work!

Mom- I know that, duh. It just would save a lot of searching online for song time.

Michael- That sounds like a pretty freaking awesome mix tape. Nice work.

Not Fearing- I played around with Mix CDs. I still make them for a few people who actually still listen to CDs. The whole art has been supplanted by the computer music age though.

Liz- So true. I do listen to NPR on occasion but it is nothing like the radio days of old. Very rarely if I am in a car I might turn it on but since I am never in cars it is not likely.

Terry- Radio Coolness I and II were that exact type of radio mix. One even has a commercial for beepers (remember those) that I thought was super funny on it. A few of the songs are slightly cut off, it's beautiful.

Jaclyn- It must be Brooke because I have no ECUADOR. I don't know what you would call it.

Johnny Yen said...

White Bird is definitely out there, because I know I downloaded it at some point-- it's in my itunes. I also love It's a Beautiful Day's song "Hot Summer Nights."

I used to love making mix tapes, but found myself enjoying how easy it was to make mix cd's. Now I make itunes playlists, or just love random shuffles. Ah, technology.

dave said...

just so you know i still have my box! you know the speak and play playskool tade deck! i think it just needs batteries and it will be as right as rain.

Anonymous said...

Hey I don't have an account here I found your page because I am making a playlist on my myspace and doing a tribute section of the alt/indy/punk rock from my teenage years that was influential in my musical tastes to this day. One song was a song by a band called Shtoom (spelling may be off) called Skydiver... I have been trying to find the song and did a lyrics check which led me to your blog. Hope I have helped. You can check my playlist on myspace to see if I find a copy of it : myspace.com/jefeftw

Anonymous said...

Yup. "Skydiver" by Schtum.