In which I miss the mix tape.

As much as I love the simplicity of digital music, I sometimes stop to think about what we’ve lost with the advent of music at the touch of a button. I’m no vinyl purist, i’m not saddened by the complexity lost by transforming a wave into 0s and 1s. Just as video killed the radio star (though i’m not sure it did), mp3s killed the mix tape.

My own love of mix tapes started as a purely personal thing, i’d listen to the radio (Atlantic 252!) with a tape on pause waiting to record as soon as the song I liked came on. I remember cringing if the dj ruined the end of the song with some inane prattle, the debate over whether it would be better to record a bit of blank sound over this so the song had an abrupt ending, or whether to inwardly curse the guy every time you listend to that tape in future. When I go a little older, the mix tape was a way to share new music with friends, and most importantly a secret way of saying “I love you, please notice me”. Hours spent picking exactly the right tracks that you knew the person would like, that almost projected the hidden feelings, but didn’t go right out there and say it.

Towards the end of secondary school, mp3s were getting bigger, though mp3 players were still expensive, a lot of people had discmans, so the mix cd was borne. This was almost more fun, there was far more room to decorate the case, and you could print in track names rather than try and read the scrawl of a track name squeezed into a space that was never meant to be written in by humans. Two years later everyone owned an mp3 player and DRM was ruining our lives.

Nowadays you can send someone songs on spotify, social networking makes it easy for us to update our friends with what we’re listening to, but it’s not really the same is it. I think it was “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” where the mix CD recieves a little exposure, but was anyone still making those things in 2008?

RIP Mix tape…

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