Ode to The Mix Tape

I love mix tapes, or should I say: I loved mix tapes. Thanks to mp3s and CDs they’re virtually non-existent and that makes me sad. It’s difficult to accept that I was part of the last generation to grow up with tapes. When I was a kid (am I getting that old?) CD burners were a luxury; it was way before every desktop and laptop came with one. I made tapes out of necessity, but I’m glad I had that experience.

Remember These?

Burning a mix CD or making a playlist on GrooveShark is easy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s lazy. Do a couple of searches, make a couple of mouse clicks and you’re done. There’s nothing to it. But that wasn’t the case with a mix tape. You had to gather all of your CDs and tapes and sort through them to find exactly what you needed.

Then you had to rig up your tape deck, boombox or whatever you were using. After that, you actually had to sit there with one finger on the record button and one finger on the stop button to make sure you didn’t cut off the end of a song or go into the next one. You couldn’t click “burn playlist to disk” and go make a microwave burrito. It took dedication.

Oh yeah, and you actually had know how many minutes you had on each side of the tape and how many minutes each song was. Only a chump would let the side end during the middle of a song. But that wasn’t all, no sir.

After you successfully recorded your mix there was the matter of box art, which was a necessity. What was this mix for? Cruising? Skateboarding? Barbecuing? Just plain ole’ rocking out? The songs certainly had to reflect the tape’s use, but so did the box. And if you wanted to get really fancy, you could spray-paint the cassette to add extra flair.

And was there any better way to show your crush how you felt? According to any 80’s movie ever, no.

In short, making a mix tape was an art. Here’s my tribute to the lost medium (partly inspired by Calvin and Hobbes’ Ode to a Tiger): Ode to The Mix Tape

Oh, cassette tape

Dull, and square in shape

Not shiny and round like a CD

Yet so much more personality

Two miniature spools

Perfect for mix-making fools

Spending all afternoon long

Searching for that song

The sound of ‘click clack’

The rush of finding the perfect track

A raw finger from holding record

You’re perfect for playing in my beat up Ford

Constantly having to push stop and start

That’s why you have much more heart

How I love to reminisce

About that pure audio bliss

Knock on wood

That you’re not gone for good

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7 thoughts on “Ode to The Mix Tape

  1. There was nothing better than getting a mix tape from a friend, or sigh, your crush. I remember the fast beating heart. Remember when a new song would come out on the radio that you loved? You would sit by the radio with the finger at the ready on the record button.

  2. MamaCarrie says:

    I have never been able to replicate the mix-talent I had with cassette tapes. It’s just not the same making a playlist on the computer.
    I remember sifting through jewel cases, writing out my mix, moving songs around, and finalizing the mix. For years I would not purchase a stereo without the dual tape deck.
    Ahh, good times. Thanks for the memories!

  3. Evin says:

    Wow, you’d love this art exhibit all about the mix tape!

  4. Miss Kitinn says:

    I get mix CDs now. Not as exciting as the tape.
    I lament the lost art of mix taping.

    Remember using a pencil to manually rewind your tape, because you didn’t want to waste your Walkman’s batteries???


  5. I’m turning 21 next week and I feel like my generation had the tapering off time period of the mix tape. CD burners on desktops were not horrendously popular and Napster was just starting to get big and such. I was ALL about the mix tape. I’m sure if I rummage around enough, I’ll be able to find one or two.

    P.S. I also loved the blank VHS tape, recording shows and episodes of Daria and Celebrity Deathmatch. O, the days.


  6. Greg Bringedahl says:

    I’m graduating High School and I remember the very end of tapes. I remember recording songs off the radio and making mix tapes that way because I didn’t have too many tapes.

  7. Ahhh the mix-tape. One of my top favorite trends growing up. I definitely was a radio mix-taper waiting for DJ mixes to come on and do my mixing for me. I had boxes filled with various moods labeling each masterpiece. My favorite going to mini parties and watching the “dj” wait for the end of one tape and timing it so preciously that as soon as it ended the dj would press play for the next one to start without missing a beat. Ahhh childhood ❤

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