Have you seen “High Fidelity” with John Cusack and Jack Black? Most normal people would think I’m a huge fan of this Rom-Com because of Rob Gordon’s (John Cusack and his awesome-sauce self) love for his ex-girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle). Yeah, not at all – it was watching John Cusack explain the importance of making the perfect mix tape.
I may be dating myself, but I’m a huge fan of a good mix tape. I remember sitting in my room for hours, listening to the radio while expertly using the pause button on my boom box to make sure the 90-minutes of magic I was making did not have the beginning of a commercial, or the voice of whatever DJ happened to be working that hour.
Then….came along CDs – and, instead of stalking the radio stations for good songs, I starting looking at my growing CD collection (thanks to a summer job at Strawberries Records & Tapes). Mix tapes were major projects to me. I had to sit down and figure out the 4 W’s – Who, What, Where & Why – before deciding on the music. To this day I could pop in a tape I made in high school and college without looking at the title and, within 2 songs, tell you what was happening (crush, broken heart, celebration) at the time I made it. I still have some of the ol’ school cassette tapes in a box somewhere in my closet.
Nowadays, courtesy of ITunes, mix tapes have turned into Playlists. And I’ll be honest, my mix tape obsession has exploded. No need to worry about your current supply of blank tapes, or sacrificing a completed mix in order to put together a new one (and don’t forget finding tape to cover the holes on top in order to be able to tape over the cassette).
I have playlists for pretty much everything happening in my life. What you see here is just a snap shot, but I run the gamut from Anything Amy (Winehouse) to House Cleaning and even a Race Mix (for stuff like my recent Marine Corps Marathon 10K). One of my best go-to Play List is Housecleaning – if you are a neighbor you can hear it during any given Saturday or Sunday when I need to scrub down my place. ITunes has allowed me to build a 300-song playlist that’ll be on my IPod rather than bringing a book of 10 CDs that I need to change while hurling down the NJ Turnpike (at the speed limit….or course) during one of my trips back to Massachusetts. Unless of course you have a cheap rental that doesn’t have the IPOd hook-up or Bluetooth, which you don’t realize until it’s too late to go home and put some CDs together. Yes, that’s happened to me way too many times – it’s like our generation’s version of running out of gas on the NY Thruway and being stuck in the back seat while your parents argue about whose fault it is (which happened when I was a child, and the reason why I fill up if the gas hits ¼ of a tank).
I do have to admit, though, the downside of the demise to mix tapes/CDs is gifting these gems to friends/family. Unless you’re a professional DJ and/or have the software, it’s a pain to send these mixes on-line or putting them on a thumb-drive in hopes the songs don’t reshuffle themselves to alpha or date added order. Of course, someone may pop up and tell me about some cool site or software that will let me do this and then I’ll end up procrastinating on all my work (like I’m doing now) to play around and bombard friends with random mixes because they “MUST listen to this immediately and give me feedback.” However, until then, I’ll just keep carrying my aptly named IPod a/k/a “THK Walkabout” and pluggin’ it in random speakers when necessary.
Oh….look at the time — I gotta get back to work
For those in the DC area, don’t forget to purchase your tickets to see Alice Smith (@alicesmithmusic) at the Howard Theatre and the Easy Star All Stars (@EasyStarAllStar) at the Hamilton next month. Both tickets are worth every penny. Trust me