09 Jul The Lost Experience of the Mix Tape
The absence of the mix tape is a signifier of distance between the listener and his songs. The patience, selections process, timing, and insert recording, expressed a relationship that todays digital landscape finds absent. Record players are back for those yearning to hear more authentic analog sound, but one doesn’t make a compilation on records – unless of course they are using a cassette.
Music streaming services expose us to a larger library of possible favourites but the ease with which one can compile a list of songs without listening to any of them weakens the attachment for the creator and forces him to just make another and another, chasing a satisfaction that doesn’t come easy.
Not only that, but we can listen to playlists made by others without ever creating one of our own. While one might argue this is similar to the radio, even the radio has lost the connection of the DJ to the music and to the audience.
The mix tape was an intimate immersion into musical experience and presentation. It’s why people made them for their girlfriends/boyfriends. It said I chose these songs for you and placed them where I thought they sounded best. It took time. Time means care. Usually, the songs carried some sort of meaning or message the creator wanted to send to the receiver.
Giving mix tapes was usually more fun than receiving them. At least for me.
Rewinding, fast forwarding, fitting the right amount of songs on Side A and Side B; waiting for every song to play in full; appreciating the flow; and eventually listening to the tape all the way through or waiting in anticipation for when the receiver of the gift listened with fresh ears, are all experiences we miss in our music streaming world.
I myself anxiously skip songs and playlists searching for the best musical experience to be provided to me but the best musical experiences, the best playlists, are the ones we make ourselves – and better yet, the ones we make for others.