In the eighties, much time was spent making mixtapes. If there was a special party, you made a mixtape. If you went on holiday, you made a road-trip mixtape. If you loved someone, you made a mixtape (and gave it to them if you had the guts…).

There was an art to making a great mixtape – song selection, perfect timing between stopping and starting songs, and a balanced A side and B side. I don’t care what the Gen Ys, Gen Zs and Millennials (who use/d CDs, MP3s and Spotify playlists) say – they will never know the true glory of a mixtape.

This week, my Top Ten Tuesday thoughts are tuned to mixtapes.

01. I wish I had the energy to do more literary mix tapes. I’ve done a handful, they’re always fun but they are time-consuming (I get distracted by my music collection and go off on all sorts of tangents).

02. Rory has managed to do quite a few literary mixtapes – check them out.

03. Electric Literature asks authors to share the songs behind their books. Wouldn’t it be ace if authors included a mixtape section at the end of their books?

In my TBR stack –

04. Tape by Steven Camden

05. The Words of Every Song by Liz Moore

06. 31 Songs by Nick Hornby

07. How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly

My favourite mixtapes –

08. My brother gave my husband and I a honeymoon mix – we went to the US and the A side was East Coast and the B side was West Coast. The tape began with one of my favourites –

09. A few years later, my brother made me a labour mixtape to take to hospital when I had my first baby. It started with Billy Ocean’s When The Going Gets Tough and included this classic –

10. My friend (who will remain nameless) wanted to send a boy I knew a mixtape. I tried to gently say that I didn’t think it was a goer. Friend didn’t listen. Friend sent mixtape that opened with this –

Don’t need to tell the ending to the story but to this day, every time that song comes on the radio, I call her and say, “Quick, put on Smooth FM!” – and she quite rightly tells me to bugger off πŸ˜€

11. And lastly, file this mixtape cushion under ‘Need’ (as opposed to ‘Want’).

35 responses

  1. I miss mixtapes…

    Massachusetts is my favourite BeeGees song – I’m so impressed with your brother’s mixtape capabilities!

    I am also definitely filing that cushion under ‘need’ πŸ™‚

    • I’m a huge Bee Gees fan but Massachusetts truly stands out. It’s perfect. I saw Barry Gibb in concert two years ago and he was amazing – his voice was exactly as it sounds on his recordings. The thing I loved was that there were no tricks, no staging, just Barry with a mic and a guitar. Stellar.

      • YESS! I was discussing my attachment to the sound and picture quality of old VHS tapes too today at dinner. There’s something comforting in old tech I think when so much of our lives is now intangibly digital.

  2. Wow, mix tapes. My college boyfriend made me a mixtape and I thought it was the most romantic thing ever! Thinking back on it, maybe less romantic and more awesome, because he had the most eclectic tape and I have to admit, the song selection was kind of a masterpiece. LOL, love the idea of a labor mixtape!

  3. “Push It” on a labor mixtape is genius. I never really got into mixtapes (though I did do a few CDs for working out and stuff). I mostly just taped songs off the radio. Ah, the good old days.

    When I was on LiveJournal, there used to be a fanmix community. That was a lot of fun.

    Re: #10
    Your poor friend. Oof.

  4. And when you find that tape years later (and also scrounge up a tape player), mixed tapes totally transport you to a different you, maybe one you simply remember fondly, or perhaps one you miss dearly.

    • I still have a tape player (and a Walkman!). The funny thing is (and same applies to records) is that the order of the songs is so comfortingly familiar – CDs and playlists made it too easy to skip songs and shuffle order. I constantly moan about the fact that song order on a record was an art (particularly A side and B side) and that now, little thought seems to be given to the overall ‘structure’ of albums.

      Over the last few years I’ve been to a couple of concerts (Cyndi Lauper and Jesus Jones) where they have performed an album in its entirety and in track order. Both concerts were brilliant because you knew what was coming next and there was comfort and fun in that.

  5. I recorded loads of songs off the radio when I was younger. So much time spent waiting for my favourite song to come on the radio and making sure that I hit record at just the right moment, and stopped recording at the right moment to make sure I got the end of the song without too much of the dj blabbing on at the end.

    I made some mixed CD’s for my ex and I don’t know about what other people do, but I was super conscious of the songs that went on and the order they went in. I do the same thing with playlists on my iPod – I sit and listen to the beginning and end of each song to make sure that the song that follows “fits”, and there’s always good rise and fall in tempo. I spend hours hunched over my laptop making sure it’s just right. I think I missed my calling as a dj to be honest.

    In other news I shall now be devoting all my spare time to literary mix tapes because it seems like the right thing to do.

    • I still make playlists but not tapes (because no one has the means to play them…!). I find the problem with playlists is that you’re not forced to curate them because length is not an issue.

      • I make playlists on my iPod that has to follow the rules of a traditional mixtape. (Although, sometimes I get carried away and they end up a bit longer). I love the thought process that goes into making a mixtape rather than just a playlist.

  6. I much prefer early BeeGees to disco BeeGees. Besides ‘Massachussetts’, other early BeeGees favorites were ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’, ‘To Love Somebody’, ‘Holiday’. ‘Words’, ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You’, ‘Words’, and ‘I Started a Joke’. Then they went disco.

  7. What a brilliant and nostalgic post. I used to spend hours compiling these – I got the ultimate in the mix tape scenarios – the one given when you break up with your first boyfriend who puts all your favourite songs to woo you back!

  8. Pingback: Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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