Following on from previous posts about mixtapes and musical joy, this is a piece written and published in the January issue of the Pebble, in the hope of encouraging some romantic sharings. It was due to be a collaboration with Ellie, the music editor, but it unfortunately didn’t happen. So these words are just mine, but we both made spotify playlists.
Did Romance die with the Mixtape?
I cannot think of a greater joy than giving someone I love a mixtape. The hours of searching and selecting songs for that special someone is the embodiment of joy poured into plastic. When I say mixtape do not necessarily just mean the old school cassette but also the compact disk, which is also becoming obsolete as we increasingly prefer to download onto hard drives, transfer via usbs and sharing songs on Youtube. Like random playlists are phasing out the progressive journeys only albums can take you on, the mixtape which was once seen as visible exchange in youth culture is not exchanged or appreciated as much as it used to be.
My love of music started with rainy afternoons in my bedroom recording and re-recording old cassette tapes to exchange with my friends. Every party that I would throw in my teenage years had its own handmade soundtrack made especially to suit the vibe of the night. I recently rediscovered these gems when I was moving house, replaying them took me back to a time in my life when I had shared experiences, happy or sad, with the people that I love. Magical memories are always made better by music. I tried to re-create this epiphany last Christmas by making individual mixtapes for all my girlfriends, all reflecting their own tastes in music and the highs and lows they were currently feeling in their own lives. How gutted was I to discover one of them being used as a coaster a month later?
Then there is the art of making the mixtape. There is no easy way to produce it without hours of scouring of intros and outros to ensure the transcending voyage hides no voids and fits like a puzzle. While there are so many unwritten rules as to how it should be done, Nick Hornby manages to define it brilliantly in High Fidelity; “A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention, and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch… To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again.”
The hardest part for me is deciding on the theme. Sometimes the best mixtapes consist solely of songs with certain words rather than music of a specific genre, the best example I have heard of was songs about birds. While this may amplify your musical kudos, it will never demonstrate your personal taste, so you must always keep the person you are making it for in mind always. Do you want to impress them, or seduce them? One thing is guaranteed, you will never be happy with the finished product. The moment you burn it and hand it over so will very soon after discover a new song that could have been the missing link.
But is it all worth it? Absolutely. I fell in love with my first boyfriend due to a series of punk rock compilation CD’s that he made for me, each with its own individual artwork. There is a special egotistical charm about lover’s songs, like a joke between friends that will never tire and grow more special with age: just think of those cheesy first dances at weddings. More music needs to be shared in meaningful way, not through Facebook, but through feeling. So right here, I am starting a campaign. If you love or fancy someone, make them a mixtape. If you don’t want them to know, send it anonymously and print out the track listing. Trust me; it will be the cheapest yet most meaningful valentine you will ever send. You never know, you might bond over a shared love of music that you never had before.
To start the love vibes, Ellie and I have compiled a few tracks for your listening pleasure. Join the Pebble Facebook group for the Spotify link. We love you, but we are not making a CD for each and every one of you.