Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

He Made Me a Mix Tape

So it seems like ’90s nostalgia is coming to fruition. Flannel is back in stores (and not just army surplus stores), I’m singlehandedly trying to spark a Dickies jacket revival, Doc Martens are coming back in style, Nirvana seems to be on the radio more and more, and with the advent of TV on DVD a new generation of people is able to catch up on their My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek and Original 90210 (let’s talk about how 90s shows are being remade left and right…look for Melrose Place the remake coming soon to a TV near you).

There’s one serious void in this 90s comeback (not counting Winona Ryder and Arsenio Hall) and that would be the mix tape. That great piece of cultural nostalgia that I fear is lost forever. Sure, we can make mix CDs and you all know I’ve made my fair share for various reasons, but I miss the mix tape. As an avid maker and receiver of mix tapes, I miss them dearly. The really great ones take time and thought and precision. You can’t just throw any old song on there, just like on a mix CD you can’t hit shuffle on your iTunes and burn the CD from that. One must think about flow, about meaning when going from one song to another. There’s always a hidden message in Mixes. It could be declaring love, it could be saying, ‘Wow you have awful taste in music. Please take this and run with it.’ It could be saying I’m sorry you broke up with your boy/girlfriend, I’m sorry you’re fighting with your mom/dad, I’m sorry we fought.

And the way a mix tape says all these important things: song choice and flow. You can’t very well through two slow depressing songs together and top it with a slow depressing song. You can’t begin with the song that makes your whole point, you must end with it, leave them with a little something to remember you by.

Sure, you might be saying, ‘But Julia, you can do all this on a CD mix.’ Well, my dear friends, you would be right. You can do all this on a CD mix, but what mix tapes had that CDs never had was time, love. I can create a playlist (however painstaking) and put in a CD, hit burn and walk away. But when you used to have to record from CD to tape (or, as I’ve been told by one older and wiser, from Vinyl to tape, which is not what the majority of my mix tapes came from because I’m just barely too young) there was an element of time. You had to listen to the whole song be recorded onto the tape. You had to stop the tape recording and the cd playing at exactly the right time. It wasn’t just a set it and forget it kind of deal, there was real mental work involved. You really had to know your songs, to know when they ended, which songs were just going to blend into the next, and if you fucked it up, you’d have to re-record the whole thing.

Plus, there’s no better feeling in the world (seriously better than sex, drugs, and love) than someone giving you the perfect mix tape because really what is the perfect mix tape but a combination of the best sex, the best drugs and the best love. Someone sat on the floor of a room and listened to that shit. Thought about what you’d like and what you might be into if they just opened your mind to it. Someone took that time and made you a mix tape to give you a clue.

Peace, Love, and Mix Tapes,


March 4, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Did you ever end up reading “Love is a Mixed Tape”?

    Comment by Fran | March 11, 2009 | Reply

    • It’s sitting next to my bed waiting to be read…as is every other book ever written.

      Comment by jcalla | March 11, 2009 | Reply

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