Friday, April 1, 2011

The Castration of the Mixtape

So, a few months back when I was contemplating attempting a woo, I entertained the idea of a crafting a mixtape. Well, technically a mix cd, but c'mon that doesn't have nearly the same evocative power.

I ran that idea past the Fish & Spaghetti offices. Dirk and Pinky Ring both loved it. Chet was perplexed by the very concept of a "tape." But it was Jay1's observation that gave me pause. He said thanks to technology, a mixtape isn't as powerful as it used to be.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how right he really was. In this day and age when creating a mix is as easy as "clicking and dragging" or "burning a playlist" the art of the mixtape has been completely undermined.

The art of mixtape is almost like the art of calligraphy; at one point it was awesome and would slay anyone it was presented to. But now it's so outdated it's practically archaic and no one really knows how to do it correctly.

I can distinctly remember coming up with track lists for actual mixtapes. I'd write down the songs that I wanted to put on the tape. Then I'd write down the song times and figure out exactly how close to the 50 minute running time I was cutting it (I was a huge fan of 100 minute tapes, specifically Maxell.) And then I'd search for the perfect instrumental to play out the remainder of the tape, because I couldn't stand dead air.

And I'd do all of the above on a regular basis, whenever I got something new I wanted to listen to.

I've got a couple of shoeboxes full of these mixes back in Tucson. Part of me hopes that the dry heat has destroyed the tapes, because listening to them would be like reading diary pages from when you felt like the world was a much more dramatic place. But another part of me kept those tapes because, despite my not having anything to play them on, I'm still proud of the time and effort put into crafting them.

Seriously, I'd put "Spoiled Matzovich" against any slow jam mixtape. Straight up.

A mix cd doesn't have the same power. First and foremost, your audience isn't saddled by an antiquated fast forward button. The person listening can just skip a track, a track that might be integral to the narrative you're trying to weave on the mix.

Also, back in the day not everyone made mixtapes. Now, everyone has playlists and burns them. And because everyone does it, it diminishes the craft.

I put work into every mix I make. I've got over 4k songs on my computer and that's just a fraction of my overall music collection. So when I'm making a mix, worst case scenario, I'm scouring through four thousand songs trying to find which ones fit the best. Best case scenario; I'm digging through over fifteen hundred cds.

But despite my giving it my all, to whomever receives it, nine times out of ten it's just another disc that someone burned for them.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I miss the power that the mixtape had and that I had by extension.  I guess next time I contemplate a "woo" type situation, I'll favorite a whole bunch of songs on You Tube and email the link to the broad in question.

"Sometimes technology sucks" he wrote on his blog.

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