martes, 25 de mayo de 2010

...on mixed tapes and playlists, in hi-fi...

"The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules"  - Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

It saddens me to think that the fine art of making mixed tapes is now obsolete, replaced by .mp3 playlists to be burned on a CD in 20 seconds, or just dragged and dropped on to an iPod...and I don't mean the technological aspect of the matter but the emotional dedication that goes into making "the perfect mixed tape" for a certain occasion/person/road trip.

1) The "theme": 

From the basic "best all time rock songs" (...a classic rookie move, yet effective), the stereotypical "songs that remind me of you" (to be given to that special high school girlfriend as a romantic act...and to be used a couple of months later to bitch and wine in the privacy of your bedroom), the garage band mix (cover songs to be learned by rehearsal time with your rock band, real one, not the playstation game)...and to the more advanced "best b-side track 2 songs by british bands between 1975-1985)".

2) The selection: 

First of all, technical specifications for our younger readers, you have to take into account, cassette tapes usually had a 60 min. capacity... 100 min. if you forked out an extra buck for each blank tape, so you had to organize your song list to two smaller 30 min. groups.

Secondly, the playlist and order of the songs...many questions would arise,  Will you start with a "BANG" to get attention, then alternate with something more subtle ?...or will you start off slow, and gradually take the tempo up ?... will the message get across to the audience (the audience being yourself, someone else or a group of people) basically you're asking this mixed tape for love making or for dirty nasty sex ?

Being limited by time constraints forces you to give each song a specific emotional reason for being chosen.

3) Getting the songs:

That's right... getting the actual songs, because back in my day (*shivers) you either had to buy albums ( CD's, cassettes or vinyls), know somebody who owned a good collection,  borrow/trade, etc., and you had to get the original album, for the moment when you recorded the mixed tape (recording from another recorded tape meant lower music quality), yup, i lived in an era when you would tape complete albums to a cassette when someone you knew gathered enough money to buy one, but for a mixed tape you needed that actual album.

This also meant situations where you would have to resort to favors in order to get an album loaned (*see washing your uncles car to get a hold of his Led Zeppelin IV copy, or "the Dark Side of the Moon" or getting some beer for a friends older brother in order to get a hold of his CD collection for an hour).

4) The recording:

Actually getting a decent tape deck to record was an adventure in itself, in my case i had to schedule recording sessions at a friends house (his dad had a kick ass deck), so we would have to wait for the parents to go out on saturday night, smuggle some beer and record. It would be a couple of years 'till i got a decent sound system.

The important thing about this part, is that you actually had to listen to the complete songs when recording, you wouldn't just make the playlist and press "burn cd", this would mean each song had it's own moment to savor it, you would talk about what the song meant, and why it was ordered in that place in the playlist. If the song reminded you of a place in time, you would remember it that much better, and if you where makin' a track list for your band, this would be the moment you would be defining your musical direction.

And you had to be really, really, really careful to press the "pause" button at the moment the song ends, if you pressed "Stop" you would get this awful "CRANK!!" recorded on your mixed tape.

5) The Artwork:

This usually happened at the same time as the recording, usually pen or sharpy art... 

6) Enjoy/delivery

You would get a blank tape, for the same price you buy about 10 blank CD's today, so you would have to be very picky about your mixed tape's final destination.

Be it your car, make sure your selection meant "cool enough for your stupid friends, but also chick friendly" (remember high-school folks, don't be hatin')...with time and money you would amass to a large number of mixed tapes in your car "songs I like to listen while speedin".

Girls: wasn't it great to get a mysterious tape handed to you ? would have to listen to the entire thing and each track would be a surprise...there is something very unpersonal about the "getting track list" when you insert a burned CD in the computer. (besides, cd's don't really hurt when you throw them at somebody, at least tapes had a much better dramatic use).

In conclusion, I just think that the love that went into each mixed tape, made you appreciate your music collection that much more and gave each song a meaning in time,

there weren't any music downloads, so when you would get a good record, and i mean a really, really good "new to you record" or records, you would run to share it with some people...not just e-mail it.

Or maybe i just miss, sitting around the tape deck on a weekend afternoon, drinking smuggled beer and talking about music, like we knew everything there is to know about it.

Screw this i'm gonna go watch "High Fidelity" and hopefully fall asleep...

Artists rendition of the author at age 16, grunge was in full bloom, and a hot chick asked him if she could paint his nails black

Questions? opinions ? feel free to discuss them at the bar with some Jack Daniels...

1 comentario:

dark muffins dijo...

ahhhh... yeah, the glory of it all.
i especially enjoyed the "art" section. i would spent hours making this cute anime mix thingies (with my own little teen-aged hands) for the mixed-cassettes i made.

memory lane *check