Last year, in my frenzy to watch movies before all the major awards started being handed out, I hadn't been doing much book reading. With only so many free hours in each day, I usually fixate on one form of entertainment at a time. So, having reached my movie watching goal a little early, and thanks to some generous electronic-book-friendly Christmas presents, I started tackling some new books in December. And I've been averaging about a book a week so far this year.
It just so happens that the two of my favorite recent reads, Eleanor & Park and Love Is A Mix Tape, both of which I very much enjoyed and have recommended to folks who have expressed a similar book taste, had me reminiscing for the lost art of the mix tape. Then I started reading Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s and, well....I saw a theme.
Eleanor & Park is a lovely story about first love, forged out of a shared taste in music, and solidified over mix tapes. Love Is A Mix Tape is the memoir of a relationship, with chapters framed using various mixed tapes that the couple made each other. Mad World, is, as the full title suggests, an oral history of music, mostly from the 1980s, framed around a handful of songs. Maybe not coincidentally, there are artists that make an appearance in all three books. And it has me all nostalgic about my old tapes.
Making a mixed tape was an act of love - because it took so much time to make one. You couldn't just click 12 songs from a list and burn them on a CD, you had plan ahead, making sure the running times for the songs on each side of the tape was right, so you wouldn't end up with too much dead time at the end, or that one side cut off a song before it ended. You had to sit next to your recorder to start and stop each recording. You had to spend TIME - so even if you told the person "no big deal, I thought you might like these songs" - it WAS a big deal. You would never make a mix tape for someone you didn't care about. Even if it was just a copy of a mix tape you made for yourself - you still had to take the time to make that copy.
So, if I made a mixed tape for you back in the day, know it was because I thought highly of you, and your taste in music. And to those who made tapes for me, in case I didn't say it at the time - thanks! Thank you to that friend in high school who made a tape of The Bangles Different Light for me - I still love that album. (And my favorite songs are not the biggest hits.) Thank you to the different friend who gave me a tape of the hits in Canada in 1986, which included Rumors by Timex Social Club, Lessons in Love by Level 42, and of course songs from Corey Hart and Glass Tiger. Thank you to the friend who made me the mix tape that introduced me to INXS, and my great love of the late 1980s, Michael Hutchence. Thank you to the guy who gave me that mixed tape of rock en español songs- I didn't get the hint at the time- but it was very nice of you. And though not a mixed tape, thank you to my stepmother for giving me that Escape Club tape as a present the first day we met. It's a tape I still own - not so much for the music, but as a keepsake memory.
So many of my friendships have been forged around a shared love of music. I have had way too many long phone conversations or online chats with friends that consist mostly of playing or sharing links to music we love. And I really love how just reading a mention about a song I love can so easily lead to me reminiscing about a time long ago and far away.
Now excuse me while I go dust off some of those albums I haven't shown love to in awhile. (And if you too are a product of the 80s, check out the excellent mixtape put together by the authors of Mad World... I'll be over here embarrassed that the only "rap" I know all the words to is from Wham!)