I was listening to one of my podcast interviews this morning as I went for a walk. It was with the lovely Deb Slater and among other things we talked about mix tapes. She works in radio/voice talent/TV etc and so sound has always featured in her life. We reminisced about the time when you would spend hours crafting and recording a tape in real time and how that poured, I think, a certain love and emotion into it which is missing from a playlist or CD. As I walked this got me thinking of my penfriend of many years Suzanne. We spent years exchanging mix tapes and speaking to each other on tape. She lived in the U.K and I in New Zealand, so you can imagine the thrill for both of us when one of these arrived in the mail. The exposure to new music, poetry and to hear each other talking was amazing. I still mentally treasure these, even if I only have one left I think. It has got me thinking I might need to dig one out and have a listen again, or at least find a way to listen to it again because I am not sure we have a playing device anymore.
The mix tape was of course a way to prove one's coolness too. Arriving at a party with your tape in the pocket, waiting until people had had a few drinks and were looking to dance in the inconveniently too small lounge which was kinda great for getting to dance close with that girl you had had your eye on. My particular mix always featured The Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode and The Cure. Nothing is guaranteed to enhance your coolness more than Blister in the Sun or Add it Up. Well with the sort of girls you wanted to impress anyway. Those that didn't approve, I really didn't want to get to know better.
So here is to the mix tape and the role that it played in our teenage years. We miss you despite all your extremely average sound quality because of what you meant to us.