Mix Tapes

One of the best presents I ever received was a mix CD. My best friend, at the time, compiled a song list. The songs alternated between featuring my name and his. He used pictures of us for the cover art. I haven’t had a CD player in years, but I know I will always keep this one. I’m also not able to burn it to my laptop. So unless I manually recreate the song list, this is the only copy of it.

Growing up, mix tapes were a big deal. Each one lovingly, and painstakingly created, for someone special. Or maybe just to have your favorite tunes mixed in one spot to play on a clunky, heavy walkman. There was something precious about a mix tape. Though I have to confess, once tape players became obsolete, I tossed my old tapes, most of which wouldn’t play anymore, the tape worn thin from overuse. I switched to CDs. At first, we also used to make mix CDs. However, as the formats have changed, I’ve adapted, but still retain my fond memories of the mix tape days. Now we just make digital playlists, which can be replicated and shared with anyone and everyone.

My orchestra is playing a pops concert this month. We’re collaborating with a rock band. I honestly hadn’t realized my life was lacking until the orchestra played “Thriller” at the last rehearsal. It brought back that perfect, sweet mix of emotion, nostalgia, and a lot of joy. The second bassoon player, a bit younger than me, hadn’t experienced the impact of “Thriller” when it first came out. I still remember shouting in the lunchroom at school to play “Thriller” on the record player. It was probably one of the first music videos I ever watched on MTV, also new at the time.

I explained all of this to the second player, my voice rising with emphasis and childhood emotion. He nodded agreeing it must have been something big. Then shrugged and said most people just get stuff like that from YouTube. What struck me about this was the way that everything is so instant these days. We used to have to wait for that one special music video to play on MTV. Now we can stream it anytime, anywhere we have a connection. And watch it as many times as we want.

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