Maxell XL II 90 Cassette Tape

Mourning the Mix Tape

I’ve written about the Death of the Record Album in the Age of the iPod®. Indeed, I’ve also written about questions of art in the crowd-sourcing age, but much like video killed the radio star, iPod slaughtered the album and then served its dismembered corpse as dinner.

Maxell XL II 90 Cassette Tape

All of those old mix tapes are in landfills now, and will be for hundreds of years. Future archaeologists will find us to be a conflicted people with poor musical taste. We will be unable to defend ourselves.

And with summer looming my thoughts turn to another artistic victim of our technological advancements. Something that was a staple of the season.

The Mix Tape, with all of its attendant limitations and time-consuming work, is a lost art. I remember laboring for a long time to get the dead spaces between songs just right; plotting how much time I could get on each side; making sure that the music ‘built’ and ‘ebbed’ properly.

And there was an art to it. Everyone had a method for their tapes, but the truly good ones had an art to them. Like an actual record album, there was a cohesiveness, a theme that was easy to visualize but took time to construct. At least, on any of the tapes that were worth having in your deck.

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