An item from my past…
Starting somewhere around the age of 16, I started making numbered mix tapes. I’d make a few a year, first for playing in my car, then later for playing during my Magnolia Cafe South shifts. This was before I switched to CDs, so these were composed by placing the needle on a track I liked. I wish I had all these cassettes still, with the songs on them listed as well. I bet I would recognize the playlist order if I heard one of them now, I played them so many times.
I don’t have a working cassette player at the moment, which means I only know 3 songs that are for sure on this particular mixtape: I always made the title out of various songs on the mix.
Lou Reed’s Vicious
The Clash – Junkie Slip
Yo La Tengo – Lost In Bessemer
Also, based on the Yo La Tengo, this tape was probably made in 1990-91 (when I bought New Wave Hot Dogs).
So there was probably a Bob Dylan song, a Rolling Stones song, Velvet Underground and/or Lou Reed, for sure a song from either Peter Tosh or Bob Marley, probably a couple of Chicago blues tracks, probably a couple Afro-Pop songs, like by Fela Kuti or similar. Those David Byrne Brazilian compilations, Charlie Parker, acoustic Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Jimi Hendrix, R.E.M., Syd Barrett, James Brown, Smiths, The Clash, Meat Puppets, Neil Young, Camper Van Beethoven, Elvis Costello, Joy Division, Pogues, Parliament/Funkadelic, Neville Brothers, obscure folk songs, local Austin musicians like Timbuk 3, Glass Eye, Poi Dog Pondering, The Horsies and others got some attention, i.e. not much different from my tastes today, just less depth as I didn’t know as much about music history.
Usually the last song on either side was an instrumental, so that it could flip to play the other side without being cut off mid-sentence. At home I listened to a lot of heavier stuff – punk rock, heavy bebop and so on, I didn’t put these on the mixes as often someone would complain1 and then I’d lose my control of the music flow. Maybe once in a while, I’d slip in a bit of something like the Butthole Surfers, or Public Enemy, but it was a risk.
I don’t recall if this particular one had any sound collages of snippets of several songs, but I recall creating some of those before I knew much about mixing. All done by hand with a turntable and a cassette deck, and inebriant of choice. I did sometimes check out vinyl records from the public library, and added a song or two even if I didn’t love it just to have something new.
Some mix tapes were thematic, some were just collections of songs I liked. I think I got up to #71 or #72 before I started making CD versions, and then just playlists on an iPod/iPhone.
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