** Disclaimer: certain (younger) age groups may not be able to identify with this post at all. ;)
Back when I was in high school, music was still mainly consumed through cassette tapes. CD's were just starting to be around - but they were very expensive. Records were still around, but tapes could be played in your car AND if you had, wait for it, a dual deck tape player, you could make a copy of a tape OR a MIX TAPE!
My friend Erin and I arguably made an art of this in our college days...we were anal enough that we would plan out the list of songs, and then mathematically figure out how to fill each side of a tape almost completely. (Want to know the perfect song for 2 minutes, 30 seconds? I still know a few - you want slow, fast or emo?) There was a real art to making mix tapes - and I STILL have all my best ones but the real credit goes to the person who taught me how...a guy named Mike M.
Senior year of high school, Mike and I were the kind of friends who knew each other and if we were around each other could talk forever about the subject at hand, but we were mostly casual friends - not really seeing each other outside of school or anything. Well, come Spring, Mike said to me "let's start making each other mix tapes". A few days later I got this shocking piece of "technology" - the cassette case wasn't just the lined label with a list of songs - it was a beautiful graphic (cut from a magazine and glued on but remember, this was the early 90's people). There was a "title" for the album - assembled in cool typeface and again put, what was considered professionally, on the case.
Then there was the music. High school kinda forms your musical tastes I think. High school also offers a lot of kids up as fodder to the Top 40 radio stations. Its easy to get lazy in what good music is - and this is the stuff that's gonna stay with you forever so it better end up being good and stand the test of time (I can still mimic the entire Thriller dance - don't judge). Anyway - most, if not all, of the music Mike would put on my mix tapes was stuff I'd never heard by artists I'd never heard of. It was cool, it was challenging, and it was affecting.
Those of you who know me now know how important music is to me - it truly serves as the soundtrack of my life. I've come to have such a broad spectrum of musical tastes, and comfort with that, based on the exploration that Mike's mix tapes started some many years ago.
I haven't seen Mike in years - and I think the last time was a last second recognition among the throngs of people at an Ohio State game. But he truly impacted my life and something that has become one of my most cherished daily elements. Now the music I love and recommend and buy often reminds me of Mike and the gift he probably didn't ever know he gave. :)
3 weeks ago