The mix tape is sooo much more than today's iPod playlists or even the mix CD. The mix tape was lovingly put together after much consideration. I remember sitting in front of the stereo with its double tape decks pouring over each and every song choice. Reading the lyrics, which hopefully were printed inside, and analyzing them to make sure they fit. Putting the songs in a certain order to tell a story. Drawing cute little pictures on the inside with messages ~ some cryptic, others simple.
There was the love tape, which went to my high school boyfriend. It had "our" song, but then others that artfully spoke the words I could not. Looking back, I realize I was more Edie Brickell, and he was more Metallica, but whatever. If the love tape didn't work out too hot, there was the break-up tape. This, too, had "our" song, possibly several times, but it was a whole tape whose sole purpose was to make me cry endlessly and contemplate the demise of our relationship which obviously was meant to end in marriage, two kids, and a cool house. There was the best friend tape, which had the important memory songs on it. The songs we listened to when we rolled a house, rode around and drank beer (maybe underage, but I'll never tell), traveled to football games, or just hung out and debated life. Whatever the need, mix tapes met it.
Music is a funny thing in that it always takes me back to a very specific moment in my life. Anytime I hear the Doors or Cream, I think of my father because he gave me these albums when I got my first stereo. Granted, second grade might have been a little young to "get" Jim Morrison, but I gave it my best shot. High school was an olio of musical tastes: Red Hot Chili Peppers (saw them with the boyfriend), Jane's Addiction, and the like. But I also (secretly) listened to Willie Nelson, Dr. John, and Reba. Since then it's been wherever the journey takes me.
The mix tape will always be my youth. Somehow clicking on a song and adding it to a playlist doesn't have the same appeal as sitting in front of that stereo pouring my heart and soul into that magnetic diary of my thoughts and dreams. So, after the kids are out of the car, I will blast some Pixies and Flipper on the ride to work and pretend I'm young and carefree...for at least 30 minutes.