The Mix Tape

Give 100 people a blank cassette tape and task them with making a mix tape for someone. You'll get 100 very different tapes back. You'll also get a glimpse into the life of that person and how they feel about the individual they've made it for.

Before the digital age, the mix tape was a crucial format for many across the globe. Through them, people expressed thankfulness, love, friendship and happiness. They were personalized each step of the way, coming from the heart of the giver. Each song was meticulously chosen to send the specific message to the intended person.

People would spend hours on one single cassette to ensure each song was just right. Playing it back frequently each step of the way to confirm each segue into the next song didn't cut off the fade out of the last, but yet at the same time there wasn't too much dead air in between. Each track had to be carefully timed to make sure there was enough tape on each side to fill it up just to the end without cutting the song off or having more than a few seconds of tape remaining.

What makes a mix tape so special is the feeling of knowing that person who gave it to you put something into it they won't get back. Time. Unlike a digital file which can be dragged and dropped into a queue for burning within seconds, mix tapes had to be hand crafted in real time. In most cases, that person would also write out each track across the back of the blank card back within the case, adding all the more personal touch to it.

A mix tape should be cherished because in essence it is the person who gave it to you, even if it's not their own music. It's something tangible to capture that moment in time of how you felt when you were first handed the cassette, and each thought as you listed to the individual songs. It's also a way to hold onto them if that person is no longer with us, for whatever reason.

The concept of having physical media may be somewhat stagnant in this day and age, and I'm not sure people even make mix tapes anymore. Mainly because most people wouldn't have a way to play one anyway. However, should you yourself have a shoe box tucked away in your closet with a few cassettes inside, do yourself a favor and dust it off. Go through the tapes and remind yourself of the moment in time when you received them, or even made them yourself. I promise you that you'll find some cherished memory in doing so.

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