Monday, September 07, 2015

The Mixtape

I lost my clip-on sunglasses in my car yesterday. While fishing around on the sides of the passenger seat, I found an old mixtape tucked between the seat and the door.

Side A is labeled 10/24/93, while Side B was apparently recorded a week later on 10/31/93 - Halloween. Nearly twenty-two years ago.

I plucked off some clumps of dust, blew out stuff from inside, and tightened up the tape on the wheels. Will it still play?, I wondered. Will it just ruin my tape deck? My 1996 Toyota Tercel has a tape deck. Not the original tape deck, which gave up the ghost after a few years. This is a replacement unit, which I bought in early 2002 prior to my trip to Salem, Massachusetts. I haven't played tapes in in in many years, though I have more recently used a cassette adapter to patch in music from a portable CD player.

I popped it in. The familiar hiss began to pour out of the speakers. Then, the old familiar opening guitar riffs of U2's The Fly.

I was heading into Wilkes-Barre to take advantage of a coupon from Pet Supplies Plus. The coupon expired the next day, Labor Day, and I had plans for that day that would probably keep me from getting there before closing time. As I crawled along Hazle Street The Fly ended and the tape went silent. Broken? No, I remembered what song was next, and remembered it had a long, slow, quiet buildup.  I cranked the volume and was soon blasting P.J. Harvey's Rid of Me as I drove along Northampton Street. This was followed by a live version of High by The Cure and Metallica's version of Stone Cold Crazy from a Freddy Mercury tribute album. I wound up in a turn-only lane as the next song started up, something I didn't recognize, a soft, country-ish version on The Cure's In Between Days. (I had to look this up: it was John Eddie from an unreleased Cure tribute album, instead put out on Rubaiyat, an album celebrating Elektra Records' 40th anniversary.)

This took me to the pet store, where I picked up cat litter and cat treats (two different types of each, all on sale.)

Pulling out of the parking lot I heard a Led Zeppelin song whose name I can't recall and whose lyrics I could not decipher. (Fun fact: about as much time had passed between the time this song was recorded and the time I put it on the mixtape as has passed between the making of the mixtape and now.) This was followed by Whiskey Train by Procul Harum, Come Around by Sugar, and made it back home listening to Finest Worksong by REM.

Coming up next is a song by My Bloody Valentine and another by U2. Then on to Side B, and more songs I liked enough to put on a mixtape.

It's weird listening again to the music I was listening to when I was twenty-five years old. Some of the songs have held up, some have not. I am someone who recognizes and keeps things of lasting value, but I do not believe in wallowing in nostalgia. If I were to make a mixtape today, what songs would I put on it? What would it sound like in 2037, when (if I live so long) I would be sixty-nine years old?

1 comment:

Don Williams said...


Got you beat by at least a decade with some 8-tracks I found recently. KISS, Three Dog Night, Foreigner, etc.