This is the first song for your mixtape and it’s short just like your temper.

RIP The Mixtape.

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I need to face up to the facts that the mixtape is dead and even as someone still attempting to live the Sony walkman dream… I am fighting a losing battle. Nobody wants a mixtape these days. When handing over that glorious rectangle shaped present to people; I get a blank expression. Followed by a “what the hell am I meant to do with this” face. How can I upload it to my ipod? What am I meant to play it on, my laptop doesnt take cassette tape? Argos don’t sell walkmans anymore? And then I’m sure it just languishes unloved and unplayed on a coffee table like some sort of archaelogical artefact.

As I had a little weep to myself about this momentous realisation I dug out my collection of all the mixtapes I’ve received over the years and I guess they do look a little alien these days; with their fiddly little wheels and spindly brown tape and clunky cases. I know these days you can give somebody a Spotify list, a Lastfm link or a USB packed with tracks (even one of those oh so hilariously ironic USBs that look like a tape cassette) but how can that even BEGIN to compare to the LOVE someone must have for you to spend an entire day layed on their belly, surrounded by a mountain of albums and tape inlays – pressing play&record, and pause, and writing out the tracklisting in the teeny tiny gaps, and agonising over which order to put the tracks and then hyperventilating when the tape FINISHES in the middle of the best track on side A. Do you start it again on side B? Start it from where it’s left off? Not bother putting the rest, but risk the tape receiver thinking it’s a crappy song? I’m having trauma flashbacks just thinking about it! With all the newfangled technology, you lose the charm of the mixtape too. Remember the clunk of the pause button sometimes recorded onto the tape (hated that) or the telltale chatter of a radio DJ interupting the music would reveal that you were a cheapo who had recorded this track from longwave radio atlantic 252…

This is my last attempt to say hooray for mixtapes and revive some interest. Mostly mixgtapes were the currency of my teenage relationships. You had to REALLY like someone to bother making them a mixtape and it felt like an incorrect track choice could most definitely end a blossoming romance. (True tragic mixtape story: On my 17th birthday a boy I had been dating for a week made me a mixtape. Whilst handing over the lovingly decorated masterpiece, he also told me he didn’t want to see me anymore. I guess somewhere between liking me enough to make it, and actually handing it over, he’d gone off me… but had invested so much time in it that thought he’d hand it over anyway. I pulled all the tape out in front of him & it decorated the floor like really bad, sad party streamers for the rest of the night.  The youth of today can never have these incredibly teen angst soaked moments with an mp3 can they?)

This is what we used to listen to in my day – AKA Old Fogey Music!] A present from my sister Meg (ten years older than me and therefore forever 10 years maximum cooler than me) when I was 15. Felt slightly vomity and woozey when I realised she made this for me when she was the age I am now, which makes me now a certified old fogey I guess. She shared pearls of musical wisdom with me such as The Cure, Blue Oyster Cult, The Pixies, Nirvana and Radiohead which would prove vital in impressing future friends and lets face it,older boys.

Your a star shining bright] (ah! I am old! because these days I would rather someone didn’t compliment me at all, than did it with incorrect grammar) From Tom, my first boyfriend at the age of 15. He had dreadlocks, he was in the year above me at a DIFFERENT school (so excotic!) and I think he made this for me about a week into our 6 weeks together. It was during a rare UK heatwave summer and I’d lie to my parents about where I was and go to his house to sit on the roof listenings to smashing pumpkins and learning how to play guitar. We split up because he found a note I’d written to a friend in my school planner about “luvving” someone called Jonny. To this day I have no idea who the heck Jonny was, and Tom still has my school planner. Un-nerving. Still, blinding mixtape – definitely the first place I ever heard Concrete Schoolyard

Bees Tape 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5] When I was 18 I went to university in Sheffield and for many reasons, was pretty miserable. One of my best friends Kerry went to university in Preston and for many reasons, was miserable also. So we set up in informal mixtape club and every week a lovingly crafted package would dutifully wizz off to each others halls of residence mail boxes. It didn’t matter that we quite often put on the same tracks as each other (Tori Amos, Jimmy Eat World and The Flaming Lips featured pretty regularly and heavily I recall) those tapes, at that time, rescued me and reminded me that there were people out there who loved me and were rooting for me to keep going. The familiar music provided a soundtrack to such an unfamiliar city and these mixtapes will always be so special.

So is the end nigh? Or could mixtapes be something that come back with a vengence when enough people pack their bags and head off on a Sunday nostalgia trip like me.

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  1. Helen’s avatar

    I lament the passing of the mixtape often. My best friend and I used to make each other mixtapes every couple of weeks or so when we were at school. Happily my car is rubbish enough that it has a cassette player, so I still get to listen to them 🙂

    Reply

    1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

      Ah, ysee being a carless cretin that is where I miss out on any tape playing opportunities. I envy your rubbish car stereo ; )

      There was a really interesting article in the Guardian about this a few days after my post – did you see it? x

      Reply

    2. Lu’s avatar

      I still have the luminous green mix tape you made me! The day that real music became a part of my life! Hell if it weren’t for you I might be still listening to Backstreet Boys!!!!! ::bows head in shame!:: (although I don’t think Ross would allow that anyway! LOL

      Reply

      1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

        Oh Lu don’t worry, I have been known to put a bit of “Quit Playin Games With My Heart” on the ole Spotify when no one is around at work!

        Reply

      2. Anisha’s avatar

        Have you ever read ‘Love is a mixtape’ by Rob Sheffield? I think you’d love it!

        Mixtapes – I mostly used to make them for myself when I went on holidays – I always had to make two or three because I’d get sick of the music easily.

        ipods and CDs are definitely a great way to share music but nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like an old-fashioned mixtape!

        Reply

        1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

          Ooh I most certainly have not – I will add it to my birthday wishlist! Thank you for the tip. I have tons of holidays mixes too imaginatively called “london” or “spain” etc so I can always relive specific times in my life : )

          Reply

        2. Meg’s avatar

          Great post! I love that you still have that mixtape of mine. I think I was claiming far more cool than I had looking at the track list (I’d left off the stuff I listened to more like Billy Joel and The Eagles!)

          This is something that bonds those of us born in the decade between me and you and pretty much separates us from those born any later.

          I’m just packing up my house and the only tapes I’ve kept (whittled down from about 200 I used to have) are 10 mixtapes made for me by various people during the years, including 4 from Bill when I was in the 1st year at Nottingham Uni and he was at Hull. Things don’t change much 🙂

          Reply

        3. Blair’s avatar

          LOVE this post Bee! I remember the angst of making mixtapes all too well – I was such a perfectionist about them and used to make a longlist, then a shortlist of songs to include, then write and re-write the tracklist until it wsa perfect – even to the point of writing down the length of all the songs so I could make sure they wouldn’t be cut in half at the end, if you can believe that! Even when I could make mix CDs I preferred mixtapes, they’re so much more special and personal. It’s sad that it’s a dying art x

          Reply

        4. Eleanor’s avatar

          I still have a tape deck in my car and often indulge in the odd mixtape pleasure. I have THE PERFECT MIXTAPE which I stole from the car of an ex boyfriend in my first year of college, who in turn stole it from a forever stoned hippy boy called Will, who had it made for him by someone who I have never known the name of. I never had the tracklisting either so it was always so fabulously mysterious… half the songs seem to be untraceable trip-hop remixes and I almost don’t want to ever find out what they are. I love it because it’s totally unique 🙂 x

          Reply

        5. Laura’s avatar

          Ahh lovely post- my Fiesta had a tape deck so I re-listened to all my old tapes including one I made when i was TEN.. it was amazing!! Pj & Duncan and some awful songs taped off the radio. You just can’t get that with mix cd’s/ MP3s. Long live tapes!!

          Reply

        6. Anonymous’s avatar

          God, I want to be part of a mixtape club. I don’t think blank tapes are sold anymore & I might have to dig deep in my parent’s attic to find some sort of cassette player, but I’m game if you are! I seriously mourn the somewhat end – you’re right in saying that mp3 folders will just never match up. Infact, I will go through my entire iPod sometimes fast-forwarding until I find a song appropriate enough or with enough feeling for me, whereas I know I can happily listen to a mixtape or even well-thought out playlist without even edging my fingers for the fast-forward button. Maybe we should swap mix CDs at some point? Not quite mixtape but they’re easier to locate and record on – none of that one-half-of-a-song-on-side-one-another-half-on-side-two syndrome!

          Reply

        7. Kate’s avatar

          I’m very upset because I had the most huge and well thought-out comment and I hit post and it disappeared! NOOOOOO! But the crux of it basically was, can we swap mixes at some point? Okay, so it might be a CD but at least there will be none of that half a song on side one, the other half on side two syndrome that I was so very used to in my teens… and we can pay extra special attention to the artwork to make up for the lack of cassette-ness!

          Reply

          1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

            Hey both comments appeared, hoorah!
            YES lets do a mixathon swap. I’m desperate for new music! And can definitely make sure the artwork is cassette worthy.
            Email me your deets and lets get going x

            Reply

            1. Kate’s avatar

              Exciting! I just e-mailed you :]

              Reply

            2. Kate’s avatar

              & I’ve just realised my first comment didn’t disappear! It’s instead ‘anonymous’ & just above mine, hehe.

              Reply

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