mixtape

Swoon. I got a mixtape in the mail today.

OK, it was a CD and not an audiocassette tape. But “mixtape” sounds so much better than “mixCD.” Besides, the word mixtape is imbued with a saccharine feeling that the term mixCD simply cannot convey.

For those of you who were born PCE (Post-Cassette Era), perhaps it’s important to explain that a mixtape is a careful selection of songs recorded in a specific order. The mixtape could be an audio anthology of the sender’s soul, a musical manifestation of a theme or a simply a hit parade of the creator’s favorite songs. I suppose since people share playlists these days the concept isn’t anachronistic, but in the days of the audiocassette this was a popularly practiced tactile artform. It required painstaking effort including planning out the songs ahead of time, mastery of the art of holding the pause button while recording to reduce the clicking sound in between songs (a real mood breaker), and forethought to avoid inordinate amounts of blank tape at the end of each side for easy listening, not to mention mixtape “album” artwork!

Because it was a labor-intensive project, if you sent someone a mixtape in the Cassette Era it meant something. You were into them. You wanted them to be into you. More than mere compilations, a carefully crafted mixtape was a highly personal form of expression. I made mixtapes for my friends, boyfriends, boys I wanted to become my boyfriend, my sixth grade English teacher … OK that last one may seem a little odd, but my sixth grade English teacher was highly influential and the complex and emotional R&B ballads of Boyz II Men seemed like the ultimate show of appreciation to an awkward sixth grader  in 1992.

In any case, it was surprising and sweet to get a mixtape from Lupine, one of my newest friends, on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Lupine and I only met this year while she and my dear friend Priscilla rented an apartment in New York City for the summer. Along with the CD, she sent me some photographs from a summer picnic in Central Park and other goodies, including chocolate (a sure way into my heart).

As explained in “High Fidelity”, the most important part of a mixtape is the first three songs. I don’t know Lupine that well, but three songs into her “Fall Mix” and I feel like I already know her a little better. Sure, a mixCD may not require the rigor of a mixtape, but it’s still a special way for two people to connect, be they friends, lovers or an awkward sixth grader and her English teacher.

The video below is for “West Coast” the first song on my newly arrived mixtape. Thanks for such a thoughtful small act of kindness Lupine! Be kind.

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