Tech (No) Logic #3: Cassette From My Ex
In this column we've already bigged up digital mixtapes and been taken around London in a cab with a collection of troubadours.
This week is a little different, showing what the web can do for the older, more analogue, touchy-feely, makes you a bit tingly, _real world. We head you over to CassetteFromMyEx.com's Jason Bitner to tell us of the hows and whys about his great site full of mixtapes, and their stories..._
I was rummaging around my basement a few months ago when I happened upon a relic of my teen years: Music To Soak Your Toe To. This mixtape, lovingly compiled for me by my then-girlfriend Kate, managed to stay with me for 17 years. And though I hadn't kept a cassette player, I'd never considered purging the tape.
Mixtapes, with their glittery artwork and handwritten track listings, hold memories far beyond the individual tracks. We would labour over these tapes, hoping to melt minds with our musical taste and careful song selection. We would get rugburns while splayed out in front of the stereo with one finger on record and another on play. We had to ride our ten-speeds to record stores to boost our collections. We became the curators, the stars of the mixtape. We wooed lovers with our deep stacks, for love, for sex.
My instinct was right: if I'd managed to hold onto an old mixtape, most everyone my age-ish must have one in a dusty shoebox or their parents' basement. And so began Cassette From My Ex. (They were into you, so they made you a tape. Today you don't have a cassette player, but you still can't toss that mix. We share the stories and the soundtrack to your earliest loves.) I quickly recruited six smart friends and we started collecting stories from a bunch of creative types.
I knew we'd end up sharing a bunch of tapes with The Smiths, The Cure, and The Replacements, and there'd be an instant nostalgia for those bygone days. Some people come to CFME to listen to music, but far more hang around because the stories are about being young and in love and how the music shaped people's lives.
Claudia Gonson (of The Magnetic Fields) notes in her CFME story: "Anyway, I am grateful beyond words for John and his mixtapes... I am certain I would not be the person I am today had I not had this orthodox musical education. I'd probably be a banker or something."
And Chicago DJ Jamie Hayes writes:_ "My boyfriend delivered it, along with breakfast in bed, on the morning of my 20th birthday (hence the title: Good morning, you're 20!). In the mix you can hear the excitement and enthusiasm in the tape of being young, newly in love with each other, and in love with music."_
We, of course, love online music sites like Muxtape and Mixwit, and we've discovered tons of new music through their handy and immediate playlists and searches. They offer instant access to new music and an awesome way to share with friends and strangers alike. But what they don't offer is a huge and compelling part of the mixtape process: the context.
Writer Fiona Maazel shares a typical early ‘90s mix titled Something Sweet From NYC. Songs like Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California’, Dire Straits' ‘So Far Away’, and The Doors' ‘The End’ take on so much more meaning when provided their situation. She tells us:_ "In May of that year, my parents announced we were moving to Los Angeles. I'd had a party in our apartment a couple months before, which sent one kid to the hospital with kidney failure, so there was no trusting me to stay behind and finish out high school in New York. Me and John were doomed." _ A cross-country move with a heart-wrenching soundtrack? Oof.
There's a section on the site, your stories, where anyone can share their tales of love and heartache. We're looking forward to reading them.
Previous Tech (No) Logic columns:
Discuss: Care to share any stories about tapes you've sent or received? Do you feel we've lost some of the magic of things like mixtapes in the modern, digital, quick-fix age?
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