Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is the Lost Art of the Mix Tape Reclaimed in the Playlist?

The year was 1991. I had a perm, a tan, and perfectly highlighted hair from countless days spent with Sun-In sprayed on while I hung in my second home of Humarock after graduating high school. A good friend had a car so we trekked down on a random Thursday in August because I was finally going to have sex for the first time with the guy I had been with for two years and pseudo dating for the year before that. The whole summer leading up to that moment had been a hazy array of beach trips and first love set to culminate the 29th.

It was about friggin’ time; no way was I going to college a virgin.

I had all these visions of grandeur like stars would fall from the sky and twinkle down onto my freckled shoulders as we had this private, perfect night of love on a dry, sand free blanket in the dunes. Then in the morning we would wake up together to watch the sun rise, his arms would wrap around me, and I, without morning breath, would kiss him like we were in some Hollywood chic flick.

They made it look so romantic when Point Break was released that year; that was the way it would go right? Not that I consider that movie a chic flick but hey, I was girly-ish back then -- I still believed in romance. And there was the magical, albeit impalpable, something that the night sky on the beach held so I figured why not.

In the end however, we did not have sex on the beach; nor did we get hammered on drinks of the same name to work up the courage to enjoy our night of first time awkward fun. On our way up the road to the dunes we ran into his friends jumping off the Julian Street Bridge into the river below, like all the guys did (really at sixteen there was just nothing else to do down there). A friend of his alerted us to the fact that his parent’s cottage was empty of parents and just in case we happened to care, it would remain that way until the following day since he would be sleeping over at another friend’s up on the cliff. His cheesy grin said it all so we scrapped our beach plans.

It was a good thing too, all my boyfriend had with him was a tiny little beach towel. I know this because I have photos of the two of us from that night and it’s tossed over his shoulder. So much for campfire and fluffy blankets like Keanu and Lori had in the flick.

Not only would I have frozen my little butt off, I imagine sand would have inevitably ended up where sand should never go. I didn’t exactly need the added challenge if you catch my drift. We headed up the hill, found the key and let ourselves in.

Now mind you this guy was a sweet guy. So sweet in fact it took him about two years to kiss me for the first time. In 1991 I was eighteen years old. I had been with my boyfriend for long enough that we should have been having sex by then. I was so ready but it wasn’t like I was good at the being forward part so I suffered in mock silence. Mock of course because my friends heard all about how frustrated I was but he sure never knew; just like every teenage relationship.

Without any props or silly movie stuff we just kind of sat in the living room for a few and chatted. Most guys, nervous or not, would probably be on top of their girlfriends making out on the couch at this point but not him. Like I said, he was, sweet. Since it has been just shy of twenty years, remembering details about what we talked about would truly take some talent; considering I never wrote it all down that is. He asked if I wanted to listen to the radio and I said sure. There was a clock radio in the living room and he turned on the classic rock station.

So I lost my virginity to “More Than a Feelin’” by Boston in the bed of my boyfriend’s best friend’s parents in their summer home. It couldn’t have been more apropos if I had scripted it for the silver screen. Yeah, so how do you like that Keanu!

On and after that night, just like so many moments before it, my life experiences were punctuated by a song. A song that every time I hear it, I think of the moment in time it signifies. In 1991 I made a great mix of various tunes released that year or ones I fell in love with around that era and had to have with me on my Walkman at all times.

I gave up my Walkman ages ago of course and for a long time I felt as if something was lost because I was not able to engineer the ultimate mix tape anymore. The perfect collection that captures the very essence of what it is made for -- the time, place, person.

Sure there is iTunes and playlists, but it just isn’t the same. There was something so great about knowing just when side A was coming to an end so it could be flipped without skipping a beat. Or when the levels were way off all the way through the tape because the songs on it came from radio stations, records and other tapes.

Then again it isn’t as if that will stop me from downloading digital versions of the songs on my Summer 1991 mix tape, if I can find them, and recreating that rockin’ mix. And it’s fairly likely that list will get a lot of play every time I go to the beach. Regardless if I’m planning to get some or not.



I still love the romanticized ideal of making a 'let-me-tell-you-in-song-how-I-really-feel' mix tape.

I think it is a great way to really get to see how that special someone feels about you right now.

Bridgete said...

By the time I was mix tape age, it was all about the burned CD mixes. My friends and I definitely made a few for our road trip down through California and back. I once made one for a boyfriend. I also have a lot of mixes I made for just general car entertainment floating around somewhere. The unstated rule was that even though you can set a CD on shuffle, with mix CDs you just didn't. Nor did you skip tracks.

Now that I think about it, those might still be worth making. I'd still listen to them in the car, I don't like messing with all the attachments and stuff to make the iPod work. Hmm....

Richie's 2ts Inspires said...

Ah... what a nostalgic feeling seeing the tape.

I still have hundreds of them stuck in the boxes now in the attic. While back in my country Philippines (in the country side) people just starts to know what tape is.

I sent old cassette players and tapes to schools in the urban places, so the kids won't be too naives. Soon my projects are computers but am still asking for help at the organisation to pay the shipment from Stockholm, Sweden to Mindanao, Philippines.

Thanks for sharing. I almost forget it.

God bless.
My feelings now?
Am just feeling luxurious today. To know why? Visit me at my place, so you can see how luxurious a career woman can be in her dreamy day §:-))

Suldog said...

Cool story.

Yup, mix tapes. I used to make them all the time, when my car had a cassette player. How many eons ago must that have been?

Almost Precious said...

I feel like a relic of ages gone by. DVD's ? Yeah know what they are but never burned one. A cassette player,yeah familiar but the little mini cassettes were the "New" thing and it wasn't all that long ago, or at least it doesn't seem that long ago. Before that it was the clunky 8 track, can even recall a monster machine called a reel to reel tape player. Held a lot of music, played a long time. Heck I can even remember a dinosaur called Beta Max, but it lost the battle to VHS. Ah such is life. ;)
Music does stir up memories doesn't it ?

Joan said...

My daughter has made me some mixed CDs. Love them! Never made any mixed tapes tho. I did wear out a few cassettes. A time in my life when I was feeling a certain way.
You brought back some memories for me Jenn. :)
You will have a yummy breakfast on your road trip. :)

ginger said...

more than a feelin'.....wow! that's awesome! so, how do you feel when that song comes on when you're watching madagascar 2? :)

there wasn't any music when i lost mine, but there was a cheesy experience later that involved whitney houston...that's when i learned how to fake it. maybe that's why i don't like whitney houston. hhmmm.

i love how music holds and lends memory to everything it touches. it's alive and very spiritual that way.

Theresa said...

OMG! My hair turned orange with Sun In. Haven't thought of that for a long long time.

Great song for the "first time". Thanks for sharing that trip down memory lane.