Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
I've taken to listening to audiobooks while crocheting (and doing other things), and I've found myself checking out books that I might not have otherwise, simply because the audiobook selection at most libraries is so much smaller than the print collection.  That's how I ended up listening to  Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.  The author, Rob Sheffield, shares various mix tapes he's made over the years and the time in his life they represent, with the bittersweet edge of losing his wife along the way.  Listening, my mind kept wandering to the mixtapes I myself had made, though they weren't really the kind of tape he was talking about.
From 1998 to 2006-ish, I filled 10 and half tapes with my favorite songs from musicals (and the occasional movie or TV song).  I didn't really have the intention of making that many when I started, mind you.  In the summer of 1998 I fell in love with the OCR of Sunset Boulevard, which I had taken out from the library, and listened to it nonstop.  When its due date arrived, I couldn't bear to return it, and I didn't have the funds to buy my own, since a. it was a two-disc set and b. Amazon.com wasn't on the radar yet.  But then I remembered that my father had once told me that you could copy CDs from the library because they pay a special fee, or something, and I just happened to have a boombox with a line-in connection (a surprise fulfillment of a Christmas request for a tape player a couple of years earlier), so I hooked up my CD player and recorded my favorite tracks from that, and a few other CDs I had out at the time.  I actually lost that first tape fairly early on, but I still remember most of the shows that I pull songs from (including Pippin, The Muppet Movie, and Shenandoah).
Even with the arrival of mp3s and cd-ripping into my life, I continued to make my Broadway mixtapes.  I didn't even think of switching to CDs, which means that I occasionally run into songs that I no longer like as much as I used to (if at all) when listening to the cassettes, and have to suffer through them.  Which is probably why the nail in my mixtape-making coffin was when I got an mp3 player.  To be fair, I was losing interest by then, partially due to the difficulty of finding CDs of musicals that I hadn't heard yet that also had songs that I wanted to keep listening to, and the fact that I no longer had my own CD/cassette player (the line-in boombox died earlier).  But the mp3 player basically did what my mixtapes had: let me pick and choose from the best of my collection, with the added bonus of being able to remove songs I was tired of and skip ones I wasn't in the mood for.  I still have my tapes and I still like to listen to them and go back to the time when they were made, though I haven't actually listened to them that much since I got my new car that doesn't have a tape deck.

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