Last year about this time a friend of mine who works in a book store recommended a book to me that had just been published by a semi local author (we don't have many local authors here so we claim the ones who lived here at some point). The writer, Rob Sheffield, had lived in Charlottesville once and had a written a book, Love is a Mix Tape, memoiring the courtship, marriage and death of his wife Renee. Each chapter of the book begins with a mix tape. I wasn't familiar with a lot of the songs on the mixed tapes but I spent hours on Rhapsody after I finished the book listening to many of the songs.
One of the reasons I loved this book is because I am a fan myself of the mix tape. I have been making mix tapes for as long as I can remember.
In chapter two, hey jude, Sheffield lists many reasons mix tapes come into being. I myself could relate to many of them:
The 'I want you' tape:
Once, as a geeky teenager in love with music and crushed on a boy, I made said boy a mix tape. I spent days deciding what should go on this tape as this boy wasn't 'into' music and I felt that I, alone, could sway him. I put the Violent Femmes, Rusted Root, The Pixies, They Might Be Giants, The Cure, Modern English, and others on the tape. I don't know what I was thinking. I even had my sister help me make a clever cover. I was so proud. I later found out the boy gave the tape to his sister. I asked for the tape back. I'm not kidding. You should never waste good music on boring people.
The 'Road Trip' Tape:
I've made several of these but my favorite was made to accompany me and my best girlfriend on a spontaneous trip to Philadelphia during spring break. I was really into the Eels, Cake and Fountains of Wayne at the time. We listened to the tape a half dozen times on the trip before the car stereo (the year was 1998, the car was a 1982 Nova) went out. It was a long and silent trip home.
The 'You broke my heart and made me cry here are twenty or thirty songs about it' Tape:
I made dozens of these. Turns out my heart was never broken. Not really, not even once. These tapes had a lot of Tori Amos, Ani Defranco, and Morrissey on them. I still can't listen to Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game'.
"I believe when you're making a mix, you're making history." -Sheffield