Mix Tape versus Mix CD:
A Eulogy for the Soul of Rock & Roll

Bex Schwartz

Friends, we are gathered here today to consecrate the official death of a beloved and adored member of our society, an icon, an artifact of such profound and unspoken eloquence that countless months of sleepless nights have passed in pondering its very significance: the Mix Tape. For the Mix CD has slain it; slain it with the sword of ease and convenience, destroyed that which made it great.

Now, there are those who would say the "Mix CD" is but an improved form of the mix tape. The mix tape is dead, they say - long live the "Mix CD." Fie on you who utter such blasphemy! Pay attention, now, to the Mix Tape/Mix CD catechism. Listen and learn:

1.         Speed versus love

You claim that your digital so-called "burning" abilities allow you to make the atrocity of a "Mix CD" in mere minutes, thus saving you countless hours of painstaking mix-making labor and hassle. You claim that you can compile your favorite songs and near-instantaneously produce enough copies for all your coworkers to enjoy after lunch. You claim that your "Mix CDs" (pah!) are far more easily enjoyed and consumed. And I reply:

Easier is cheaper. Friendship is dear. To what end speed? To what end convenience? To what end mass duplication? Are you so devoid of human emotion that you cannot envision spending intimate hours with someone you cherish? To make a mix tape properly takes preparation of ritualistic proportion. First, one must seek the elusive cassette tape of the ninety-minute variety, for fie on you who dare to be a sixty-minute man. Second, one must create the most exquisite combination of hallowed songs to fit within the forty-five minute boundary, for no man chance the wrath of cutting off the last verse of a cherished song. And third, one must remain glued to side of the double-sided tape deck for the entire duration, hitting 'pause' at precisely the correct moment, lest moments of 'snow' prevent seamless integration of the chosen and esteemed songs lucky enough to make the final edit. And the final provisions: one must decorate the cassette label and perhaps (perhaps) provide a brief explanation of the weight and significance of every track and transition. Then, and only then, may a supplicant bequeath the sacred symbol to the very fortunate recipient.

This is time spent on love, friends! The four hours it took me to create the perfect mix tape shows you that I care. If it took me ten minutes, maybe I just want to borrow your car.

2.         Ease versus taste

And then you mix-CD heretics saith: "I don't even need to own the songs I want someone to hear! I can pull them straight from KaZaa and thus I can give someone 'Question' without buying the whole Old 97s album! Because I really only like that one song but I want this guy to think I'm all alt-country!" And I reply:

The Search is the Destination. Downloading a song is nowhere near as impressive as taping a song off of your mother's original vinyl album. Remember that and extrapolate its true meaning and smear it like holy ointment across your torso. And wading through the other songs on The Troggs Greatest Hits makes you the sort of person who discovers "Love is All Around." There is no other way! Plodding through every used CD store off of Bleecker Street until you find the Men Without Hats album, because you really want "Rhythm of Youth" instead of "Safety Dance" - friends, this is what the army means about building character! Otherwise, you are condemned, doomed to know only "Moondance," never "And it Stoned Me" - "Down Under" and never "Down by the Sea" - "Mexican Radio" and never that other Wall of Voodoo song. The reward depends on the effort!

1       [2]       [next->]
Image: Musical Youth.
I looked hard to find it.

November 2002

jay's head
josh ring