Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mix Tape

Once upon a time, before MySpace, there was a time when people expressed their friendships not with a "Thanks for the add," but with a mix tape.

Yeah, those cassette tapes of 15+ songs that you meticulously chose and recorded, that centered around a theme: a breakup, graduation, the summer of 19_ _, songs that remind me of you, new relationship, etc... Those tapes where you tried to minimize "blank space" at the end, or not have that annoying "click" between songs (pause, rewind, record).

This weekend I got an email from my friend Daryl, now I call him Dr. Daryl, who is about to move from Ohio to NYC to start his first medical practice, a new residency. Or something like that (need a good shrink in NYC, Dr. Daryl might be your guy... and he's a brotha too). While cleaning out his condo to prepare for NYC apartment life, he found a box with a mix tape I made for him back in 1994. Of course I didn't remember making it, but once he shared the playlist with me, I realized that yes, indeed, I'd made it.

Called this one: Classy Songs and "Classy" Songs. Among them: Old Friend by Lena Horne, Dare Me by Pointer Sisters (still one of my favorite songs), Try Me by Jasmine Guy, Treat U Right by Angela (pronounced AHN-gela later in her career) Winbush, and Let Me Love You by Lalah Hathaway (Daryl and I made up a dance called the Let Me Love You). Let me not forget A Shade Shady by RuPaul, Inside That I Cried by CeCe Penniston, and Where Is My Man? by Eartha Kitt.

Talk about a time capsule. Don't ask about my musical taste. I spent too much work study money on music :-)

A few weeks ago, I got new bedroom furniture. And while cleaning and throwing out stuff to prepare for furniture delivery, I found a box -- yes, a BOX-- of tapes. Both store-bought and those I made at home. Mix tapes. Had the dilemma: toss them (I hadn't listened or noticed them in YEARS) or keep them for pete's sake (I don't even have anything that plays cassettes anymore, but I like looking at the playlists). I opted to keep for a short while, while trying to locate and buy some of the songs on iTunes.

Found some books too that I'd forgotten I owned. Weird.

I don't have a problem tossing things. I do get sentimental, but I try to follow the "if I hadn't thought of or used it, why keep it?" rule.

Fiction writers -- how would holding on to material things that are clearly dated and old manifest in a character and their current living condition, work life, or relationships? Or what other items, besides mix tapes, represent life in the 80s and 90s?

Thanks Daryl for a nice stroll down memory lane. Are we getting old(er) or what?


realcaliforniachica said...

Hi Fred.
I have been really bad about the blog. I was posting every day but then my father passed away and I have resorted to watching endless reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 and eating a steady diet of Taco Bell. But I am coming back, rewriting my novel, I have interest from an agent and Toni. Are you going to Chica Lit?

Dayne Avery said...

I’m on the middle ground, somewhere between being a hoarder and one who can easily trash the past. However, the problem with throwing things with sentimental value away is that years down the road, those things bring back priceless memories you would have completely forgotten had you thrown them away. Take those cassettes for instance; I’m sure each of those songs has a special memory in your heart. Your first kiss, your first time, your first breakup- songs were there for them all. I say hold on to them until you can replace every last one because great memories are worth more than a label of “clutter”.