Don't Stop Believing: An Ode to the Mixtape

"The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. It takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch. But you don't want to blow your wad. So then you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules." -High Fidelity So, technology these days is kind of on a roll. Turns out you can do anything with magical future devices from the palm of your hand. I mean, buy food, buy a movie ticket AND select your seat (which causes some RIIIdiculously pretentious fights at the good old Kabuki theater between investment bankers in sweater vests), get streaming HD movies on FRIGGIN' demand. This revolution has probably been greater for the stoner race than any, as it has only furthered their progress on the "do not talk to anyone or look anyone in the eye" gameplan for life (really, this is a win-win. We give stoners the toys, they hide and don't bother anyone). Point being, every time a new technology comes out, it renders the old obsolete and strangely silly when you think back on it. Remember when you were a kid and you would record TV shows with a VHS player? I mean, the joke about setting your VCR is just ridiculous now, because lord knows the magical troll in my DVR always knows what time it is AND that I'd like it to record Gossip Girl, no matter how lacking in heterosexuality this is. Really though, there is no reason to go backwards in terms of technology, because the future devices and ideas taking over? Brilliant (even though I'm still waiting for the invention of the rocket shoe). Except for one.

It dawned on me the other day: What the hell happens to the mixtape/mix CD within the next few years? Is it on the verge of going extinct, like when you talk about how weird it is that people ACTUALLY used to get polio? Because telling me I lose the capability to use the mix tape in a friendly/romantic capacity is like telling me that I have to go fight in a war but I can only jump kick and slap people and everyone else gets guns. And guns with like, lasers and future gamma rays I don't even know about yet, just that it would really hurt if I were to be hit by one. No but seriously, we are at the brink, truly, where there is going to be a legitimate paradigm shift once and for all in the music industry. You just don't go out and buy an album these days. For the most part, the digital world has finally dominated and now that's where you get your music. There will be no more CD's, really...even burnables.

Sure, it seems ridiculous at start. But if tapes disappeared as fast as they did (I still, to this day, remember my first cassette single, "whoomp there it is" shame, no shame), aren't CD's just around the corner here? Think about it. People give people mixes now, and people essentially take that and just rip it to their computer. That's the logical step, so that you can get it on your iPod as fast as possible. You know why? Because they barely sell personal, portable music devices that actually play physical media anymore. Think about the Discman. That device now seems like pong or something.

What scares me is that this means the logical next step is people simply wanting it faster. Sending each other the files, giving them a flash drive with the songs on it; this all seems like the creepy, heartless logical next step. Sadly? This absolutely terrifies me and concerns me. The mixtape is friggin sacred. Seriously. Do you know HOW many girls I've tried to woo with this device? This is how I GAUGE my interest in a girl. How badly do I want to make that mix? What are the themes, lyrical angles, concepts I'm looking to portray through the 18 or so tracks? In high school and college, Ben Harper meant, "I would really love it if we could take off our clothes sometime." Later, I would get better at the art of mystery. For instance, what DOES that Broken Social song mean? Huh? Is it forward? Or highly metaphorical? GOD I want to get up and shimmy thinking about the joys of the mixtape. Do you know how many friends I've stayed in touch with through mixes named things like"There's no chicks here, there's not even any chips?" Honestly. Telling me I can't make a mix is like telling me I'm not allowed to eat food anymore. It's like telling me I can only write with my left hand from now on. Which is REALLY hard, and usually causes me to REALLY focus on my r's and a's. I'm an overly emotional, whiney guy who awkwardly lunges at girls through music. What the eff am I going to do now?

Basically, the Lloyd Dobler/Rob Gordon in me is sad. Am I about to lose my sword? My go-to, overly-emotional romantic gesture? How do I get girls now? Because I'm certainly not getting them with my huge pecs and striped shirts at the bars. If it's over, I want a mourning party where tons of people show up and everyone brings a mix and we all lay it down to rest:

"Hey guys. My name is Drew, and uh, I'm here today to share my last physical mix with you, entitled "Oh I'm sorry, did your pants just get rocked off?" It's got some great '08 stuff but I went a tad old school also and threw on a little retro for the good old days. Didn't seem right to not put yankee hotel on there, you know? Excuse me, I...I need a minute..."

I know, I know. There is the website mix (muxtape, opentape) and I just tried it out. It's at the end of the post, and I get that it's a great way to melt peoples faces off. It's still fantastic, but it's just not the same. The personal mixtape? It's legitimately telling someone you give a crap and HONESTLY spent a lot of time on them. I can describe the reason for any placement of any song on any mix I've ever made. And I ALWAYS know where I'm putting the Aberfeldy song, even though it only makes rare appearances. Further, I can describe the theoretical meaning I was going for as well. Seriously. I go into this KNOWING that these songs are full-on memories I'm begging to create with someone. Sharing music with someone to me is like showing them what I look like with my underpants on: I'm trusting you here. Sigh. Who knows when it's all truly over. But if it's soon? I'm Mel in Braveheart. I will hand these mixes out until I can't do it anymore. Because I can't let the dream die. In the words of the great Steve Perry, don't stop believing.

Click below to listen to my first pass at a truly online "digital" mix. Be gentle, this is my first time...

"Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all, you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing."

EMOTING YOUR FACE OFF, ONE DAY AT A TIME (a mix by andrew hoolhorst)

Drew Hoolhorst

I have a black belt in feelings.