For my generation, the mixtape was ubiquitous. It was the clearest declaration of love one could give. It was giving a piece of your soul to someone on a 90-minute Memorex. And it was arduous task. You had to own the tape the songs were originally on or, at the very least, have recored them from the radio (which took way more work than you might think, kids). And you had to have the proper equipment—namely, a double tape deck. And in the end you had this thing. This tangible, beautiful thing that proved your love. This wasn’t for the faint of heart. It was not stored in a cloud.
When I was in college in Kentucky, I had a friend who was working through an awful rip-your-heart-out break-up from his high school girlfriend. He and I spent hours upon hours discussing the songs he should put on the mixtape he would create to woo her back into his arms. And as friendships like ours often go, he and I lost touch. But, I saw him on campus one day a few months later and I asked him, “Hey, what ever happened to that mixtape you were making for Josephine? What did you put on it? Did it work?” And he smiled at me coyly and said, “I just put James Brown’s ‘Sex Machine’ on it, over and over again,” and after a pause, “We’re back together!”
That, ladies and gentleman, is the power of the mixed-tape.
So, when this Craigslist missed connection was sent to me, I stood at attention.
“I was looking for blank cassette tapes at the thrift store to make some mix tape of my own when I found yours.
Labeled only on the tape itself, The All Mixed Up on one side and Fall In Love With Me on the other. Non descriptive J Card.
These are the kind of thrift store finds I always dream of. I bought your mix tape plus a blank one for a dollar and went on my way.
I figured I’d at least have a cool story to tell my friends if it all went badly, but never expected my own emotional response to the tape when I listened to it. There was no track listing, which made the mystery all the more intriguing. You never know what you’re gonna find on a blank mix tape. I definitely fell for you by the time I started side B, A Smiths cover song leaked over from side A. And by the time the Yo La Tengo track started to play as a parting gift on side B I knew I had to find you. I’m not sure how your relationship played out, or who that tape was meant for, but I feel like it’s only fitting for me to give back to you. Mix tapes are very sentimental. And even if you don’t want the tape back, I want you to at least know it’s in good hands. You might not even exist, or you might exist in a completely different time. And that’s ok. I found your sonic diary in the same batch, some recordings of a lecture on side A and other bits and pieces that go on for 20 minutes, travels and sounds you’ve heard. This might not be you but I believe in the power of mysteries.
I might not ever find you but I’d like to. Tell me who else was on that tape. Tell me which artist you put on there multiple times, I found another cassette mix with just that one band too. I’d like to hear what else you can make, and maybe make you a mix of my own.
I’ll be waiting…”
Good reader, I have to know how this story ends. So, people of Salt Lake, if you ever gave a little piece of your soul to a love interest and titled it “Fall In Love With Me” with a B-side “The All Mixed Up” please email me AND the creator of this ad as soon as possible.
And for what it’s worth, any girl/guy who doesn’t fall in love with a guy/girl who puts The Smiths and Yo La Tengo on a mix-tape isn’t good enough for you anyway. And donating it to the DI? Beyond the pale.
You deserve better.