Friday, September 26, 2008

Mix Tapes

Tape Decks and Friendships
A calling card of cool, mix tapes fluttered round Res’s like carrier pigeons. My long friendship Alistair began with my tracking him down in Retief Res as “the guy had a recording of Love and Rocket’s Kundalini Express"; which seemed the epitome of grinding goth cool those early weeks of first year.

I met my life-long friend Gary when I heard The House of Love’s Christine playing from his room. I walked in, introduced myself, and we lay on the floor, arms outstretched, listening to the song as it shimmered round the room.

Larissa had a box of tapes all labelled either “God Be in My Head”, or “Suicide Mix (numbered 1 through to about 37, as I recall)”. She came across as a stout, intimidating lesbian, but we became firm pool-playing mates when I discovered she had the first Kristin Hersh and Cranberries albums on tape.

Tapes and Girls
Making a girlfriend a tape was a customary phase in a relationship, usually somewhere between the 3rd or 4th date. You could lie in bed, and wonder if far off down in campus in Phelps or Jameson Res, she was listening to the same songs and thinking of you. Bands like The House of Love, R.E.M., U2, The Pixies, Lloyd Cole, The Stone Roses, and the Manic Street Preachers formed our emotional semaphore.

Tank Girl and Green Underpants
The night the slavishly lusted after Tank Girl and I finally got together one night, the amorous mood was derailed for a moment by her seeing my green day-glo underpants, that I’d unadvisedly fished out of the communal digs laundry pile that evening. I managed to stifle her giggling and things continued along giddy nicely. Weeks later I made her a “Kryptonite Underpants” mix, and gave it to her wrapped in the same (now laundered) lurid green underpants of that first night. She cried laughing.

CD Mixes Are Not the Same
Long before before cell phones, email, and recordable discs, mix tapes provided a shorthand of cool, an artefact that could be passed from hand to hand, like shared imagined music videos of each other in our heads.

I miss them.

3 comments:

Jeannie said...

Oh, me too! When I met my (future) husband he was just getting over a Great Unrequited Love... which was bloody irritating but it did mean he had some awesome mix tapes in his car, copies of ones he had made for the GUL. He turfed them all out when we were packing boxes for our move to SA in 2002. Great shame, really, even though they weren't made for me. Requited Loves don't tend to get mix tapes, I've noticed...

Keep the posts coming - lots of memories!

fush and chips said...

Funny how the unrequited mix tapes are the best. Once you start actually dating the person, the tapes get fewer and fewer.

I'd love to get some of the old tapes back, I'm sure you could hear the desire in each lovingly selected playlist.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, mixed tapes... What a treat. I made and received my fair share and all of those created by me were guaranteed to have Frente's version of 'Bizarre Love Triangle' somwhere on them, be they the Giddy-beginnings-getting-it-together-mixed-tape or the Sob-into-your-pillow-break-up-tape! Am loving reading this blog, getting me all nostalgic.
Love,
Briony
briony.chisholm@uct.ac.za