Growing up in the hardcore scene of the late eighties into nineties, good music was hard to come by. Lucky and few were the ones who could comb the crates of the few city record stores that carried what you lusted for. Records, tapes, 12 inches, 7 inches.
Hardcore, straightedge, youth crew, anarcho punk rock.
Oh it was out there.
To be snagged with happiness.
Then came the next step. Getting that music out to all of your friends who couldn’t go into those back alleys and far away venues. Enter the art of the mix tape.
Music sharing was hard work. Mix tape exchanges were an exciting and potentially life changing process.
I still remember my first Gorilla Biscuits tape. It was a terrible low fi affair recorded on an old turntable whose speed was off.
And although the tempo was missed by a mile, I would sing along furiously with every word.
I loved sharing music. I still do. Nothing excites me like the perfect pairing of mood and music. Writing poems through the perfect order of selected songs. Oh the magic and love that went into the perfect mix tape. Bonds of friendship were forged this way.
And also, I won’t lie, I wooed more than one girl with an elaborately thought out “a side to b side” transition complete with hand decorated liner sheet.
Mix tapes were key.
Mix tapes were time and effort and, undeniably, heart.
The careful needle drops and pause button dances needed to edit on the fly!
The only editing software of the time was a dual cassette player and an old turntable.
Covers were hand drawn and lettered.
Oh I loved mix tapes.
The scene was built on them.
Traded through the mail, at shows, out skating.
“Hey can i borrow this?”
“No way! I’ll make you a tape! If you like this then you need to hear…”
Bands made it though hard work, good music, and an entire underground of kids, cassettes and love.
I still have almost every mix tape ever made for me. They carry the names and memories of a youth spent singing my heart out with bands who played at ground level, in the midst of hundreds of screaming singing kids just like them. They are written out in the long forgotten script of so many friends and acquaintances scattered out across America.
My mix tapes represent a sincerity. An earnestness of spirit. A need to share that overwhelming excitement of finding the perfect song.
And those nights spent singing along at the top of your lungs with a car load of friends on the way to another show?
Every song was perfect.
So fucking perfect.