34 Things You Miss About Mixtapes

Memorex…light the corners of my mind.

1. Every tape you made or received was one of a kind.

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2. Especially the tapes you made for your crushes.

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3. And the tapes your crushes made for you.

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4. Playing it cool when someone gave you a tape…

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5. …but totally freaking out over it while listening to it alone in your bedroom. Someone made a tape just for you, and it was awesome!

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6. Figuring out exactly where to put The Song That Says Exactly How You Feel on a crush tape.

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7. Using tapes to either begin or end relationships, and being ultra-sentimental and maudlin about it.

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8. Making your tape as eclectic as possible to give the impression that you were some kind of all-knowing music genius.

Also, rare B sides and non-album tracks were always mixtape gold because they showed you had a deep knowledge of an artist’s body of work.

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9. Choosing whether you wanted to make your mix 60, 90, or 120 minutes long. There is an art to using each of them!


60s were good for single-artist “greatest hits” mixes, 120s were the best for car-trip tapes, and 90s were perfect for just about anything.

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10. Setting aside a few hours to record the tape in real time, and imagining how someone would react to every song choice.

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11. Being so meticulous about your mix craft that you’d be willing to go back and re-do half a side if the tape cut out before the last song ended.

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12. The fine art of making tapes specifically for road trips.

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13. Taping songs off the radio.

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14. Editing tape in real time by learning how to hit the buttons at exactly the right moment.

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15. The magic of high-speed dub, and discovering that there are songs that somehow sound a little better at that speed.

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16. Making theme tapes.

Art and writing by Glyn Dillon from his book The Nao of Brown / Via
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17. Learning how to correctly estimate how much time you have left on a side just by eyeballing the reels.

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18. Keeping a mental catalog of one- and two-minute songs to fill up time so you don’t have any dead air at the end of a side.


If you were an indie/punk rock kid, these bands had your back.

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19. Getting ambitious and creative with your tape by adding random radio noise, comedy bits, movie dialogue, or your own “DJ” banter between songs.

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20. Coming up with arbitrary rules like “you can’t repeat an artist on a mix.”

A lot of people will instinctively cringe looking at this tape simply because it includes TWO songs by The Rolling Stones.

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21. Breaking out the markers to make some custom packaging.

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22. Getting inventive with your handwriting on the cover.

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23. Coming up with a cool name for your mix.

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24. Decorating the cassette itself.

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25. Collecting stuff from magazines to make collages for tape art.

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26. Making your tape covers into weird inside jokes that will only make sense for the recipient.

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27. Making a list of songs you wanted to put on your mix before you made it.

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28. Making a time capsule of all the songs you loved the most at a specific moment in your life…

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29. …and then looking back on a tape a few years later and feeling a little bit confused by your choices.

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30. Taping over commercial cassettes you don’t want anymore by putting a bit of Scotch tape over the top tabs.

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31. Sending tapes in the mail, and decorating the envelope.

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32. Hoping to meet the perfect person to trade mixes with.

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33. Always listening to the entire tape, because rewinding and fast-forwarding through it would be a pain in the ass.

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34. The way you can look at any old tape and remember exactly when you made it, or who made it for you, and when and where you listened to it.

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