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On Mixtapes

If you've clicked on this, then one of two things has happened:

You're a fellow Gen Xer, nostalgic for the good old days.

You're some other generation and you have no idea WTF a mixtape is.

The mixtape is definitely a product of a specific time and place. For you youngins, mixtapes are those pieces of Old Earth technology that Star-Lord carries around in GotG. They’re like worse-sounding Spotify playlists if Spotify made you listen to the entirety of every song as you added it to your list.

I was never very good at making them. My teenage musical tastes were too uncultured, my town too small to support more than your standard country/classic rock/top–40 radio stations, and my working-class parents too poor to support much of a music-buying habit.

None of that stopped me from spending entirely too much time pasting songs together onto off-brand cassettes from the dollar store.

There were rules to a good mixtape:

Lead side one with a great song.

Take it down a notch on track three.

Save something great for starting side two.

Make sure your transitions aren’t too abrupt.

Most importantly, make it tell a story.

I know that playlists are effectively a better version of the same thing. But if you fall into a very particular age range ... they're really not.