Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Week’s Assignment from the League: Mixtape

Here is this week's assignment from the League:
What songs were forever being looped on your car’s stereo back in high school. A cassette could only hold a dozen or so songs, so that’s the magic number of songs to list. If your car didn’t have a cassette deck in high school, go ahead and pretend it did, you punk.
This was a hard one.   I did grow up in the 1980s and I did like music.  So what was the problem?  I didn't have a car while I was in high school, let alone one with cassette player.  The car I had between 1998 and 2001 was from 1987 and didn't have a cassette player, and coincidentally my Chevy Prism I have now (from 1999) is similarly lacking in a CD player.

As for making mixed tapes, I didn't do that too much. I always preferred to get the whole album on cassette.  The closest I recall was one time when I recorded random songs from the radio.  This was how people in the 1980s "stole" music before Napster and such.  The only problem was that you had the radio personalities talking over the beginning or end of the song, most often at the end.  I seem to recall taping "Slow Hand" by the Pointer Sisters from a local soft-rock station.  I was 10 years old when this came out in the summer of 1981, and recorded it from the radio about three years later. This was before high school.

I also recall recording "Over My Head" by Fleetwood Mac (a 70s hit) from the same radio station and can still hear the radio DJ saying "I'm over my head..." over the end of the song. I'd  turned off the record button at that point so I don't remember what--if anything else--she may have said.

Another thing that came to mind when seeing the assignment was how each Sunday I would listen to the Top 40 Countdown by Radio and Records (different from Billboard).  Too much explanation is needed here, so let me get to how each year they had a two-part, year-end countdown, replaying all the biggest of the year.  In 1987, I got my first job and had to work at 11AM the day the second part of the year-end aired.  That sucked.  I then recorded the last hour of the show while I was working. Songs #10 through #1 were the following:
10.  "Open Your Heart" Madonna
9. "(I Just Died) In Your Arms Tonight" Cutting Crew
8. "Jacob's Ladder" Huey Lewis and the News
7. "Here I Go Again" Whitesnake
6. "Shakedown" Bob Seger
5. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" Starship
4. "With or Without You" U2
3. "Alone" Heart
2.  "Living on a Prayer" Bon Jovi
Before announcing the #1 of the year, they would then recap the bottom half.  The year-end countdown was always called "The Top _ of '__" (fill in the blanks with the last tow digits of the year).  Until 1987 they always did a medley of the songs from the beginning through #2 (in 1988 and 1989, they did song narration, which sucked).  Then came the biggest hit of the year...
1. I Want to Dance With Somebody" Whitney Houston

I no longer have these tapes.  They eventually got recorded over with who knows what.  This was the closest I ever came to making the ever popular mixtapes in the 1980s.

On the subject of cassettes, I was briefly taking medical assisting at a community college (I never finished, long story). I had a medical transcription class and had to have tapes made.  You would be charged less if you provided your own tapes.  This was in early 2001 and blank tapes were still being sold.  I managed to find a pack of them at Staples.  There were seven tapes in the package, exactly the number of tapes I needed.   After the class was over, I kept the tapes. Later that year, I recorded over one of these tapes.   A classic rock station in my area used to have an A to Z thing each summer, playing the songs in their library in alphabetical order.  Needless to say, I could only hear some of the thing and in the summer of 2001, when I was working at a restaurant for a horrible boss (who'd taken over when the previous owner sold the place earlier that year).  I taped as much as I could from the radio onto this cassette--something that seemed a little weird at the beginning of the new millennium, as I had given up buying pre-recorded cassettes in 1991, when I got my first CD player.  I believe I still have this recording.   This was another time I came close to making a mixtape, though in 2001 it seemed a little behind the times.

Read some of the other League participants' entries for this week:
Green Plastic Squirt Gun
Monster Cafe Saltillo
That Figures
Geek Cultural
AEIOU Sometimes Why
Cool and Collected
Lair of the Dark Horde