Robert showed up an hour before the party and handed me a couple of mixed tapes. The audio cassettes were jammed with enough good dance music to keep the party going all night. I realize I’m dating myself. To tell the truth, I am tempted to lie and say it was my folks’, but hey, it was my high school graduation party in 1988 and it was and is what it is. The point, however – I can’t remember a time without a playlist of great tunes.
Now it’s a rarity to put songs together on a mixed tape – if it even happens at all. For beginners, who has the equipment to play a cassette tape? Back in the day everyone did, but that style of technology has been relegated to relic status. Pruning songs from the radio, or another tape wasn’t easy. Like a good tree service, knowing where to cut and splice was a painstakingly laborious process. There was a lot of choreographing and a mixed tape was a work of art.
My son wouldn’t know what to do with a cassette tape no matter what greatness it held within its cellulose innards. Like me, he listens to Pandora who has us nailed in terms of the kind of music we most frequently enjoy. We both have several music libraries. Depending on our mood, Pandora serves up a playlist that fits the bill.
If a friend mixed a special tape or two, like Robert did for my graduation party, and you can’t bear to part with it, no worries. They do not need to be organized in a shoe box and put away for a far off day of reminiscing. If you happen to still own, or come across a stash of old tapes that have been stored in the attic for a couple of decades, all is not lost.
Converting tapes to Mp3s is not difficult. Most PCs have the capability to connect with an old player. Very inexpensive software is available that enables anyone with the desire to convert cassettes into a Mp3 file. You don’t get the clearest quality, but then again tapes never had an enviable crispness to begin with. If you want to relive a time with the exact music line-up that was such an intricate part of the scene, you can.
What else can you do with your old cassettes? Let’s just say a good imagination helps.
Selling them is nearly a waste of time. No doubt there are collectors somewhere out there in the world, but no one really has to pay more than a buck for a cassette – if that. Even if the tape is in pristine condition, packaging is original and it’s an exclusive first edition, it won’t bring in the big money. Maybe after another 20 or 30 more years your grandchildren will have a goldmine on their hands, and can interest the Smithsonian in a buy. Disclaimer here – by then the tape would probably have disintegrated.
One somewhat hip use for retired cassette tapes is to turn them into a fashion accessory. They have been seen as belt buckles, make-up compact holders, cell phone slips, and pendants. A friend’s teenage son attached a length of chain to an early Stones album/tape and wore it around his neck.
The days of cassette tapes may be gone forever, but their legacy has morphed into the digital age. Like most essentials, music and the way we listen to it has evolved. We’ll never tire of good tunes and there will never be a lack of entrepreneurs and musicians to keep us well supplied.
What have you done with your old mixed tapes? Do they line the walkway to your front door, keep the birds away in the garden, or act as packing ties for posting packages? Leave a comment below and tell us what you’ve done with old cassettes.