I’m just on my way home from a lovely weekend in Edinburgh with dear friends and I’m thinking about music and books, and how things have changed.
I recently rediscovered my passion for making mix tapes. Or, rather, mix CDs, as they’ve now become. This, I think, is probably still somewhat archaic, given the proliferation of iPods and mp3 players these days. I could probably do it all as an iTunes playlist and be done with it. But I think there’s something intrinsic about *making* something new, a feeling that won’t go away for me – that when you select a series of favourite songs and arrange them in a particular order, the act of burning them to a CD and writing out the track list is a means of creating something new and unique.
I wonder if it has something to do with investing time in the project, like the old days when you had to record each song tape to tape, making sure you left just enough blank space between each song. Perhaps burning a CD is in some way an attempt to recapture that act.
Anyway, one of the prevailing themes of our weekend was music and our shared love of Bowie, the Smiths and other great stuff, and we all gave each other mix CDs that we’d made for the weekend. I can’t wait to get home and discover the hidden gems that the others have unearthed and assembled. Some of the songs are old favourites, others are entirely new to me. Listening to them will remind me of the great weekend we’ve just had, and also provide that extra little insight into the minds of those friends.
I got to thinking, though – in this age of ebooks and electronic reading, wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to make mix anthologies for friends, too, featuring short stories, poems, letters, diary entries and extracts from your favourite novels? Imagine a single book with all your favourite writers and snippets of writing in it. Over the years I’ve discovered so many bands and musicians through mix tapes given to me by friends, and I’d love to discover some authors in the same way. The technology must be there to enable this sort of thing. Even now, I’m thinking about all the things I’d put in it. But then again, would it just be another case of a playlist vs a ‘proper’ mix CD? Would it need to be printed? I’m not sure it would. It’s odd how I’m feeling more comfortable these days with an electronic book, but that I still find something intrinsic about a physical CD.