When we were teens, every new relationship brought to life a new mix tape. We would sit on the floor of my bedroom, tape case in front of us and my double deck cassette player just to my right. We would pore over the collection of tapes, hoping to find the perfect songs to profess our undying love and affection for whatever boy we were either dating (and, of course, going to spend the rest of our lives with) or, the majority of the time in my case, the boys I wanted to date, but either they didn’t know I existed or I was so firmly planted in the “friends zone” that there was no crossing the border.
While I can’t say my high school years were my romantic wonder years, I miss making mix tapes. I will never forget my second boyfriend, who made me a mix tape of songs that told me how he felt about me, so I could listen in my car, even when we were apart. The B side was songs that we enjoyed listening to when we were together. It was such a simple gesture, but one I will never forget.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always considered music to be the soundtrack to life. It’s not just something entertaining to listen to in the background, it sets the tone, it puts into words what you could never say. Even now, I have playlists compiled that set the tone for my work day, I have to have Jimmy Buffet playing when I clean and They Might Be Giants when I’m designing. I have a playlist I put in when I’m having a down night and know that the only cure it to let it out in the form of a therapeutic cry.
Music brings memories flooding to the front of my consciousness. I can’t listen to Mike and the Mechanics because “The Living Years” came on the radio the day we lost my mom’s mom and the afternoon I heard the news that my dad’s dad had passed away and I was waiting for dad to get back to town so we could join the family. Candlebox was the tape I listened to while I was sitting in my car, playing chauffeur for my friend so she could see her boyfriend. There aren’t many songs that come on that don’t bring back some sort of memory for me.
It seems like the faster life starts to move, the more we lose track of the little things that used to mean so much. Who knows, maybe it’s something kids still do, but we allow to fall off our radars when we grow up. That’s really a shame because the mix tape used to be a love letter when the words wouldn’t flow onto paper.
One more quick memory… as I was writing this, the Rascal Flatts version of this song came on my playlist. Most people don’t realize they were the ones who made it big, but not the first to perform it. I met Melodie Crittenden in about 1996 or 1997 (time’s fuzzy, I’m getting old) when she was doing a radio tour. I was the front desk clerk at the hotel she stayed at and checked her out in the morning. We talked and she gave me an autographed single before she left. The first time I played the song, I bawled like a baby. I truly was on the Broken Road at the time. It’s funny how things come into our lives at the perfect times…