Mixed Tapes

K-TelAs a child of the 70s, I grew up on music compilations by the company called K-Tel.  I LOVED these things because they took the best songs from an artist and linked them to a theme.  My dad loved their stuff, too, and I have strong memories of walking through Meijer Thrifty Acres with my dad, heading over to the music department and thumbing through the latest albums, looking for the newest K-Tel anthology.

When the world moved over into cassette tapes, I was in HEAVEN, because now I could make my own compilations based on my own themes.  I created lots and lots of those, from my version of Billy Joel’s best, least-known songs (which had to be two tapes, because of all the good stuff he’s done over the years), to Dance Jams, which got worn out rather quickly.

CDs made it even better to create “mixed tapes,” because the quality was better, and you didn’t have to worry about playing it so often that the tape warped, or got caught in the player (grrrrr!).  Plus, you could skip a song easily or put the player on “shuffle” mode, which helped me from growing too bored with the anthology being played in the same sequence over and over.  I still have a few of the CD compilations I created (complete with jacket cover and all), but I don’t listen to them anymore, now that I’ve moved into the digital music realm.

And unfortunately I haven’t created too many compilations in the digital music venues.  Maybe it’s because–with all of my music available on my computer–all I need to do is open up my player, hit “Shuffle,” and I’ll get a new mix of songs every time.  And now Pandora and other web-based music stations also allow you to listen to a bunch of different “stations,” where you can have Pop music played alongside Metal, and even Jazz (or whatever suits your fancy).

But there’s a part of me that really misses having a compilation of music based on a certain theme to listen to.

When I went through a bad breakup back in ’98, I created a CD that had songs to help me get through that breakup.  It ran the gamut from feeling sad about it, to calling him a jerk (and other not nice names), to feeling empowered to be apart from him, and finally to acceptance.  It was an emotional journey all in an hour’s worth of time.  I used to play that often to help me deal with the pain, or give me strength to not call him if I was at risk of doing just that.

The one set of compilation CDs that I still listen to is for Christmas.  I made up a 5-disc set of holiday songs, titled Kewl Yule, and every year, we play those songs from Thanksgiving on until Christmas to help put us in the mood.  And it’s a nice mixture of traditional holiday songs (Christmas, and Chanukah), some instrumental pieces, and then some funny/absurd/rude holiday songs, which rounds it out nicely, in my opinion.

Maybe I’ll have to recreate my anthologies in mp3 format and put a few of them on my player, just for old times sake.

Do you remember K-Tel compilations?  If so, what was your favorite?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kerryemckenna
    Jun 26, 2015 @ 11:28:09

    I remember a ton of compilations given to me by all sorts of friends and lovers! My favorite included a mix of Asia, ELO, Chicago, Rush and Foreigner from Frank Lucas; A mix of Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell and Dave Brubeck from Santee; a mix of Evita, Dee-Lite, Dead Can Dance and instrumental soundtracks from Jon Collins.

    It’s where I get all my new musical ideas because I’m too lazy to search for new songs and groups. I wish we still had tapes and tape recorders so I could push play without having to log in.


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