A mix tape, even in its modern playlist equivalent, is a multidimensional carrier of information. It contains information about its creator, the person it is created for, and at least the relationship between those two. Safe to assume that most mix tapes are created by men, to further a romantic cause and on surface level contain a lot of information about the desirability of the mix tape recipient and love in general. In other words, you will find many love songs on most mix-tapes.
I love mix tapes. Especially between the mid 80s and mid 90s I’ve curated so many mix tapes for lovers, potential lovers and friends. Unfortunately, I only received a handful myself. Not because I wasn’t worth a mix tape but probably because I was so aggressively resistant to new experiences that no one dared to. My first girlfriend tried. Her tapes are of increasing frustration and carry titles like ‘Attempt III’, ‘Taboo’ and ‘For a change’. They are packed with wonderful songs by Nick Cave, Ideal, Japan, XTC, Dead Kennedys, Medium Medium, Scratch Acid. I accepted those tapes but never really listened to the music. Fela Kuti never made the cut, she knew already I would never accept the Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. In my ignorance I declared World Music to be boring. In my ignorance I preferred listening to what I already knew.
Most mix tapes I created didn’t survive the great thrashing of old music media; thrown away together with full record collections, replaced by CDs at best. I have therefore no way of tracking my own development as mix-tape creator. I just know there are songs I routinely put on mix tapes. It’s far from an exhaustive list, just the ones I can remember, but it already clarifies a lot. I don’t select love songs, uplifting songs or songs that can be called educational. I routinely only showed how much I loved myself (and my own taste). Creating mix tapes was just a way to attach myself to someone else.