Mix Tape Memories

I don’t actually recall the term “mix tape” or “mixed-tape” back in the 1980’s, but I know that the cassette tapes my fiancé sent me during our summers apart were romantic life-savers. We met Freshman year as next-door-neighbors in our dorm, Umrath. We fell in love and decided to get married right after our first separation…the “long” Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, we were smitten! The tapes were full of old-school romantic songs. Mostly they were Nat King Cole and Hoagy Carmichael…old-school long before the 80’s, but we were always off-beat and eclectic. Yes, I had the Eighty’s hair and had the classic shoulder pads…but when it came to romance, we were all 20’s and 30’s about it.

I remember that first summer apart…my fiancé and I wrote to each other every single day. He also sent me flowers on our “month-iversary”…but it was the tape that really made me feel special. I’d play it over and over thinking about how he’d carefully chosen each song. I must have that tape somewhere, but without a cassette player I’ve not listened to it in years. Whenever I hear Nat King Cole, Hoagy Carmichael, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and other romantic singers…I…Just…Melt! Here is a perfect combination of Carmichael (who wrote the music, but not the lyrics) and Nat King Cole’s velvety-romantic voice in Stardust. In retrospect, the words of this song are a bit odd for a new couple to latch onto…maybe we were always looking at our life from a future retrospective…but at the time, we just reflected on the “we’re apart” bit:

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
of paradise where roses grew
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it always will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain

So, I have long left my “mix tape” days behind. The romance is seldom in evidence in our 30-year relationship, 26-year marriage…but it only takes hearing one of these old songs, or even the voice of one of these singers to bring me back to my 19 year old self…and then there was Mother’s Day.

My older daughter made me a mix tape…now I hesitated to call it that, but after googling it, found that even a mix of songs burned on a CD is still considered a mix tape, well that’s what it is. Here’s the playlist, eclectic, warm, loving, wonderful, surprising…and unique to our relationship:

  1. The Best Day—Taylor Swift
  2. Hero—Mariah Carey
  3. I Could Not Ask for More—Edwin McCain
  4. The Perfect Fan—Backstreet Boys
  5. I’ll Be—Reba McEntire
  6. Halo—Beyonce
  7. Butterfly Fly Away—Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus
  8. When I’m 64—The Beatles
  9. Daughters—John Mayer
  10. Never Grow Up—Taylor Swift
  11. Like My Mother Does—Lauren Alaina
  12. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You—Rod Stewart
  13. In My Daughter’s Eyes—Martina McBride

She hit all of the decades of my life (well, maybe not the 70’s, but that is easily forgiven) and hit emotional notes of both our relationship and of my personal struggles. I know that my girl is an empath, but even so she still has ways of surprising me! Needless to say that in the hour I spent listening to these songs, some tears of Joy fell…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and don’t be afraid to share a mix-tape or two with your friends and loved ones!