I buy a lot of things in thrift stores.
Probably 80 percent of the “nonessential” things that I buy are purchased in thrift stores.
Thrift stores are where I got the bulk of my music collection.
That’s probably why my music collection is so diverse and strange sometimes.
So wonderfully diverse and strange.
One of my favorite things to do was to buy other people’s mixtapes.
There was something about the process of making a mixtape that forced the “maker” to consider what he or she was doing….dropping the needle into the groove slightly behind where the music started, then pushing record on the cassette recorder at just the right time after setting the recording levels correctly, then listening to the whole song until the fadeout at the end when you hit the stop button, picking up the record off the turntable, replacing it with another album or maybe changing a couple of settings and recording off of a cd….it was a pretty coördinated effort to fill up the standard 90 minute cassette.
It wasn’t just moving a mouse and clicking away.
(Although that’s pretty darn cool to be able to compile things that way…just not as physically interactive as making a mixtape.)
So, when I went into a thrift store and found a mixtape with a cool cover and an interesting list of songs that someone had compiled, I often bought it.
We didn’t have Pandora or Spotify or Sirius then. Finding out about new music was a “word of mouth” experience….or serendipity and a good DJ….or maybe just buying someone else’s mixtape.
I first heard this BB King song on a mixtape that I bought a while back.
I remember that the tape had a good cover…children on a swingset…black and white photo…artistic…and the tape had this song and a lot of jazz standards, obscure folk songs, some blues.
It was a great tape.
Talk about messages in bottles.
Who compiled this tape? Who sat in front of the stereo, looking at album covers front and back, wondering if the perfect song was in the next sleeve somewhere?
And how…and why…did it end up in a thrift store where I bought it and heard a nice BB King ballad for the first time?
All this digital stuff is pretty darn cool. I’m listening to a free preview of Sirius radio right now as I write this….a channel called “Classic Vinyl”….Led Zeppelin….then Creedence. How could I have done that before the internet?
It wouldn’t have happened.
I would have had to have found the right radio station….or a good thrift store with a bunch of “other people’s mixtapes”.
There’s more magic in the happenstance, though. It just isn’t the same to click on a new website by accident as it is to paw through a thrift store box and find a strange tape that someone else put together.
What’s good stays good….even if most of the music is somewhere up in the cloud now.
I guess that the music was always in the clouds, anyway.
It just landed on cassettes every once in a while.
I like those old analog landing zones.
I like a little hiss or a click and a pop now and then.
“Human style”, you know?