Did you know that the audio cassette tape is actually older technology than the 8-track? It's true! Also true is the fact that cassettes suck, but mix tapes sometimes overcame their medium's flaws.
I spent most of the mid-to-late 80s making regular OC-to-Bay-Area road trips, including a lengthy stretch in which I did that 430-mile drive every weekend to visit a what-the-hell-was-I-thinking long-distance girlfriend. Those trips usually involved packing up the cassette suitcase (remember those?) with a few dozen randomly selected 90-minute tapes, but I also made the occasional mix tape just for a particular drive. For the 1,200 mile road trip I wrapped up last night, I thought it would be fun to dig up the last few tapes from my much-purged cassette collection and play them on the Loneliest Road.
My car has a cassette deck, but I had never played a tape in it prior to this trip; in fact, I ditched the entire cassette medium at the exact moment at which it became possible to play MP3s in one's car. Would it work? I was also concerned that tapes that hadn't been played since Bill Clinton's first term might fall apart like an automatic transmission that spent 20 years sitting in the driveway. As it turned out, player and tapes worked fine
I didn't save many of my 80s road-mix tapes, but still have one from '86 and a couple from the early 90s. These song lists show what an unhip dweeb I am and always have been, when it comes to my chosen soundtrack for long-distance driving; while I might enjoy cranking up the Red Krayola or Psychic TV at home, I tend to want my thoughts unrattled by mentally demanding tunes during road-trip contemplation.
That's why I've got the admittedly lame "Walk On The Wild Side" instead of "Metal Machine Music" or "Sister Ray" for my Lou Reed choice on this Reagan Era tape. The Cheech & Chong routines are quite entertaining while driving.
The Orange Tape was one of my last-ever road-trip mix tapes, and it recycled much of the material from my earlier tapes; Wall Of Voodoo's "Ring Of Fire," Duane Eddy's "40 Miles Of Bad Road," and Sister Double Happiness' "Wheels A Spinnin'" made it onto more than one tape.