In those days, unlike today where you can dump thousands of songs on to a USB stick or log in to a streaming service and drive for a year and never hear a song repeated, we used cassettes to listen to music in cars, and getting the right mix of songs took some planning. This was before compact discs replaced cassette tapes, before mp3s replaced CDs, and before streaming replaced mp3s. It was the days when a carefully constructed mixtape took ages (it had to be created in real-time, of course) and was a work of art.
Knowing this drive was a possibility, I wrote a letter (this story also pre-dates the widespread use of email or messaging services) to the fan club of my then-favourite band. I’m going to spare myself the embarrassment of saying who it was, but I let them know I had this opportunity to spend time in a great car on the open road and asked the band to tell me what tracks of theirs they’d include on a mixtape if they had the same opportunity.
I didn’t expect much to happen, if I’m honest, so I was absolutely stunned when, about six weeks later, a parcel arrived in the mail, postmarked in the UK. Inside was a letter, on which each band member had handwritten the six tracks he’d put on a mixtape, for a total of 24 tracks (they’d also each written a short note wishing me a fun drive). There were some tracks I knew and already had on tape (or on vinyl, so I could get them on to tape), but there were also some I hadn’t heard of, and didn’t immediately know where to find. But my concern was short-lived because inside the envelope there was also a cassette tape – and on the tape the band (or more likely the band’s “people”) had recorded every one of the 24 tracks for me. All I had to do was pop it in the tape player and we were set.
It was one of the finest weeks of my life, to that point. A friend and I borrowed the Honda, put the single cassette into the player and listened to the thing on auto-reverse for the entire time we were away.
That week on the road cemented my love of driving with music and confirmed to me that the guys in my favourite band were the greatest guys in the world. It also introduced me to the NSX and to the concept of mid-engined cars, a joy and appreciation that has only grown over the years.
To this day music remains an indispensable part of driving, and a road trip is impossible without a carefully curated soundtrack. When one of those 24 tracks comes on one of my latest playlists, I am magically transported back to that time and place. And having given this issue some thought over the past couple of days, I’m now going to see if I can lay eyes (and hands) on the latest NSX. Stay tuned.