In Honor of Mix Tapes

July 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Yeasayer Made This Mixtape Just for You

Mix tapes are special.  How else can someone dedicate 19 songs in row without any musical or lyrical talent?  I suppose even the new Jersey Shore Soundtrack falls in this category?  We all discover new music in different ways–like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s pornography, I know it when I hear it–or read about it, or someone talks about it, or, in the highest levels of love, they gift it.  Some tracks remind you of a feeling, time, place–or they are perfectly poised in the present (think “song of the summer”), but I’ve always loved the time travel effect.  Music doesn’t just remind you of past sentiment it literally alters your brain waves. Just ask the mice at the NIH.

Mix tape art is part sharing, part learning, part selfish, and part selfless.  As Rob Gordon discovers toward the end of High Fidelity, if the highest percentage of your mix tape intent is to please the recipient, then you have a good mix.  Not that you aren’t still selfish–throwing in a song or two or three that you love, that you think this person must love, that you can’t believe they don’t own.  However, the scales should tip toward what you think they enjoy.  Sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed–it’s a bit like sharing within a relationship.  You can’t always be magnanimous, but the best lovers at least make the attempt.

[High Fidelity, last lines]
Rob: Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing…The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. Anyway… I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done.

Here are some sites that honor mix tape culture:

  1. Tiny Mix Tapes makes the mix for you! Just submit a category or theme–nothing is too small, random, or cliché.
  2. Check out this mix tape blog.
  3. Every year, New York Magazine publishes summer and other fun-themed mixes. Sometimes various artists chose the songs.  Here’s their latest!
  4. And for cheesy kicks, the inappropriate puppets of Avenue Q.

Thanks to all my peoples for sharing and listening throughout the years.

1 Comment

  1. Ashley said,

    Only you would consider a mix tape the “highest form” of love!

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