Thursday, April 02, 2009

Mixtape #1 - Finally....The Days are Getting Longer

I've always been a lover of mix tapes. Back in the olden days (you, know, the 90s), before recordable CDs and, um, internet (well, there was The Internet, but it certainly wasn't the monster it is today) mix tapes - actual 90 minute tapes - were how we shared and learned about new music. They were the soundtracks of our road trips, friendships and breakups. There was an art to arranging songs in just the right order so nothing got cut off just before a side ran out. They were hard to find your favorite song on, especially if your friend's car stereo had that weird ass thing where there was no fast forward, so you had to flip the tape over, rewind, flip it back, check if you'd gone too far or not far enough, flip it back rewind some more ... lather, rinse repeat until you got as close as humanly possible to the beginning of Lost Together, or whatever song summed up your particular unrequited-love-teen-angst-bullshit-moping-situation at the moment. They were prone to snagging and coming unraveled and patience and a steady hand were paramount to their successful respooling. A Bic pen - the kind with the octagonal shaped shaft - helped too.

There are parts of my life that feel in a way defined by the mix tapes I associate with them. They are love letters, Dear John's and diary entries spoken in a stranger's words and set to music. They represent the people I've loved, the ones I didn't at the time realize loved me and the friends I've left behind, and often lost touch with, in my far too frequent moves. Smashing Pumpkins' 1979 will forever remind me of Justine, who I adored in high school, and who was adored by the boy I was crushing on. It was on the mix she gave me when I moved across the country for university, with a little hand drawn cover cartoon of me. I think with Queen's pompoms. Chelsea, one of the loveliest women I've ever had the privilege of befriending, and I spent bitch-ass cold mornings delivering the Golden Word (one of the campus papers) together. It was in the heyday of Spice Girls and boy bands and we'd hear the same dozen songs in the pre-dawn dark every week, giggling at the awfulness of them as we sang along in her little white car. I want to say it was a Supra, but I don't remember it as well as the music. I still have the tape she made me of that early morning soundtrack. Specifically though, Portishead's Only You will always be my Chelsea song. There was a party, there were excessive drunkeness and tears and Chelsea making it all ok, and Only You was playing. And it was on the tape. And I'd rather associate her with Beth Gibbons than any of the Spice varitals.

Ani DiFranco's Untouchable Face - and this is truly cringeworthy - was the last song on a tape I made to give a guy I luuuurved before he left Kingston for a summer trip to Europe. I brought it to his house, palms sweating, heart racing ... only to find out I'd missed him by about an hour. I left it with his roommate, and cried on the way home. A few weeks later, I was overcome with the paralyzing fear that that song ... it was just too obvious. I think I was aiming for 'I think I'm in love with you, but I want to put that across in a subtle way that you can discover for yourself if you're looking to read something into this track list' and 'fuck you and your untouchable face, and fuck you for existing in the first place. And who am I that I should be vying for your touch, and who am I, I bet you can't even tell me that much' seemed, in retrospect, a little heavy handed in the delivery of the message. I actually got his roommate to get the tape back for me so I could erase the song off of it, and remove it from the track list on the painstakingly collaged cover. He came back and we had one fantastic summer date that ended with ‘Melissa, I’m attracted to you but... I’m moving to Vancouver in six weeks, and I don’t think it would be a good idea to start anything.’ I’m pretty sure it was a gentle let down, but I was so stunned that the word attracted even came out of his mouth in reference to me that I didn’t test the theory by saying what I should have. Which, obviously, was ‘But think of the damage we could do to each other in six weeks.’ Le sigh....

Most of the mixes I’ve made and received post-university are on CD, which, being a geek for making covers, I love. More space to play with. One of the best covers (and mixes) I ever received was from Linnea. The last track on the CD is Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, introducing my still-favorite song by a band that I love and at one point managed to barter my extra guest list for a sold-out Seattle show in trade for a bed at a sold out hostel. Lali Puna’s Faking the Books will always be Dave. Dave who is so beautiful and who I don’t think I’ll ever really know. But whose fantastic mix is always near the top of the pile. Michelle has introduced me to a disproportionate number of my highest ranked bands, and the two mixes she gave me for my ill-fated move to Montreal are still loved and still played, though it’s a trifecta of covers from the Chill Mix - Elbow’s cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner’s cover of Coldplay’s The Scientist and The Postal Service’s cover of Phil Collins’ Against All Odds that I listened to obsessively while navigating my way through the Metro on my way to and from my short lived job.

I’ve been making mixes pretty obsessively the past year or so, and I’ve gone through a few 50-spindles burning them for people. They’ve been weekly soundtracks to art class assignments, party invites and, more recently, therapy at a time when I haven’t the heart or energy to do much more than try to shut the world out with headphones.

Part of the impetus for reviving this blog was having a forum to share the music I’m listening to. Writing this has made me realize I really should make a mix tape compilation of my most memorable mix tape moments. I'll put that on list. For this week though, a taste of what's been often played as of late.

The songs are a mix of new friends and old flames: a catchy reminder that all shitty situations come to an end if you can just get through them; a song that - played live - made me inexplicably randy; an acoustic cover of an old favorite; something new from last year's bearded hotness, a new girl crush .... and on it goes. It's not an attempt to be all edgy and 'ohhh...check out all the cool shit I listen to', far from it. Just what I've been listening to the past few weeks, as the cherry trees have begun to blossom and the sun has decided to stay out long and late enough for a first evening patio beer.

You can download the mix here, but I'd recommend adding it to your podcasts, just because I am so damn proud that I figured out how to make a podcast. Whoot .... girl got skills! It's super easy. In iTunes, click on Advanced. In the dropdown menu click Subscribe to Podcast. Enter this URL: Note: You may have to enter it without the http:// . Sometimes it ends up putting that in twice. iTunes will do its thing, and when there are new podcasts they will download into your podcast files. It'll take about 6 minutes, so keep your pants on. You can also click the refresh button to check if there is anything exciting and new. If anyone has trouble with this let me know and I'll do a screenshot tutorial.
These images link to cover downloads - courtesy of wordle, because I'm just that lazy. I'm a Libra and can't make decisions for shit, so there are 2 choices.

Finally ... The Days are Getting Longer - Track List

1. This Year - The Mountain Goats
2. Why Not Smile - R.E.M.
3. Spent On Rainy Days - Bright Eyes
4. A Martyr For My Love For You - The White Stripes
5. Sound Of Terror - The Von Bondies
6. E-Bow - Sigur Rós
7. The Highest - The Dears
8. Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
9. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young
10. You, Appearing - M83
11. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
12. Blood Bank - Bon Iver
13. Lille - Lisa Hannigan
14. All We Have Is Now - The Flaming Lips
15. I Am The Odd One - Loney, Dear
16. Weather To Fly - Elbow
17. Oh Lord, My Heart - The Deadly Snakes
18. The Trouble and the Truth - Cuff The Duke

I've linked to all the band's websites, so if there is something you like, check it out, find their show dates, buy their music.

Be warned though, I have it on good authority that Cuff the Duke can cause spontaneous orgasms. At least live they can.

1 comment:

michelle said...

guy...(to quote a dan-ism)..this is freakin' dope. i am downloading said podcast as i type.

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