Paste it in the head!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Musical notes

As I sit here writing this post, I'm on my bed. I have my knitting, I just woke up from an excellent nap, and it's going to be a pretty laid back evening around here. I have my iPod plugged in and my iTunes on, and I can't decide what to listen to.

I am not obsessed with music but I have always believed firmly in two solid Rules of Music: 1) making a great mix tape (or CD or mp3 playlist) is an art and some people just naturally have an affinity for it, and 2) there is a perfect song for every situation.

I love the book High Fidelity for emphasizing the importance of the mix tape and how the arrangement and positioning of the songs is as crucial as the songs themselves: put the music in the wrong order and you could end up sending the recipient the wrong message entirely. In the book, the main character, whose name I forget now, redeems himself to his estranged girlfriend at the end by putting together a mix tape for her. He'd done that many times, of course, but this time the tape finally contains music that she actually likes, not just music that he thinks she should like, thus signifying his acceptance of her as a person, flaws and all.

I'm not sure I ever had any great talent for the mix tape. As I said, I like music but I'm not obsessed with it, and I would often start out with the best of intentions for putting together a killer mix, but then sort of trail off as I found a really good book to read, or I got hungry, or whatever, and it would end up a little sloppy. Some people, though, are mix tape geniuses. They always include the right songs, perfect for the listener, who wouldn't even realize that their friend knew their taste so well, and always in the right order. At least, I think that's what these people would do, as I'm not sure I've ever met a Mix Tape Genius. They're elusive and wily, after all.

As for the perfect song for every situation, I tend to refer to this phenomenon (in my head) as the Soundtrack of Life. Like, when I was living in Portland and the sun broke through the clouds on a blustery spring day, I figured that the Jukebox in the Sky (NOT a metaphor for heaven, but an actual jukebox that resided in the sky) should break out The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." Similarly, there was this guy named Jesse that I had a massive crush on, and whenever he walked by, Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl" would start playing (and the lyrics would go, "I wish that I was Jesse's Girl," instead of, "I wish that I had Jesse's girl"). Just simple things like that, music that would emphasize a mood or a feeling or a situation instead of creating one.

But right now I can't decide what to listen to. I'm definitely feeling laid back. I tried the Grateful Dead but didn't get too far. I can't listen to one more second of Death Cab right now. I listened to the Postal Service earlier. Elliott Smith is too depressing at the moment. Or maybe I should just go with the flow. Clearly, I have musical ADD and I shouldn't try to force myself to listen to one band or one artist. I need something more eclectic than that.


  • Minutes prior to reading your post I was working on a mix CD. The first one I have created in I can't remember how long. And I realized that I am just not good at it. I fumble. I don't know what I am doing. My insecurities in my own taste in music creep out. Will you just do it for me?

    By Blogger heather., at 11:18 PM  

  • I had a friend in high school who was a mix tape genius. She wanted to be a DJ for a long time than realized she doesn't get to play her own music as much as the music she is told to play... and it's not like any DJs out there are really that good at the MIX of it all. Anyway, I have be blessed with tapes from a mix tape genius... and damn they can be good.

    By Blogger Aundra, at 12:28 AM  

  • i can't make a mix tape. all i can do is write down what my ipod plays on random, pick a few in a row that i happened to like at that moment, and then make them into a playlist.

    i am a mix faker. a copier.

    but i try!

    By Blogger al, at 11:30 PM  

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