Monday, June 11, 2007

Mix It Up

Making a mix CD for someone is tricky business. Like Nick Hornby writes in High Fidelity:

"…the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many dos and don'ts. First of all, you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing."

There's a lot of truth in that because, whether you realize it or not, you're letting a person judge your taste by the tracks you drag and drop from your "My Music" folder. Granted, before computers, the mix tape was more personal because they had to be made by playing the song on a stereo, recording, and then you had to get ready for the next song. This process is excellently shown in Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape.

Here are three past mix-tapes that I’ve made for family or friends:

From October, 2005

1- “Peaches en Regalia” by Frank Zappa
2- “I Want You Around” by The Ramones
3- “Know Your Rights” by The Clash
4- “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie” by Bob Dylan
5- “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You” by Tom Waits
6- “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” by Neil Young
7- “My Way” by The Sex Pistols
8- “Strange Brew” by Cream
9- “If Not For You” by Bob Dylan (alternate take)
10- “Something So Right” by Paul Simon
11- “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” by The Ramones (live)
12- “Pinhead” by The Ramones (live)
13- “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” by Bob Dylan
14- “One” by U2
15- “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” by Bob Dylan (alternate)
16- “Kentucky Avenue” by Tom Waits
17- “(When We Are Dancin’) I Get Ideas” by Louis Armstrong
18- “Talkin’ Hava Negeilah Blues” by Bob Dylan
19- “Day After Tomorrow” by Tom Waits
20- “Keep Your Distance” by Richard Thompson
21- “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan (alternate take)
22- “Innocent When You Dream” by Tom Waits

From December, 2005

1- “Mambo Sun” by T. Rex
2- “Nothing But Flowers” by Talking Heads
3- “Blind Willie McTell” by Bob Dylan
4- “Hang On To Your Ego” by Frank Black
5- “Sittin’ On Top of the World” by Howlin’ Wolf
6- “California Stars” by Billy Bragg and Wilco
7- “Kathy’s Song” by Simon and Garfunkel (live)
8- “Fully Qualified To Be Your Man” by Richard Thompson
9- “In the Neighborhood” by Tom Waits
10- “Camarillo Brillo” by Mothers of Invention
11- “I Can Only Give You Everything” by MC5
12- “Merry Christmas” by The Ramones
13- “Caribbean Wind” by Bob Dylan (alternate)
14- “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard” by Jeff Tweedy
15- “Beat the Retreat” by Richard and Linda Thompson
16- “Abandoned Love” by Bob Dylan
17- “Love Is Here to Stay” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
18- “Soliloquy” by Frank Sinatra

From September, 2006

1- “Hey Bartender” by Floyd Dixon
2- “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Bob Dylan
3- “How Come” by Big Mama Thornton
4- “Go Go Liza Jane” by Levon & The Hawks
5- “Five Long Years” by Buddy Guy
6- “Pills” by Bo Diddley
7- “Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil) by Robert Johnson
8- “Sad, Sad Day” by Muddy Waters
9- “Spoonful” by Willie Dixon
10- “Graveyard Dream Blues” by Bessie Smith
11- “Stackalee” by Bob Dylan
12- “Honky Tonk” by Levon & The Hawks
13- “Back Door Man” by Howlin’ Wolf
14- “Crossroads” by Cream (live)
15- “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
16- “Orange Colored Sky” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
17- “Stay Free” by The Clash
18- “Raglan Road” by Van Morrison & The Chieftains
19- “Angel Band” by The Stanley Brothers
20- “You’ve Got Bad Intentions” by Bobby “Blue” Bland
21- “Long Distance Call” by Hubert Sumlin & Eric Clapton
22- “Ooh La La” by Faces

At the core of each, they have many similar artists. After all, Dylan appears in all three, with Richard Thompson and The Clash closely behind. But sometimes you can have the same artist appear on 25 different compilations but for 25 different reasons—especially when it comes to Dylan.

And like all “artists,” sometimes you regret putting a song on the album. The reason can range from it being out-of-place (“I Can Only Give You Everything” by MC5), being too personal for a casual mix (“Keep Your Distance” by Thompson) or just because it’s not that great of a song and you have no idea why it’s there (“Merry Christmas” by The Ramones…although it was a Christmas time CD, the song still pretty much stinks.)

But looking upon the playlists of old albums you’ve made and ones friends have made for you is an interesting way of checking your musical tastes from a certain time and, when a friend inevitably makes you a terrible mix, you’ll know to shy away from talking about music with them.

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