I got some shit to say. And I'm lazy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight


Some time ago, a very dear friend of mine was able to convince me to share with her the self-inflicted rules I impose on myself when ever I set forth on the Herculean task of making a mixtape, er CD. I have been making the things consistently and compulsively since I was 14, and I take no small bit of pride in the desired effect they have on their recipients. I would never brag and say that I make the best mixes in the world, for how can you really judge such a thing? But I will say that I know the rhythms and cadences necessary in any good 90 minute chunk of music, and that if you're setting forth to try and impress someone, inspire someone, let someone know you're crushed out on them, say Happy Birthday, or just plain trying to get them to shake their ass, you have to establish that theme, whatever it is. I have mulled over sharing my secrets with the world, here on this already highly personal blog, and decided that because everything in my universe seems to be falling in on me in a highly symbolic way, I need to share my thoughts with the world. Without further ado, KP, the story of a mix made to order.

Rob Gordon knows the secrets of the universe.

Every audiophile of a certain age has seen HIGH FIDELITY. In the movie, as in the book, Nick Hornby's protagonist Rob lays out the basics for mix assembly. The first two rules are the only ones I ever follow: 1.)Track 1, side 1(or just track 1 in this age;god I miss cassettes) has got to be a real scorcher, something that's gonna make you get up and DANCE, or pump your fists, put your lead foot to the pedal whatever. As boldly as you have just announced your presence, Mr. DJ, you must remember that 2.)Whatever song you started the mix with, however hot it is, the second one HAS to top it. You don't have a choice. You threw the gauntlet down with Track One, but know you have to pick it right back up and do a shooter. It's something I call the bourbon with a bourbon back. And I guess, what could be considered rule 3, although it's really a subset of rule 2 is that, now whatever you do, you have to cool off that hot jam with something a little slow for Track 3. This would be your beer, if our mix is considered to be a night of heavy drinking. And why not, for what better atmosphere is there to hear a mash up of young and old, good and bad, ironic and authentic, then a good ole fashioned American bar? And what better state to contemplate the mysteries and emotional ties we all feel to the soundtrack of our lives than in a highly inebriated state? Drink up!


They make it sound so good, but they kill the iPod.


I have decided to take two very different mixes made for the same person at two different times and try to show you the common themes that link songs to one another.
The graphic above shows an awesome pair of headphones that give you excellent sound on which to aurally cut and paste your way into some unsuspecting person's heart. I was given a pair of these last summer, for my birthday, and loved the hell out of them. So much so that a few months ago I had to go and buy a replacement pair. There seems to be a lot of that lately. Stuff given to me that I loved so much I wore it down to a husk of it's former self. Nevertheless, many a mix was mastered with these dainty little headphones atop my noggin, and for that we must give thanks. Anyhow, the first mix we shall examine, made last summer is called BACK WITH DA, Vol. I&II. The second, made this past spring, is called 33&1/3:(SO)LONGPLAY, Vol. I&II. As may be obvious, both are double discs made for someone very important to me. The problem with blank CD's, if you ask me, is that 80 minutes is sometimes not enough time to really get it out there what it is you're trying to say. I often find myself making double mixes for people who mean alot to me, because a good two hours and forty minutes of music can say alot.

BACK WITH DA, from heretofore known as BWD, starts off with 'Debaser' by the Pixies. 33 &1/3, now known as TTT, starts off with 'Let's Go Crazy' from Purple Rain. Both kickers, both establishing a mood. Now if you consider the time period in which each of these were made, and the person they were made for, it's fairly apparent what each intro is trying to say. The Pixies track is a nod to summer, a nod to fun, a nod to vacation, which is exactly why the mix was made. It was made to be driven to, BBQ'd to, swam to. As in, going BACK home for vacation. Hence the title. The second intro, Prince's opening song to the film PURPLE RAIN, is a two fold nod: A childhood favorite for said mix recipient, and a way of also saying "Happy Birthday!(I'm still in love with you!) See,I still remember!" According to Hornby's rules, so far so good. The next tracks, respectively, are BWD:"Fell In Love With A Girl" by the White Stripes, and TTT:"Jonathon Fisk" by Spoon. Both are total guitar driven RAWKin' songs. Again, both say something very different. For BWD it says "See you in a month, have a great vacation, I LOVE you." For TTT it says "HEY! I've taken some serious shit but I'm still standing here. See?" (The Spoon song is about overcoming a childhood bully and living in wait until the day you kick can kick his ass, and Britt Daniel's groan is a perfect follow to Prince's howling 'Take Me Away!' at the end of "Let's Go Crazy.") Those two kickers are followed by BWD:"Este Noche" by The Twilight Singers (hello Dulli!) and TTT:"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears. Both songs are much slower in tempo then their predecessors in the mix, and both again, are nodding to the theme that is being established, For BWD, "Este Noche" lays out the idea of having a good hot time on a muggy summer night. Dulli's begging some little somethin' somethin' to come and have a drink with him, but he's also being cool about. Again, a very smooth, very sexy, very mellow laid back vacation vibe is being established. For TTT, the Tears For Fears song is epic in scope, taking the recipient back to childhood, referencing changes in life (taking on your dreams, dropping everything and one, saying 'fuck it' to many a myriad of mother fuckers in this shitty city) and also references 'Real Genius', another childhood favorite. To quote: 'Have you ever seen a body like that in your LIFE?'

Now here is where Mr.Hornby and I part ways. Oh sure, he makes good points about loads of other rules, like how not to put two songs by the same artist back to back (Duh), and being careful with cover songs and so on, but really, none of that applies to our purposes here. What's important is the theme of the thing, what it is you're trying to get across. And in order to get to the heart of that, you're going to have to wait until next time.

5 Comments:

Blogger dup said...

Excellent. Can you please list all the tracks side by side?

5:34 PM

 
Blogger Adam said...

can you make me a mix? perhaps the one you made for nerve?

6:36 PM

 
Blogger kris marie said...

Thank You! I've been off on some 'without technology' trip and have missed this - there's some message in that for me. Thank you thank you you are the best.
xo
k

8:26 AM

 
Blogger kris marie said...

okay - now i've read, studied taken notes - more! more!

It also made me go to the dusty box under the bed where I keep the mixtape collection. so it's 11:30 am, Thurs, summer. and I will be breaking my own heart for the next hour or so. dammit. powerful shit.

8:37 AM

 
Blogger tina said...

Hello, Mr. Dawg,

I'm Tina. I think we have perhaps met briefly at some point there in NYC when I've visited from Seattle.

Smokin' post, is what I have to say to you. I take a good bit of pride in my mixes, but I've never broken it all down like that. It's just been instinctive. But, boom, you've laid it all out there. Most enjoyable. Do go on.

4:29 PM

 

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