Day 51--on mix tapes

I really enjoy making mix tapes. (Well, CDs, but I would make tapes if, a) I had a working tape player and, b) other people had working cassette players. I still call mix CDs "mixtapes," though.)

Lots of people still make mixes. I was talking to a friend the other day, and she was happy that someone made her a mix. Whenever I see people with mixtapes, I wonder if they were carefully crafted or just slapped together with a postmodern zeal. I always hope for the former.

See, I like to approach making a mix like I'm a craftsman, leaving the "toss-my-favorite-songs-in-and-hope-they-all-fit" approach to wolves. I usually find a theme, and then--within the theme--break the mixtape down further. Even though I use CDs, I still break things into "side A" and "side B," and I still try to find good opening/closing tracks for not only the album as a whole, but for the side A close/side B opening--this is just as vital. I do this because I care.

I'm working on a mix now, so I'll use it as an example. It's an autumn-themed mixtape. There are lots of allusive elements of this season that I enjoy, and I wanted to capture these aurally. Some folkier songs come to mind, as do many atmopheric/ambient rock bands. So, I wanted to make side A sound like summer is being peeled away to show the falling, painted leaves underneath, crescendoing to brutal halt. Side B picks up with summer's last hurrah before diving headfirst into windy twilights, muted browns amongst the orange, and winter's distant call.

So I had a few tracks in mind so far, but I need to figure out where to place them. Side A will start with shorter, maybe even poppier songs (one of them being Billy Bragg's "A New England") before climaxing with Early Day Miners' "Hymn Beneath the Palisades," a track that both foreshadows what's to come at the end of side B, but halts in such a way that the next few tracks can pick up. I then thought John Hiatt's "My Baby Blue" would work as a great "side B track 2" song, since it's upbeat but more reserved than what I'll put on the first side. I want to then stick in a longer Bedhead song (probably "Powder"), the New Year's ("18" which--if space becomes an issue, I'll just use instead of the Bedhead track) and then close with the one-two punch of Dolorean's swelling, majestic "The Righteous Shall Destroy the Precious" and the gentle "In the Fall," probably one of the best album closing tracks I've ever heard. If I can stick some Richard Buckner in there ("Ariel Ramirez" is a perfect pick), I will.

Sound complex? Maybe. But when I make mixes, this is the sort of stuff that goes through my head. I seriously cannot just slap songs on and send it to friends. Mixtapes exhaust me. If you ever get one of mine, try to listen to all of the tracks. They're there for a reason.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 10/26/2006 10:56:00 PM,


At 12:46 AM, Blogger Brandon Zangus said...

i like the mix tape idea

At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, thanks for the mixedtape at the beginning of the year.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Erica said...

I do the same thing -- on a slightly less sophisticated level (no A or B side-- but close. I usually pick my theme by titling the mix.


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