The (lost) art of the mixtape

"To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention...and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."
- Rob, from Nick Hornsby’s “High Fidelity”

The mixtape is not dead. There are still rules. The whole thing has just been transformed into the digital age.
The Queen of Valkyies made me a mixtape for Christmas, “Annoying, Yet Educational And Somewhat Humorous Music Not To Fuck To.”
It’s got the corker, to cools, it heats up. It has stuff I don’t have (Electric Six) and stuff I have but forget how good it is (Elastica).
“I figured you had all the Dead Kennedys, so I didn’t put any on,” she said.
And I immediately set out to make a mixtape for her in response.
It still isn’t finished.
Mixtape aficionados say that CDs and iTunes and computers have taken all the fun – and work – out of a good mixtape.
I beg to differ.
“Various Music, Culled From A Wide Range of Genres, That Won’t Make You Cry, Unless You Happen to Be Hormonal and Then All Bets Are Off” already has 20 selections on it. The corker is there, I don’t mix Black and White music and I’m working now on flow. Mixtapes have to flow, and this one, although good, doesn’t flow perfectly.
And I just didn’t toss stuff on that I knew she didn’t have (Neutral Milk Hotel). I resisted temptation to put selections from a CD I know she wants the whole thing (Jellyfish).
I’ve been mussing with it, off-and-on, for two weeks. At some point, I must burn the damn thing and give it to her.
Yet, mixtapes are musical art. This artist cannot be rushed.
I quote Pixies, “Bam Thwok:”
“Bosses and Offices on Automatic Drip
They got the keys to the city but we got a lot of shakin' in our hips
Oh you know me I love the universe
I love all the listeners
Watch it!
Here's 50,000 watts of goodwill!
It's only joy I ache”

3 comments:

Queen Of The Valkyries said...

I'm getting a mixtape! I'm getting a mixtape!
Color me excited! Yay!
So a few years ago someone burglarized my sister's house and stole all the crap they thought they could haul off and sell quickly. Jewelry, cd player, and cds.
My sister called me up, distraught that all of her very expensive jewelry and my grandmother's pearls were stolen. Then she let out a huge sigh of relief and said, "But thank god they left behind all the mixed cds you made me. All those others can be replaced, but all the mixed cds you've made me over the years are what I listen to anyway, and those are irreplaceable."

Candy said...

I agree that the art is not lost. Some of my personal pet peeves are when there is only ONE song that was recorded live and rest aren't (I need at least two live ones on the same tape, or better yet, one tape that's entirely live and one that's studio-recorded), and when there is only ONE song on the tape that is sung by a female. I like at least two women, and if there ARE only two, then they can't be next to each other.

ThomG said...

Candy, I couldn't agree more. There's no live stuff on this one, and all the women are separated (I think that goes with having White music and Black music separated). Mini-themes are good, too. I'll post the final linup when its finally finished and burned.