This morning I have been giving some thought to ‘culling’ some of my writing or rather reducing the number of where I post (or make attempts to). I think it would do me well to try to find some ways to make this space richer while at the same time de-cluttering my creative life (and life in general). One of my fledgling ideas (that I have started and re-started a few times) is around making random mixed tapes. This was (and still is) a passion of mine as a kid, in the days of the cassette tape. Yes, I’m old. I’m 40, get over it. Actually, I still remember when I first got a cassette player that wasn’t a reel to reel that my dad borrowed from work….
I kind of miss the days of the blank cassette tape. It wasn’t so long ago that I would sit on the floor of my bedroom, ear pressed to my old Sony ghetto blaster, fingers at the ready, waiting for my favorite songs to come on the radio. I still have the mixed tapes that I made then – with the lead in voices of disc jockies introducing the songs. They bring back a lot of memories from specific periods of time in my life when I listen to them now. Ok, I actually can’t listen to the cassette tape unless I dig up an old tape player but if I could listen to them now – I know that the songs would bring back memories. In fact, just reading the lists of songs that I diligently wrote out on the small cardboard inserts is enough to bring back memories.
Of course, I am not dissing the digital age. Now it is obviously much less labor intensive to make mixes. If I am feeling especially lazy or random I hit the old Genius or shake the shuffle to see what comes up. What the digital age has done for me is make it easier to inhale music. I figure I have been making mixes for the past thirty years, an average of at least 3 or 4 a week. Wait just let me whip out my iPhone to calculate just how many mixes that might be… an average of 6,240 mixed tapes in my life time so far. Now to be fair, in the past five years I have probably quadrupled the number of mixes that I have made. I have the piles of cd’s collecting dust in my personal library as proof – but as an average 6,240 is not bad. Oh and yes, I still have my old cassettes too.
Why do I love making mixes? I am certain I am not so different from anyone else – when a song grabs me or a number of songs bring me to my knees – I like to listen to them over and over. I also like to share them with friends, with family. In the ‘old’ days, I would even send them through the mail around the world to friends to listen to. I like to listen to them wherever I go. Eventually I have graduated from the cassette to the mp4 – and the feature on iTunes that allows you to share play lists with friends (not files just the lists) is one that excites me. Music is a way of existing for me – yes a commodity and a business – but as an avid listener, I cannot get enough of any of it.
My long time love affair with mixed tapes is one of the main reasons why I listen to CBC Radio 2 Morning and CBC Radio 2 Drive (and in truth to CBC Radio 2 in general). Playlists. On their website, in all its glory, sits their playlists from the day or previous days/ week. If I hear a song on one of the shows that I suddenly fall in love with driving over the Thames River – I don’t have to panic because I am driving and cannot use Shazam to find out what song it was. I can wait until I am safely home – go to the website and look it up. I have discovered and rediscovered some amazing and very talented musicians through these playlists. Many songs have become a part of my own playlists – and I am certain this trend will continue.
It isn’t even about just individual songs and artists for me either – it is how they all ‘go’ together within me, how they flow with my thoughts, life, cup of coffee and become the soundtrack for any given period in my life. The mix becomes a source of deep inspiration for me as well. I will let my mind have free reign while listening to the mix I’ve put together. I give the lists a name and create a mock album cover for it: a title/ phrase that somehow ends up reflecting the mood/ overall tone of the collected music. I will use my own photographs, magazine bits to create collages, shards of poetry to fill up the blank spaces to create a ‘piece’. I will dig up some of the old covers that I have done for the cassettes another time – but here is one of my recent list covers. This list became the inspiration and soundtrack for a short story that I just finished writing a short while ago:
All Is Well
1. My Heart is An Apple – Arcade Fire
2. Les Champs-Elysee – Joe Dassin
3. This Time Tomorrow – The Kinks
4. Play with Fire – The Rolling Stones
5. The Space Between – Dave Matthews Band
6. Flume – Peter Gabriel
7. This Wheel’s On Fire – Serena Ryder
8. Crimson and Clover – Joan Jett
9. Moving – Kate Bush
10. Friday’s Dust – Doves
11. Stay or Leave – Dave Matthews Band
12. Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays
13. In the Sun – She & Him
14. Running Up That Hill – Placebo
15. Baby Now That I’ve Found You – The Foundations
16. Feel It In My Bones – Tiesto (feat. Tegan and Sarah)
17. Colour of a Man – The Hidden Cameras
18. All The Same – Sick Puppies
There’s no strict schedule that I keep when it comes to making mixes. It depends entirely on the moment – and while I almost always make mixes for myself (ie. on my drive into work) sometimes, without realizing, the mix will be for someone. I enjoy that. For me that is when the music, all of it as a whole becomes bigger – bigger than I am, bigger than the people around me. Today was like that for me.
I will share today’s mix some other time, as this post is getting kind of long. Every once in a while, I will throw some random music that I love into the mix here.
Ok well, now I’m off to press play and have a listen to this mixed tape.
Happy day, Everyone. Happy day.