28 April 2008

"i'll make you a tape."

This weekend in between weddings and dinners out with friends, I read Love Is a Mix Tape, the memoir by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield. (I also finally got around to reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was much better than I expected it to be, being surely the second most overrated book in the world, behind Anna Karenina.) The book had been in my To Read pile since it was published last year, but I'd sort of shuffled it to the bottom week after week, because I wasn't yet ready to face a book about people dying both suddenly and young and/or the rise of Hanson. Do you remember when VH1 put out I ♥ the 90s, like in 2001, and it was a miserable failure? It was just too soon, and that's how I felt about this book.

But I'm glad I've read it now, as it was lovingly crafted and deftly written. Sheffield writes of the relationship between he and his wife, Renée, about her early death and how he goes about trying to pick up the pieces, and does so under the banner of fifteen different mix tapes from different periods of his life. It's really warm and moving and you totally fall in love with Renée, so if you, like me, kept shuffling it to the bottom of the pile, I urge you to pick it up and read it.

But that's not really what I want to discuss today, because that would be depressing. Rather, reading about Rob Sheffield's old mixes led me to think about some of mine. I was the queen of the mix tape in my younger days. I think I had a mix tape or cd for everything I did. I had one for the morning ride to my high school - it was a lot of angry grrl music that validated my sense of isolation and self-importance. There was Aly's SuperAwesomeMix mix, which had everything from Garth Brooks to Cowboy Mouth to Aretha Franklin, which was what we played when we needed a self-esteem boost. (All the songs were designed to tell us how SuperAwesome we were, natch.) I had one for showers when I was a freshman in college which was mostly classical - I remember that Tchaikovsky's Pathetique was on there, as well as the Moonlight Sonata. Two bonin' pieces, really, so I don't know why I relegated them to the showers. There was the Sunday Afternoon mix when I was a junior in college - all Etta James and Billie Holiday that produced the desired effect of me lounging around in my pjs and drinking whiskey while finishing up human ev coursework. I remember one from when I was eight that was just 15 different Michael Jackson songs, taped off the radio, called "The Boogie Mix." My parents had one from a party they had - Dance Mix 2 (I never could figure out where Dance Mix 1 had absconded to) - which I stole from the tape deck after the party and played on my Walkman for three months straight. I am not even kidding when I say that it had a track from Alabama on it. I remember one tape Mandy made for one of our many rambles somewhere that had Dr Demento, KMFDM and Paul Westerberg on it, which is so Mandy that if there was a course called Mandy 101, that tape would be in the list of required materials. And then, of course, Matt's Spring Break '99 (2002) mixes 1 and 2, which provided the perfect soundtrack for our group's drunken tour of Austin's scenic highways. (Don't worry, we had a DD, obviously.) That featured both Tiny Tim *and* Journey, which is how you know it's a good mix.

Over the years, I've made tons of mixes (tape, cd, and iPod playlist form) for friends, boyfriends, strangers on the street. I consider them to be the perfect 90-minute introduction to Your New Friend Erin. I mean, what about me can't be summed up by the simple fact that I love, without shame, Paula Abdul, Kanye and french music? Nothing; there is nothing more to add to the wonder and glory that is me - I adore the pop culture of my childhood, I harbor affection for self-involved whiners only if they can make me dance and I like immersing myself in languages which I cannot speak. et voila, you have Erin.

So my question for you guys today is two-fold: One) what's your most memorable mix? Did you make it or was it given to you? Did it have a purpose beyond being, was it for a specific event, etc? and Two) Make me a mix about your day! I don't mean that you have to ACTUALLY make one (although I will of course accept one), but tell me what would be on it, and why. If I had to make a mix today, it'd be full of music to bop along to, like Mika and the Jackson 5 and Chuck Berry , because I've had a busy day and I don't drink caffeine, so something has to keep me on my toes. What would be in yours?

In other news, today is gingerbiscuit's birthday!! Happy birthday, Anne! I wish I were there to sit on your couch and watch Buffy and talk about how I want to marry your brother.


poshdeluxe said...

i used to looove making mix tapes from the radio when i was in elementary school... in fact, i still have a few, and they're full of songs missing the first few notes with some pieces of commercials and DJ speak mixed in.

i started making a mix for every season (as in, fall, winter, spring, summer) in 2002, and i've been doing it ever since. it's a great way for me to create a time capsule of my feelings AND i love sharing new music with friends.

erin, i need to add you to my mix list! although i'm guessing most of the music won't be new to you.

Erin said...

We used to make tapes off the radio while simultaneously playing something off my portable tape deck and talking over both songs. The mashup was created in my pink, flower-covered bedroom, internet!!

Sarah, trufax: one of my very first memorable "Sarah is so awesome! I want to be just like her" moments was when you gave Ray his Winter 2006 ( . . . i think) mix and it had Scissors for Lefty on it! I was like, "yay! another person knows who they are!

I welcome all mixes, even if I already know all the songs!

Cat said...

My mix tapes were all disco/house stuff because I only hung out with teh gheis.

I don't know if these were still en vogue when you were young, and I don't know why this post reminds me of it, but do you remember those mock interview songs where the interviewer would ask the subject a question and the answer was a song clip? They were really big in the 70s. When I was about 10, I thought they were HEE-larious. But then again, Mad Libs were too.

*sigh* Now I'm all nostalgic. Did you ever play MASH with your friends? I hated it when I had to live in a shack.

Erin said...

Mad libs are STILL hilarious, hello. I want to __verb___ in your ___adjective___ ____noun___!

I don't remember those, but I feel I must seek them out post haste.

Meredith said...

I've got my (our, Erin) yearly case of the Mean Reds brought on by the onset of summer. So my mix today would have to include Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues, Janis' version of Summertime (for irony's sake), Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns, Bananarama's Cruel Summer, Concrete Blonde's Days and Days, The Cure's Last Day of Summer, RJD2's June, and Charley Patton's Some Summer Day Pt. 1. Oh! And Sing Along (Sad Song), b/c it's performed by Donna SUMMER. Get it?

Erin said...

mere, it's going to be 90 in austin this weekend. NINETY. I don't . . . what???

Moody said...

I have made a few mix CDs in my time. The two memorable ones was one where a friend of mine said that she had never had anyone sing Happy Birthday to her before so I made a CD with a bunch of music that she liked plus the opening song was me singing Happy Birthday with the karaoke song I downloaded. I made it a duet with my Kermit the Frog voice. It worked better than I thought, I also recorded myself singing Say it Aint So because it was her favorite Weezer song. It was a hit. My other memorable mix CD was one I made a week after 9/11/2001 and it's a good one to visit. I went through all the motions. Election, destruction, reverence and finally hope.

gingerbiscuit said...

Yay Me! Go me! I lived another year! YAY ME X 10000.

I love a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genuis. It's a total mess but still I love it.

Erin said...

moody, that happy birthday mix sounds so sweet! Aww! (also, Kermit the Frog voice? I demand an mp3 of this immediately.)

Anne, I noticed you didn't address the part about my impending marriage to your brother. WHY ARE YOU STANDING IN THE WAY OF OUR HAPPINESS? If I can't marry you, and your religion and sexual preferences dictate that I can't, I have to marry The Other One.

Moody said...

You really missed it when Henri did Videoke at The Alamo. One of my staples was doing a scene from a movie and having Kermit be the voice. It was actually kind of disturbing when I did Taxi Driver. "You talking to me?" Also my other talent is that I can sing the Muppet Babies theme. In Character(s). Weird side note the captcha at the bottom here had me type I kid you not "evljwz" which looks like something a neo-nazi would have as his vanity plate.