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.