Monday, February 7, 2011

the art of making a mix.

When I was in college, I used to make mixtapes all the time. It was something to track what I was listening to at the time, or to impress my friends, or to impress girls, or anything, just something to pass the time in the frigid snow of the Northwest. Of course, it was near the Golden Age of free music, too, with Napster just having exploded, but with T1 connections in all the dorms and all the Napster alternatives rushing to fill the void.

Some of the mixes were great. Some of them were subpar to say the least. This isn't just me talking myself up, either. Plenty of people (both those who liked me and those who were indifferent) gave me varied reactions. When I was at GU, I worked at the radio station, and I've always been pretty obsessed with music (like many in my generation and younger) so it's not like I had no idea what I was doing.

I still make mixes, but the pace has slowed exponentially. (In 2002, I made 23, which was the high. Last year, 2010, I made 2.) There are lots of reasons for this, the most obvious being a lack of time to just sit around and obsessively listen to music and catalog it into good transitions. I'm also insanely proud of the fact that I don't hear a lot of things that I can personally relate to (or pretend that I can) in pop songs anymore, so that takes away a lot of the source material. (In compiling my list of things that I was most proud of from my 20's, the end of putting myself though the semi-tragic circumstances of pop songs ranks near the top.) However, I'm still a human, still have feelings, and still listen to music pretty obsessively, even though it's crazily dominated by hip-hop now, as opposed to pop and the so-called indie or underground alternative artists that I used to wear on my sleeve.

So last year, around August, I began making another mix. (I had put a finish to my previous one in May, so I'd been building material for this one since then, but I probably officially began compiling songs in August.) Another school year was beginning, a year when I honestly thought that I wouldn't be in the country. As I began another term of teaching, I was feeling a bit down, with changes in my work life (a new boss, a change in grade level, etc.). Also, I'd moved from the house that I'd lived in since moving back to Albuquerque, which had taken a toll on my relationship with some family members. When I started this mix, therefore, it was called Can't & Won't.

As the year progressed, though, things picked up, as they always seem to do so. I'd found a good place to live, my work was getting better, and my family was made better, in that sporting analogy of addition by subtraction. Around Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) the title of the mix had changed to Giving Thanks.

I thought that I'd finish the mix around that time, but it still needed some tweaking. It wasn't long enough, and there were songs on it that I knew wouldn't make the final cut. Around this time, I grabbed some of the back catalogue of Midtown, including their album Living Well is the Best Revenge. Midtown's a great band, and it bums me out that the main way that people know Gabe Saporta right now is through Cobra Starship. But, their song, "Find Comfort in Yourself" found a place on the mix and led to the led name Revenge.

I don't think this is really a revenge-type of mix, though, honestly. I just thought it was important not to abandon all those names and all that progress. I don't know what type of mix it is, but I do know that there's a lot that went into it. If Midtown is right, and they've named their CD accurately, then living well as revenge doesn't have to mean some kind of ill intent. What it means to me now, what I'm trying to do, is simply being content. I've been working on becoming a better person pretty consciously over the last three years and I think that I've done well. I think one of the most important lessons that I've learned over the last year or so is that revenge doesn't have to be malicious, but rather a simple acknowledgement of karma balancing things out.

The mix can be found here. I named the tracks with prefixes in the order they're supposed to go in, but the ID3 tags are still accurate for their own album. My favorite song on the album (and one of my favorite songs in general right now) is Modest Mouse's "Missed the Boat". The turning point of the album is Atmosphere's "Yesterday" and Kanye's "Street Lights" is what started me on the path of thinking that 808s and Heartbreaks wasn't that bad of an album. "Kiss Me Again" by Jessica Lea Mayfield is one of the saddest songs I've heard. Jenny Lewis was supposed to end the mix with the line, "Trying my best to love you/They make it so hard on us baby/It's so hard on us baby," but Broken Bells' "October" was just too perfect of a sonic closing. I hope you like it.

"Remember what they said/There’s no shortcut to a dream/It’s all blood and sweat/And life is what you manage in between...Yeah you got me wrong."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

can't wait to listen to it all, says imparate.