The Art of the Mix Tape

by R. J. Forman

Once upon a time someone loved me.

That’s not fair. My mom and dad love me very much right now.

But once upon a time someone was in love with me.

That was a long time ago.

I’m sitting here listening to the mix CD that person made me some years ago.

There’s thought in this CD.

There’s so much thought.

Each song was carefully picked and each one either expresses an emotion or represents some story of the two of us.

You have a mix tape or mix CD, don’t you?

Or maybe you made one… or several, you sly fox.

You know the thought that goes into it.

You craft it like you would any piece of art.

You start with some fun song that reminds you of when you first met or maybe your first date.

Followed by a few more fun or funny up-tempos.

Then maybe you start to slow it down… a smattering of medium paced songs.

Then you start to get into the emotional songs. The James Taylors, Eric Claptons, Jack Johnsons, the Boys II Men for you '90s kids.

You follow with the songs about longing, wishing your love was with you instead of listening to that mix CD or mix tape.

Bring the tempo back up… just a notch. G. Love’s “Baby Got Sauce” works really well here. Maybe a little “How Sweet It Is” from James Taylor? Yeah, that’s good.

Something sexy. Gotta throw in a sexy song. A “A Girl Like You” from Edwyn Collins... something with bass and soul.

Sexy fades… but love, that lasts forever, right?

Enter the nostalgia section of the CD.

These songs encompass the remembrance of first meetings and first dates, the fun, the longing, the love.

These are the songs that make you tilt your head to the side, sigh, smile and well up just a little when you go to listen to that mix ten, 15 years down the line.

The last song is the clincher. It can go one of two ways.

It can be the ultimate nostalgia song like Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” The Beatles’ “Something,” or something Radiohead, maybe something Cat Stevens.

Or it’s the ultimate fun and upbeat like “Build me up Butter Cup,” (The Foundations) maybe “Brown Eyed Girl,” from Van Morrison.

John Cusack discusses this in High Fidelity. The art of the mix tape, that is.

But in this world of iPod, iPhone, and iTunes how does one make a mix tape or mix CD?

Do you send your loved one an MP3 playlist?

No. That’s ridiculous. There’s no “I” in love!

But there is one in mix tape and mix CD.

(Photo by egings of France via morgueFile. Please check below to see John Cusack, Jack Black and Todd Louiso from High Fidelity with their satiric take on love songs.)

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