To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again […] A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick it off with a corker, to hold the attention […], and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, […] and . . . oh, there are loads of rules.
— Nick Hornby, High Fidelity (1995), pp. 88-89
Note: Both High Fidelity the book AND the movie are delightful. If you read/saw one but not the other, I’d give the other a go. The book is set in England; the movie was released in 2000 and stars John Cusack (and introduces Jack Black to general audiences) — it is set in America. And both work beautifully with just a slightly different flavor.
Why a mixtape on a professional cuddling blog? Well, this blog is to get to know me — a regular person. And the mixtape is basically a selfie of the soul. (And it was fun.) So, here we go.
Like the protagonist in High Fidelity, I believe that mixtapes should follow certain rules. But the creator sets the rules. So, here’s mine:
- This is 60 minute playlist with 2 minutes to spare (if I were to record it on a cassette, I’d give a 15 second pause at the beginning of Side A, a 30 second pause at the end of Side A, a 15 second pause at the beginning of Side B and a 1 minute pause at the end of Side B).
- The song choices start with when I first started to develop my own taste in music. (Which interestingly is close to when the actual mixtape began to die…)
- I did not use strict criteria in determining whether an artist is ‘indie’ or not. It has more to do with the vibe than the label, and some artists switched from an independent label to a major label during their career.
- I chose to call this a ‘mellow’ mix. I tend to like sad songs. But I didn’t want the playlist to be depressing, so I chose songs that are in the middle, mood-wise. (And the song with the saddest lyrics is ostensibly the most upbeat in tone.)
- I chose a simple, fun song to begin with and a simple but more complicated song to close with. The two songs complete a circle regarding theme.
- In the middle, I played around with the tempo of the songs for a variety that I hope seamlessly transitions with a few surprises.
- I didn’t want to repeat artists, but I made an exception for Elliott Smith. This is in part because he’s my all-time favorite artist, but also because ‘Say Yes’ is such a good closer, and it completed the circle. But since it’s perhaps his simplest song, I also wanted to feature a song of his which I think is amazing from a musical standpoint (even if Figure 8 is not my favorite record of his, but that’s because I like such sad music!). Anyway, Smith’s songwriting and mesmerizing voice are, as always, on point. But it’s his amazing guitar performance that I feel really stands out (melodic but not completely predictable, dynamic, amazing finger-picking mixed with chords).
- There are also some interesting similarities between adjacent songs. But that’s my own secret sauce. (Feel free to guess in the comments, though!)
I deliberately chose to link YouTube videos to this post so that anyone could easily access them. But here’s the Spotify link for those of you for whom that is easier: http://spotify:user:1234695679:playlist:2qnjpZ0bXS6rLNy95rv2cN
A Question — Bombadil
Young Folks — Peter Bjorn and John
Animals — Gem Club
Holland, 1945 — Neutral Milk Hotel
Willow Tree March — The Paper Kites
Roscoe — Midlake
Little Vessels — The Lighthouse and the Whaler
I Don’t Blame You — Cat Power
Somebody that I Used to Know — Elliott Smith
The Fold — Ivan & Alyosha
Grow — Wake Owl
Jesus Came to My Birthday Party — The Middle East
Who’s Got the Crack — The Moldy Peaches
The State I Am In — Belle & Sebastian
Black Flowers — Yo La Tengo
Say Yes — Elliott Smith