Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Art of the Mix Tape

If you’ve ever seen High Fidelity with the incomparable and charmingly soulful JOHN CUSACK then you know how much the perfect mixtape can alter one’s life and carve out a permanent place in your heart.

Today I found a mix I had made for my first boyfriend ever, and popping it into the player this morning I was not greeted by my past regret or discomfort but a warm, friendly, nostalgia that bubbled up inside me like a frothy cup of coffee.

Our lives are marked by so many sense memories, and for me, the most important of all has been music. With my first boyfriend, it was Sublime, Bob Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd. Reggae, Ska, Punk Rock. It was drunken nights in friendly places, waking up to laughter, smoking too many cigarettes, smoking too much pot. Running around barefoot. Coming home undone. Defying what I thought had been a too-neat past.

Between him and my next boyfriend I found my own musical voice, which consists of more alternative and lovely groups than I could ever mention in a humble little blog like this. The next guy I dated was all about the rap, and I have to say I was too. I had already long since developed my passion for Minnesota Hip Hop, and together we listened to Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Eyedea & Abilities at full blast. There were some other acts of his I couldn’t really get into… aka Devin the Dude??? but mostly we could always find something to jam out to.

Other guys I have seen have influenced my own musical taste less and less, perhaps a metaphor for my own voice coming through. But whenever I get a mix tape from someone I’m crazy about, I’m pretty sure I fall in love. Music is love. Picking out tracks for someone, putting them in the right order, and hoping that they find the same joy in them that you do. That is love. That is careful, audible, precious joy. Along the way I have found some true musical gems from people I’ve seen. My favorite tracks, of course, are still always the ones I find on my own.

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