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Jett Superior laid this on you on || August 18, 2005 || 10:53 am

Some Tips Toward The Proper Mixtape

First of all, you need to know what a mix tape is. I can only assume that my one reader who has been comatose for twentyodd years (and maybe even Ben, as well*) might need to glance over here. Go on, I’ll wait.

Now that that’s behind us, there are the requisite quotes from High Fidelity to deal with.

ROB: What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

Yessirree, we are exploring this topic as a direct result of a mix ceedee that was covertly and slimily slipped to Piper by the young fellow who shall henceforth be known as Bad Boyfriend Waiting To Happentm (or, BBWHalso tm). It lacked meatiness and direction, and you know me…I’m all about that ‘being here to help’ business.

Some of you might say that it was wrong for me to confiscate Piper’s freshtasty musicks. I say, in my defense, that you are absolutely erroneous in your assessment and you should shut the hell up. I am raising a teenager with a vagina, and I say “No holds barred!” in relation to defending its innocence. I also feel compelled to remind you that I am an astute lover of music and wanted to know if this kid could Bring It. He couldn’t, and now we’re all a part of this little tutorial. Isn’t this fun??

ROB: Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

ROB: The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

First of all, like playing soccer in grade school, the making of the mix tape is not limited by your physical prowess, height, weight, general attractiveness, speed or agility. Anybody can make a mix tape. There is this large myth that girls can’t make them. To this, I cry out “HORSESHIT!” from the mountaintop. You hear that, laydeees? YOU DON’T NEED TESTICLES TO MAKE A MIX TAPE. You need electricity, a fairly ample supply of music, and a playback and recording device. Hopefully you’ll pack your sense of adventure, as well.

Let’s get started.

ONE: No repeats!

This is a highly important piece of information! For the love of all that is mixtapey, do *not* put a band on your working bit of customized art more than once. I don’t care if both songs get up and rub all over the sentiment that you are trying to convey, you must exercise discipline and restraint! Play eeny-meeney-miney-mo with them and don’t look back. This rule only negatable if you are making a SuperAwesomeWickedFanMix dedicated to the stylings of just one band/artist. Like eye before ee except after cee, but with mixtapery. Repeats are okay in that respect (see number four, which I’ll be writing shortly).

TWO: Stretch!

No, not before you sit down in front of your sound apperati, silly. By ’stretch’ I mean to Go Big Or Stay Home. I mean to break down barriers and all that other cliched nonsense that applies to a little risk-taking behavior. Find new artists that have breathed lyrical life to your emotions. If you’re scared of experimenting much with new bands or musical interpretations, offer up some of your tried-and-true favorite artist’s lesser-known stuff. Expand someone’s (including your own) musical worldview. Despite the fact that Fred Durst is still making music, there is so much delicious ear candy out there!

THREE: Cater to the audience.

That fucking mixtape isn’t for you (unless, of course, it is…then skip on to numbah fo-wah). Therefore, you have no right to say, “Oh, I like that song” and chuck it into the rotation. Yeah, so? You like that song. Does that song address the situation and/or convey the emotion you want to express? More importantly, will it resonate with the listener? Will they get it? Don’t be selfish, homes.

FOUR: Theme, woo!

I have this friend, right? And he is the hands-down Master of the mix tape. He comes up with brilliant titles and intricately weaves the musicks so that they command both your attentions and emotions for eighty or so minutes. He has made the occasional two-disc set that listening to is the equivalent of scoring a visit to the Chocolate Factory: Too much sweetness to fathom until you’ve been there. He has a spot-on understanding of having a theme, not just chucking music out there like a handful of pebbles. Very few people are born with this savantlike level of proficiency; skill like his is honed to perfection over years of mixtaping action. He likely started out taping off his forty-five record player with a portable tape machine at age seven.

In the past, I’ve made compilations that will make a grown man beg for mercy and for more at the same time. There is this guy that I still have contact with who confessed not even six months ago that hearing “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel is agony for him, but he hits repeat and has for seventeen years…ever since I first introduced him to that particular tune via mix tape. It is inextricably linked to an emotion, a place, a time, a person, and it has massive power. It spoke to our situation at the time, and in a way it still does.

I’ve strung up mix tapes that are sufficiently pain-inducing for bubble baths and pedicure nights; I slide them around to female friends so that PMS is fully explored and the beast is satisfied. I’ve also compiled up stacks of songs that are bouncy and well-meaning and make you want to dump the daisies out of the redbong that masquerades as a pretty lucite vase on the dining room table and use it like your momma authorized it.

Sit down, decide on that theme, and show some loyalty to it. Be creative about it, but show some loyalty.

FIVE: Share

Pull that light out from under a bushel and let it shine! You can use a mix tape to convey emotions that are awkward for you. The sentiment is already there, under your breastbone and all over their measures. Marry the two and send them out into the world. Show parts of yourself that are valuable. The ones that won’t get you arrested, I mean.

SIX: Dress it up, make it multimedia!

Custom inserts are the fire. Use them to preach, to teach, to lose your mind a little.

Say, for instance, you throw in Jeff Buckley’s ‘Forget Her’. You can explain via personalized liner notes that Jeff (musical GOD) drowned in the Mississip (you ferners may not understand atall, but when you are a Southerner, that one right there equals sainthood) under not-quite-right circumstances. Or, if you choose the Stars’ ‘Your Ex-Lover Is Dead’ you might mention the quote at the beginning and source it for the amusement of all. If you include Grant Lee Buffalo’s ‘Eight Mile Road’, why don’t you explain your attachment to the band’s music or the song?

These are only a few handy little tips in the overall scheme of compiling a shiny batch of aural deliciousness. I don’t want to overwhelm you with TMI, so I’ll call a halt right here. You may modify or add to in the commentses as you wish.

In closing,

BARRY: How about the Jesus and Mary Chain?

BARRY’S CUSTOMER: They always seemed…

BARRY: They always seemed what? They always seemed really great is what they always seemed. They picked up where your precious Echo left off, and you’re sitting around complaining about no more Echo albums. I can’t believe you don’t own this fucking record. (tosses the record to the customer and walks away) That’s insane. Jesus.

Amen and amen.

*hahdeehah, Ben…just pokin’ at you.

16 worked it out »

  1. J2 8.18.2005

    I love when people appreciate High Fidelity and its wisdoms as much as I do. Plus, an entry about mixtapes – what could be better? Not much.

  2. marc 8.18.2005

    I made one mix-tape in my entire life. It was requested, I knew I didn’t have the skillz, but I did it anyway. Within 20 minutes of handing it over, I got a screeching phone call accusing me of using the tape as a sign I wanted to break up and paint the walls with blood using her heart as the bucket. Thankfully I’ve never received one either, so never had to worry about formulating a proper response myself.

  3. skillzy 8.18.2005

    CiĆ² ha potuto pure essere scritta in italiano, esso avrebbe altrettanto molto significato me.

  4. del 8.18.2005

    mix ceedee? ??? tell her to return the cd with a note that states there will be no mixes accepted on anything less than a 40 gig (leave the 60 as an option so he can show some initiative) ipod which must be at least 88% full of music contained on various themed playlists. oh yes, add some fine print…”the submitted media becomes the property of the superior household and cannot be returned to sender”.

  5. What’s so bad about bad boyfriends?

    Even though it is a shit tape, you have to give the kid some credit for putting at least some thought into it.

    I can’t decide if it is worth more or fewer points if he taped the songs off the radio. More, probably.

    p.s. we have a music shop called ‘The CD Store’ and they recently changed their name to ‘The CD & DVD Store” and I think people need to get over the fact that the function overrides the form in this case, so I don’t have to justify myself for saying ‘tape’ when I mean ‘compact disc’ just like it is now acceptable to say ‘record’ when you mean ‘album’. Like the guy on Shooting Fish who says ‘bucks’ instead of ‘quid’.

  6. and since you have set the precedent of mentioning your daughter and sexual organs in one breath:

    Have you considered that, to one degree or another, every girl can’t help but be a cock-tease?

  7. Jettomatika 8.19.2005

    Dear Richard,

    Don’t be daft.

  8. redclay 8.21.2005

    “the mortal coil shuffle”?

    that is one that should go down in history.

    you should handle it with white gloves and call me everyday to thank me for the angst.

  9. Jettomatika 8.21.2005

    red: You’re not the best mixtaper I know, but you rank way on up there mister.

    J2: IT COMMENTS! Oh my lorrrrd, IT COMMENTS!

  10. Ben 8.21.2005

    I have never made a mix tape. I have though ruthlessly mocked Chloe’s ten ceedee musack collection, and instituted an I’m in charge of all the musick now policy round these here parts. Which I think you’ll find more than makes up for it.

    You’ll find that you agree.

    However, had someone informed me of it’s chastity belt pushing aside potential, I’d have very obviously rocked many degrees of socks.

  11. skillzy 8.22.2005

    I didn’t need mixtapes to get panties off. I had a ‘72 Pinto with the James Taylor JT 8-track stuck in the stereo. And assloads of charm. And maybe a lil Boone’s Farm or TJ Swann. And maybe a lil weed.

    Man, in about 4 years, if the 16 year old me shows up on my doorstep, he’s in big trouble.

  12. Jettomatika 8.24.2005

    …or maybe YOU are.

    The weed is much better in recent years than it was back then. Or so I’m told.

  13. Kandy 8.24.2005

    Oh man, I love me some mixtapes! Love making ‘em and by gosh love hearing ‘em.

    And I loved your post, dearie!!

  14. Coelecanth 8.24.2005

    I used to cut up comic book covers, preferably obscure ones, and make my own thought ballons to announce the title. Nothing like a pant’s wearing, lazer toating dinosaur screaming “Dwell in the Past!” to label a tape of moldy oldies.

    High Fidelity…words fail me. One of the first 3 DVD’s I bought, before I had a player.

  15. Jettomatika 8.24.2005

    Oh my GAAAAHD, in high school I used to painstakingly hand-letter fancypants covers with grodily overworded titles like


    If I could go back seventeen years and slap myself, I certainly would.

  16. MaC 8.30.2005

    Deleted scenes for that movie rocked! The cosmo girl narrative was awesome…


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