[Greetings, True Believers! What follows is entry #4,682,119 in the ever-going Pen-Pal Mixtape Series between Matty and myself. This time, it’s an especial holiday edition — so grab yer mistletoe and egg nog before settling down to listen. Just click this link to listen on Spotify. For some other holiday muzak, check out past mixes: “Holidaze" and ”Holidaze 2”; or just peruse the rest of our Mixtape Selections. Ho Ho Ho. — Kluv]
I love Christmas music. The holidays are great, the soft glow of the lights make me happy, and I’ll gladly take cold air and blankets and sweaters and softly falling snow outside my window. But without the music, it’s all just… dressing.
Is it the tunes themselves? Sure. But also the fact that we get to hear different artists’ take on the same familiar songs, each adding their own herbs and spices to the mix. I even dig the newer, original creations — which may not carry the same nostalgia as the standards — but still lend an important hand to the season (and, if done right, could some day become standards of their own!).
They’re the great equalizer. And there’s something about that fact which makes my heart grow three sizes.
So, let’s mix up some holiday cheer — be they traditions old or new — and get into the spirit of things. You’re not going to find a man with more spirit than this fella, especially in this mellow-yet-soulful track. (My mind is still blown whenever I realize he never made it past the age of 26…)
I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, Otis Redding.
[Matty & I have been making mixtapes together for ages, most of which are listened to solely by us. Here is yet another mix in that beloved (again, by the two of us) series, "On The Nose: A Quick Mix Of Beloved Standards." As usual, you can listen to the mix on Spotify.]
I was realizing something today and that something is this: I have been conditioned by Spotify to listen to music differently than I ever have. Instead of hooking into music I like and riding it hard until I’m spent, I am now constantly trying to discover the next thing to like. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, mind you – just different.
To be clear, I feel like I haven’t listened to Simon and Garfunkel in a real long time and it feels a little weird.
So – how’s about a quick mix? I’m in the mood for a palate cleanse. Let’s forget the deep cuts for a minute here. Let’s stop trying to impress each other with our range, or depth, or our ability to pick a winner.
I have a ton of Songs That You’re About to Love, and I think we should get to sharing those soon. I’m just in the mood to listen to some standards.
If nothing else, this is a quick one we can pound out to get our mix-making juices flowing again.
Yes, yes, and yes. A Speed mix, if you will. Let’s do it. Now.
Well fine then!
My first pick comes from some artists that I knew would be on this mix. These guys are right in the wheelhouse for this one: their early catalog feels like a soundtrack to my youth, but I’ve given them only precious little attention for years. For all the ease it took to settle on this band, the song proved tricky for me to nail down. This mix seems to me to be like a rekindling old flames long forgotten, so a track from The Unforgettable Fire seemed like a natural choice… In the end though, this was the one that spoke to me. It feels like waking up, which I like – and also, there’s nothing more on the nose than The Joshua Tree.
So here it is, for Seth, I give you one of my old favorites: Red Hill Mining Town, by U2.
[Welcome to the latest mixtape from the minds of Matty & Myself — an ode, a call, to spring. Listen. Close your eyes. Enjoy "LONG COLD WINTER".]
Well Kevin, as discussed, I feel like total garbage.
I am tired. I am irritable. I am unproductive. I am — to be precise — downright unhappy. Negative trains of thought that would normally sidetrack me for but a moment are waylaying me for days at a time. It’s this damn Winter. And the darkness. It’s happened to me before around this time of year, but never like this. I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to step outside into the sunshine. I see pictures of myself from Summers past, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and my mind reels. Who is that person? Why isn’t he freezing to death? Is he okay? And why does he wear those darkly tinted glasses?
This is more than just Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
This is Depressive Emotional Sadness Predating the Onset of Nature’s Dawn - Equinoctial Negativity Transference(DESPONDENT).
The nightlight I’d left on inside the birdhouse in my soul has been flickering for weeks and I fear that, without some help, it may go out altogether.
I don’t want to hear sad songs, Kevin. I want a pep in my step. I want to hear hand-claps and creaky porch swings. I want iced tea and lemonade. There’s actually a part of me that misses the gawdawful Red Sox right now. (I told you, this is serious.)
And so, a proposal: In anticipation of March 21st — I say you and I get down to some for-serious mix making. An Ode to Spring.
This first one might not be super-peppy and it’s not at all jolly. You won’t hear any of the aforementioned hand claps and the tone of it is most certainly dark. There’s something about it though that feels like it belongs at the beginning of this mix. Maybe it’s that I’m trying to give a final nod to that long cold winter. Or maybe it’s because it stirs in me that feeling of running through a brick wall. That’s probably it. This song feels to me like running steadily towards (and then through) a cold brick wall.
It’s Headlong Into the Abyss by We Are Augustines.
[Matty & Myself are pleased to present you with yet another Pen Pal Mix, this one being the fourth edition of our “Songs You Are About To Love” series. Enjoy. — Kluv]
This thing that we’re doing here Kevin — this making of mixtapes. I feel that we owe it to ourselves to step back a moment and contextualize exactly what this is.
In a nutshell, we are experiencing the evolution of a creative outlet that had been inconceivable to any generation before ours. The thought of selecting songs from multiple records and assembling a record of your own, while not any great achievement of technology or art, is certainly unique to the last 30 years. We are taking the mixtape from its birth, to its infancy and so on and so forth, forever. I’m sure that you are as thankful as I that our children don’t have to grow up in a world without mixtapes. Wikipedia links to an article where essayist Geoffrey O’Brien is quoted as calling the mixtape the, “…most widely practiced American art form.”
Read that again.
I remember how I felt the first time I made myself a mixtape. The power of it. The control. I remember how I felt the first time someone else made me a mixtape. It was a message. A letter. A poem. It personalized songs in a way that I’d never felt before.
I remember how I felt the first time I made a mixtape for someone. The song selection. The progression. The weight carried by position — kick off, side one finale, etc. The cover art. All of it. Your song, and your song, and your song, and your song — now made mine by context. Within this group, I’m connecting to your music in a way not intended or expected.
I remember bucking against the introduction of burned CDs. I felt that not having to select 60/90/120 minutes was a cop out. I bristled at the idea of how any schnook could make sure that all the songs they wanted could fit inside of a CD, but it takes an artist — a craftsman — to juggle the playlist in such a way that side one ends only moments before that tape turns from black to clear and your boombox flips to the other side. Fast-forwarding to the end was not a task I’d ever wish on my listener.
And then the digital age. All bets are off and all bets are on. The .mp3 was the Industrial Revolution for mixtape. That step through the looking glass.
You and I may have even carved our own little niche with the Pen Pal Mix. We decided, as I’m quite sure others had before us — I have no delusions of our being pioneers on this front — to use the creation of mixtape as something that kept us in touch. That’s a step I think… We’re not just the listening to a mixtape — we socialize through the creating of mixes.
Whatever, I just thought it worth saying that I still — even twenty five years and multiple mediums removed from that first mix I made myself — I’m still having a ball with the mixtape. I’m looking forward to see what happens to them next. So far, they’ve managed to hold my attention for their entire existence.
"Mixtape." Right click, Add to dictionary. Stop correcting me Microsoft. "Mixtape" is a word, it’s not going anywhere. Get with the program Mr. Gates.
So here we find ourselves again — embarking on another installment of Songs You’re About to Love. Another Pen Pal Mix.
I hope this gets to you.
"I Hope This Gets to You" The Daylights
Sound the horns: my monthly music mixtape hiatus has come to an end. After cranking them out for twelve straight turns of the calendar, I took the latter portion of 2012 off. But Daddy’s back — and heeding the urge to mix mix mix away. So, without further ado, I bring you another season of ye olde Monthly Mixtapes — starting with Jansuwarry:
Ho ho ho. I’ve been absent for quite some time (updating a blog when you’re stuck in the 1860’s is a sizable challenge), but I thought it only sporting that I post a Holiday Mixtape for anyone who might enjoy it. Pair it with last year’s “Holidaze” mix, and you’ve got a couple hours of seasonal goodness.
Feliz Navidad, Amigos.