A good friend once said that if he only had a day left to live, he would spend half of it saying goodbye and the other half making one last mix tape. At the time (back in college) I thought it rather wasteful to spend half of one’s remaining consciousness comprising a mixture of songs. Wouldn’t it be better to take a reflective walk down a familiar path? Or cook a delectable meal? Of, what about buying one last pack of cigarettes and pounding out the pure ephemeral pleasure locked inside those little bastards? What about coitus, at least once? If not that, how about rolling one off? I mean, if (somehow) you know not only days are numbered but also your hours and how many, wouldn’t it make sense to jam pack them with meaningful, pleasurable activities, with sublime sensorial and/or spiritual activities to make your last terrestrial memories positive or pleasurable, or, as the cliché goes, to make them count? Such was my reaction to this declaration then.

If I didn’t understand the motive for making mixes then, a few quick years later, I jumped on the mix-making bandwagon and haven’t gotten off yet. (But I still doubt I would spend half my remaining day of life doing so.)

For any uninitiated out there, a mix is simply a combination of songs put together in some sort of fashion on some sort of media. They’ve become something of a consistent subcultural activity during the past three decades, reaching their zenith as a widespread cultural phenomenon somewhere in the 80s. Generations X, Y and I (the current one) seem to be formidable mix-masters. (Although, in my pyramid of 50 or so friends, I can only think of five people that actively make mixes.)

Mixes actually originated on 8-track tapes in the late 60s and through the 70s where they began as amalgamations of songs in similar genres, like rock ballads or groovey jams. Audio cassette tapes became popular in the 80s, which handed this musical-grouping ability to the most middle-class consumers. Then came the switch to CDs, where they still remain to some significant degree. CDs made mix-making a significantly easier process, largely because you didn’t have to STOP, REWIND, PLAY, STOP, REWIND, PLAY, STOP, FAST-FORWARD, STOP, REWIND, RECORD, etc. in the likely event that you didn’t like the song you put on there. Today, you can radically change the order of a mix by simply clicking and dragging your way into a new order.

Since we are all poised to go fully digital some day soon, a mix will simply mean giving someone a playlist on a flashdrive, or better yet, simply sticking yours (Ipod, memory stick, whatever device comes next) into theirs and copying that playlist. Boom. Instant mix. No having to type and print out a track listing and put it in a jewel case. No muss, no fuss. “Thanks.” Itunes already comes with a feature called Genius mixes, and order mixed playlists based on the albums and genres in your Itunes database. (Although, I would personally never trust ITunes to make an actual mix that I would give someone, because it tends to be very samey and does not account for stark changes of genre, rhythm, sound or emotional atmosphere that largely breathe the life into any listenable mix.)

I calculate that I’ve created some 200 CDs in the past 15 years, a good portion of them having been proffered to friends as gifts or to girlfriends as tokens of my affection.

I have yet to come across any steadfast rules that aid in creating a good mix. My only personal test as to whether a mix is successful hinges upon repeated listens. If the receiver of the mix sincerely inquires or lauds the selection of a song or two or the mix as a whole, that’s a good sign. If, after the mix is given and several weeks pass and no word is mentioned regarding the mix, it probably bombed. I’m always leary of people who mention that they liked it without mentioning any specifics. This means they liked the gesture but not the content.

In my years of making them, I’ve found a few truisms that I adhere to.

1. Always start off the mix with a burner. Now, a burner can be a hushed and haunting acapella, a straight-ahead testicular rocker, one helluva catchy pop tune or something altogether differently striking. But it has to strike somehow. Don’t put an average tune up there. In fact, don’t put an average song on the mix, ever. It’s like the first sentence of a great story or article, it needs allure to keep you desiring.

2. Know at least some of your audience’s music proclivities. If they like pop country music, god help them, and you, and us all, cause that genre must die yet it looks like it’s going to stick around a good while longer and that a certain segment of the population is going to keep on listening to it. If they like pop country and you try to make them a retro-Beach Boys Pet Sounds-ish mix(a la Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Dearhoof, Beach House, etc.), the chances are they will surreptitiously lose it. You might become alien, of sorts. The better choice here would be to try and turn them on to some real country, like Cash, Nelson, Haggard, etc., and then see how they respond to alt-country, folk and americana. This rules applies to all genres. If somone likes nothing but pop a la Beyoncé, Laday Gaga and Britney, you’d be better off searching into lesser-known pop artists (like Annie, Walter Meego, Corinne Bailey Rae, et al.) on allmusic.com, the inexhaustibly cross-referenced ultimate music resource.

3. Employ variety. Even if folky, singer-songwriter is your thing, 15 to 20 songs of a man and a guitar will suffer from soporific homogeneity. Throw some harder rock in there, or some disco or funk or 80s or 90s and today, just like KISS FM. Hell, throw in “I was made for loving you baby” by KISS, cause that really is their best song.

4. Always insert a classic song or two. This can be a cover of a classic song, or a remix, or the classic itself. At this point in history, it could be golden oldie like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, et alii, or any band up to and including some stellar songs of the 80s. Make sure it’s not too overplayed. That is, instead of inserting Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, toss on “Wanna be startin’ something”. Caveat: never Brick House the mix, i.e., “Brick house” never needs to played or heard ever again. It’s one of those songs that has gotten so much airtime in movies and TV in the past generations that it if was never played again, people would still be sick of it because this pop culture killed that one beyond revivification.

5. The soft/loud thing works. Putting a slower, downtempo/harmonious/acoustic track before or after a heavier/louder song can have an excellent effect insofar as they mesh well together. This can only be determined by listening several times to the way one segues into the other. In fact, the true crux of a mix is that all the songs glide fluidly between all the other songs. Yes, early Nirvana and latter Norah Jones might work, you just have to find out how. (Note, I have never put any of the two aforementioned bands on a mix, just using it as a relevant example.)

6. Always include some songs by female vocalists in there, especially if the mix is being made for one. Music today has more songs with female vocalists than ever before in spite of still being a very male-dominated market. I once made a girl-boy-girl-boy mix (20 tracks in all) and, to this day, it still holds up; I still listen to it.

7. There is no limit to the genre range possible. You could —if you swing this way— put Britney Spears (pure catchy danceable pop) just after a Slayer track (anxious, aggressive, malevolent speed metal), or Iron and Wine (intimate, restrained, indie-folk) following up some Them Crooked Vultures (intense, stoner rock). However, even this recommendation has its limits: Rammstein (gloomy, ominous industrial metal) before or after Enya (ethereal, sparkling contemporary Celtic new-age adult-alternative pop) will probably never work. In fact, if Enya is still in your heavy rotation, that will probably not work either, so get out. (Then again, “Sail Away” always somehow makes me feel lighter and less worried.)

8. Give it an enigmatic title that relates, at least tangentially, to the mix itself or the idea/essence of it. Never put something lame such as “Happy Birthday Angela.” Here are a few examples of ones I have come up with: Tales of a Tired Decade, Twenty-Greight, Dirty-Five (both were someone’s birthday), Songs for a Hesitating Spring, C-Plus-Plus’s Nonplussed Mash, ‘Kok Rockin’ Beats and Mash, The Essence of Whitman, The Fucking Brilliance, Reverent Rememberings, Brookville City Limits, A KTobin Love-Nine Farewell Joint, Soundtrack of My Life, Music to Cut Veins By, Shark Jumping. Any decent mix should have a memorable moniker attached to it, period.

9. If the mix is being made for a friend, be aware of both the quantity of and lyrical content of those songs. While the bulk of modern pop music is largely focused upon love –either wanting it, getting it, or being disgruntled for having had it– it has little place in a platonic mix.

10. If the mix is for someone whom you desire, putting on some love songs is fine, just don’t overdo it unless you are sure are trying to take a leap that might spark this line of thinking. Mixes can be pathways to overthinking, and are probably even easier to misinterpret. I spent several years spiking mixes with hidden messages, once even trying to break up with a girl by putting negative break-up songs on it. She never got it, and we stayed together for about a year longer than we should have.

11. Actual mix CDs should have some sort of representative cover. This can be anything. I find the quickest and easiest are most magazines, because they are chocked full of images that can be cut in the proper square to be visually appealing.

For example, from Forbes magazine put on the mix “What Yesterday Brought”:

The following is from a calendar of Chinese propaganda posters. The mix was titled “‘Kok Rockin’ Beats and Mash”, and was made for Andrew Johnson just before he moved to Bangkok:

An American poet/essayist called the mix “the most widely practiced American art form”, concluding that the arrangement of songs –the sum of the whole– creates an overall effect much grander and affecting than any individual songs themselves.

While this is true, it is not art; putting others’ art into a larger whole equates to gluing many different photographers’ pictures into one large mural, or rearranging axioms and clauses from great works of literature into one larger dadaist compendium.

It is not my art, so how can it be called an art form? At best, this is a cut-and-paste hobby, with some of the resulting outcomes undoubtedly better –or more listened to– than others.

In celebrating TNB’s 3.0 anniversary (which was intended to also serve as a Christmas gift-turned-New Year’s gift and now just a gift), I thought I would tip my hat to the fans, the readers, the ones who comment, etc. In particular, I thought I would make a mix by a consummate commenter/reader/fan who almost always comments on what I write with something thoughtful and insightful. At one point she leaked out a bit of her own musical tastes, allowing me to use guideline #2 for this mix that I made for her.

I have never met her, yet I appreciate her. And I spent at least six hours thinking up, arranging, removing, adding to this mix, then zipping it up and uploading it so that she(and you, should you want to) could listen to a mix of a semi-wide variety of songs that mostly adheres to the above guidelines.

In many ways a mix is one of the purer gifts one can give, i.e. its creation relies on the impetus, inspiration and input of one person, the collector and arranger of others’ songs. Time is given to this ordering of songs so that another might appreciate them. And of course, the time implicit in a mix is the real gift. Awwwww.

So Josie, thanks for all your comments over the past several years. Hope you enjoy the mix, and I hope to one day meet you in person.

*********************

Being fairly certain this is not strictly legal, I’ve posted the mix at my friend’s website called Tip Robin’s Mega Maxi Mix Mash. It is located here.

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Small tools
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A bad girl
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rendezvous
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Classic cars
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Fashion magazine
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Small tools
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Science and technology
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Lose weight
outdoors
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science
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training
A bad girl
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attitude
movies
rendezvous
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health
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Small tools
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travel
Motor car
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A bad girl
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TAGS: , , ,

KIP TOBIN's real name is Stephen Christopher Tobin, but no one really calls him that, not even his mom. His favorite letter is "i", which is also one his least favorite words; his favorite words tend to include euphonious consonants like Ls and Rs and Ss, such as surly luscious allure. He relocated to middle America last year. He writes fiction and nonfiction but will not tweet. He's currently working on his doctorate in Latin American Literatures and Cultures, studying the intersection of the body, vision and media in contemporary Hispanic Science Fiction . If asked, he will tell you that S. Gautauma pretty much summed 'er all up when he said: All things are transient. Work out your own salvation. He's constantly in that latter process, all the while trying to become as present and aware as he possibly can in this world of simulacra and simulations. You can leave a message on the board here and he will try to get to back with you. His alter ego sometimes posts music mixes on Tip Robin's Mega Maxi Music Mix Mash (tiprobin.blogspot.com), which is unsearchable on the internet and something of a micro, gotta-be-in-the-know phenomenon. He's no longer a part of the social networking revolution. The revolution, it seems, will not be televised but rather streamed, and he hopes he's not watching it. He wishes everyone good luck whenever he can. Good luck.

92 responses to “Anatomy of a (Digital) Mix CD: For Josie, Wherever She May Wander in a Universe Unmanned”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    Kip,
    I’ve never, ever made a mix tape. I’m a mix tape virgin. I intend to stay that way, regardless of your very wise advice.

    • tip robin says:

      Yes, Irene, maybe this whole phenomenon skipped you?

      Then again, maybe not. I remember going to a homecoming reunion at my fraternity house about 10 years ago and seeing some older brothers in their mid-40s exchanging what I guessed to be a yearly mixtape exchange. This would probably put them around your age.

      As I reiterated throughout the post, it is a subcultural epidemic, occurring only in small pockets of the population. So maybe you just don’t fit in this group? Which, of course, is absolutely fine. In a very real way, my life might benefit to a large degree from not making any more, as my time would probably be spent doing other, more productive activities. Then again, maybe not.

      A lotta maybes in this here reply…

    • Irene Zion says:

      I’m going to check this, Kip. I’m going to ask my friends. I’ll bet none of them ever made a mix tape.
      On the other hand, I’ll bet all of us have gotten mix tapes from our kids trying to show us the light about music.

      • Kip Tobin says:

        Make sure you ask people who are particularly into music – doesn’t matter what kind(s).

        I’ve given my parents more than enough mix tapes and CDs through the years, too, trying to keep them up to speed on what is good and current music. Funny thing though, I was in my dad’s car the other day listening to one I made him about 8 years ago, and I really didn’t like most of the songs I had put on there.

  2. josie says:

    I was going to say something about the X-generation not being that long ago but I nearly cracked a hip doing a little dance of joy so I guess I’ll skip that part and jump right into the art discussion.

    Mixed collections are definitely an artform. The type of art the artist’s artist creates. We see this in fine arts where collage and photography of art combine to make new art forms, and I defy you to pick up a book these days that doesn’t have quotes from other writers in it to preface a chapter or make a point. It is the finest type of collaboration I can imagine, respectfully using the talent of another to help express our inner voice.

    Perhaps it is why I love this community so much. In blogging the article is only half the artform. The interaction and personal exchange in the comment thread make for a group art project. I totally dig that.

    Cliche’s are established because they hold some profound truth and none could be truer than “It’s the thought that counts.” To hold the place in another’s mind is to have value. On the friendship scale it’s worth more than gold – right up there with “you’ve got something in your teeth” and “don’t wear that dress, it makes your ass look fat. That’s true friendship, right there. haha

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful gift, KT. I’m 13% downloaded. I must admit, it’s not as fun as getting the tape in hand with the scribbled titles on the liner – but it’s fun enough that I feel a little like a kid again and I can’t wait to warp the ribbon on these mp3s.

    I love you, man – on a purely platonic level ;^)
    But I do have a crush on your friend, Tip Robin. I think it’s the hat.

    You totally rocked my world today.
    Thanks for thinking of me.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.

    • Lip Dobin says:

      Josie:

      As the definition of artform explains (“a form of artistic expression”), I concede to the standard definition. I guess my reasoning results from a unbending intuitive belief that art is the product of creation, and not simply amalgamating others’ creation into a larger whole. So, I admit, semantically speaking, I am definitely wrong. There is no doubt that there is some value to taking pieces of smaller pieces of art and putting them together has some more expansive value in terms of aesthetics.

      Yes, cliches are true, and always will be. And I will probably always hate them for that (while at the same time begrudgingly resorting to them from time to time for spiritual comfort).

      On a different note:

      You’re welcome.
      You’re welcome.
      You’re more than welcome.

      I enjoy doling out random gifts of kindness to virtual strangers from time to time (though this was –strictly speaking– not random, as I wanted to thank you for all your wonderful commenting over the past several years).

      Cheers.

      Lip

  3. Wesley Brown says:

    I actually tried to make you that mix you suggested around x-mas but found my assertion that 2009 was not the best year for music confirmed and so the tentative track list is floating around my apt. somewhere. It turns out that most of what I liked in 2009 was great background soundtrack music to my photo processing, archiving, and editing activities as the lack of a true commute lasting anything longer than 5 minutes has made NPR the no-brainer, no-effort, go-to choice for the car. My reading has also suffered. I’m also ashamed to admit I now drive 5 blocks to the liquor store. That may sound reasonable to you over there but it’s an average of 67 degrees here in January so really it’s quite shameful behavior. Damned city of angels.

    • Flip Cobin says:

      Wes,

      I distinctly remember you saying in an email that you wouldn’t make a mix for me because I wasn’t a girl, and we’re not gay so there’s no romantic connection. I can find it for you if you’d like. (Oh wait, maybe that was a Facebook comment. If so, no dice.)

      I can fully sympathize with your self-immolating criticism as to not reading more. I took four months after grad school, and am just now picking back up books that I remembered I really wanted to read and/or finish. I would highly recommend that you read Infinite Jest one day, as it is a great American novel (but it is very long and requires a lot on your behalf).

      I don’t think 09 was a shit year for music, but I do think it wasn’t great.

      NPR is the way to go. I just finished listening to Gladwell’s The Tipping Point on audiobook as an alternative to NPR when I get a little sick of their repeated quasi-ads during the programming breaks where they tell me who NPR is brought to me by. It’s always company x, y and BOOM – listeners like me! Awesome.

      Cheers.

      Flip

  4. Zara Potts says:

    Goddamn! I have mix tape envy now.
    I still have all the old compliation tapes my high school boyfriend made me. I haven’t listened to them in years. I can’t imagine the horrors I would find on them now!
    And yay for Josie. She deserves the very best.

  5. Slip Hobin says:

    Zara,

    Maybe I’ll make you one, too, soon. But I need a break. This last string of them broke me, or at least jaded me enough that I need a break. (It also spurned me to write about it, since I made six for the holiday season.)

    Ciao.

    Kip

  6. Wesley Brown says:

    Well, that just goes to show how gay my love for you is, Flip. You should be honored.

    I will indeed read Infinite Jest one day but it will have to be after I read the 4 or so books I excitedly bought only to find myself not making the time to read them.

    Yeah, why exactly does a private foundation need an advertisement anyway?

    • Slip Hobin says:

      Great point Wesley. Why do they have to pseudo-advertise, even if it’s just mentioned by an anchor person’s voice?

      I have no idea.

      I have only been able to get through I.J. because I started allotting time for 10 pages a day. Now I’m addicted and can get through about 20-30. Almost done.

      I am honored by your gay love, Tess.

      Flip

  7. This so reminds me of “High Fidelity,” one of my favorite books and flicks.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      I definitely agree Nick, and I realized there might be allusions to it. Such is the intertextuality of contemporary creation. I remember when I read High Fidelity, years after I had seen the movie, and thought, man, what a great representation of several generations’ worth of (mostly) male attempts at connecting with the world (mostly women).

  8. Well done, Kip. I actually tried to download the file just now, but was taken through this whole squirrelly process where this company wanted me to buy something, and it all seemed a bit strange. But what you did, my friend, wasn’t strange at all. That’s so supercool that you made a mix tape for Josie. She’s the best. Now so are you, my friend.

    • josie says:

      You don’t have to buy anythinh to upload the file, Rich. Select upload and type in the code then it takes you to a pge with two options. The “download now” is a pay option. Look for the timer counting down. When its done you can select “regular download”

      BTW, you were singing to me just the other day right here in my living room, Rich, and you didn’t even know it. Trippy, hunh?

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Rich,

      Yeah, that damned process can overwhelm and turn one off to downloading it. I even meant to put it on Mediafire, the best of the file storage website that offers no wait and a very clearly marked DOWNLOAD THIS FILE RIGHT HERE NOW! But alas, I maxed out my Mediafire acct and would’ve had to delete another one and re-upload this one, which was just an additional step I wasn’t willing to take.

      As Josie pointed out, you can dload it, just have to wait about 45 seconds after putting in the code and then choose the Free Download link.

      Thanks for the props Rich.

      You are supercooler.

  9. “The most widely practised American art form”

    That may be true, in as much as art these days often revolves around copying and pasting. I think mix tapes require enough creative thought to constitute some lower level of artdom.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Okay, I concede. It is some lower form of an artform, inasmuch as deejaying songs together really well can be considered a strong talent at best and, as you say, some lower form of art, but still somehow artful.

      • Precisely. I might once have claimed to the contrary, but having seen some talented DJs, I realise now that their work is an art form. Certainly moreso than mixtape making, but along the same lines.

  10. Richard Cox says:

    I loved this, partly for your most excellent depiction of the mix tape/CD/playlist phenomenon and also because I am a mix tape devotee. Or at least I was.

    My first mix tapes were made on inexpensive, normal bias cassettes, and ordering the songs wasn’t possible because I was recording them off the radio. Do your mixes go back that far? Did you ever curse a DJ for talking too long during a song intro? Did you ever have to sit in front of the radio for hours and hours waiting for your favorite song to finally play?

    But eventually, by the end of high school, I had graduated to meticulously-recorded mixes of vinyl source material to metal tapes. This is where I cut my teeth on the creation of real mixes, as you so eloquently described above. And not just the music content but the sequencing of it, fitting the songs to the allotted time, the gaps between them, volume-leveling, etc. I even used the infamous anti-static gun to eliminate static clicks and pops from the records. And yet, no matter how perfect the tape was when I made it, the first time I played it was the best it would ever sound. Over time the damned things deteriorated to the point where they were hardly listenable.

    To me recordable CDs were the pinnacle of the mix “tape” concept. Not only was the sound quality outstanding, but with the right software you could not only volume level the songs but equalize them as well, even crossfade them. The most elaborate mix I ever made was for an 80s party–a 6-disc, 140-track collection of music singles intermingled with famous sound bites from 80s movies. I spent weeks on it, equalizing everything, volume leveling, creating cover art in Photoshop for both the cases and the CD labels themselves. I mean it was perfect.

    The thing with iTunes is, it’s so easy to create the perfect mix that something about the process is missing. There’s no point in volume leveling or crossfading, because you’ll fuck up the original tracks. I don’t produce cover art anymore, because why would I spend a couple of hours on that when the mix itself only took fifteen minutes to figure out? Especially when there’s no disc or case?

    Don’t get me wrong. I love mp3s and my iPod, and they’ve forever changed the way I listen to music (in most every case for the better), but, for me at least, the concept of mixes have lost their magic. At least until now. Your piece has inspired me to give it another shot.

    Nice job, man.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Richard,

      My mix-making does not go back quite far enough to ordering songs from the radio onto cassettes, but I did first start recording songs from the radio, so I know what you mean.

      Your magnum opus sounds great. I meant to include a part in here about party mixes, ones that were put on there to please the masses a dancin’. I’m sure that was the heat, to borrow an 80s expression.

      My own early days of semi-mastering this lower-level artform came when I was a senior in college and we I had a answering machine that not only recorded messages with a regular cassette tape but could record two-way conversations being had without the other person knowing it. So when the Jerky Boys planted the seed, we prank called quite a few people and I made a mix that was one of those rare 120 minutes (60 per side) audio tapes, and had great songs throughout it intertwined with some of our own Jerky Brothers stuff. I often consider trying to do something like that today, taking sound bites from every aspect of life that has been recorded in films, TV, recorded conversations and making it into a mix CD with great music. But I think the logistics of doing it – of needing the get and learn how to use the software to get these sound files and covert and edit them properly – would be a huge investment of time on top of something that is already pretty consuming. So I haven’t done it, and maybe never will.

      And I agree with you about Itunes even though it is my defacto prog for making mixes. The bulk of the mixes I usually make are physical CDs, replete with jewel case that has an inlet with some sort of evocative image as a cover and a tracklisting made from Itunes print function. It’s actually pretty minimal, and serves the function well enough to give something to someone so they can stack it with other CDs. Putting it up online is even more time consuming, requiring that you isolate each track, drop it into a folder and renumber it so it reads “01 – trackname.mp3” and “02 – trackname.mp3”, etc. so that when someone does get it and put it into Itunes, it will order correctly. Otherwise, the whole thing gets really out of whack, which pretty much nullifies the whole reason for making the thing in the first place (flow-wise).

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Richard.

      Cheers.

      Kip

      • Richard Cox says:

        Your own Jerky Boys work mixed with music? Now, that is awesome. Hats off to you, sir. I always wanted to try the prank calls myself but never had the balls.

        I love the idea of mixing various media and conversations with music. Those 80s discs were a good start, but I’d love to expand to the sort of project you described. DJ Shadow does this in his work, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor uses field recordings and found sounds to great effect. But doing this with media and conversations from our own lives would obviously be very cool.

        Oh, and I didn’t mean I ordered songs off the radio. Just that I couldn’t put them in the order I wanted since you never knew when a certain song would be played on the radio.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        “Did you ever curse a DJ for talking too long during a song intro? Did you ever have to sit in front of the radio for hours and hours waiting for your favorite song to finally play?”

        When I first started making mix tapes in my early teens, Rob, yes. Definitely.

  11. Greg Olear says:

    This is great, man. I am downloading it as we speak. (Unless someone from the FBI is reading this, in which case, please bear in mind that I am, by trade, a writer of fictions.)

    A song I recently discovered and which should go on all mix CDs (unless there’s a chance a child will be listening, of course) is “Hit ‘Em Up” by 2Pac. The angriest song of all time, and oh so catchy.

    Speaking of 2Pac and hip hop, if sampling is an art form — and I say it is — than so is tape compilation, right?

    Thanks,
    Greg

    • Kip Tobin says:

      I do not know Hit ’em up, but will definitely check it out. Hip hop is one thing this mix lacks. I almost always throw in some Public Enemy or Tribe Called Quest or some other hip-hop staple. (I will also admit that 2Pac is a gap in my hip-hop knowledgebase.) I even regret not having put a little something from each genre on this mix, but as I wrote on the Tip Robin site, I spent way too much on this particular one. I became a little unhinged making this, and how it all got kind of similar, almost too rock-based. Sometimes that’s what happens when you get too close.

      But I had to get it out there, otherwise I would’ve invested an uncountable amount of time into it, only to feel even less satisfied for having spent so much time on it and pulled out so many hairs.

      Thanks for the comment, Greg.

  12. Nice guidelines. When I was a sophomore in high school, my father bought a new stereo system and gave me his old quadriphonic, allowing me for the first to record songs from the radio onto cassettes.

    I.

    Went.

    Nuts.

    In anticipation of my driving years (fully two away), I started collating “Tunes for Cruisin’.” At last count, I believe I was up to 14.

    iTunes has, of course, rendered the entire collection completely obsolete. I hope it exists somewhere in my parents’ basement.

    Oh, and Pandora. I can’t figure out how Pandora knows me so well, but it might as well be holding up a boombox on my front lawn. Rarely does Pandora play a song I don’t like, and quite often it surprises me with one I never knew.

  13. Kip Tobin says:

    Will,

    You gotta get those volumes of mixes, dust ’em off and play ’em, see if they still hold up. I’m amazed at how much stuff I listened to in one personal era doesn’t really apply to the next one. Maybe they skip eras, and you’ll end up re-liking them at a later date? Dunno. I would hope that my musical tastes ultimately evolve to a point where I love pretty much everything I listen to and most of what I listened to.

    Pandora and Last FM and all of those sites are genius. The only problem for me is that I don’t really listen to music at my computer, due in part to the fact that I’ve never invested in those rather cheap but decent-sounding speakers with the subwoofer, and also because I can’t stand to listen to music in my face while I’m typing. It becomes too distracting. I suppose I’m in the minority here, and that we all listen to music for different reasons and in somewhat varied environs.

    Cheers.

    Kip

    • Richard Cox says:

      Writing to music has revolutionized the process for me, but I finally grew tired of sitting at a desk. Now I use a laptop in the living room, with the lights low and music thundering out of full-size speakers. You can mate iTunes with an AirPort Express and play your favorite playlists on your home stereo, with control right at your fingertips.

      • Kip Tobin says:

        That sounds great, but isn’t it just a way to wirelessly connect your Itunes db to your home stereo? I’ve seen this done but not with AirPort express. Looks cool though. When I finally get set up somewhere and have some positive cash flow, something like this will definitely be an investment for me.

        I actually find that I can only write creatively to certain kinds of classical music, gregorian and buddhist monk chants (okay, even George Winston works for me). Weird. Anything with words tends to distract the hell out of me. I am probably in the minority here, and for as much as I love music in pretty much any form and writing and reading, they don’t mix for me.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I find it difficult to write to music with lyrics as well. I need albums with very long songs or music that flows from track to track smoothly. I tend to listen to post-rock when I write, like the aforementioned Godspeed, Boards of Canada, HRSTA, M83, Mogwai, Valley of the Giants, etc. And Radiohead, who I can’t really classify, and though they obviously use lyrics, the music is amazing enough to overcome that in a writing setting.

          Gregorian chants…have you tried any of the 90s electronic music that made use of real and synthesized chants? It’s hard for me to listen to otherwise, but in a writing setting it works all right. Like Delerium, Enigma, etc.?

          Or try David Lee Myers and Tod Dockstader. Now that is some atmospheric shit to listen to while writing. And no lyrics anywhere.

  14. Excellent post. My lovely friends made me over a dozen mixed cds for my drive west last summer. It was kind of totally wonderful … partly cause they’re so good at the art of a mix.
    But sometimes they just made me cry. Which is why it #5 is so crucial in such situations.

    (ps – you owe me a story soon)

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Ha! Thanks for referencing an actual number and applying to a personal situation. I am glad you agree.

      And yes, I do owe you a story soon. I will clean one up and send it to you. Give me a few weeks, though, as all good things need the proper time.

  15. jmblaine says:

    This is one of those posts I’d have to
    do a mix-comment rant on
    because there’s so many things I’d want to address
    See, I love Kiss and the thing I so love about Kiss
    is that I Was Made for Lovin’ You is their best song
    while I am listening to it but then again so is
    Christine Sixteen & Deuce & Shock Me & Heaven’s on Fire
    and the other day I was listening to All American Man and I thought
    this is Kiss’ best song! I love artists that make me feel that way.

    Second, mix tapes are a the loveliest of ideas. You say mix-tapes and most
    people go awwwww because we love to get mix tapes and make mix tapes
    and in whatever form they come and go they should always be known as mix tapes
    and not mix sticks or mix flashes or whatever. If someone makes you a mix tape
    they put a lot of thought into it.

    Third, Love is a Mix Tape is an awesome and underrated book.

    Fourth – There was a slow jam mix tape back in the day that
    had Keith Sweat, Usher, Something for the People’s “My Love is the Shhh…..”,
    Maxwell’s “Fortunate”, R. Kelly’s “Hey Mr. DJ”, Prince’s “Shhh…” and Genuwine’s “Pony” that was
    the bestest mix tape ever for riding around late at night with the windows down
    and this post made me think of that and it is a sweet sweet memory.

    Fifth – Sister Josie deserves this honor and much much more. I’m only sorry I didnt get to it first.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Thank you sir, for the random, thoughtful thoughts. I actually thought quite a bit about you regarding making this mix, and intuited that you would comment on the KISS song aside. (I only know of Heaven’s on Fire and none of the other ones. I now know why –in part– you are such a devoted Klosterman follwer.) Also, when I made the mix for Josie, all these other readers started getting into my heads, like you, Duke, Greg, et al., and whether or not you’d like this or that song. I finally had to scrap this all-inclusive mix-to-end-all-mixes idea and just go with what I thought Josie would like. Having said that, if I were to ever make you one, it would be tough, as I know you are quite the funk, hip-hop and glam metal master (as well as a DJ).

      I was not aware of the Love is a Mix Tape book. I will check that out.

      I’m glad I beat you to it, cause I thought for sure you’d end up getting around to it at some point.

      They should always be known as mixtapes, although I find it extremely in congruent to hand some a mix CD and say, “Here’s a mix tape I made you.” I suppose that’s why the general term I used to deem it was simply “mix” without the ever-changing noun (thus making the adjective the noun, so it would never change due to the technological trends).

  16. Lenore Zion says:

    i was once playing Beach House, and the guy i was with accused me of listening to “lugubrious crap.” i thought that was really funny and then i had a crush on him for a while. that crush has not yet lifted. sometimes the right music combined with a perfect word equals crush for life.

    i love giving people music. seeing a person’s reaction to the songs that move me. i can see why this would be the choice for last day alive activities for your buddy. but if i only had one more day to live, i think after eating until i thought i was going to puke and smoking at least fifty cigarettes, i’d just kill myself and get it over with so i didn’t have to anticipate the exact moment death would occur.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      from what i can gather from afar, you seem to really like guys that give these seemy back-handed compliments or just act somewhat negative toward you in some way (like dancing with other guys).
      i would probably agree that Beach House could easily be considered lugubrious crap, as it does sound beautiful and late-night-ish to me sometimes, and just somnolent-inducing saminess at other times. so it goes.

      so you’d engorge yourself with food and vice and then erase your own map? apparently that anticipation would be too much. interesting.

  17. Marni Grossman says:

    I always put an Elliot Smith song on any mix I make. To be fair, Elliot Smith songs make up at least 1/6 of my iTunes library. As you might imagine, I have more than enough songs to compose a “Music to Cut Veins By” mix myself.

    What was on yours?

    • Kip Tobin says:

      That’s interesting. I only have Figure 8 and From a Basement on the Hill. I quite like that guy, though I never went off the Jeff Buckley-ish deep end that some do w/r/t him (Smith).

      My “Music to Cut Veins By” mix was actually a double entendre, having made the tape for a good friend of mine who was getting her MFA and had to write write write, and since one of the common maxims/metaphors they have for creative writing is to simply sit down and “open up a vein”, I thought it quite a enigmatic title for a mix that I hoped she would listen to while writing.

      I tend to always put on three singer songwriters on my mixes (with this particular mix being an exception, for some reason): Cat Stevens, 70s Van Morrison and any era of Tom Waits. We all have our go-tos in terms of staples.

  18. I LOVE giving people music. I gave a girl a mix CD once and she said ‘Oh, is it one of the ones where I should pay attention to the lyrics?’

    And I thought, that’s so cool. That she just asked.

  19. Greg Olear says:

    Another rule that I usually keep to: unless there’s some compelling reason (ie, “Brain Damage” into “Eclipse,” or an overall compilation theme), only one song per artist.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      you know Greg, I can’t believe I overlooked that rule. That is such an implicit, innate rule for me that I completely forgot to include.

      I kind of (but not really) take it a step further: when I make mixes for friends, which in the past three months has turned out to be about 6 of them, I never let one song on a mix go onto another one. The reason for this is because I tend to listen to them until I’m nauseous of the songs, so I make sure that the mixes I am making for others won’t overlap into other mixes.

  20. Greg Olear says:

    Oh, and there’s a funny song in Avenue Q called “Mix Tape”…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zzGOJAHH0w

    • Kip Tobin says:

      That’s a great song. It captures perfectly the ambiguity involved in making a mix for someone and how it can be received.

      Incidentally, I was going to say that Avenue Q is quite the theatrical and kind of cheesy group, then realized it was basically a Sesame Street copy – at least that’s what it looks like on their website.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Avenue Q was a Broadway show that was basically a spoof of Sesame Street. It is about as funny as funny can be — the songs (“Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “It Sucks To Be Me,” “You Can Be As Loud as The Hell You Want When You’re Making Love”) are riotous, and let me tell you, there’s no surer recipe for comedy than Muppets fucking. See it if you ever get the chance!

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Incidentally, Josie just wrote to me suggesting thus:

      “Oooo, I think an official TNB playlist is called for. Maybe you could make it an interactive thing. You could ask people to submit songs in your blog. That way everyone, even readers can make offerings. Then it could be used at all the meet ups. ha ha. Sounds fun.”

      That’s an idea. As I mentioned somewhere else on this post-comment board, I started out making Josie a mix of songs about writers and writing, but stopped because I don’t think it necessarily makes good music to write to.

      But her idea isn’t a bad one. If we got enough songs together – maybe one or two from each participant as to what song is the best to write to – it could be an interesting mix. I’d be willing to put it together, but am not sure how much response there would be.

      • josie says:

        I was talking about a TNB mix – not songs to write to per se. I did a research project a couple years ago about music and writing and I have an interesting list of the music people write too.

        – That’s a whole other thing than the representation of all the inmates of The Breakdown.

        • Kip Tobin says:

          Hey, um, that’s what I meant: a compilation of songs by TNB writers as to what the best songs are to write to. Or maybe not even with that theme to it, just a comp of the best-of TNB tracks.

          I was not suggesting that a bunch of writers write their own songs and we make a TNB various artists mix, although, if we could pull that off, it would be like hella awesome.

        • josie says:

          Writers tend to write to soothing quiet stuff when they’re working. What I mean by a TNBmix are song that represent the community. For instance, my theme song for this place is Dr Demento’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away”

          Ha ha, ho ho, hee hee

  21. Inés Pérez says:

    Hi there!!!

    Just loved your post, Kip!! I laughed so much with your comment in which you were considering a combination of Rammstein and Enya… :oD I have been doing mixed tapes and CD’s since I was 14 and regardless of Spotify, etc. I still do it from time to time, but with a closer friends and other animal selection, which nowadays I think this is more indicative of your love and/or appretiation towards them. I never dared to do a mixed CD for you, even if at some point I wanted, because it would be SO hard for me to find the best tunes combinations for you… (that’s why I preferred to make you a T-shirt :o) ).
    I remember the best mixed tape that was ever made in my case was once I was 15, and I was done after an acoustic guitar jam session with some friends in a loft in Madrid. After that session, we were so full of energy we spent the rest of the afternoon (evening and night) listening to some LP’s and writing down the songs and the order of appearance (Lenny Kravitz, Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin and many more). I kept that list with me and I made a mixed tape (actually it was four tapes of 90 minutes in total!!!) with the entire list for those friends with whom I shared that magic afternoon, and it was called “the love loft session” (since the theme was kind of “several hours of peace and music” :o) ). I keep those tapes since then and when I listen to them I can still remember which was the atmosphere when we were playing and listening to that music, as I had been there yesterday. In my opinion, this is the best way to keep a fresh memory for a feeling, a moment, a year.

    Besicotazotes,
    Inés

    • Kip Tobin says:

      I knew you would like that Rammstein comment Inés, as it they are one of your favorite bands.

      Your t-shirt(s) are both great gifts. I wore them both this week, and will wear them until the they fall apart. I also made a T-shirt once for a good friend of mine who borrowed Infinite Jest, that massive 1,000-page novel by David F. Wallace I kept going on about, and really liked it. So I had a T-shirt made that was the spine of the book. Simple, effective, enigmatic. Those who would see it and understand it would truly be in your automatic group.

      Music is incredibly nostalgic for us. I listened to “Kingdom of Rust” by Doves yesterday while in the gym, and instantly thought of driving down to Caceres with you listening to that song, and you saying you quite liked it. Funny, cause I’ve listened to that song at least 10 times but that’s the only time I remember, that I tie that memory to.

    • josie says:

      Murder Ballads?! That’s just what the world needs, a soundtrack for young serial killers to work by. EeeGads!

      There is something disturbingly pleasant about that song, like an old folk tune passed down through the generations in the Smoky Mnts or Irish pubs. lol I figured I just needed to add the moral in my mind at the end, “And this, ladies, is why we never dste a rake.” Then I can listen guilt free lol

  22. javier says:

    making a mixtape is fun but it is hard work, lovely and enjoyable hard work.

    I remember the mixtape you gave me when i was leaving to london and you did start it with vicarious by tool
    not only a massive tune but one of my favorite ones ever.

    still have it somewhere…

    This mixtape is really enjoyable, i’ve been listening at the office today, flows really well and had a few nice surprises in it, by the way… it took me a year but i now kind of like the animal collective, go figure…

    miss you brother

    • Kip Tobin says:

      it is almost always enjoyably hard work, though sometimes, as in this case, it gets a little too overthought and the product is less than the expectation.

      i remember that mix I made you, that it had quite a few heavier songs on it cause that’s you incline.

      i agree with you that animal collective is challenging band, and i do definitely like some of their songs, but can’t really get my head around their albums as a whole enough to say that “merripost crazy weather pavillion” is the best album of love-nine.

      te echo de menos también, javi.

  23. Megan says:

    Oh the depth you go into here is so admirable. Nostalgia-flavored.

    One of your mega mixes lived in my center console for like eight months and got whipped out on many drives to Austin before I sold that car. Now – I’m pretty sure – it lives in a box in my friend’s San Antonio garage with Dali’s biography and tax returns, which is to say, precious documents.

    Great job.

    • Kip Tobin says:

      Thanks Megan. I might have overdone the analysis of this, but I felt it needed to be done, as I haven’t read anything in this vein (on this site), and also found it be somewhat helpful in verbalizing my own little philosophy regarding the approach to grouping them.

      I’m glad the mix I made you ended up getting listened to a lot for about eight months. That was a good mix, though since I have since wiped my computer twice, no longer have that Itunes playlist, so I don’t remember what was on it.

      I’m also glad it’s stored safely next to a Dali bio and your tax returns, another further indication that it was successful (in fact, if I were to rewrite the criterion, I would put that in as an example to lauding).

  24. adam says:

    Well…as a person who recently recieved a mix from you I feel as though i should comment directly and say that i found the cover of Time that you included by Tori Amos was spot on as I am sure you recalled that was always my favorite Waits song, I also appreciated the nod from Neil Diamond…speaks well of your ability to mix it up.

    I fear my return salvo violated some of your rules, for instance love songs are just songs with love as the subject but I’d never tell someone I loved them with someone else’s words, I’d just tell em. I thnk platonic mixes should include love songs as in many instances they are some of the most inspired work done by artists. I’m always chasing the lyrical though so i suppose that biases my mixes.

    I still think a 40 song Dylan mix has some merit if done well (breaking into a big smile).

    • Kip Tobin says:

      adam,

      you make a great point, that about not applying the love songs tot the person you are giving the mix too, not misconstruing the placement of such songs on a mix. i guess my point was that the sheer number of them should be limited if you’re making it for a friend, as they can easily get misiniterpreted. i mean, if i had put 18 songs where the singer talks about how much s/he yearns for you, well, i just think it would be too much. but, your point is definitely taken, and considered.

      i haven’t properly thanked you for the rapid-fire return mix yet, either. that hasn’t happened to me in a long time. much appreciated. i will reply to your letter/mix with an letter (sans mix) sometime here soon, before you move to seattle.

      i meant to add yet another bullet stating that certain homogeneous mixes should be allowed for the sake of a very specific end, such as making a party mix (obvious), a seasonal mix (with lighter, happier songs for spring, heavier songs for winter, etc.), a sex/make out mix (obvious), a driving mix (with railroad rhythms), or a compilation of the best-of by a certain artist that you might give to someone in order to introduce that person to a great collection of their songs, or just make it for yourself because nothing out there exists. i still remember, have and listen to “Bob Dylan: There In the Air¨that you made me just before I moved to Spain. great mix.

      and, of course, your mix did not violate my rules, they followed yours, which is undoubtedly constructed by your own experience with music. i have listened to the mix once and found quite a few great songs on there that i hadn’t heard. thanks again for that. very much appreciated.

  25. Ducky Wilson says:

    Love making mix tapes. And I think getting a mix tape is super romantic.

    Thanks for #6, though I think you should have a girl on every mix regardless of the receiver’s gender.

    Fun read. Thanks.

  26. Kip Tobin says:

    Thanks Ducky. I noticed that for quite some time I only put male vocalists on there, so I made it a point to seek out good female-sung songs, and my music tastes have expanded ever since. I find that particularly in classic RnB is there a breadth worth discovering. Just discovered Laverne Bailey’s “Jim Dandy” the other day and, damn, what a song.

    I always included females regardless of the receiver is.

    thanks for reading.

  27. josie says:

    It took me several hours to upload the mix and go through each one of them while reviewing the lyrics. There are two interwoven themes that follow through brilliantly and often made me giggle. There are even a few puns and a nod to specifics here and there. The Weight is one of my favorites, I love the song the mix title comes from… and you remembered how much I love me a little Cash. Overall it was a homerun!

    …except for one little snafu…

    What the heck is The Rake’s Story doing on there?
    What are you trying to say, mister?
    I should sue for slander!
    But this public decree should do:

    Here Ye! Hear Ye!

    I am not a serial killer!!!

    I am a deep sea diver and will gladly sit down by the fire but ain’t never killed off my own off-spring!

    (Oh and editor’s note. I think #10 is actually To Kingdom Come, not Eyes As Candles.)

    • Kip Tobin says:

      That’s great, a positive laud. I will take it as a homerun.

      I must explain The Rake’s Story: I have never heard a song so dark and morbid. Nick Cave wrote an entire album called Murder Ballads –all about killing people– and no song on that comes close to the directness of this one. It comes from their new album which is a concept album, so it fits well into the cohesive whole of that album, maybe not here. Although I must say, any song which can reach the depths of this emotion is a pretty successful song. Mind you, I was not –in any way– accusing you of being a killer of your children. (In fact, I am not responsible for any of the lyrical content of any of the songs with regards to you and your life. Just thought you’d like the songs as they are.)

      Plus it´s just a rockin’ good tune.

      And you are correct, Josie, my song is mislabeled on Itunes. Weird. I had it as Eyes as Candles.

      Bad Itunes!

      Glad you liked it, and I’m even more glad that you sat down and gave it this much time, thought and research.

  28. Lisa Enright says:

    Kip–

    I got up the nerve to comment on this TNB post because, if you remember, I was once the lucky recipient of your ‘mixed’ magic. Usually, I am way too terrified that others will pity my poor writing skills, however, I had to make an exception for this article. Truisms 2, 4, and 8 are represented in ‘Kip-Hop.’ However, this CD includes something that you did not mention in your article. Something that made it all the more special. ‘Kip-Hop’ does not have a picture cover, but rather a very vivid description. I thought I would include it here because it really is amazing (hope you don’t mind):

    a sunday evening alone in Madrid with a cigarette and an elephantine terrace that overlooks southwestern Madrid. it is dusking and the sky panorama is a snapshot of the ocean in the peak of a storm. the ocean is the sky, upside down and frozen in a spec of time. nightmare grays and splotches of natural black revenge highlight the otherwise dreary ubiquity of the clouds. a rumble rips behind the dome. no rain, just the impending threat. somewhere, behind these eternal clouds the sun is setting. a thought comes to mind that it is always setting, at every moment, somewhere. At the same moment, it is also rising, somewhere else…

    Miss you tons, hope you are well.

    Lisa

    PS- Not sure if I ever got to tell you, but I really liked it (tracks 3, 9, 10, 15, and 18, especially).

  29. Kip Tobin says:

    Ahhh, Lisa. Ahhh, Kip-hop. I forgot about that one. I really shoud’ve started a DB of tracklistings of all the mixes I have ever made, because it would come in handy.

    I can’t believe I wrote that. Not a bad image I conjured up there.

    I miss you four-thousand kilos, too. In fact, if this temporary job pans out, I will be living in Tarrytown, NY, about 30 min from the city, and will make frequent weekend-trips there. And we shall reunite.

    Will keep you posted.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  30. Phat B says:

    I had no idea Aretha did a version of “The Weight”. Downloading now. My Dad and I have been playing “guess which song they’ll play at the end of House.” Last week it was Maggot Brain. Old man beat me to it. I knew it was Eddie Hazel, but I couldn’t place the track. My favorite mix tape in high school was Wu-Tang, Booyaa Tribe and Operation Ivy. We listened to that thing all summer, just driving around smoking cigarettes, trying to look cool.

    • Zip Bobin says:

      Phat B-

      I was looking for something by her other than the standars you always hear, and found this one on her greatest hits. Great stuff, especially the way her voice red-lines the levels when she hits the chorus with “Take a load off Annie…”

      An oversight on my part was not putting any hiphop on this mix. It also sorely lacks funk. The best mixes I’ve made include just a little bit of everything, and flow together so smoothly. This one stays pretty much in the folk and rock genres, mostly because I thought that’s what Josie liked. But then again, I really didn’t know. There is no doubt the mix could have been better, but then again, pretty much anything can always better.

      That’s a cool game you play at the end of House. I something not-so-similar with my dad, who listens to satellite radio 24/7 without ever changing the channel from 50s on 5, and the not so similar part is the fact that my dad is constantly listening to it and every once in a while I’ll ask, “Who’s this?” and he’ll tell me, and I will have discovered some new-to-me music. As you can imagine, my mom is starting to really hate 50s music…

  31. Mary says:

    Oh wow. I wish I still had the mix tapes from the people I used to know … specifically, there are three guys I dated during high school, and each one gave me a mix tape. One was clumsy but sincere and ended with a 15 minute segment of him just talking about things (us, our friends, his feelings, life in general), and it was hard to hear because he was making it at night in his mom’s house, and trying to be real quiet about it. The second was by a boy I adored flirting with but couldn’t get close to for reasons I never did pin down. I think he was probably too high to be much of a conversationalist, but boy was he hot. Anyway, he made this mix tape that was pretty much just right, except the case… instead of a list of songs or a title or a picture, it had a large metal washer scotch taped to the outside. The first song on that tape was “here comes the sun” because my friends at the time had taken to calling me Sunshine. The third tape was mediocre, but I’m sure that listening to it again would give me some insights into what the hell happened into that relationships. For one thing, the first song was some punk rock number about getting dumped. As you can imagine, it was an angst-ridden relationship.

    • Zip Bobin says:

      I think many of us Gen X and Yers are simply at a loss at what to do to express our emotions other than make a mix. And when we do, it involves all sorts of ambiguity as to what something may mean or not mean. In the end, a disclaimer would suffice to either say, “read into the lyrics in these songs and find the true meaning behind the mix” or simply, “don’t read into them.”

      the large metal washer taped to the outside is pretty cool, actually. definitely unique.

      • Mary says:

        The metal washer was definitely unique, as was the guy who gave it to me. That’s one person I would love to talk with again.

        The guy who gave me the first mix tape was my favorite, though. I don’t even remember what was on it, but he was truly a sweetheart. He was a Leo and a believer in astrology, so he had some cultivated lion-ish tendencies, but he was more like a lion cub if anything — cute, not quite sure what to do with his paws yet, obviously full of potential, though.

        P.S. Every time I type “potential” (unless I’m thinking really hard about getting it right), I type “poetential,” which I think is nicer, anyway.

        • Zip Bobin says:

          i like the poetential, too. certain words simply can’t be spelled correctly, this i know we all know.

          i am a leo and, while i don’t believe hook and line and sinker in all astrological claims, i do enjoy thinking about it, reading into it. i have the “Everything you need to know about astrology book” and sometimes reference that when i want to know two different signs tend to get along. it’s pretty (amazingly) spot on.

  32. D.R. Haney says:

    Kip (Lip, Flip, Slip):

    I have made many — and I mean many — mix CDs, and tapes before CDs, and given them away. I burned a CD for Zara and Simon just before they left L.A. — or I suppose I should say I burned two CDs, though they contained the same playlist; I didn’t have time to create one playlist for Zara and another for Simon.

    I’ve put, and continue to put, hours into getting the arrangement of the songs just right, since I think it’s important that one song lead naturally to the next.

    Still, it’s been said that people value things that have cost them something, even a dollar, over those given for free, and that undoubtedly must be true, since I know — and I admit this with some embarrassment — I’ve listened to the discs and tapes created for me less than, in the majority of cases, records I bought. So I wonder if the the same is true for those mix CDs I’ve made for others. I find it hard to go back and say, Hey, did you listen that CD? But I’ve done it, and people tend to lie about such things, not wanting to hurt.

    • Zip Bobin says:

      Duke,

      I knew it. It makes complete sense. I’m glad you are part of the subculture. I feel somehow a little more self-assured knowing this.

      I also neglected to mention a very strong ulterior motive I have for making mixes that usually end up being given to other people: they are also for me. As you stated, you end up listening to them more than many complete albums. The reason I never double-up a song in a mix (within about a six-month time frame, minimum) is so I don’t have to have songs repeated on mixes. I don’t mind having the same artists with songs from the same album, just not the same song.

      So yeah, we largely make them for ourselves, with the gift going to someone else as sort of a by-product.

      I sometimes think about writing in a similar fashion, i.e. I tend to reread what I more than other things, which makes me think that probably write as much if not more for ourselves than others or any intended audience (be them known or not).

      Thanks for you as-always insightful commentary, Duke.

      k-sl-fl-t-z-ip

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Actually, k-sl-flt-z-ip, I think it’s your commentary that’s truly insightful. I’ve gone back and listened to the playlists created for others, probably more so than those others for whom the playlists were (allegedly) created. (Does that phrasing make sense?) I also re-read what I write again and again. Vanity? But it seems to me more a matter of learning from my mistakes, if I can.

        • Zip Bobin says:

          i think it makes sense. you are saying that the you listen to mixes you made for noone other than yourself more so than the ones you did make for someone?

          i had to read that like 4 times for it to sink in, and i’m still not certain i got it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Not sure I get your rephrasing either. It should go like this:

          I want to make a CD mix for someone. I put together a playlist.

          CD is given to the someone. I suspect it isn’t played often.

          Meantime, I listen to the CD playlist a great deal. Hence, I listen to the CD (or in any case the playlist) more than the person for whom it was made.

          The remark was intended as ironic.

          Oh, never mind.

        • tip robin says:

          Okay, got it. phewww. Makes perfect sense now.

          I’ve made about five mixes for my brother through the past 10 years, and he’s only liked one song on all of them “If I can’t change your mind” by Sugar. Mind you, I don’t ask him, and before this last one I made him for his birthday in September I thought, what’s the point of making it for him if he’s not going to listen to them, or, more precisely, not like them?

          Yet I still made this last one, convinced that I could find some pop-country-slanting-but-not-pop-country, Jimmy Buffet-esque music that he would like. I even put 60s Cat Stevens and this extremely poppy song by Butch Walker that could easily be played on top-40-country radio called “Here Comes the…”. It’s really cheesy but catchy and not technically considered pop-country, so I can somehow stomach it. Plus there was a huge sense of “Oh wait, Trey will definitely like this song” when I first heard it.

          But, he has not mentioned it once since I gave it to him in September.

          I’ve listened to it about 10 times.

          So yeah, I see your point.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Very similar experience on my part. I put together a CD for my brother, wanting to turn him onto “cool” music, and he listened to it once in my presence, and I think he only liked one song on it, going by the the fact that he turned up the volume at that point and lowered it as soon as the song finished. And I bet he never listened to the CD again.

  33. […] Kip & Josie’s infinite […]

  34. benita canova says:

    oh honey i love every mix you ever made me but probably none better than my birthday mix with the ween song – i’ll never forget the high the first time i listened to it.

    speaking of high… i used to make tape mixes all the time. i’m sure i had no particular talent for it though i remember really putting a lot of effort into them. but if i’m not mistaken the last one i ever made was the day my mother died. i’d just come back from the airport and found out (although i knew) that she had died and i dropped a tab i had lying around the house and made that mad mix. it was easily the most meaningful i’d ever made and i listened to it for years in my car cassette player. who knows where it ended up. it just said mom on it. i wish i’d given it a tobin spin like another mom bites the dust but i just never thought of it.

    anyway i never got into making cd mixes – maybe it just seemed too easy. i think i’ll try to make one for you some day and since you’re the toughest critic i know it will take a great deal of thought. at least now i have some guidelines.

    i’m gonna download now.

    • Zip Bobin says:

      wow. that’s a story there benita that i would like to see to expounded upon. if not, your comment will suffice. “another mom bites the dust” is pretty funny, even if it involves your own the Moms. i hope that i can have that distance and ability to cope with it when it happens.

      i’m glad you’ve liked all the mixes. i wish i had the track listings still, as it would definitely help out in the event i make another for you at some point. i only have one, which is the c++ nonplussed mash that i sent you when you were down last year (or two years ago). i’ve only recently started keeping the tracklistings, so from here on out i should be good. problem is, i’m a little burnt out on making them at the moment, and if i study a doctorate, bye bye mix master.

      bye bye c++

  35. Erika Rae says:

    KipTipRipSip – Man. You have this down to a SCIENCE. I’m terrible at mixes. I would be the one to put Brick House in and mess everything up. Thank God you have made this guide. Also, Josie rocks. She deserves the coolest mix ever. By you. Not me.

    • josie says:

      Oh come on Erika – I’d love to get your mix!

    • Zip Bobin says:

      thanks Erika.

      I thought it was time to bust one out, given that it hadn’t been done on here, before. And Josie most certainly deserves more than anyone on here.

      • josie says:

        Awwwwww.

        Now I wanna bake you a cake or somethin’.
        To give back some of the sweet.

        • tip robin says:

          awwwww, thanks Josie.

          of course you know that’s totally unnecessary, as a true gift means not wanting anything in return.

          just do me a favor and do something really nice for someone else in the future. you know, pay it forward. that will more than suffice.

          cheers.

          k*

  36. Andy Johnson says:

    For a man who spent most of his young life endlessly producing meticulously-sequenced dj mixes to try and communicate a wide-array of different emotions, messages and wildly-overthought sentiments to friends, girlfriends and (very) small crowds, this post pushed all the right buttons.

    I don’t know whether it’s a reflection of, or a snook cocked at, the speed and composition of modern life and the overstimulated nature of popular culture, but nowadays, something as lengthily extruded as a mixtape is a piece of music in its own right. Maybe because, technologically-speaking, we’ve advanced to the point where we can, and do, do pretty much everything in life with an accompanying soundtrack—the more continuous and varied, the better—one song, or even an album of songs, is no longer ever enough.

    If an orchestra were to follow you around the streets on a flat-bed truck 24-hours-a-day, what would you choose them to play? Wagner’s rich, slowly-evolving ‘Ring Cycle’ or Strauss’ ‘Blue Danube’ over and over and over again? As background music to a life, a quick ten-minute waltz is going to have a harder time penetrating as deeply and as affectingly as an epic, expansive 15-hour cycle of operas. It’s like ‘The Wire’ vs. ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’.

    Despite the time it takes to experience and appreciate the full extent of them, there are several 1-hour-plus mixes that are just as important and resonant for me as one 3-minute Beatles record (including one that you turned me on to, Kip – a truly incredible, emotional, educational, seminal piece of work from James Murphy and Pat Mahoney). I think a mixtape can become as integral to your existence, and your relationships, as a single song.

    As ‘Tony Wilson’ says in Michael Winterbottom’s masterpiece, ’24 Hour Party People’, the medium finally became the message: Selecting records to ‘buy’ and to play one-after-the-other has become just as much an expression of creative ingenuity and cultural engagement as learning 3 chords on a guitar used to be, and just as important.

    For these reasons, and so many more, I would very much like to make an ‘answer track’-style response post to this post. And I will.

    Oh, and I still listen to Kok Rockin’ Beats, by the way.

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