bemine mixtape

It’s that time of year again, time to make a new mixtape! I know, I know, nobody makes mixTAPES anymore, they make iMixes or playlists, but I grew up in the 80’s and the tape thing is how it was done in the OLD days. So, like I was saying. Time to make a mixtape for your sweetie. Or maybe just an excuse to waste time downloading and obsessing over tunes. I love this time of year!

Now for the difficulty: the Husband doesn’t particularly WANT a mixtape; this is a man who feels like he hasn’t quite got all the good out of the great music of the 70’s and 80’s yet, and therefore he’s not quite ready to move on to the 90’s and above. I, on the other hand, am ready to listen to whatever was recorded yesterday, and can’t wait to hear what’s going to be recorded tomorrow. I love new music.

So, the process of making a mixtape for the Husband is a particular challenge, with many guidelines.

1. Mix 80’s pop/rock and new
First, it has to include songs or artists he’s already familiar with (Boston, Journey, George Michael, Yes, Chicago) mixed in with new artists and songs. That way he might “accidentally” hear some of the new music before he hits the auto forward key on the iPod.

2. Intro reminiscent of familiar music
The old/new mix works best if I can get a nice pop piano intro on a new song – he’ll think it might be a Billy Joel song and listen to a measure or so before realizing it’s new.

3. Skill over innovation
The Husband is highly musically trained, and he sings and plays a variety of instruments. He has great pitch, a great ear, and an ability and appreciation for superior musical skill. In making a mixtape he will listen to, I have to think singer/songwriters (Don McLean, James Taylor, Van Morrison, even Neil Diamond); I have to think David Byrne-style lyrics; I have to think Jackson Browne, Paul Simon. He will listen if I can get something in the mix with high musicality and skill level. He has to respect the artist.

4. Nostalgia, particularly boy-growing-up-in-a-small-town nostalgia
Lots of people like to hear something that reminds them of their youth. Why do you think Prince played Purple Rain at this year’s Superbowl? Because most of the people in the stadium were young adults when that song came out. In the Husband’s case, you should know all the words to Springsteen’s Thunder Road, at the very least. You should be conversant in Marc Cohn, maybe a little John Cougar Mellencamp.

5. Repetition, repetition!
If I can find opportunities to repeatedly PLAY the music I am trying to win him over to, the sheer fact that he’s actually heard it before helps a lot. I don’t ever just GIVE the Husband a mix, I give it to him AND play it for him. Otherwise it would just be irresponsible, like turning on the lights in a room nobody’s using.

SO, I start by gathering up a mid-size pile of music that I like. Then I try to listen to it with the rules in mind. Here’s where I started for this Valentine’s mixtape (no particular order):

Love of My Life, Queen
Love and Some Verses, Iron & Wine
I Fall in Love as Much as I Can, Robinella
Have You Ever Loved a Woman, Derek & The Dominos
Love Needs a Heart, Jackson Browne
Say Yes, Elliot Smith
On Peak Hill, Stars
You You You You You, The 6ths and Katherine Whalen
Make it With You, Bread
Songbird, Fleetwood Mac
I’ll Be There, Mariah Carey & Trey Lorenz
Diamonds and Pearls, Prince
You Give Me Something, James Morrison
Oh My Sweet Carolina, Ryan Adams
More Than Love, Los Lonely Boys
Magic in the Air, Badly Drawn Boy
Love You Madly, Cake

My next post on this subject will deal with my evaluation of these songs, and the next grouping. I know you can’t wait to see who gets voted off the island. Only five more mixing days till I-Heart-You day: stay tuned!

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