As many readers already know, last week, I read Rob Sheffield’s memoir “Love Is A Mixtape.” The book got me thinking. Not about life or death or love or marriage. It got me thinking about mix tapes. During high school and college, making mix tapes was one of my two or three favorite things in the world. The entire process made me happy.
I like to be happy. And I like to try to recapture the experience of doing things that made me happy when I was younger. So, today, I made a mixtape.
It’s not an actual cassette tape. I’m pretty sure you can’t buy those anymore. (Though I do still have a boom box that plays cassettes. So if you have an old mixtape you want to listen to, come over and I’ll silently judge your musical taste while we listen to it.)
Today’s mixtape is an Itunes playlist, but I made it using the same rules I used to follow when making any of my excellent mixtapes.
1-Length- I used 90 minute cassettes to make mixtapes. That’s about twenty songs total, give or take. That’s the formula I decided to follow. Today’s mix is 20 songs long, collected in 10 song “sides.”
2-Format- The four most important songs on a mix tape are the first and last song on each side. The first song on each side needs to immediately pull you in. It has to start strong and be upbeat. The last song on each side needs to be an epic. In between, the mood of each side has to subtly slow down from the second song until the middle of the side, which features a slow/ possibly depressing song. From there, the mood picks back up until the 9th song on the side, which is upbeat and happy, until it ends with your epic of choice.
3-No repeat artists- It can’t be a truly eclectic mix if you’re repeating the same singer or group over and over again. Everyone gets the chance to earn one spot on the mix tape.
4-Themes- In the past, there were tapes that had one side for sunny days and one side for rainy days. There were tapes in which every song featured a woman’s name in the title. There was the alphabet game tape, in which the last letter in the title of every song was the same as the first letter in the title of the next song. Today’s tape doesn’t go quite so deep. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this, I didn’t want to get in over my head.
5-Bruce and Bob- Every tape MUST feature one Springsteen song and one Dylan song. They are the two greatest artists of all time. Why wouldn’t you follow this rule?
6-Not the hits- Don’t pick obvious songs. When possible, grab a deeper album cut. It provides a little variety for people and makes the girls think you know about music. Then they want to talk to you about music. Then you get nervous and make an awkward joke and the girls don’t want to talk to you about music anymore. But for that one fleeting moment… YES!
So, here’s what I’ve got for you. I would suggest you recreate this playlist on your Ipod right now and play it while you go about your day. Maybe put it on while you’re reading this week’s Sports Illustrated. Its guaranteed to make you happy.
1-American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The greatest opening of any song in the history of rock. There’s no way you can listen to the first few bars of this song without at least bopping your head. If you’re alone, you might even dance by yourself for a couple of seconds. There is no better way to start doing whatever your doing.
2-My Only Offer by Mates of State. Another song that starts with an infectious beat. And it transitions the mix quickly from a classic rock hit to a lesser known modern band. It also adds a female voice to the proceedings.
3-What They Do by the Roots. This is the first rap song I ever really liked. We can thank SCP reader Ethan for that. He played it for me at the lunch table one day during our senior year of high school. It’s inclusion at number 3 helps up change up genres (always important,) while also gradually slowing down the tone of the tape.
4-Sara Smile by Hall And Oates. You’d be surprised how well these two songs blend. Maybe its because both the Roots and Hall and Oates are from Philly. This is Hall and Oates first hit. It’s not upbeat and synthesizery like most of their 80′s songs. It’s kind of a slow jam. It’s side one’s equivalent of the panty dropper.
5-100 Years by Blues Traveler. This song always makes me think of a sunny day. It’s slow, but hopeful. It helps us bridge back into faster paced songs.
6-It’s My Life by the Animals. This is here to appeal to the kid in your dorm who listens to records. It lets him know you have an appreciation for the roots of rock. Also, it’s a great old time rebellion song that helps us speed things up.
7-Carpetbaggers by Jenny Lewis. Sort of a modern take on the same theme. Jenny Lewis is joined by Elvis Costello, who, instead of singing his verse, yells it in his Elvis Costello way. We get another modern female voice but we also get a song with a very definite toe still dipping in the pool of old school blues.
8-Higher Love by Steve Winwood. Wow! Where did this song come from? Everyone remembers it from the 80′s. It makes everyone smile. Cheesy? Sure, a little. But when you listen to it again all these years later, it’s not quite what you remember.
9-A-Punk by Vampire Weekend. Nothing too scientific here. It’s just a fun song to listen to. And it helps us bring the mood to a fever pitch right before our epic side ender
10-You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. A near perfect song. The choir helps lend it that epic air we’re looking for. The acoustic guitar starts out slow before the entire band sets in and speeds things up. It’s the mood we’ve been trying to set on our entire side condensed into one song.
1-Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers. Last week, I described this song to John as my favorite “first song of a walk,” song. So, hit play and start head out on your way.
2-Ain’t Good Enough For You by Bruce Springsteen. This isn’t run of the mill Bruce. This is masters class Bruce. It’s a song he wrote in the late 70′s but never released until the past couple of years. It’s an almost direct homage to the pop music he grew up listening to, with a quick pace and fun lyrics.
3-Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. Another one for the ladies. It’s slow, it’s romantic it will make the girl you’re driving home after high school think you’re deep.
4-Patience by Guns N Roses. And this is how you get your buddies back on your side. Its just as slow as the previous song, but it’s Guns N Roses, so your guy friends will stop making fun of you in the back of the car. YES, I HEARD YOU DOING THAT!
5-Dirty Work by Steely Dan. Slow, but with a soulful organ. And it sounds different from anything else on this side.
6-Your New King Size Bed by Death Cab For Cutie. A little bit faster. A little bit more modern. And, for my money, Benjamin Gibbard writes the best lyrics in the world. Every song paints a clear mental picture.
7-Embassy Row by Pavement. Starts out slow, then begins to rock. Bizarre and amazing throughout. People either love Pavement or hate them. Including this song helps you seperate the wheat from the chaff among the people you’re hanging out with. It also helps us transition back to faster paced songs.
8-Lawyers, Guns and Money by Warren Zevon. A fun, fast rock song with lyrics that tell a ridiculous story.
9-Best of You (Live) by Foo Fighters. This is the version from the live album, “Skin and Bones.” It’s always good to fit at least one live song on a mix tape. It adds a little more energy to help carry us to our grand finale.
10- Visions of Johanna by Bob Dylan. It’s my favorite Dylan song. It opens with a long wailing harmonica note and goes from there. It tells a tale that you can kind of follow, but still fill in your own facts to make it tell your own story. And when it’s over, you feel like Bob’s given it his all. He’s ready for a nap. And maybe you are too.
S.L. Price writes about Ray Lewis’s ability to rehab his image and head into retirement as one of the most beloved athletes in the NFL. Someone made the point on twitter this week that Ray Lewis was involved in a double murder and is beloved by writers, meanwhile Barry Bonds took some “dinger medicine” and is considered worse than Hitler. That sums it up just about perfectly.
Heir Force by Tim Layden
Leading up to the BCS Title game, everyone said this would be a defensive battle that wouldn’t be entertaining to casual fans. Well, that sold me. I didn’t watch a second of it. Seems I made the right choice. This game sounds like it was no contest from the start. Instead, that night, I watched an infinitely more enjoyable NBA game between the Knicks and Celtics. It was tight and chippy throughout and ended with the now infamous KG-Melo incident. Garnett reportedly angered Carmelo Anthony by saying Anthony’s wife’s vagina tastes like honey nut Cheerios. This strikes me as odd. If you’re gong to insult someone, wouldn’t you pick a less delicious cereal. “Your wife tastes like Bran Flakes,” or “Eating her snatch is like choking down dry granola!” That’s how I would insult someone. By the way, I did not read this article.
The Signs Say Superbowl by Peter King
I didn’t read this either, but not because I wasn’t interested. In this case, I went to read the article Sunday morning, only to see that King had predicted a Broncos/Packers Superbowl. Both teams had lost the day before. Why bother reading it, then?
Work in Progress? Scary by Jim Trotter
Trotter profiles Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who is bad at basketball but tries hard to get better at football. He seems like a pretty generic character.
Hello. My Name Is Thomas, And I’m a Falcons Addict by Thomas Lake
Did anyone else expect Lake’s brother to die some horrible death in the middle of this article? I figured that must have been the point. Why else would you waste so much space in a magazine detailing how you and your brother like a football team? And why does it start like this:
If you’re like me and my older brother…
Shouldn’t it be “My older brother and me?” Yes. It should.
Point After by Steve Rushin
Guys shouldn’t take losing so hard. Whatever.