Mixtapes: Part 1

My bathroom reading for the past week or so has been Cassette From My Ex which, coincidentally, was also the last new book I bought. I’ve always had a bit of a propensity for making mixtapes (for this entire piece just know I use mixtape as a synonym for playlist even though there are some differences) or lists of any kind and I purchased the book a few months before my trip to Asia. I guess I was feeling nostalgic about the past (when am I not feeling nostalgic?), and a collection of short stories about music, ex-loves, and mixtapes seemed mighty appealing.

I’ve made tons of mixtapes over the years. Mostly for myself, but there have been a number for other people as well. I have only received three mixtapes in return and all were from the same girl. We weren’t dating, but we had gone out on a handful of “dates” before deciding to walk down other romantic avenues. I can’t even remember if she had given me the three mixtapes while we were going on these “dates” or if it happened later when I was already back in the States. (I met her while living in Vietnam.) Probably it was a combination of the two.

I do remember that I only gave her a maximum of two mixtapes – and maybe even only one. Which, to me, is a clear indicator I wasn’t all that invested in trying to woo her since normally my mixtape output for a potential romantic connection is defiantly over-the-top. I imagine some girls may have seen one of my intricate mixes and the accompanying story (I usually wrote a long email or letter crafting a tale from the song titles just in case they couldn’t follow my bizarre frame of mind.) and thought I was completely insane, and to that I say, “Probably.” But I also didn’t particularly mind because I always was under the impression if a girl was freaked out by a simple thing like a mixtape or a show of affection than she probably wasn’t crazy enough to put up with me anyway and it would never work. This method allows us to cull away some of the chaff!

Anyway, since we were exchanging through the internet and iTunes can be a pain in the ass for sharing playlists, I followed up with her later to make sure the sequencing was correct. The order is of incredible importance in these things, especially if you are trying to tell a specific story. And, regretfully, when she told me she only tried to put two songs by the same artist together and the order didn’t matter much, I lost any of the last lustful feelings that still loitered in my heart.

The bells and whistles screamed and the smokestacks belched their poison and I turned away from her – literally and figuratively – simply because she didn’t place much importance on the sequencing of her mixtape.

God damn what an asshole!

Ah, don’t worry, there were other reasons too, but the non-sequencing was just another pebble dropped onto a quickly unbalancing tower.

Some of my other mixtapes live on in my memory or are still on my hard drive (I eventually learned how to transfer my full iTunes information to another computer) and a lot are bad and some are good and most remind me of a particular place in a particular time and when I was a particular person. Which is what any good (great) song or album or movie or experience should do. It should transport you right back in time when you first heard it or when you firstreally heard it.

One of my first mixtapes was for my first girlfriend, Caitlin. It began as a mix of songs I knew she liked before quickly turning into a mix of songs I thought she would like before quickly ballooning into songs I liked and, well, it would be pretty cool if you liked them too. Yes, I was a narcissistic sunuvabitch even back then.

The playlist was completely, unnecessarily long, and was not actually sequenced in any particular order. Over 500 songs of pop and rock and whatever else. God damn it was long, but it was also pretty awesome as we spent the entire summer simply playing that one mix whenever we were driving around. Whenever we stopped listening we could return to the playlist at another time and keep going forward. I think we got about two thirds of the way through when one of us hit a wrong button on my iPod or iTunes and mistakenly (and apparently irreversibly) randomized the entire playlist.

Muther fucker!

It was my first taste of being angry at something that really was very, very trivial. We tried listening to the playlist anyway, but I was annoyed at having songs pop up that we had already heard (I know, I know I was a child) and from the fact that we had lost our chance of completing our summer’s big music project.

And the summer came to an end and our cars sat for weeks in the college’s parking garage and the mix soon became just another unused relic of warmer days. We stayed together for a couple more years and I lost the mixtape when I switched computers and I pledged to try and keep my mixtapes under a 100 songs in the future (which I broke numerous times).

I have no interest in listening to a 500 song mix of songs from freshman year of college, but I do kind of regret not still having it. Everyone should have a couple things from their past to remind them how much of an idiot they once were. (Whether they have made any progress since then is still a matter of debate.)

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