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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Introduction and Mixed Disc #1: Victims Of Geography

Every guy thought that his barrage of mixed tapes would be the piece de resistance of his current courtship. There was no convenience factor when putting together a mixed tape. Recording a mixed tape was a lengthy process (if you did it right...c'mon now!). You thought, "There's no way that she won't appreciate this tremendous effort...She'll be mine for life!" Well the truth is it was a labor of love and no one appreciated the mixed tape as much as its creator.

Of course, now we're talking about burned CDs (or perhaps even just moving songs from her iTunes library into a "new playlist"), but a simple file transfer, in itself, doesn't quite have the same romantic essence as the mixed tape. It's the difference between a handwritten letter and an email...miles apart on the spectrum of passion. I know...I've created my share of mixes in the past 25 years. One of my very first mixed tapes went to future author Tara McCarthy. It even found its way into her 1998 book Been There, Haven't Done That: A Virgin's Memoir, a narrative sprung from Tara's journals about one hapless boyfriend after another on her search for love. Here I sit..."Ian Haviland"...early hapless boyfriend from the high school years. However, she was kind enough to me in the book...thank you Tara.

But I'm here to talk about my final mixed tape recipient, my wife. I've thrown her under the bus a few times in my writing; even the blog title is a reference to one of her favorite sayings. The truth is that Chelo loves good music as much as me. However, for her (and probably most people), music needs to fit the mood...there's certain music for dinner, certain music for dancing, certain music for downtime, and, often, silence is golden. I, on the other hand, can listen to anything at anytime. I can bang my head to Sigur Ros or fall asleep to Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Victims of Geography...10/2001
front cover
When Chelo and I began dating we lived 1,500 miles apart. We would talk often and visit about once a month. Also about once a month, a mixed CD left Oregon and made its way to Flagstaff, Arizona, and I'm sure that it was these slices of audible art that solidified my place inside her heart.  The first CD was titled Victims Of Geography...a phrase which I pulled from a Billy Bragg song called "The Only One"...chosen for our inconvenient living arrangements. Now, I said that burned CDs don't carry the same weight as a good ol' mixed tape, but that is not necessarily the case if you do it right. I thought I'd take a look at those discs again to remind me how wonderful my wife is and to make a killer 80 minute collection of music!

There needs to be a common thread throughout the disc. Ridiculous are those who slap eighteen or so unrelated songs together and call it good. "She likes those songs," you say...well then she probably has them already, onionhead. It's ok to give her a song or two that she already owns as long as they fit within the context of the art. Then, she'll hear those songs a bit differently forever more. The song selections on Chelo's collections are most often related by title. It's a rare occasion that songs with similar messages are the priority.

Click to enlarge
On Victims Of Geography, each song title includes a geographical place name. This disc was created way back in October of 2001, so we could come up with tons of songs that might've made the cut since that time. I'd like that. What songs would you put on the sequel? Read through the track on song titles to see videos when available...finally, add a song or two of your own that fits the theme in the comment section.

1. Welcome To This World<><>Primus
2. Mexico<><>Cake
3. London Rain<><>Heather Nova
4. Santa Monica<><>Everclear
5. Tennessee<><>Arrested Development
6. Shiloh Town<><>Mark Lanegan
7. The Girl From Ipanema<><>Pizzicato Five
8. U-Mass<><>Pixies
9. Livin' On The Edge (Of Houston)<><>The Reverend Horton Heat
10. Singapore<><>Tom Waits
11. Arizona Sky<><>China Crisis
12. A New England<><>Billy Bragg
13. Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago<><>Soul Coughing
14. Brasilia Crossed With Trenton<><>Bob Mould
15. Radio Free Europe<><>R.E.M.
16. Seattle<><>Public Image Limited
17. LA<><>Elliott Smith
18. Madagascar<><>Brenda Kahn
19. Norwegian Wood<><>The Beatles
20. New Amsterdam<><>Elvis Costello
21. She Went To Germany<><>Violent Femmes
22. Port Angeles<><>Flop
23. Donegal Express<><>Shane MacGowan & The Popes

Previewing this post, Chelo smiled. It made her want to revisit the disc. The power of a great collection of music is never least, so says the creator.

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