Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Love is a Mix Tape

My junior year in high school, there was a girl named Marilyn Murphy in my English class. I had been in a class with her before, but we hadn't talked much, just a little about music. It's because of her, really, that I now enjoy making (and RECEIVING) mix tapes. She made a tape for me before school started, but she liked it so much she kept it for a while to listen to. When she finally gave it to me, I was pretty excited to investigate and listen. And I knew I had to return the favor, and make her a tape.

Before M.J. got my mix tape ball rolling, I had only made mixes for myself, with two exceptions. One, for a girl I had a crush on, Stephanie Schreiber (now Brown). Her younger brother, Andrew, later taped over it. The other was for a dear friend, Mary Warren (now Jordan). We had been friends, dated for a short time, been best friends, then dated some more, then she dumped me (for the second time, ha ha), and we drifted apart. I made her tape during our "best friends" period. She didn't listen to it a lot because her car didn't have a tape player, but then for about a month, she drove a Chrysler Le Baron, which did have a tape player, so she made good use of it. I remember cruising around in the Arizona heat the summer of 2001, with Mary and her Irish friend, Sara, blasting my tape and feeling the happy glow that comes from creating something people enjoy. Mary was glad to have the tape. She said, "now I know what kind of music you listen to".

In that English class, I also met a girl named Susan Scholl. M.J. and Susan were good friends, and quite the music historians. Over the course of my friendship with M.J. I've made her about six mixes. I would tell Susan that I had made a new tape for M.J. and her response would usually be, "where's mine?" The thing is, she intimidated me with her music knowledge and taste! M.J. didn't, and I think the reason is because she made me a tape first! Around the time I was getting ready to leave on my mission, I started getting more serious about sucking it up and getting Susan a mix. So I started my potential song list. The idea for her mix was to, basically, psychoanalyze her, and make a story out of songs about who I thought she really was, which I felt was very different from what she presented to the world, most times. That tape never got made (probably for a good reason).

When I returned from my mission in November 2005, I started another potential list for her. I even made a CD of songs I was considering (in no particular order). Then last summer I saw Paul Simon perform on a morning show. He sang
"Graceland". I had heard the song before, but it hadn't impressed me much. But the lyrics about driving down the highway with his nine year old son, seeing the Mississippi river shining, just gave me the inkling for an idea. That inkling, mixed with the meaning of a few of the songs I had thought would go on the mix, became a loose plot of a movie. I had already experimented with mixes as soundtrack, so it was logical that Susan's mix would evolve into the soundtrack for this small idea I had.

The plot is pretty simple: a man and his son (somewhere around 9-12 years old) are driving to the Mid-West to visit the grave of their wife and mother. She had some sort of breakdown, and ran away a few months prior. She passed away in the mean time. Most of the film is about their trip, and whether or not they will choose to move on or not, and how one does that after such a traumatic thing happens. With all that being said, I have scenes and images for all the songs on this "soundtrack". I'm indebted for Susan for inspiring the emotional content of this mix, and the films of Wes Anderson for some of the songs and the imaginary cinematography of the imaginary film. So, here's the mix I made for Susan:

The Signs of Life

  1. Graceland, Paul Simon

  2. These Days, Nico

  3. Running on Empty, Jackson Browne

  4. Sugar Dumpling (original version), Sam Cooke

  5. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Paul Simon

  6. Imagine, John Lennon

  7. One of Us, Joan Osborne

  8. Revelation, Jason Faulkner

  9. Oh! Darling, The Beatles

  10. Kiss from a Rose, Seal

  11. Sweet Thing, Van Morrison

  12. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen

  13. The Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks

  14. We're Going to be Friends, The White Stripes

  15. I'm Coming Out, Diana Ross

  16. Different Drum, Stone Ponys

  17. Hey Ya! Mat Weddle

  18. God Only Knows, Switchfoot

  19. Ooh La La, The Faces

  20. Reservations (demo), Wilco

P.S. Read "Love is a Mix Tape", by Rob Sheffield.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007