There’s a scene in the novel High Fidelity, written by the ever-brilliant Nick Hornby, where the main character, Rob Fleming, is talking about making a mix tape for Laura, his at the time ex-girlfriend, at the very beginning of their relationship. It’s a fabulous scene, and as a maker of many, many mixes, I always get a giggle out of reading it. Because for those of us who take mix-making seriously, there are definite rules…
I spent hours putting that cassette together. To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and stating again, and I wanted it to be a good one, because…to be honest, because I hadn’t met anyone as promising as Laura since I’d started the DJ-ing, and meeting promising women was partly what the DJ-ing was supposed to be about. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mind,” but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artists side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and…oh, there are loads of rules.”
I love making mix CDs. Truly love it. I wish there was a job that involved making mix CDs for a living (oh, who am I kidding, there probably is). Figuring out how songs fit together, how they match up – and how they don’t – is magical for me. That’s part of the reason I do my seasonal mixes for my friends; hate to burst the bubble of the 75 or so of you who get the Krissie, but it really is a rather selfish endeavor. True, I like to help the artists out by introducing them to new people, but even more, I love the process of putting the mix together. There’s nothing like feeling like you’ve made a great mix. There’s a definite sense of accomplishment to it. When I make mixes, I make a playlist and dump songs into it as I build the mix. Then I listen to it in the car. Over and over again. And I know when I’ve got a winner when I keep wanting to repeat sections just to hear the way songs ebb and flow into one another. On a Krissie Mix, I always have a favorite “section” where it’s perfect to me. Rarely do I make a whole mix that I love all the way through, but there are occasions.
I spent a good chunk of today listening to a mix CD made by my best friend, Christy. Christy is an artist with mix CDs. Getting them in the mail from her is like Christmas every time. Christy’s getting married in the spring, and to me, it’s obvious that she’s madly in love when I listen to this most recent mix. There are songs about being in love, and being part of something, and traveling across the ocean (her fiance lives in Ireland; she lives in Georgia). I’m sure she was thinking about Andrew the whole time she was making it, and that makes it adorable.
When I was in college, my best friend from home and I used to make crazy numbers of mix tapes for one another. Thing was, I was madly in love with him; I’d like to think the feeling was mutual. I spent HOURS working on mixes for him. Choosing every song carefully, because the lyrics reminded me of him or because I thought something in the song would make him laugh or smile. And as much as I loved making mixes for him, the best part was getting his mixes. They were always so full of him, funny and eclectic. Because he hid messages in them, I knew, for me, just like I did for him. And there was a certain kind of joy in discovering them, one that sent my heart fluttering every time. Even after college, I’d occasionally get a mix CD from him. I still have every single mix he ever made me. And I’ll probably always keep them. They mean the world to me, knowing that he thought about me enough to sit down and make me a mix. I make a lot of mix CDs, but it’s been a long time since I’ve made one for someone because I was falling for them or because I loved them. Is there anything more romantic?
I so need a Rob Fleming in my life. I think I’ll start taking applications….