Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mixtape Philosophy : My First Mixtape

Mixtape philosophy is front of mind lately. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, some friends and I have a mix "club" where we swap Spotify playlists. This week we started up on an unofficial round two. For me, making a mix is a long process. I'm shooting for January sometime, but I'm already collecting and corralling songs from my library and scouring digital samplers etc. for new material. Give it another few weeks and I'll be in full on obsession mode, working on song order and taking the tracks for test drives.

My mix madness started crica 1997-8. There was a show on PBS called KidsSongs that featured a cast of children producing a television show that ran music videos they made for oldies.

Already favoring oldies to anything else on the radio, I started bugging my dad to help me find some of the songs that I heard on the show since he'd been known to make many a mixtape. Over the course of a couple Saturdays, we put together two sides of a cassette tape, starting with original versions of songs ("Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day, "Sea Cruise" by Frankie Ford) that he happened to have on vinyl.

Beyond KidsSongs, the tape also went in a few other important directions as far as taste-making goes. After all, we had 60 min to fill. There were the songs that my dad picked out because he thought I'd like them ("Jackson" by Johnny and June Cash, "The Little Shoemaker" by The Gaylords, "Let Me In" by The Sensations). There were the songs that I requested because I already knew them ("Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons), or that I asked for because I wanted to hear more from the artist/group/style (The Temptations were the soundtrack to 3rd grade). I liked saxophones, so my dad picked out a sax instrumental. And then there was the lesson to be found in including the original (and somewhat underrated) Carl Perkins version of "Blue Suede Shoes" over the Elvis cover: Original and rare should be prized qualities in music.

Anyway, after digging up the actual tape, I took to Spotify to recreate it and managed to avoid any lame re-recordings, which was more challenging than you'd think. (I'm looking at you, Roger Miller.) If you're tired of your own memory lane, take a stroll down mine.

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