Bark: mixology

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Blog | No Comments

This post was originally published at Bark on December 15, 2011


if you asked my friends to identify the parcel of pop culture they think is most meaningful for me, you’d probably get a few (not totally inaccurate) responses: star wars (3-PO is atop my x-mas tree right now); batman (a frequently misunderstood/brilliant character); the music of the national, radiohead, or pearl jam; the mid-career novels of don delillo; or even the muppets.  but there is one pop culture touchstone which seems to trump them all: high fidelity.

it’s unconscionable how much time i’ve spent watching that movie.  yeah, i’ve read the nick hornby novel, too, but the movie (coincidentally?) set in chicago is the one i keep going back to:  when i learn something about actual relationships that i should have learned waaaaay back on my 57th viewing.  when i’m happily drunk.  when i’ve just been dumped by a girl.  when i want to hear to hear lisa bonet’s character cover peter frampton (the absence of which is a tragic oversight on the soundtrack album).

anyway, this week i returned once more to the adventures of my hapless hero, rob gordon (as played by john cusack)—primarily for his thoughts on what makes a good mix tape.  primarily because this past week i made a pretty damn good mix for someone, but (in the words of rob himself) “did not give it to them for personal reasons.”

(coincidentally?) a friend of mine who is a teacher recently received a mix cd from one of their students.  as in, the student presented the cd in the course of asking this teacher out to dinner.  before grades were finalized.  yeah—i know, right?  kids these days… nevertheless, i couldn’t help but reflect on the legitimacy of music mixes as a companion piece to communicating (like, you know, grown-ups do).  especially when using rob gordon’s opinion as a starting point:

the making of a good compilation is a very subtle art—many do’s and don’ts.  you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel.  this is a delicate thing.

obviously, even the best curated setlist is no replacement for real dialogue between people.  but is there still a place for a good mix when you’re talking about a developing adult relationship?  can a mix be thoughtfully compiled and presented as a meaningful aide to communicating?  or is it hopelessly juvenile to try sketching out real emotion by simply putting pop songs in a particular order?  maybe it should just be a nice gift to give to friends as they drive off into the sunset?

let’s take a poll.  use the comments section to describe the last time you made a mix for someone, including the relationship you had to this person, the occasion for the giving, and (if ye be so bold) the tracklist itself.  put it all out there for the world to see, you pathetic bastards.

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