Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mixtapes Not For Johanna (teenage rant style)

So y'all know I like a good mixtape swap right? I'm quite into online mixtapes, as I feel like its perfectly suited to the whole mp3 revival of the single. Also the fact that my CD burner is fried, writing tracklists is boring and how expensive are blank CDs with cases theses days? I don't know, but I reckon they are more than 1 million blank CDs on a wheely spindly thingo.

Though of course we all miss the collage cover art (CDs were good for that) and the the "thinginess" of tapes. No jokes I have a drawer stacked high with tapes from the past decade - some are even spray painted gold. I will never part with them ever!

My friend Carew particularly laments the loss of actual mixtape tapes, because it was hard to skip tracks, and the listener was forced to listen to the entire mix all the way through in the order as the maker (he/she God of the Tape) intended it to be listened to - obviously with CDs/mp3s its easy to skip "dud" tracks. He also never made tracklists - so we really had no idea what were in for - sometimes I'd have to beg him for tracklists when even google wouldn't reveal certain songs to me for my portable mp3 listening pleasure. I've listened to some mixes so many times that even after years when I hear certain songs on the radio, I'm jarred that I don't hear the sequential mixtape song that I'm expecting right after.

He makes a fair point though, right? A mixtape is meant to be from someone you trust not to waste your time, and the point is to expand your music taste and be introduced to new things. Also that person has usually spent hours figuring out the order for maximum listening pleasure and mixtape flow x balance. Or is this just Carew and me?

A mixtape used to also be a way to seal a new friendship. I met a lot of people in my early 20s randomly talking about some band or song we both liked, and then a mixtape would confirm that we both had good taste in stuff a la Rob Gordon and we'd be best friends forever. Its weird to think about now but my oldest friends from my late teens/early 20s were ones I swapped actual tapes with.

Swapping mixtapes with boys I had crushes on always turned out to be a bit of a dud. They usually had crap taste in music and thought I had much the same. Joy! I also never made a mixtape to seduce - its too hard. I'm crap at pretending to like things I don't, and a faker mixtape is probably going to suck anyway - how do you know if its good or not, if you don't like it? I'm all for making mixtapes with someone else's taste in mind though - but it has to be filtered through YOUR taste. Its mixtape LAW dudes. You can't just go to Pitchfork and search for "cool hipster shit" or "obscuro disco track" and download and burn it - totally not the point - unless thats what you do to find music you like I guess?

I also hated making mixtapes worrying that people would think suggestive lyrics would "mean" something. This is a big problem for people who like a lot of slow jam R&B. Taking anything literally in lyrics is just a bit stupid right? The heightened emotion and drama of lyrics enjoyed by a listener is not meant to be automatically translated into action/thought. Otherwise everyone who put a plaintive folky song about feel crap on a tape would have committed suicide by now. Just because I through some R Kells on your tape does not mean that I want to do a young girl or you. It just means R Kells is jam!

I'm sure I could bang on forever about this subject, and it seems that I have a bit,  because all I meant to post was Sean Fenessey (a music critic who writes the keywords you search for on Pitchfork) has made some excellent mixtapes for you to download here.


Sara said...

Nice blog. :))
If you want, follow me and I'll follow you back. :))

steve said...

hey this is really good
if you want any feedback id say write more stuff like this

Samantha said...

thanks! i like writing these things when inspiration takes me - which is usually 10am Monday when I'm at work :/