Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mix Tape: the art of cassette culture

Play it: Thurston Moore's Love Mix
Play it: Warning: Sensitive Pussies Should Not Listen To This Awesome Set Of Ditties, by Ahmet Zappa
Trying to control sharing through music is like trying to control an affair of the heart -- nothing will stop it. - Thurston Moore
mix tape: the art of cassette cultureThurston Moore (Sonic Youth) recently put together a love letter to the past called mix tape: the art of cassette culture, which talks about and compiles mix tapes from various artists. With the advent of technology, making mixes has become so much easier: the iPod, the CD-R, and, of course, the easiest to share, Rhapsody. Mix tapes took a long time to make, giving it an edge in sentiment.

One passage from the book that I found most interesting, was the analog vs. digital argument, dealing specifically with what Moore calls the ear-heart. Essentially, digital (CD's, MP3's) is a definitive wave sound, whereas analog is not... so the first time you hear a song digitally, it's imprinted in your memory, and repeated listenings brings back the same imprint. Analog (tapes, vinyl) is an imperfect playback that your ear and brain fill in the blanks for.
Analog has the mystery arc where cosmos exist, which digital has not reined in. We used to listen to records over and over and each time they would offer something new because the ear-heart would respond to new resonations not previously detected. It was like each kiss had a new sensation... ...Anyway, a cassette rocking at normal bias will bring healing analog tones to the ear-heart. Trust me. You won't crash.
- Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore's Love Mix is one I think he made specifically for the book. When coming across a love mix tape with nothing but New York Dolls songs [You Best Believe I'm In Love (L-U-V),] Moore wonders whether this is more a love letter to oneself then to a prospective lover:
I asked one mix tape maker this question. He claims that when making mix tapes, love songs included, they are pretty much for himself first. Sure, he will pass them on to his amour for a Valentine, but he primarily made it because it's the music that kicks his own ass. Is there a desire to convert your lover into you? Why not make a mix tape with songs you know your darling likes, regardless of your own tastes?
- Thurston Moore
Warning: Sensitive Pussies Should Not Listen To This Awesome Set Of Ditties, by Ahmet Zappa, is another one that might've been made up specifically for the book. Explaining the impetus for the mix, Zappa says:
This mix is filled with the power of rock and is fueled by Satan himself. If you dare listen to the fine music I have assembled, you'll instantly be transported back to a time and place where people snorted coke off Nagel paintings, and lopard-print spandex camel-toes gave young boys instant erections.
- Ahmet Zappa
One of my favorite mix tapes I remember making was for Mary Lou Lord when we had a brief fling. I remember it had all the music that was blowing me away at the time: Nick Drake, Big Star, Ride, Guided By Voices, Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub, Silkworm, Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Freedy Johnston - and I brazenly snuck in one of my own songs at the end of side B. We were going to exchange tapes back and forth, but she got busy touring and never got around to finishing one for me before she moved on to someone else to make mix tapes for. She said she liked it, though... I think it's romanticized in my mind as a great mix because I can't listen it now, nor probably concretely recreate it.

Years ago I made a couple for my eventual wife that we still have lying around someplace, and I need to look them over again. I'll try to resurrect one and post it later. I remember the best one of those began with Buffalo Tom's "Mountains of Your Head" but I draw a blank after that, other then I remember it was songs that I thought she would dig, which is my modus operandi on these mixes.

Do you have a favorite mix tape you remember making or receiving?

More:
Art of the Mix website
Automatic Mix Tape Generator

Thurston Moore interview on NPR (Listen w/ RealPlayer here.)

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5 comments:

drake leLane said...

Thurston Moore's Love Mix

* "Love To Love You Baby" - Donna Summer
* "Love Comes In Spurts" - Richard Hell & The Voidoids
* "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" - Barry Biggs
* "Love Is All Around" - The Troggs
* "Love Is All You Need" - Israel Vibration
* "Love-Itis" - J. Geils Band
* "Love Shack" - The B-52's
* "Where Is The Love" - Donny Hathaway
* "Hey Love" - The Delfonics
* "I Love Her All The Time" - Sonic Youth
* "Love Building On Fire" - Talking Heads
* "Love Is A Battlefield" - Pat Benatar
* "Let's Talk About Love" - Celine Dion
* "My Love" - Petula Clark
* "One Love" - Bob Marley & The Wailers
* "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" - The Darkness
* "Gimme Some Lovin'" - The Spencer Davis Group
* "So Much In Love" - All-4-One
* "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" - Rose Royce
* "Addicted To Love" - Robert Palmer

drake leLane said...

Ahmet Zappa - Warning to Sensitive Pussies

* "Lick It Up" - KISS
* "Shake Me" - Cinderella
* "Voodoo" - Black Sabbath
* "He's A Whore" - Cheap Trick
* "I'll Wait" - Van Halen
* "Goodbye To Romance" - Ozzy Osbourne
* "Looks That Kill" - Motley Crue
* "Finger On The Trigger" - Enuff Z'Nuff
* "Denim And Leather" - Saxon
* "Big City Nights" - Scorpions
* "Can't Wait" - Foreigner
* "Still Of The Night" - Whitesnake

Anonymous said...

I once made a mix tape for someone going on a road trip (travelling across the country) that was called Handclaps Across America - every song on it featured handclaps.

A lot of Spoon songs to be sure.

mgrooves said...

my girlfriend gave me that book as a surprise; it rules. i just made her a mixtape (my first in 4 years on an actual cassette) as a thank-you.

drake leLane said...

Yeah, it makes a great coffee table book... the mix tape is such a great time capsule, and while they made great gifts, I often wish I could get some of them back.

Entourage even recently reference the mix tape. Mix tapes were always such a personal experience, I'm still surprised when I hear it referenced to this day.