The Joy of Mixing

I love making mix tapes. Despite the fact that I've been using CDs for the past eight years, I usually still call them mix tapes. CD burning sounds .... painful, while mix tape suggests blending ingredients to make something tasty, or using bits and pieces to create an awesome aural collage. And that's how I approach it.

Mix taping is an art and a science. Art -- You're using existing materials to create something new for people to appreciate. Science -- There are rules and a structure.

I love the section in High Fidelity where Nick Hornby has his narrator explain the rules of making a mix tape. Have you ever read something and said Yes! This is exactly my philosophy on that subject, except explained much better! ? Well, that's how I felt when I saw this:

. . . To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. . . . 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 artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs, and . . . oh, there are loads of rules.

Thus, I found the Wikipedia entry on mixtape (they spell it as one word) to be fascinating reading.

More on this topic to come. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite mixes. No links -- you'll have to track them down yourselves.

Seventies Singer-Songwriters

1 — Under the Falling Sky — Bonnie Raitt
2 — Doctor My Eyes — Jackson Browne
3 — Raised on Robbery — Joni Mitchell
4 — Late in the Evening — Paul Simon
5 — Lowdown — Boz Scaggs

6 — Right Place, Wrong Time — Dr. John
7 — Wild Night — Van Morrison
8 — Lay Down Sally — Eric Clapton
9 — Old Brown Shoe — The Beatles
10 — The Long Run — The Eagles
11 — American Pie — Don McLean
12 — Horse with No Name — America
13 — Southern Cross — CSNY
14 — Into the Mystic — Joe Cocker
15 — The Weight — The Band
16 — Burn On — Randy Newman
17 — Fire and Rain — James Taylor
18 — Far Away — Carole King
19 — Tiny Dancer — Elton John


  1. Shannon Curfman does a kick ass cover of The Weight (I think it's the same song) on "Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions". At least, it kicks ass considering she was only 14 or 15 yrs old when she recorded it in 1999.

    I finally got to go to one of her shows 2 weeks ago, after waiting 6 years. She's playing "in your area" on my b-day. You should go!

  2. Speaking of mixed tapes...that reminds me of the tapes we made in Jefferson Hall! :)