Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All the Songs I Know You Hate

I'm sure we all remember making mixtapes, or at the very least mixed CDs. Tapes were always the way to go. Something about the time it took to wait for the right song on the radio, or line up the needle just right, or to wait through the song previous on the CD just so you could press down the record button with just the right amount of hissy tape silence to separate the songs. There was always something about the clunk of the button that was more satisfying than the click-click-click of burning a CD. There was something about knowing how much time and effort you put into it, of thinking about the choices of songs, of thinking about the order. There was much more planning than making a playlist, listening through it a few times and changing the order before hitting the burn button.

Even the minor imperfections of the mixtape felt nicer than the crisp perfection of a CD. The hissing between songs, the pops of the magnetic tape (amplified by the pops on that record you recorded from), the barely audible clunk of the button used to stop the tape while you cued up the next song. Even the handmade liner notes felt better to make than the photoshopped CD cover you printed out. The little printer lines aren't enough to make you forget about pulling out all your pencil-crayons and making an incredibly personal cover, tailored especially for the one you made the tape for. Flipping over the sheet of shiny plastic/paper, you write the song titles and artists, being careful to mask your terrible writing so the person can read the song list. You though carefully about this, and a copy paste from your music player of choice just won't cut it.

Beyond just the songs you chose, the order in which you chose them is extremely important to you, especially since this was ordered especially for the one you wish to give the tape to. If you wanted Song A to follow Song B, the person has little choice but hit play and let the songs fall as they may. On the other hand, with a CD, they'll look at the song list (typed) and skip to their favourites. The effect isn't there. Every song was chosen with love and precision.

You then had deliver the tape to this person, and with any luck, they will hear it and realize exactly how you feel. And maybe, just maybe, they'll feel the same way.

Daniel Ledwell understands this. He sings soothingly, with a love and dedication that he has undeniably felt while picking out the perfect songs. He places all his hope on this selection of songs. "And if you think it's alright/can I come see you tonight?". Honestly, this is what we do with a mixtape, we put everything we feel into it, and hope it translates. Then the song ends, abruptly, like we hit the stop button just a second too early. But we "took the songs from the radio", so this was our only shot.

And it's these imperfections that we love about mixtapes.

Daniel Ledwell - I Have Made You A Mixed Tape

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