The Art of the Mixtape

Obviously I’m not cooking as much lately. Story time!

I started dating at 16, which is pretty normal. What wasn’t normal was that I was a freshman in college. Most guys on campus treated me like a kid sister (until junior year my nickname involved the words “jail bait”). But then there were those who believed age was just a number…

My first boyfriend was 20 at the time: four years older. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, this bodes well”, but I was too naive to have that level of forethought. While I would definitely characterize him as the first love of my life, I would also characterize him as a mess. For a long time (and admittedly, sometimes still) I had nothing but negative memories.

However, in cleaning out some old boxes the other day, I was reminded of something really good that he did. He had a fantastic music collection (seriously, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen) and like me, he collected records. When we met, my entire library was jazz and classical. He changed that, and for the better. He would make mix-tapes for me (ACTUAL tapes because my first car had an ACTUAL tape deck). And the impressive part? He made them from his vinyl collection. You could hear the needle dropping between tracks. He’d also attach pages of liner notes with facts about each band, or each song, or why he chose that song. Seriously, the man put time into this.

I found the one he gave me on our first date. I remember places I was driving when a track came on. I remember when I looked at the list for the first time and thought “I haven’t even heard of most of the artists, let alone the songs.” He introduced me to a whole category of music I never dreamed existed. He gave me exposure to some of my favorite bands. And maybe because for so long I’ve harbored so many negative feelings, I had forgotten how truly great these mixes and this gift were.

I no longer talk to this ex, and I don’t really want to start. I still have a lot of resentment and hurt. But he wasn’t all bad. And that’s what I should concentrate on. That silver lining. Those good memories. And the music.

So here’s the track list of that first mix tape.

Side 1

  1. The Clash–Rock the Casbah
  2. Q and not U–Fever Sleeves
  3. The Psychedelic Furs–Into You Like a Train
  4. Bob Marley–Redemption Song
  5. Bob Dylan–Mr. Tambourine Man
  6. Flatt and Scruggs–Salty Dog Blues
  7. Creedence Clearwater Revival–Proud Mary
  8. The Doors–Take it as it Comes
  9. The Replacements–Unsatisfied
  10. The Rolling Stones–Happy
  11. Cursive–The Recluse
  12. REM — So. Central Rain
  13. Simon and Garfunkel–Mrs. Robinson
  14. Johnny Cash–I Walk the Line
  15. The Four Tops–Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
  16. West Side Story–Gee, Officer Krupke
  17. Tony Bennet–From Rags to Riches
  18. The Ramones–She’s the One
  19. Elvis Presley–Jailhouse Rock

Side 2

  1. John Lennon–Mind Games
  2. The Smiths–Girl Afraid
  3. Frank Sinatra–I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  4. The Jam–In the City
  5. Ennio Morricone–The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  6. The Dubliners–Whiskey in the Jar
  7. The Beatles–Fool on the Hill
  8. The Cars–Just What I Needed
  9. Marvin Gaye–Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
  10. Billie Holliday–Stormy Weather
  11. The Lawrence Arms–The Revisionist
  12. Billy Bragg–A New England
  13. The Animals–House of the Rising Sun
  14. Son House–Death Letter Blues
  15. The Kinks–Till the End of the Day
  16. The Buzzcocks–I Don’t Mind
  17. Sam Cooke–Chain Gang
  18. Joy Division–Disorder
  19. The Byrds–Have You Seen Her Face?
  20. The Beach Boys–Little Honda

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