Making Mixtapes For Girls

So this weekend I’ve been getting a music education. And by that I mean, I struck a deal with a colleague.

Apparently the deal was, she linked me to songs by Mariah Carey and Beyonce, and I died a little inside each time I pressed Play.

In return I got two of my best shots in – a boozy, depressed Alkaline Trio number and a downbeat but defiant Tom Waits effort.

This experience, along with a memory of a ridiculous bid to impress an ex-girlfriend that I remembered while out on a recent tune-filled stroll, has got me thinking about all those lengths I used to go to, to let the music do the talking for me.

Moe the simpsons declaring intentions

Everybody’s got their views on mixtapes – Rob from High Fidelity, Barney Stinson and his friend Not-Moby among others. But for all the tapes and CDs I made with romantic intentions, I still couldn’t resist including a couple of tracks that were more just ‘this is what I like, and you should like it too’. Not especially romantic, not especially friendly even – for every ‘nice waking up next to you’ there was a ‘this is a rock ‘n’ roll takeover’ that blurred the message somewhat.

But more than my insistence on enriching a special someone’s music experience with whatever I was listening to that month, comes the annoyance with myself for taking the lazy route. It may be that ‘all my favourite singers have stolen all of my best lines’, but looking back I wish I’d still exerted a little more energy in expressing my own true feelings.

VH1’s (hiding) behind the music

In everyday life just as in my life’s worth of mixtape-making, I have this awful habit of hiding behind pop culture, when I should just be expressing my raw feelings and emotions instead. Rather than making an accurate articulation of my hurt, or pride, or surprise, or affection, I immediately make a lateral move into an impression from that episode of Frasier where he bellows “I…am…WOUNDED!” instead of just saying it in my own voice. Instead of dealing with the feeling from my gut, I find myself reaching past it into my brain for an equivalent from TV or films because it’s easier not to admit it out loud.

But before that, I settled for the long and drawn-out efforts of filling up 74 or 90 minutes of CD or tape with a bunch of songs that said more about my likes than my feelings. That’s why, if you were the unlucky lady somewhere between 1998 and 2006, you were more likely to get Every Time I Die than Elvis – a generational thing, I can only suspect.

(Out of interest, how do young men and women make their intentions clear nowadays? A Spotify playlist doesn’t have the same done-it-myself level of care taken, and you can’t use all your different coloured pens to make a nice cover either.)

I was reminded of an early and embarrassing romantic gesture the other day; my head full of all that nonsense I mentioned up top, a song came on my iPod which made me remember one of the first albums I ever gave to a girl. Trust me, there’s nothing on here that makes you think what a romantic sod I could secretly be – I’ve checked.

But the fact of the matter is, she wasn’t particularly that type anyway, so even if I had dared to give her something that was of the more flowery variety than this post-hardcore classic, she’d have laughed me out of the room.

Back then, at the age of 17 or so, I was hardly likely to possess the emotional intelligence to say much beyond ‘thanks for paying attention to me, now can I see your boobs?’ (In fact, that could’ve been the title of the first mix I made.) I definitely didn’t have the confidence for it – talking to girls was never something for my Lurve CV – so in a way it was something of a rescue. To be able to hide behind someone else’s music to promote feelings that, if not genuinely shared by me, occupied a close enough space in my head that I didn’t feel like too much of a fraud for setting up shop next door.

While I’m glad that I don’t really need music now to tell someone how much I care for them, thinking about those CDs I used to burn in lieu of spoken affection does make me wish I’d tried a bit harder to express myself back then, so that maybe it wouldn’t be so much of an issue for me in the future.

March #13for2013 playlist – ‘Animals’

So I’ve been challenged by fellow blogger and lovely person Gem to create a playlist as part of the #13for2013. This month’s theme is Animals. While some have tried to introduce further concepts into the theme, such as Gem’s own attempt to make it educational by relating each song to a subject of the school curriculum, I’m feeling much lazier and instead will pick my favourite songs which feature either a particular creature or just the word ‘animal’.

I don’t have Spotify and, as such, cannot act like a hipster wanker in compiling a full playlist. I have linked from YouTube instead – almost all of them have video which is nice.

Rancid – Rattlesnake

I really wish one of my old punk bands had learned how to play this song, cos then I would’ve said how it’s actually about what a bunch of posers we are. That’s punk, right?

Nine Inch Nails – March of the Pigs

Top tip: if your mate’s band ever gets successful, don’t be a dickhead to him or he’ll write a nasty song about you.

Rage Against The Machine – Bulls on Parade

A harsh lesson in trusting the governmental war machine, or a fun reward for out-rocking Tom Morello on Guitar Hero 3? You decide.

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

I decided to go with the original over the Futureheads cover; although I’ll guiltily confess that theirs was the first version I’d actually heard.

They Might Be Giants – Spider

From This Might Be A Wiki: “Spider is the product of an idle afternoon messing with the sampler. Linnell did the voices, except for “must…stop!” which Flans added along with the cocktail bongos, horns and sound effects.” It’s a fun song.

Savage Garden – The Animal Song

Don’t you judge me. From the video it looks like the song was featured in a film which had Frank Jr. from Friends in it. I kinda wanna see that film now, whatever it is.

Blink 182 – Mutt

AKA The song from American Pie where Jason Biggs runs home to crack onto Shannon Elizabeth. You know the one. Incidentally, it’s a cool song.

The Housemartins – Sheep

I love the video for this song. I modelled all my dance moves on the little jig that Paul Heaton does. And that’s why I possess all the ladies.

The Maccabees – Pelican

One of those songs where a) you’re immediately struck by how awesome it is, then b) have to do a double take to see that it’s that same band who were a bit…meh…a few years back.

Underworld – Kittens

A nice little eight-minute ditty – it was either this or King of Snake, both of which help to make up an excellent dance album.

No Doubt – Spiderwebs

That’s right, there are other songs on that Tragic Kingdom album, so stop bogling to ‘Don’t Speak’ on repeat and check out…well, any other song on there really. Apparently this album had seven different singles off it, released over a period of nearly two and a half years. Christ, they must have toured the shit out of that album.

Reuben – Blood, Bunny Larkhall

And to top off my selection, my not-quite favourite song from probably my all-time favourite band. Lovely video. I’m starting the #reunitereuben campaign right here!

So, that’s my lot. If you fancy having a go at your own #13for2013, sling us a link to it using that hashtag on Twitter so that we can all enjoy your music tastes.