Most everyone who’s an obsessive music fan – like many of us here – has to have a connection to High Fidelity:
Either the book,
If it’s not in your vernacular, you’ve got to get into it.
It’s essential. At the level of The Big Lebowski for being quotable and a great shared cultural artifact.
Among many memorable scenes is this exchange between Rob, a record store owner (John Cusack in the movie), and one of his employees Dick (Todd Louiso). Dick has stopped by Rob’s apartment to ask if he wants to go to a Marie de Salle concert (who Dick describes as a “post-Partridge family, pre-LA Law Susan Dey, but… umm… black”).
He notices large stacks of LP’s all over the floor, and stops in his tracks.
Dick: I guess it looks as if you’re…
Both (in unison): Reorganizing your records…
Dick: What is it? Chronological?
Dick: Not alphabetical.
Dick: No. F’ing. Way.
Rob: Yep. I can tell you how I got from Deep Purple to Howlin’ Wolf in just 25 moves.
Dick: Oh man…
Rob: If I want to find the song Landslide, I have to remember that I bought it for someone in the fall of 1983 pile, but didn’t give it to them for personal reasons.
Dick: That sounds…
Rob (cutting in): Comforting.
I do not remotely have a huge record collection like Rob.
But I have spent the last five years practicing a form of musical autobiography.
Whenever I can, I like to have music playing.
While I’m at work. While I’m cleaning up around the house. While I’m taking a walk around the neighborhood.
I have music in my life quite a bit – it’s really part of who I am.
(OK, we’re all tnocs-ers… no surprise there…)
Here’s the thing: even when I’m not actively listening to something, I pretty much ALWAYS have a song stuck in my head, playing on repeat.
And to my good fortune, it’s something I like 95% of the time.
Sometimes I get those annoying songs I hate stuck in there, but usually it doesn’t last long. Like this past December, I sometimes found my head going toward those annoying Jennifer Coolidge Old Navy commercials, “hashtag sorry not sorry.”
I love you, Jennifer Coolidge, but those commercials are too much! #sorrynotsorry
Anyway, starting back in 2018, I decided to keep a spreadsheet of the songs that got notably got stuck in my head. Then at the conclusion of the year, I made a YouTube playlist “mixtape” with some of those songs.
Since then, it’s been a tradition I’ve kept up, and I just completed my 5th one for 2022.
I don’t play them on the “mixtape” in any sort of specific order – I just take the songs from the spreadsheet and try to make them flow reasonably well.
It’s always a mix of genres and eras – from the 1960’s to recent releases. Seems like there are themes every year – artists who stood out above the rest or genres that jumped up in my listening habits.
And of course, after I make my mixtape, it’s in constant rotation for at least a month.
It’s like comfort food. Some of the songs may be literally memories of childhood – for example, on the 2021 mixtape, I have Sneaky Snake by Tom T. Hall, which I remember as my very first favorite song, back when I was a preschooler.
The teachers at Kiddieland preschool in Clarksville, Tennessee, would play that for us – back when my dream job was stunt man!
Some of the songs are songs that really kick me in the gut – e.g. Tile by Tile by Alvvays on this year’s list (coincidentally, also Scott Lapatine’s song of the year). Or some are more like a punch to the stomach, like Slaughterhouse by Chat Pile – also on this year’s mixtape.
I share these mixtapes just among very close friends and family typically, mostly to complaints or generic praise.
They are not for everybody – really, they are for an audience of one:
I do not give any thought to any other person’s like or dislike as I’m constructing the mixtape. I like to think that you could get some insight into my mental space in a particular year by listening to a mixtape, but I’m not sure anybody is interested in that.
At the end of the day, is it just some sort of mirror or a form of masturbation? And even if it is, is that such a problem? It’s something I really look forward to making at the end of every year – trying to order the songs, to make them flow. (Not claiming to be good at this either honestly – I think my mixtape skills are “mid” at best.)
And to encapsulate my year of musical taste in one place – to make a mixtape that I will remember and will remind me of the year in question.
Maybe a song here or there will remind me of some event in my life, but they mostly live on their own plane in my heart – stirring my melancholy, tugging at my nostalgia, making me want to dance, or just filling me with something large and inexpressible. (Seriously, listen to I Love Your Smile by Shanice – and tell me you don’t want to smile yourself.)
Anyway, I’ll share the mixtapes here in case you are interested. I can guarantee you that you will find something you’ll like… and something you’ll hate on every year’s mixtape.
Unless you’re me. In which case, it’s wall-to-wall gold!
Grimes and Tennis
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