Wednesday, January 7, 2009

mix CDs

I've got mix CDs on my mind.

This Christmas, our second annual mix CD swap theme was "My Life in One CD" (and yes, yours truly was the brilliant mind behind this introspection and self-indulgence). The two rules were:
(1) no more than 2 songs per year of your life
(2) everything had to fit on one CD

It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do; I felt like I had been preparing for this assignment for years, deciding mentally "Oh my GOD THIS IS THE SONG OF MY LIFE!" multiple times a year. I used to get so violently attached to songs that I would emphatically declare, as I told my husband (hereafter known as Vee) recently about "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs, "I COULD LISTEN TO THIS SONG ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!"

So I ended up breaking even my OWN mix CD rules: yes, the songs all fit on one CD, but I was so CONNECTED to certain other songs that I still WROTE ABOUT THEM in the liner notes because I just couldn't separate them from THE ULTIMATE PORTRAYAL OF MY LIFE.

Vee and I got a really nice email from one of the participants in the swap who confessed something so blatantly obvious, I can't believe I haven't had the courage to say it myself: we all make mix CDs hoping someone will read between the lines and see what we are saying with our song selection, but the fact is that YOU HAVE TO WRITE LINER NOTES OR NO ONE UNDERSTANDS!

I thought back over the old mix tape days of my youth, and the HOURS spent picking out JUST THE RIGHT SONG, not just SONICALLY but EMOTIONALLY, and the severe disappointment when I THOUGHT I WAS ADMITTING SOMETHING REALLY PERSONAL and the recipient either (kindly) chose not to comment on it or else DIDN'T REALIZE IT. Why didn't I write liner notes explaining, even obliquely, why I picked the songs? Because you can't deny your emotion once it's been committed to paper, and you can always slink away if it's not reciprocated? Yeah, probably.

And then there's always misinterpreting songs. I don't mean by the recipient, I mean by YOURSELF. You know how embarassing it is when you get caught singing the wrong lyric to a song (and I'm talking about the days before and before everyone was printing liner notes with the words)? How about WHEN YOU THINK A SONG IS ABOUT ONE THING AND THEN REALIZE IT IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT ANOTHER.

On my way back from buying a box of Christmas cards for $0.69 from the Target after-Christmas-90%-off sale last night (which, coincidentally, I didn't even end up paying $0.69 for, since the old-ass woman who took 15 minutes to check my stuff out [I had 9 items, none of which needed any special assistance] DIDN'T EVEN RING UP ON MY RECEIPT), I was listening to "Voice Inside My Head" by the Dixie Chicks. For the first ten listens to this song back in the summer of 07, I definitely was INTO THIS SONG because I've always been obsessed with THE OTHER LIVES I COULD HAVE BEEN LIVING if X had fallen into place, or if X hadn't fallen into place, or whatever. So I was enjoying the song's message about how Natalie Maines needs to believe that she's supposed to be with her husband and her child rather than with this mysterious other dude who she broke up with ten years ago.

Except, as I discovered when I googled the song to read all the lyrics, THE SONG IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT A BABY SHE ABORTED TEN YEARS AGO, NOT A DUDE SHE BROKE UP WITH!

At least I didn't put it on a YOU'RE GONNA MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE mix.

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