While The 500 is still in the midst of a Sommerpause, I thought I would catch you up on what I have been up to (about 5’10”) lately. I borrowed a cassette deck you can connect to your computer through the wonders of USB technology, and I have been digitzing old tapes. A lot of these are mix tapes I made for different occasions, mostly for trips, and it has been a lot of fun going through them. The digitization (is that a word)1 requires one-to-one recording, and the songs are taking me back as I go through each tape. I could recreate the tapes in playlists or on Spotify, so I am not bothering with splitting up the tracks. Instead, the tracks are merely “Side 1” and “Side 2.” Here is a montage of some of the tapes I have managed to save through the years.
- Core I is a tape my then tennis instructor made me when I was 14. Tennis, country club, hardcore punk music-what could all that lead to in the coming years?
- Core II is a tape I made in the same vein a year later.
- The Wis Stick Cool Mix is a collection of mostly British late ‘80s indie pop bands. I was freshman in college at the time and Wis was a cool senior. Most of the songs came from his collection. “Uncertain Smile” from The The is still a favorite.
- This is One Good Mix! was my attempt to convince my college friends that they should listen to my music instead of their trash. It was a reaction to many of my tapes being aggressively ripped out of the tape deck before the first song was over. I made a mix of classic rock with current college music. I think it did fairly well, and its existence today points to that. Nonetheless, I have long since quit trying to educate the rabble. Instead, I seek out either like-minded types or people who are genuinely curious about good music. You know who you are.
- The “Pilsgrimage” Mix was created on the occasion of me and my buddy Arne traveling across Germany and into Czechoslovakia and Hungary during our junior year abroad, which was spent in Freiburg. This was 1992, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and our ultimate goal was to visit the beer cities of Plzeň, where Pisner Urquell is from, and České Budějovice, where the original Budweiser hails. The Mix is a bit lacking, but the trip wasn’t. And the best train ride in the world is the one that connects Pilsen und Budweis (the German names of the two cities).
- Flood Relief is a tape I made to accompany me on a trip I made across the US after I graduated college in 1993. The trip took me from Spartanburg to St. Louis to Des Moines to Ft. Collins to Denver to El Paso to Dallas and home. I was visiting friends I had made during the aforementioned junior year abroad, and I got to see a lot of the country from the not-so-comfortable confines of my 60 horsepower Suzuki Samurai. I chose the title Flood Relief because of the major floods along the Mississippi that summer. The picture of the women fishing in the montage above was actually taken along the Ohio River right before it runs into the Mississippi.
- Traveling Tunes is a mix my girlfriend made me when I was getting ready to go do a three-month internship in Germany as a traveling salesman for a consumer products company. That was crazy and the tape is great. Amy has good taste in music.
- The Big Easy Mix (just add beer) was made when a friend and I took a Spring Break trip to New Orleans and then to Austin in 1995. Well, we added beer and were asked by the authorities to leave New Orleans. New Orleans! Us! Asked to leave! The tape is great, and that story is even better.
- The Roni Mix accompanied me and my buddy Arne (he of the Pilsgrimage) across Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary while he was interviewing for jobs. I was just along for the ride, and it was glorious. He eventually got a job with Commerzbank in Prague. The job included a lush apartment that was paid for by the bank. I visited him often from Germany as a result.
- The Rock n’ Roll Mix appears to be the last ever mix I made on an actual cassette tape. This was 1999. I can’t remember the occasion, but it is a strong, rockin’ mix. It includes possibly the greatest rock song ever written in “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” and here is Alajandro Escovedo doing a version of the original Stooges song. Peter Buck and Kevn Kinney, who I wrote about last week, are also on the stage of the Georgia Theatre in Athens.
Finally, the above list doesn’t include all of the mix tapes I have made for women through the years. I wonder if some of them are still floating around. I kept lists of many of the songs I included, which led me to making a 6-hour Spotify playlist I called Songs for a Girl. Enjoy!
What’s currently on my iPhone: The outstanding debut Homesick from Matrixxman, At First Sight Violets Are Blue by the 1980s Australian band The Stems, and Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat from the unwitting creator of House music Charanjit Singh.