Mix tapes are on my mind lately. It started when my friend Mandy let me borrow Ron Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape. If any of you lived passionately through the music of the 1980s and 1990s, remember popping a cassette in your boom box to record songs off the radio, or ever spent hours making someone the perfect dramatically structured mix tape, this book will have you turning the pages for more. I read the entire book in about six hours. Sheffield has the brilliant ability to transform events into metaphor unlike any recent writer I've read. Such a treat of a book, especially for this Big Star-loving girl.
I take mix tapes rather seriously. I can't help it. I know it is only a mix tape, but I have heartily accepted my abnormal zeal as one of my many OCD quirks, and I am just fine with it, thank you. I construct a mix tape with equal parts emotional content and dramatic structure. It is essential to mix tape construction to order songs where a natural exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, resolution occurs. Freytag, you even haunt my OCDs. Damn you, theatre education.
I've made some mighty fine mix tapes in my day. The Collected Works of Elliott Smith for my friend Janet stands out as my finest. I distinctly remember getting a "DAMN GIRL" from her after she listened to it. You're welcome, my dear. I made it for you because I care.
Mix tapes can be the words when language fails, introduce an entirely new band or genre of music and provide multilingual superpowers with a few well-played strums of the guitar and beat of the drums. They are better than a card and sometimes easier to process than conversation.
Below is my first mix for the blog. Sunday night George Jones was on American Routes radio podcast. His conversation about Texas country and honky tonk reintroduced me to the country music of my childhood.
Country music was on the radio as we hopped through the pasture in the farm truck, at every family get-together, at every dance and at every wedding. As a child I was mesmerized at the skill involved in two-step dancing. Especially two-step dancing at a big German-Texan wedding. After the first keg floats and the reception guests are good and hammered, the men grab their women and scoot to the dance floor. There is a beauty in the grist of cowboy boots to sawdust and the graceful spinning of two people during the bridge of a song. If the dancers are lucky, they won't spill one drop of beer from their cups. Even better if someone refills it for you mid-dance. Ultimate nirvana when you get so tipsy you don't care who sees you smooching like newlyweds.
If any of these songs play at a wedding, you'll see me spinning on the dance floor, holding on to my partner and gracefully swilling beer.
This mix is especially dedicated to my husband. No one makes dancing more worthwhile.
"I Always Get Lucky With You" by George Jones
"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" by k.d. lang
"Honky Tonk Man" by Dwight Yoakam *I want to see this man in concert so bad it hurts.
"Good Hearted Woman" by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
"Any Day Now" by Ronnie Milsap
"We're Gonna Hold On" by George Jones & Tammy Wynette
"Give Back My Heart" by Lyle Lovett
"Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That" by Dolly Parton
"Forever and Ever, Amen" by Randy Travis
"If I Needed You" by Townes Van Zandt
"Why Not Me" by The Judds
"Right or Wrong" by George Strait