Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mix Tapes - The First Editions

I remember the first time that I figured out how to make a mix tape. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. Stick a CD in the player, put a blank cassette in the player, push record and I could make a tape of all the music that I loved, and not have any of the songs I didn't like.

What a thrill!

Of course, I made a lot of mix tapes in high school, but by this time people were starting to cross over to burning CDs or just buying mp3s. I really wanted to get into this as well, but it would require having a computer that burned CDs! My computer in college managed to be one of the last that didn't have the burning capabilites built standard, and I couldn't stand that!

Thanks to many of my friends, I still managed to put together quite a good pile of CDs with songs that I enjoyed at that time in my life. When I look back at the song listings, I smile at many of the songs, and others I just shake my head, because I have no idea why I put that song on the CD.

I took a look at all my mixes from college and beyond and I'm going to share with you the top three songs on each CD. The reason for this is usually my favorite songs are right at the top, so I could listen to them right away. But I have developed a deep love for some of the songs that weren't placed in the top three, so I'm going to tell you my current favorite as well. A lot of these songs I still listen to today...but on my iPod.

Alternative 1 (fall 2003) 

What was going on: This was one of my first CDs ever created, thanks to a friend's CDs and computer. I was a freshman in college and liked a lot of her stuff, so she gave me free reign to burn onto CDs of mine. I wasn't too creative with titles at this point.

Top 3 Songs:
"We're In This Together" Nine Inch Nails
"Stand" - R.E.M.
"I'm Just a Kid" - Simple Plan

Imagine my mother's shock when she sees I have a Nine Inch Nails song at the top - she would probably freak out more if it were Smashing Pumpkins. (I remember her specifically telling us that wasn't good music.)

Current Favorite: "Low" - Kelly Clarkson



I don't listen to this song a lot nowadays, but out of all the songs on the CD, this is my favorite. Mainly for the first 30 seconds of the song.

It's All in the Mix (spring 2004)

What was going on: I was finishing up my first year and feeling pretty good about the whole college thing. I was craving new music so I put another group of songs on a CD for the summer back home. 

Top 3 Songs:
Theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Nerf Herder
"Teenage FBI" - Guided by Voices
"Crash Into Me" - Dave Matthews Band

This was the year that Angel - the BTVS spinoff - ended its run, and Buffy had ended the year before that. It's a fantastic song. However, there isn't much pep to this CD - it's largely very sad.

Current Favorite: TIE: "Wonderwall" - Oasis and "Out of My League" - Stephen Speaks


I couldn't limit it to one song, because both these songs are fantastic. If I had to save one of them from being lost forever, I'd choose "Out of My League" because the guys from Oasis are jerks.


New Folder (spring 2005)

What was going on: At this point I wasn't into quirky CD titles and just chose what the computer defaulted my playlist to be called: "New Folder." I had been growing a friendship with a few friends, plus I performed in The Scottish Play and had an absolute blast!

Top 3 Songs:
"Crawling in the Dark" - Hoobastank
"40'" - Franz Ferdinand
"Fair" - Remy Zero

When I burned this CD, somehow "Crawling in the Dark" didn't record its last second of music, so the version I own abruptly ends before the song does! I've gotten used to it.

Current Favorite: "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" - Colin Hay


This is just a gorgeous song. Garden State became one of those movies that transitioned me from my teens to my twenties, and this song is incredible. The guitar has such a full sound, which you don't sometimes hear. That Guy from the band Men At Work wrote a beautiful piece, and it hit me at just the right time in my life.

Clinical Rehab (spring 2006)

What was going on: I was in the middle of my clinical semester in college, where I would sit in on an elementary classroom one day a week. I wasn't too fond of my class - it was over 30 kids and a lot of unsettled bodies in one room - and I felt after many of those Tuesdays that I just needed a nap. Thus the title.

Top 3 Songs:
"Soul Meets Body" - Death Cab for Cutie
"DOA" - Foo Fighters
"Re-Arranged" - Limp Bizkit

Honestly, I'm not too thrilled with the top three here. I hadn't gotten good at selecting good music, so I simply selected music I recognized from the radio. (To be honest, this first CD was created at the Sam Goody in the Mall of America - when they let you put 10-12 songs on a CD for one low price!)

Current Favorite: "Fast Car" - Tracy Chapman



This one still speaks to me for the soul that it brings. There isn't that much to the song, but it's a fascinating story. The guitar is beautiful here.

Ultimate Junior Year Anthems (summer 2006)

What was going on: My junior year was done, and I was doing great. I was excited for the following semester, when I'd be student teaching, I had taken my first road trip with my friends (who really became my friends my junior year) and I was finally getting used to living in Minnesota.

Oh, I'll be the first to say that many of my CD titles are really, really stupid.

Top 3 Songs:
"Futures" - Jimmy Eat World
"American Baby" - Dave Matthews Band
"Sugar, We're Goin' Down Swingin'" - Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy, for whatever reason, just keeps popping back into my mixes from this point forward. I didn't realize how early they invaded my favorite songs. But this was their first song that I loved, even if I couldn't understand many of the phrases. ("A loaded gun conquest, cock it and pull it" was just a bunch of garble to me for a long time.)

"Futures" holds a special place in my heart because it just feels like a good song to wrap up the credits of a romantic comedy. I still feel that way.

Current Favorite: "Io" - Helen Stellar



Straight out of the Elizabethtown soundtrack - a movie that most people hated but really spoke to me. This song is so strange - only Cameron Crowe would have found it. I love the reverb and the gradual buildup that finally crests and disappears again. You can hear the last 30 seconds of the song only if you listen reeeeally carefully.

Practicum Therapy (winter 2007)

What was going on: My practicum was four weeks in a kindergarten public school classroom that I rather enjoyed. I just picked the title because it paralleled Clinical Rehab. Many of the songs were discovered while I student taught in Wisconsin. I needed a lot of music because I worked a lot that semester.

Top 3 Songs:
"Half Acre" - Hem
"Lazy Eye" - Silversun Pickups
"Solsbury Hill" - Peter Gabriel

I remember hearing "Hem" on commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance. Then I heard the whole song and realized she was talking about a half acre from Michigan, and I loved it even more. This is still in my top 20 songs of all time.

I also really enjoy the manic nature of "Lazy Eye," but after listening to the song hundreds of times, I still can't figure out if it's a man or woman singing the words! I guess it entertains me not to know, since I haven't Googled it to find out.

Current Favorite: "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" - Darkness



This song really reminds me of Queen in many ways, and it's just a rockin' out kind of song! I can't help but head-bang to it.

Summer 2007 - the Best Summer EVER (summer 2007)

What was going on: The spring of 2007 kind of sucked - I was going through some personal crises and I was not happy to be back as a student in a classroom. However, the summer after that semester - though I would no longer call it the best summer EVER - was pretty great.

Top 3 Songs:
"Somebody to Love" - Queen
"Ladies and Gentlemen" - Saliva
"Born to Lead" - Hoobastank

I enjoy looking at my song selections a few years removed and figuring out why I chose the songs I did. I managed to find a radio station during student teaching in Appleton that was more of an alternative and metal station. This led to much more of an edge to the songs on this CD.

Current Favorite: "Missed the Boat" - Modest Mouse


However, my current favorite is a much less edgy song, and the band Modest Mouse really was my college band. Some people had Phish, some people had DMB, but I had Modest Mouse. (Imagine my delight when I heard a new Modest Mouse song on the radio this week!) This was a top hit in the summer of 2007, and I not only heard it on the radio, but my little brother had/has the CD. I ended up owning the entire album myself eventually and used it for many study sessions - it's really great for that!



More fantastic music to come in The Second Editions!

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