If I’ve had the honor of making your acquaintance, I’ve more than likely made you a music mix – whether you wanted it or not. Because us music obsessives not only love our favorite tunes, we desperately need you to love them too. From the bedroom (cassettes) to the basement (cds), there is some wonderful, crack-like high when you’ve created the perfect mix. Bruce Warren’s Daily Dose last week got me thinking about The Greatest Mix Tape Ever Made. At last count, I had made 742 different mix tapes/cd burns (and yes I counted), but one shines brightest.
I should lay out my mix tape ground rules:
1. Only songs that I love – no filling out a theme mix with a less than stellar yet thematically perfect tune.
2. Tape must be started and finished in the same day.
3. Tape must be clearly labeled and titled.
4. All 30, 60 or 90 minutes must be used. This led to some unfortunate endings – you might say premature effectuations – of some great songs. This nasty little habit led to the term “Teek Tape”.
5. No pufdas.
6. No Grateful Dead. No Pink Floyd. Ever.
Some of my favorite mixes include career overviews for cult artists whose complete catalogs might be a little dodgy (Bodeans, Aztec Camera, Ron Sexsmith, Willy DeVille, Saw Doctors, Persuasions), the great lost breakup tape (including The Beat Farmers’ “Goldmine”, Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart” and Lyle Lovett’s “God Will” – god I’d love to find that one again) and my son’s initial mix entitled Sean’s First Mega Tape (including nuggets like the immortal Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out”, rehab superstar in training Aaron Carter’s “Life Is A Party” and power pop legend Matthew Sweet’s definitive version of the Scooby-Doo theme song).
Most mixes were merely compilations of current favorite songs anchored by one obscure song and unimaginatively named after that song – “World On Your Shoulders”, “Roll Around Heaven This Way”, “American Music”, “Boys Will Be Boys”, “Continental Kind of Girl”. Where have you gone Asexuals, Michael Hall, Violent Femmes, Gear Daddies and Elliott Murphy?
Many had themes – Soul Shots’ gritty mix of southern fried soul, The Challenge’s under heard personal faves (Northern Pikes, The Silencers, Flophouse and Barking Tribe – on second thought this one may wilt under further scrutiny), Chick-A-Boom’s celebration of cheesy but true blue 70’s AM pop (the title song, “Candida”, “Hot Rod Lincoln”, “Montego Bay”, “Rock Me Gently” – that one gets aired tomorrow), Single To Left’s subtle wordplay provides a collection of indie-type 45s (Lemonheads, Pavement, Superchunk, Sneetches, Green on Red, Mudhoney), while California Stars (Wilco’s title song, Bruce Robison’s “My Brother and Me”, the Mats’ “Hold My Life”) saluted my youngest brother as he departed Brooklyn for Hollywood.
But only one mix tape was begun at 8:30 am on 9/17/88, four short hours after the conclusion of my first date- a rave-up with The Stand at The Rusty Nail, natch, followed by breakfast at the Llanerch, followed by (deleted by censors)- with my soon (six years is soon, isn’t it?) to be wife and current Teenage Kicks t-shirt model.
So why is this the greatest? Two reasons. First, I never got up that early and second, can you believe this mix in some small way may have contributed to a knucklehead like me snagging a babe like her and it didn’t scare her off?
The Greatest Mix Tape Ever Made (aka 9/17/88 8:30 AM)
1. Steve Earle – Fearless Heart
2. Bruce Springsteen – Then She Kissed Me
3. Bruce Springsteen – When You Walk in The Room
4. Reckless Sleepers – If We Never Meet Again
5. Everly Brothers – Thinkin’ ‘Bout You
6. Bodeans – Angels
7. Bodeans – Still The Night
8. Van Morrison – Jackie Wilson Said
9. Marshall Crenshaw – Cynical Girl
10. Marshall Crenshaw – The Usual Thing
11. Marshall Crenshaw – Something’s Gonna Happen
12. Willie Nile – Can’t Get You Off of My Mind
13. Robert Palmer – You Are In My System
14. Anita Baker – Giving You The Best That I Got
15. The Beat – Let Me Into Your Life
1. Bruce Springsteen – Tougher Than The Rest
2. Bruce Springsteen – Crush on You
3. Bodeans – What It Feels Like
4. NRBQ – I Like That Girl
5. Joe Jackson – Kinda Kute
6. Moon Martin – Victim of Romance
7. Greg Kihn – Rendezvous
8. Willy DeVille – Storybook Love
9. Mink DeVille – Each Word’s A Beat of My Heart
10. Sam Cooke – Cupid
11. The Persuasions – All I Have to Dream
12. Terence Trent D’Arby – (What A) Wonderful World
13. Frankie Miller – When I’m Away From You
14. Paul Carrack – I Need You
15. The Fools – I Won’t Grow Up
By the way, 19 years later, this mix holds up remarkably well.