There is something uniquely personal about creating a mix tape, although there are perils in the enterprise. Of course I don’t literally mean “mix tape”. The use of actual magnetic tape went out with the aerochronometer and the autogrammatatron. Tape eventually gave way to writable CDs, which were in turn replaced by flash memory sticks. Recently these too have gone the way of the velociraptor.
The current fashion is to refer your loved one to a page on Facebook, with links to YouTube videos, since (as everyone knows) the proper way to show affection in the modern age is to steer one’s beloved to a social network, where they can admire your taste in music while selling their identity to a giant soul-sucking corporation that will forever track their every move and their reduce their very existence into a money-making commodity.
In modern times, this is what is known as “romance”.
Back in the old days, somewhere in the now distant “burning onto CD” era, I made a mix tape for a friend which happened to contain Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat”, followed immediately by the Gorillaz’ song “Clint Eastwood”. I know it’s an odd pairing, but it works. In fact, it works very well. In one of those magical confluences of musical alchemy, the first of these songs flows into the second with silken perfection. At the time I thought little of it.
The problem is that now, every time I hear “Famous Blue Raincoat” — in fact every time I sing “Famous Blue Raincoat” — I get to the end, with those poignant lyrics “… sincerely L. Cohen.”, and in my mind the Gorillaz song immediately starts up. I’m not complaining, mind you. I like hearing the Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood”. It’s a great song, and a fine example of its genre. But it sort of alters the mood, if you see what I mean. Imagine if every time you got to the end of “Pachelbel’s Canon” your mind were to suddenly jump into “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly. Would you ever be able to resist giggling uncontrollably at friend’s weddings? I know I wouldn’t.
But I’m counting my blessings, since things could be worse. In fact, there are serious worst case scenarios here. Imagine if every time you finished listening to Jeff Buckley’s recording of “Hallelujah”, you were to find your mind jumping to the Alvin and the Chipmunks version of “I’m Too Sexy”.
That would truly be tragic.