Friday, August 27, 2010

The Great Twitter Mix CD Experiment #twittermixcd

Dear Internets,

If a stranger on the internet asked you to send your address in exchange for a mix CD from another stranger would you do it? If you're nostalgic for the good ol' days and you can somehow rationalize that tweeting with someone means they're trustworthy then yes, yes you would.

Remember the days of mix tapes? If you go way back to the beginning of time your mix tapes were taped directly from the radio, waiting patiently for your favorite song to come on, fingers posed on the record button. Later you moved to the high tech dual tape player (aka boom box) and if you kept with it, you might have even lived through the days of taping your favorite songs from CDs.

You made mix tapes for your new friends, for your old friends, for your new loves and your lost loves. You poured your heart into those tapes, the songs, the artists, the lyrics, the order of the songs all painstakenly toiled over. Should I start with an upbeat song or end with an upbeat song? Does this song reveal too much? Will it look cool that I know this song or reveal the inner nerd in me? Oh the agony of it all.

Despite all that, when I got a tweet from @joshgrimmer asking if people were interested in exchanging Mix CDs with total strangers I jumped at the chance. We sent our addresses off to Josh and in return he sent us the names and address of our recipients. Just like I did in those tween and teen years I agonized over every song. My Mix CD pal was a guy, which made it even harder. I didn't want to put too much "chick" music in my mix, so I chose an eclectic mix of a few of my all time favs - some Spoon, some Wilco, some Sufjan Stevens and some Radiohead. Some new favs - Phantogram, Avi Buffalo. With a dose of Sharon Jones to round things out.

When my own Mix CD package arrived in the mail I couldn't wait to listen. But I couldn't listen, because I was too busy being blown away by the care my Internet pal had taken in making my Mix CD. He included hand written liner notes describing every song. Here's a little snippet of the glorious descriptions that @KevinSemicolon included:

I don't know who wrote the "Shame," but I love two things about it: The crazy,
butt-shaking bass line, and the line "she cleans her nails with a paper clip,"
because if you've never that, you've never had a soul-killing office job.

After many listens my three favorites remain the same.
  • "Last Night I had a Dream" by Randy Newman. For 30+ years I thought Randy Newman's best song was "Short People". Simply put, this song rocks and in my mind Mr. Newman has redeemed himself from all those years selling out with sappy Disney tunes.
  • "Mexican Blue" by Jolie Holland. As a huge fan of The Be Good Tanyas, how did I not know about this song? It makes me sad and happy at the same time.
  • "I Don't Care Anymore" by George Harrison. With this song George is now in competition for my 2nd favorite Beatles slot - this is a coveted spot that both Paul and John have occupied depending on my mood. Sorry Ringo.

So was the great Twitter Mix CD experiment a success? Well, after mailing my Mix CD I waited, and I waited, but I never heard back from my Mix CD recipient. At first I was a bit bummed. I started second guessing my choices. Maybe I shouldn't have started the mix with Dan Bern, and maybe the Ben Folds Five was too expected and could he have taken The Clash's "Straight too Hell" too personal? But in the end I realized that I'm not in high school anymore. If a stranger doesn't return the affection I put in my mix that's really ok, after all, I didn't have to spend hours slaving over a hot tape recorder. I'll still listen to my favorite songs, and now I have a few more that I would have never known about had I not put my trust in an Internet stranger in hopes of getting something in return. And yes Kevin, I have cleaned my nails with many a paper clip.


Josh Grimmer said...

You didn't hear back from your person? I'm sorry, darlin'. If it's any consolation I love Ben Folds and "Straight to Hell."

So happy this worked out so well for you! Hoping to do another one soon.

KevinSemicolon said...

Hey Katy,

Great, thoughtful blogging! The music you like actually sounds a lot like the music I like (Radiohead, Dan Bern, Sharon Jones)—funny I didn't put any of that on the CD. I'm glad you liked the George Harrison song, it was killing me that I knew it existed but couldn't find a recording of it for the longest time.

While the CD I got was a little emo/metal-heavy, half of it was perfect. Of that half, at least three or four songs were stuff I'd never heard before and now can't imagine living without. (Have you heard "Shanty" by Jonathan Edwards?)

It was totally worth it to put our trust in a stranger. Thanks for writing this. I hope Josh gets the second round going soon!

Scott Riggs said...

I love the idea of a Mix CD and the sharing of passion for music as well as music discovery. I also dig the element of danger that a stranger introduces into the process. But, in my mind, there is nothing more powerful than taking the time to make a Mix Tape/CD/Radio Station for a friend.

You know them. They know you. And, if done correctly, each and every song pick could have a bit more intention for it's inclusion than "I like this song because..." It would be more like, "I love this song and I know you'll love it as well because..."

To clarify, I'm not being critical of the mix CD idea at all. I think it's awesome, creative and amazing that people are putting the effort to do stuff like this. Cheers to your friends for being creative and motivated. It's just that, in my mind, it's not quite as powerful of an experience as making one for someone you know.

That being said, Katy, would you like to make me a Radio Station? I've always respected your taste in music and would love to hear what you are digging these days (new, old, etc.).

KatyMcC said...

No worries Josh - I got the better end of the deal and would definitely do it again.

Thank you Kevin! I toil over these blog posts like I do over mix tapes so I appreciate the compliment. I'm a also a big ELO fan - I never knew if that's because of George's influence on Jeff Lynne or the other way around. I don't know if Jeff Lynne had anything to do with that song, but I like to think that I hear both of them in it anyway. I haven't heard of "Shanty", I'll be giving that a try, would love to know the other songs you can't live without.

Scott - would love to create a Radio Station for the great DJ Riggs. Can I share custom stations with you? How would one go about that? Lovin the new Ce Lo Greene song you can't help but sing along - it will for sure be part of my mix.

katymcc said...

no idea why my comment name is defaulting to "a little about my blog". damn these confounded internets.

Anonymous said...

Hey there. I know there's a chance you're just going to delete this thinking it's spam... But, that's the risk I take. I found your blog searching out others who like mix cds. I host a group of people who swap mix cds in the mail. There are easy ones (bands who start with The) or more difficult ones (scavenger hunts). But, if you're at all interested in this (or any others who read your comments) please feel free to email me at ccaplett at yahoo dot ca