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.