Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mixed Tape

I don’t run (or trot) with tunes for a few reasons: 1). I like to hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, 2). the rhythm of my breath keeps me within a comfortable pace, and 3). I have not been able to find a set of ear buds that will actually nestle into my ears.  On the other hand, a workout on the dreadmill can be so mundane that I find music almost 100% necessary.  
The other morning I peeled my body out of a snuggly position to hit the dreadmill.  I’ve started to put some music on my iPhone and had a few choice albums to keep me moving.  I hooked up my phone to the speakers and started on my way.  Of course, there was at least one full Beastie Boy compilation and after I heard the first live song I took the player off of shuffle and just played that entire album. 
Beastie Boys – my favorite artist.  Their music has pulled me through some darkness and kept me in the game.  They’ve been a part of my life for over twenty years (damn, I’m getting old).  So many of their lyrics can spawn personal stories and reflections.  Well, that’s what I’m going to do right here.
“I feel like a winner when I make a mixed tape.”  Great lyric which can be found in the first verse of the Flute Loop.  If you’re never heard the song from their Ill Communication release back in 1994 (!) I highly recommend a Google on this one.  Even if you’re not a fan of their flowin’ prose* the repetition of the flute riff (hence the title of the song) is enough to get your body movin’*.  I couldn’t get that line out of my head - I started to think about mixed tapes. 
Being in my cold, dank basement reminded of me sitting in the unfinished basement of one of my childhood homes.  My Dad had his weight bench all set up in a small corner and he would jam out to Aerosmith, Journey, the city bands (such as, Chicago, Boston), Styxx, The Police and of course, his all time favorite, Bob Dylan.  Dad can’t hold a tune to save his life, but man, can he play a mean air guitar!  I remember hanging out while he lifted, admiring the mix of music blaring from his new boom box (which, I believe, just died a few years ago).  I picked up each tape case to see the name of the artist, the song and it’s accompanying album thoughtfully printed on the insert. 
The release of blockbuster movie soundtracks like Rocky and Top Gun proved that these compilations were not only key for jamming out, but they became the ultimate mixed tape.  Seriously, folks, who hasn’t worked out to classics like, “Danger Zone”, “Eye of the Tiger”, “You’re the Best” etc.  As time passed, newer bands, such as U2, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen were introduced into this melting pot of sounds. 
I vaguely remember Dad creating his mixes and I soon applied the same methodology when making my own.  Damn, it took a lot of time and research.  And back then, for the younger kids out there, we made mixed tapes from tapes, or worse, from a record.  Do you know what a record is?  In most cases, I was in my bedroom, sitting on the floor, surrounded by a large grouping of tapes.  Some of these tapes were mine, but most were Dad’s.  After all, he had one hell of a collection! 
My first few batches were all for my enjoyment until I started to branch out into the art of creating mixes for my friends and then my beaus.  In some cases I needed the assistance of the radio to capture a song – talk about time intensive!  The sound was never the way you envisioned it, but the point was made.  It became another jam on your menu of tunes.  The start and end of every song sounded like a hiccup or a made a ‘bluurrrrppp’ due to your quickness of pressing the record/pause button simultaneously or the pause button to end the recording.  CD’s made the process SO MUCH EASIER!!!!! 
But, as technology advanced, the time and thought behind the creation regressed.  A lot of the mental motivations behind the music were repressed since there is more capability at our finger tips.  We shared music with Napster (before the legal intervention), emailed songs and purchased our favorite one hit wonder from iTunes.  All this without discovering the ‘B side’ of things; honestly, folks, how many times did you buy a record to tape JUST FOR ONE SONG?  In this era of digital music we don’t need to make a mixed tape, even for ourselves.  Create a playlist and put it on your MP3 player, or throw six CD’s (closer to being obsolete) into your car changer and put that bad boy on shuffle.  Six CD’s isn’t enough to feed your focus?  How about you put your entire collection on your MP3 player, plug that into your car and you’ll be entertained for 45 days 13 hours 45 minutes without any interruption?  OR BETTER YET, check out Pandora and create your own radio station based on an artist preference.  See where that takes you.
Insert breath here.
Skipping ahead to today.  I’m sitting in my office importing some CD’s into my music library so I have them on my phone for my dreadmill workout.  I’ll definitely happen upon some songs that stink and I’ll just advance to the next song.  After writing this post I don’t think that I’ll look at my music collection the same.  Here’s what I do know, the Beastie Boys are due for another release.  It was supposed to be last Fall, but was pushed back to the Spring.  If they actually release a hard copy I’m all over that. 
*Beastie Boys. “Flowin’ Prose”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
*Beastie Boys. “Body Movin’”. Hello Nasty. Capitol, 1998.
Kenny Loggins. “Danger Zone”. Top Gun Soundtrack. Columbia, 1986.
Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger”. Rocky III Soundtrack. EMI, 1982.
Joe Esposito. “You’re the Best”. The Karate Kid Soundtrack. Casablanca, 1984.