Thursday, July 17, 2003


Thankfully, we have Hallmark for the emotionally uneloquent. There are millions upon millions of people who just can't find the right thing to say, so they spend $1.75 saying it for them. It's an incredible business (just ask the Stone family), one that never has a bad season. There is always a holiday, there is always a birthday and there is always, always, always an occasion for me to screw up and a need to apologize thereafter.

But while sometimes you may care to send the very best, other times, you want to send the bestest. And a mix is like that. Because a mix is impressionable and eternal. Moreover, a mix has a practical use other than just sitting on your fireplace and winding up eventually in a drawer because you feel too guilty about throwing it out. [If you remember, ages ago, there was a musical card fad which went nowhere fast. Because it attempted to combine both useless and annoying and God knows, we already have a great deal of that in our lives]

The first mix that I made for someone else was for a girl (obviously). Not just any girl, though. She was my first serious girlfriend. While I had had a few in school, I never had one that was so "meaningful." Over the span of two years, this girl and I dated off and on and I created about 12+ mixes for her. On the rare occasion, I made her copy them for me, so to this day, I still have some of them. Needless to say, in retrospect they are embarrassingly bad. Not like retro-cool embarrassingly bad but just senseless. Like a Long Island teenager from the late 80's had gotten her hands on Casey Kasem's exclusive album collection and put a cheese platter on cassette.

A random sampling of Mix #2:
Out There Somewhere - the Moody Blues
I'll Get By - Eddie Money
Unforgiven - Metallica
Silent Lucidity - Queensryche
The One - Elton John
Lift Me Up - Yes
Glory of Love - Peter Cetera
Round Here - Counting Crows

Painfully, it goes on for at least 14 more songs. I am trying to spare you here by stopping.
While some of those songs, in their individuality are acceptable or even great, together, this was a hodge-podge of mush. And at the time, I may have wanted to relay a mushy sentiment but now, in retrospect, I think I was a massive dork. But that's fine. She wanted a massive dork and I was, as it appears, more than happy to comply.

After that relationship, I began listening to "better" music ("better" is in quotes because while it is better for me, it may be not better for you). I used that quarter you gave me and finally bought a clue. I attended small venue shows, checked out small obscure bands--sometimes, even by myself-- and consumed a great deal of new sounds. My ears were disoriented. They asked me why they no longer heard from Peter Cetera.

I had a close friend, Sarah, who was spending her year studying abroad and she asked me to make her a mix. I sent her one (all you have to do is ask) and she loved it. Well, that's because it was good. I put thought into it, I sat down and simmered over what this girl would like to hear and I put it together in a High-Fidelity format (start strong, keep your pace, third song-slow down a bit, then pick up again, etc). I didn't just rely on walking up and down the aisle of a card shop looking for amusing-yet-touching banter.
Eventually, I began making Sarah almost monthly mixes. I was her Music Ed. instructor and she was climbing the proverbial gym rope.

Some time later, I met a friend of hers who attended this school with my Sarah. This new acquaintance had revealed to me that the girls of the over-seas school had taken all the mix tapes and selected certain songs from them and then, made that into a master mix. They called it "Arye's Greatest Hits." So I asked her, so you mean to tell me there are random girls walking around with copies of my mix?
And she said, yes.
Ahhh, the life of a rock star.

What fascinates me about making a mix, as mentioned before, is eternity of it. Songs that I or someone else introduce you to, are forever associated with the introducer. Even though I may not keep in touch with the mix-receiver, they will think of me every time they pull out the dusty cassette (now a CD-R) from their closet. They'll put it on and think, hmph, whatever happened to Arye? That is more potent than any photo or any memory. In fact, this girl--the friend of Sarah's--didn't even know me but she knew my music. She may have attended concerts of bands that she found out about merely because I made her friend a mix. She might have gone onto sending someone else a mix with the bands I introduced her to. The path of her life was forever changed by one "silly" mix tape. Dramatic? Sure. Accurate? Yes.

The truth is, it's selfish. I love making mixes for people. In fact, just this week I made two. One for a co-worker and one for myself. The co-worker's mix was all up-beat summery songs (all mixes have themes. My greatest one yet: The Autobiography Mix which told the story of my life through music). Over the years, I've made hundreds. Naomi has three (or four). I made one for Ilana, two for Alisa, seven for Christy, one for Sarah...I even made one for Jonathan Safran Foer (a long story). The thrill of introducing someone to a band or to new music is addictive. It's also one of the reasons I love writing about music.

And here is my proposition: Because you're here and because we love one another, I am making you an offer. Email me the sort of music you're into, the type of sound you enjoy. Or a theme like "Sunday morning coffee mix" or "Saturday night drinking 40's mix"...and I will make one for you. As soon as I can (which may be a week or two depending on requests (HA!) and my busy social life (double HA!).

Yes, I will put a choice collection of finely selected songs on a tape/CD for you. And if I'm not lazy maybe I'll even design the cover. Hey, I'm good like that.


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