Thursday, April 26, 2007

Daisy recently read Heavy Metal And You by Christopher Krovatin and I picked it up because of the paragraph she quoted: "There are certain rules that apply to mixes, of course. Always start them off well - the first couple of songs are incredibly important. I personally preferred starting with a catchy, fun, sometimes softer track, something to draw the listener in. I put a harder, more energetic song as the second track, to really get out some of the meat of the mix. Always go out with a bang, too: Maybe not a hard song, but a powerful one should always close your mix. There are a few other rules usually only applying to anal-retentive mix-makers such as myself (I cannot make a mix with a sketchy or semi-decent track for track six or nine - don't ask me why, they just seem like important track numbers). How did I know all this? Simple: I had a lot of time, a lot of friends, and a lot of music. Therefore, I made a lot of mixes." Which, of course, reminded me of a similar passage from High Fidelity: A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention... and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs, and oh, there are loads of rules."

And that all got me thinking about my own rules for making mixes and how funny it was that I do the whole start out with a "corker" and kick it up a notch thing too. In fact, I probably got that from High Fidelity. I have my own guidelines of course, most of which involve flow and pacing. I like to take an element (e.g. instrumentation, singer's tone, tempo, mood, etc.) from one song and carry it over to the next one, but that next one has to take it in a different direction, giving me another avenue to go down. I especially like it when songs have conversations with each other, like in the last mix I made when I had Honey Cone responding "The Feeling's Gone" to The Chambers Brothers plea of "All Strung Out Over You." More often than not I wind up with a fairly obvious "A" side and "B" side, which is a little odd, but it's all unintentional and seems to occur naturally as I go in search of the flow. This all takes a lot of time, but I enjoy it so much that I think nothing of, say, spending five hours making a twangy country mix for a toddler that parents will like too (true story).

Anyway. The book. It was all right. The writing felt a little amateurish, but I liked how the story played out. I'm not into metal or the narrator's pastime of getting completely wasted, but I definitely identified with that kind of musical obsession - the kind that allows you to effortlessly reel off an in-depth band profile at the drop of a hat. Yeah, I've been known to do that. There was a certain impromptu lecture on alt-country delivered to the astonished clerks at an anarchist bookstore in Philadelphia that I still feel a little embarrassed by. And I'm sure Daisy has been on the receiving end of more than one. I know my family has. (Jeff, I'm sorry for that history of punk music tirade. But you were totally wrong, dude.) Heck, sometimes I don't even realize when I've swung into Matt Pinfield mode. So basically, this one was okay, but if you're looking for a book about a music obsessive, I'd hit High Fidelity or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist first.

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