Beyond David Letterman, groceries and wishes, I dislike lists. For the most part, lists constitute a lack of inspiration and originality in terms of content. Rare is the occasion, too, for lists to reveal critical depth of knowledge about any given subject or topic. Far too many use lists as an authoritative endpoint instead of an introduction to further conversation, the latter of which Nick Hornby's High Fidelity does rather well.
However, in both the book and the film adaptation, music mixes have greater importance. For all the talk about all-time desert-island top-five lists, Hornby's Rob Gordon is more eloquent and thoughtful about making a mixtape, likening it to writing a letter as "there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again" (88). Furthermore, Gordon admits:
"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 artists side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs, and . . . oh, there are loads of rules" (89).
Perhaps these rules, along with lack of real time, discourage some from making mixes instead of throwing together sloppy lists of the top ten most trite love songs from the 1980's. Some might view such rules as limitations because no music mix can be the essential of anything; space requirements are very effective in preventing this. No top-ten list can be the essential of anything either, though that doesn't stop some from being so audacious as to suggest otherwise.
Regarding mixes, the musical elitism held or professed by any one person is limited by their chosen method of distribution. If making a mix by tape or CD, the 80-minute mark is the cut-off point. If making a mix through an online format, such as 8tracks, there is an eight-track maximum. Much can and should be done within these limitations, though, including the reconciliation of stellar opening and closing tracks by way of transitions. In other words, the songs must work together as a cohesive unit, which is an additional rule not as often required of any list.
Because of such limitations, music mixes are a greater invitation to deeper debate and discussion. While one might argue with some ease that the Strokes deserve inclusion on some top-ten list, it could be much more difficult applied to a music mix. Such an argument would have to account for subject matter, theme and transitions. In other words, would any song by the Strokes fit with the rest? Would the amended mix serve a purpose similar to the original? As a way of inspiring discussions about music, mixes have potential greater than that of some superficial top-ten list.
There will never be any kind of top-ten list taking up space in this particular place. Instead, I plan to offer up a quick mix of music every week (on Mondays, more often than not). However, my first offering has no theme beyond good transitions. It is a point of pride in every mix I make that transitions are strong. If a track fades out, the next one fades in. If a live track ends with audience applause, the next track begins with audience applause. If a track meets an abrupt end, the next track has an abrupt beginning. The following meets this standard and still manages to feature some all-time favorites. Enjoy, dear reader, enjoy...
- “(I Hope U) Don’t Survive” – Silkworm
"She Took A Lot Of Pills (And Died)" - Robbie Fulks
"There She Goes, My Beautiful World" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- “Holland, 1945” – Neutral Milk Hotel
“I Don’t Know” – Beastie Boys
“Far Away” – Clearlake
“3rd Planet” – Modest Mouse
“-” – Pelican