You know when you're making a mix CD or playlist for someone you have romantical feelings, and you're skipping around your iTunes dreamily weighing the lyrical and emotional content of each potential track, and you sort of feel like maybe if you can just put the right songs in the right order, you'll invoke some sort of voodoo magic that will make the other person like, fully SEE you and love you?
That never actually happens when you give a mix CD.
I've received at least one over the years that actually threatened the continuation of a relationship -- "Can I really be with a man who thought it fitting to put two Korn songs on a romantic mix?"
But for the most part, the mix CDs were just kind of an annoyance, something to be given an obligatory listen before they joined the jumble of jewel cases still gathering dust under my stereo despite the fact that I'll never have the time and inclination to actually load them onto my iTunes. Music and your response to it is so personal -- whatever those men heard when they put those songs together for me just didn't translate.
I think I also have sort of mix-CD-related PTSD from my high-school boyfriend who would make these epic 5-volume mixes for each 3-month phase of our relationship complete with cover art and linear notes and then obsessively hound me for my track-by-track opinions of his masterwork.I liked that one John Wesley Harding song, I guess? Please don't make me say more.
Speaking of jewel cases, remember how hard it used to be to get them open right after you bought them when they were all wrapped in plastic and sealed shut with that sticker across the top? And how cool people were who popped them open by breaking them and putting them back together? Lost art of seduction.
But, BUT. Once, in the dusty annals of my romantic career, a mix CD fucking moved me. John and I had been involved in one of those long romantic entanglements that was somehow doomed to never actually become a real relationship -- he had a girlfriend or I was a raging alcoholic or one of us had just come out of a long relationship and was all mentally fucked up. It was all VERY ROMANTIC and he made me this mix.
I have a very vivid sense memory of innocently putting this thing on late one night in my apartment and just being floored by it. I was sitting on my bedroom floor, cleaning or sewing or something and halfway into the second song ("This Magic Moment," Lou Reed), I just stopped what I was doing and laid down and listened.
Song after song, I heard every lyric, every note, all of which related directly to our mutual experience. Some of the songs had my NAME in them! Everything you always think a mix CD is going to do, this mix CD did. It spoke to me. It said, "Emily, this man sees who you are and loves you the way you need to be loved." By the last song, I was crying because we weren't together. IT WORKED.
Although, as Jon reminded me when I called him to see if he still had the track list, we never actually got together! So I guess it only worked if you like intense, temporary flings. He also told me that he's never made a mix CD before or since so now I'm sort of wondering if he might be some kind of Mix CD voodoo wizard whose powers would disrupt the world if unleashed.
NOT BEING DRAMATIC. I was actually a little afraid that listening to this thing again or even just READING THE TRACKLIST might somehow reactivate my love hormones and force me to uproot my entire life and devote myself to STALKING and WOOING John. (Hi, John's girlfriend!) Proceed with CAUTION:
- "Female of the Species" Space
- "This Magic Moment" Lou Reed
- "Golden Touch" Razorlight
- "Nice Guys" Louden Wainwright III
- "I’m Your Man" Leonard Cohen
- "Driving Your Girlfriend Home" Morrissey
- "Dilaudid" The Mountain Goats
- "Wicked Game" H.I.M.
- "Your Love is Like Las Vegas" The Thrills
- "Modern Nature" Sondre Lerche
- "Here Comes the Summer" The Fiery Furnaces
- "We" Neil Diamond
- "‘cause I Love You" Johnny Cash & June Carter
- "Red Right Ankle" The Decemberists
- "They Write Books About This Sort of Thing" Say Hi To Your Mom
- "What I’m Trying to Say" Stars
- "Saturday Night Riot" The Pink Spiders
- "For Real" Okkervil River
- "Love Hurts" Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris
- "Devil & the Deep Blue Sea" George Harrison
- "Tomorrow" Sean Lennon
- "Jackson" The Hayseeds
UPDATE: The awesome commenter EKD just made a Spotify playlist of my #1 Top Most Lying on the Floor Inducing Mixed CD. Enjoy, DON'T FALL IN LOVE.
I definitely went on to steal several of these songs and use them on "Please love me" mixes of my own, especially numbers 2, 4, 12, 14 and 18. Since we're all in love with each other here, here are a few more songs that make me feel things in my heart, most of which I have used on a mix CD. I cannot vouch for their efficacy.
"That Teenage Feeling" by Neko Case
This song sounds like love to me -- a slow build to this sweeping crescendo on the most romantic lyrics.
"Westby" by Kathleen Edwards
This is a good "affair" song. It talks about highway motels and dirty dancing and the chick in the song steals the dude's watch off the bedside table. It also talks about the guy being "so old," which is good because making someone feel a little bad about themselves is a great way to make them love you.
"The Littlest Birds" by the Be Good Tanyas
There was a whole summer when I listened to this song pretty much continuously because it just made me feel SO HAPPY inside, with it's bouncy little rhythm and harmonies. The "I love you so dearly/I love you so fearlessly" lyric means I can shoehorn my happy song onto my love mixes.
"Fidelity" by Regina Spektor
"Suppose I never ever met you/Suppose we never fell in love/Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft"
"Chicken With Its Head Cut Off" by the Magnetic Fields
There are so many good choices off "69 Love Songs," especially Vol. 1, but this one is great because it's nice and upbeat, and nobody falls in love with someone who makes them a mix full of sloooooow, booooooooring songs.
"Let's Drive Away" by Eleni Mandell
I always put something from Eleni Mandell's "Afternoon" on any given mix CD. I'll go for the title track "Afternoon" if they have another girlfriend or "Can't You See I'm Soulful?" if they're kind of a dick.
"Portions for Foxes" by Rilo Kiley
This is a good song if you're going for that "Oh baby, I'm no good for you" leather jacket approach. Men love emotionally unavailable women!
"The Luckiest" Ben Folds
This and the next two songs are some serious next-level romantic shit. Don't use them unless you're pretty sure that the recipient of your mix wants to marry you permanently.
"First Day of My Life" Bright Eyes
I don't feel great about putting a Bright Eyes song on this list, but here we are. I'm almost 30.
"I Found My Way" by Dusty Springfield
The anthem for fucked-up women saved by the redeeming power of love everywhere. Sort of like the lady version of that Ray Lamontagne song "soulful" dudes always audition with on "American Idol." I also like "Breakfast in Bed" as a less intense, sexier option.
That's what I came up with off the top of my head -- now I want to hear your go-to romantic songs. Have you ever received a particularly epic/boring/questionable mix CD? Should I never write about music again? It felt sort of weird.