Dub a dub dub

Looking through my big ol' box of tapes is like a long walk on a beautiful day in a very familar place... with the occasional pile of crap that needs dodging. For every Living Colour, there's a Technotronic. For every Beastie Boys, there's a Bobby Brown. For every Beatles, there's a SNAP.

Tonight I dragged the box out for a purpose. My mission: researching my "historical" collection of mix tapes. I made a mix CD last Friday, and as I did it I realized that creating a mix tape is probably as dead as Milli. (Or was it Vanilli?) Sure, kids probably burn mix CDs like I did, but it's not quite the same as a mix tape. Not like carefully extracting ninety minutes' worth of songs from your tape collection. Not like ordering the songs on notebook paper to make sure it flowed correctly. Not like tape-to-tape dubbing, always needing to know when to press Pause and when to press Record.

Mix tapes were more than a mish-mash of my favorite songs. I frequently made them for others and for, more often than not, members of the opposite sex. It was more like a method for self-expression. I think Better Than Ezra sums it up pretty nicely in "Rewind":

Cut a tape of my favorite songs
Said what I can't face to face

Want to know what I'm like? I'm not sure I'm comfortable getting into that conversation, really. Especially in high school. A fair substitute for my autobiography was a collection of my favorite songs. It sounds absurd, but when I think about it... a song like Nirvana's "Lounge Act" said that I wasn't top-40, but I didn't fall into the trap of only liking Nirvana's "popular" songs. The Doors' "Moonlight Drive" painted me as sentimental, thoughtful spirit who faced the future by embracing the past. And Vanilla Ice's "Cool As Ice" showed me for what I really was: a loser.

Regardless, looking at someone's CD collection tells you a lot about that person; a mix tape was a microcosm of my tastes, a snapshot of who I was at the time I made it.

(Incidentally, looking at someone's big ol' box of tapes doesn't tell you anything at all. So please ingore my copies of Tiffany's self-titled tape and Madonna's "True Blue." Thank you.)

For a friendly look into the psyche of yours truly, let's take a gander at the mix tapes I found. I'd like to think we know each other well enough for me to admit that I titled my first few mix tapes "MEGAMYXX." If you want to now disassociate yourself from me, I understand.

I made approximately 250 tapes in anticipation of getting my drivers' license (three weeks after I made this particular MEGAMYXX.) Oddly enough, I made only one mix tape. The rest of my efforts? Consolidating two "real" tapes onto one dubbed tape. Yes, I had a lot of time on my hands back then.

Let's take a look-see.... Oh, if you want to see exciting examples of my handwriting, click here.

MEGAMYXX II - 07/22/92

Side A Side B
Alive - Pearl Jam Remedy - Black Crowes
True Fine Love - Steve Miller Band Deep Trouble - Bart Simpson
Give It Away - RHCP Do Anything - Natural Selection
Spending My Time - Roxette Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Pop Goes the Weasel - 3rd Bass Rock Me Amadeus - Falco
Exhuming McCarthy - R.E.M. Hey Jude - Beatles
She's Happy - Gear Daddies Evenflow - Pearl Jam
3 A.M. Eternal - KLF Neighborhood Bully - Bob Dylan
Color Of Her Eyes - Gear Daddies ITEOTWAWKI - R.E.M.
Yesterday - Beatles Strength - Gear Daddies
Texarkana - R.E.M. The Joker - Steve Miller Band
Piano Man - Billy Joel Church Of Your Heart - Roxette
Listen To Your Heart - Roxette Under The Bridge - RHCP
Move This - Technotronic
I'll Be There - Mariah Carey

Ugh. (shudder) Well, it's always best to start with the bad news, right? And it can't get much worse than having three (!) Roxette songs. Well, maybe it can-- see Mariah Carey. Guh. And here's an ironic note-- I've never had any Bob Dylan music. So I'm really not sure how it got on here. Let's concentrate on the good, though. We see the debuts of Nirvana, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and the Gear Daddies, all of whom will become cornerstones in the Wade mix tape pantheon. And the Beatles are a nice pick...

But the bad is so much more fun to concentrate on. Rock Me Amadeus??? And Technotronic? I guess I associate that song with the makeup commercial (and Cindy Crawford)-- but is that enough for inclusion onto a tape? Let's hope not. And perhaps the biggest egg laid-- "Deep Trouble" by Bart Simpson. You know, from that classic '89 album, The Simpsons Sing The Blues.

And you thought I was kidding.

Overall-- interesting rookie effort. Bart and Mariah suck it down, though. Grade: D+.

SLOW / FAST - 03/22/93

Side A Side B
One More Try - Timmy T ITEOTWAWKI - R.E.M.
Van Dieman's Land - U2 End Of The World - U2
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton Two Princes - Spin Doctors
Don't Cry - Guns N' Roses True Fine Love - Steve Miller Band
Imagine - John Lennon These Are Days - 10,000 Maniacs
Yesterday - Beatles Instant Karma - John Lennon
The Flame - Cheap Trick She's Happy - Gear Daddies
One - U2 Break On Through - The Doors
More Than Words - Extreme Angel Of Harlem - U2
Can't Fight This Feelin' - REO Speedwagon Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds
Under The Bridge - RHCP I Believe - R.E.M.
Angel Eyes - Jeff Healey Band Divine Thing - Soup Dragons
Me & Julio - Paul Simon

I'm so darn creative. Half the tape is up-tempo songs, and half the tape is slow songs! I'm set no matter what mood I'm in! If you want to know the truth of it... I probably made the slow side so the songs could stream out my bedroom window. Then some beautiful girl would be walking by, hear the dulcet tones of Timmy T or Cheap Trick, see me, knock on my door, and make out with me. Most of my fantasies started with me just sitting around.

But I digress. The Slow side isn't half bad, I guess, if making a mix tape half-filled with slow songs is your goal. I'd probably replace the REO with some Journey if I had to do it again today, but otherwise pretty solid. The Fast? Not so much.

For one thing... "Mr. Tambourine Man"? I think I was desperate. And what in the world was my deal with Steve Miller? I think I could get more inspired by eating cashews than listening to "True Fine Love" at this point in my life. And the Natalie Merchant makes me blush a little bit, too.

R.E.M., Doors, Gear-- solid. Soup Dragons-- weak. Grade: C.

FAST II - 12/26/93

Side A Side B
Sex-Type Thing - Stone Temple Pilots So Whatcha Want - Beastie Boys
Cannonball - The Breeders Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
Bring The Noize - Public Enemy & Anthrax Enter Sandman - Metallica
Lounge Act - Nirvana Would - Alice in Chains
Angry Chair - Alice in Chains Porch - Pearl Jam
Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz Son of a Gun - Nirvana
Cool As Ice - Vanilla Ice Today - Smashing Pumpkins
State Of Love And Trust - Pearl Jam Live And Let Die - Guns 'N Roses
Rape Me - Nirvana She's Happy - Gear Daddies
Piece Of My Heart - Janis Joplin Dive - Nirvana
Go - Pearl Jam Peace Frog - The Doors
Turn You Inside-Out - R.E.M. Animal - Pearl Jam
Territorial Pissings - Nirvana

At the ripe age of 17, it occurred to me that having tape cases lying around with the word "MEGAMYXX" on them may not be as cool as it once was. Hence the snappy title "FAST." Yeah, FAST! Woo hoo! Fast like Lenny Kravitz! Fast like Janis Joplin!

My musical tastes were maturing a bit, which means this one is less fun to talk about. The only ones I really wouldn't listen to would be the Public Enemy track. Not that I don't like the song, but I don't quite have the stamina for PE like I used to. Oh, and the Vanilla Ice. Yeah. Well. Not sure how to explain that to you. I had a little thing for Vanilla Ice for quite a while. Look for an upcoming simpleprop article reviewing his unauthorized biograpy.

Again, you thought I was kidding. And note-- it's Unauthorized.

Lots of Seattle on this one. Lots of angst growing up in Austin, Minnesota. It's from all the pork. Grade: B+.

V - 03/16/94

Side A Side B
Dive - Nirvana Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
Fire - Jimi Hendrix Brown-Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Time Heals - Gear Daddies Go - Pearl Jam
Moonlight Drive - The Doors Soul Kitchen - The Doors
Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins Stand - R.E.M.
The One I Love - R.E.M. On A Plain - Nirvana
Breath - Pearl Jam She's Happy - Gear Daddies
Jungle Love - Steve Miller Band Plush - Stone Temple Pilots
Wear Your Crown - Gear Daddies Enter Sandman - Metallica
Wild Horses - U2 Not To Touch The Earth - The Doors
Wild Child - The Doors Heroin - Velvet Underground
Would - Alice In Chains Evenflow - Pearl Jam

It's not "V" like short for violent or vibrant. I guess I was into the Roman numeral thing in high school. Speaking of high school, this tape was made during my prime Doors phase. Jason and I were in a phase where we would watch the movie The Doors three or four times a week, all the while drinking grape Snapple and eating taco Doritos. We both were working at Austin convenience stores at the time, so coming up with sodas and snack food... well, it wasn't a problem. What is the statute of limitation on petty theft, anyway?

Where was I? Oh yeah. This tape's fine. I'd drop the Velvet Underground, a little too... Oh, I don't know. Lou Reed just can't sing. Grade: B+.

VI - 07/10/94

Side A Side B
About A Girl - Nirvana Angry Chair - Alice In Chains
Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins Rock Star - Hole
Turn You Inside-Out - R.E.M. Lounge Act - Nirvana
Cannonball - The Breeders Day Dreamer - Elegy
Stupid Boy - Gear Daddies Sabotage - Beastie Boys
Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz Cool As Ice - Vanilla Ice
So Whatcha Want - Beastie Boys Today - Smashing Pumpkins
Peace Frog - The Doors Gloria - The Doors
Sex-Type Thing - Stone Temple Pilots Polly - Nirvana
Pennyroyal Tea - Nirvana Piece Of My Heart - Janis Joplin
Brothers Gonna Work It Out - Public Enemy Color Of Her Eyes - Gear Daddies
State Of Love And Trust - Pearl Jam Master Of Puppets - Metallica
Wait Until Tomorrow - Jimi Hendrix
Superman - R.E.M.
I Alone - Live

You know... I look at the tracks on this tape and get instantly transported to when I made it. I was just over a month away from heading to Saint Olaf... I had matured, musically if nothing else. I see a lot of songs I love today-- I was still under the "influence" of Kurt Cobain, Martin Zellar, Eddie Vedder, and Michael Stipe.

And Vanilla Ice, apparently. I'd love to think that I just put him on here as a joke at this point. But I think I'm fooling myself. Again, not much to make fun of... sorry. Grade: A-.

So there you have it. I know you have a bunch of these in your basement somewhere. And I know you have some embarrassing stuff on it. Just maybe not Vanilla Ice. (Oh, and if you want to see a mix that Wade the "grown-up" might make... see here.



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