...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Monday, February 12, 2007

you spin me right round baby, right round like a record

three months after my husband and i met, we celebrated our first valentine's day together. the entire week, i scavenged my brain for clever ideas, exhausted a number of glue sticks and concocted more clever crafts than a room full of preschoolers to prove my love. fyi...a love note with candy bars glued to it, their brand names substituting for hot and sexy verbs? check. try it. it works. thank goodness for reece's pieces. that's all i'm saying.

the culmination of my week's work was a mix tape filled with songs, both cheesy and classic, that all had the word "love" in the title. "my love." "crazy little thing called love." "don't hold back your love." every possible song, good and bad. i even prolonged the agony with phil collins' "groovy kind of love," and then wrote out the titles on red construction paper, substituting hearts for every "o" and placed it in the cassette case.

this gift proved to be the hardest to complete. filling a 180 minute cassette with love songs when i was listening to angst-ridden, emo performers was tough. anything off alanis morissette's "jagged little pill" wasn't really going to cut it.

i was reminded of this cassette tape this past week as i finished reading a beautiful biography called "
love is a mix tape" by rob sheffield. one song at a time, as the subtitle states, he takes us on a journey of love and loss, recounting how he and his girlfriend met over the common thread of a song, built a marriage with a diverse soundtrack of music from the changing period of the 90s, and how he had to relearn to love the music they shared after her sudden death. each chapter begins with a track listing culled from the insert of a cassette case. diverse titles and artists that had me recalling which tracks i own, on my own cassettes (i still have many, though no way to play them now), or making a list from them of the songs i want to explore.

at the nucleus of the book is the loss of his wife, but her death is just a small part of the story. while it celebrates her, it also celebrates the importance of music, and that's what i loved about this book. music is something universal to all of us. i wonder if we learn to love music from an early age, when our parents talked to us in the sing-song voice all parents serenade their babies with. it connects us to people. we celebrate and mourn with it. it helps us pass the time. moves us. makes us think. it helps us to make friends. it becomes the soundtrack to significant events in our lives.

some of my friends became my friends purely because we were able to cut the ice after hearing a song by a band or artist we both liked. if one didn't know about the songs the other was gushing about, the offer to make a tape - to further test the budding friendship, really - was always extended. i still have cassettes made for me by friends from college. it's from these people i learned about the smiths, the alarm, concrete blonde, 10,000 maniacs and the cowboy junkies. i may no longer have contact with the people, but i always have an appreciation for them because of the world they opened for me.

music reminds me of the people i've loved. i know it's cheesy, but hearing the first notes of aerosmith's "sweet emotion" flings me back into my first post-college apartment. i'd be up in the middle of the night, talking on the phone to my then-boyfriend, and we'd both have our televisions tuned to mtv. every night, usually around 2 a.m., "sweet emotion" would play and would soon be followed by van halen's "right now." in between long distance (and expensive!) declarations of our love for each other, we'd dissect the bands playing on mtv. it made us feel like we were together on that couch. to bridge our gap, i'd make tapes of these songs for my boyfriend and include them in our weekly letters.

this particular boyfriend introduced me, reluctantly, to country music. not the new age of country that had boomed, but the classics. while i still can't say i love much of that genre, because it meant so much to him, i made every attempt to embrace it. in response, he conceded my passion for u2 was great and attended a concert with me. we drove the hour to the venue and played my cassette of "achtung baby" over and over. that night, under the open skies and the giant flashing billboards on stage, fueled by the cassette we'd listened to prior, he became a u2 fan. from then on, every letter from him included a lyric from "the masters, paul and dave..." that he'd relate to our relationship.

when we broke up a few months after that concert, i had to break up with "achtung baby" for awhile, too. eventually, i slowly introduced it back. i couldn't give it up entirely. it's a fantastic album. but even today, because of what that music meant to me at that time in my life, i still have to listen to it alone.

today, my ipod serves as my mix tape. sure, there are some among the more than 1,700-plus currently stored within it that don't strike a chord beyond the fact that i simply just like the song. but then there are many that, as soon as the first notes start, remind me of someone or make me think "wow. i'm so glad they recommended this to me!" (a thank you to
j for recommending some really great additions to the shuffle lately, btw. there's not a lot of my chemical romance played on the radio smack dab in the midwest, but because we talked about it, and seem to have similar tastes in music, i have to say i'm quite fond of "i'm not okay").

the mix tape i made for my husband is now tucked away in a storage box of things i hold onto. one day our kids may cringe when they see it (here's hoping we'll advance so much as a society by then they'll have no way of hearing some of the selections). my gift from him on our first valentine's day? an engagement ring. shortly after he gave it to me, we started talking about the songs we wanted performed at our wedding. and yes, one of those cheesy songs from the mix tape i gave him was the first song we picked.

9 Comments:

Blogger Finished Last said...

Nothing to add. That was beautifully written and nailed it right to the wall.

Monday, February 12, 2007 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous you da mom! said...

We purposely got a cassette player installed into our new car because between myself and my husband, we have a whole dresser full of mix tapes that we refuse to get rid of. I still love the thought of writing down all the songs and sitting there next to the boombox, timing the pauses perfectly! there's something lost, i think, in dumping a bunch of songs in an ipod. it's just not the same!

Monday, February 12, 2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

I still can't believe you did all that three months into a relationship. You guys are some quick movers. A huge crafty project and an engagement ring. Geez.

I'm ready... I'm ready for the laughing gas...

The long opening strands of "Achtung Baby" remind me of my sophomore year of high school. A media class, where we'd make short films with ancient clunky VHS camcorders in a creepy room behind the school library. My wise older brother turned me on to U2 when I was about 13 (Rattle and Hum, baby), and I used parts of "Achtung Baby" as background music in some of those awful short videos we made as class projects.

Monday, February 12, 2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Nanette said...

Ah...beautiful post!

Music is life....I am so grateful that I can hear! :D

Monday, February 12, 2007 2:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

Oh you described it perfectly. And I will admit to having more than a bunch of mix tapes I am not willing to part with...

Monday, February 12, 2007 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Fusion said...

Wow great post FADKOG, I had many cassette mixes back in the day, haven't thought of them in years.
Nowdays I make them on CD's.
They are the soundtracks of our lives, every one of them.
Since I lost my wife, I haven't been able to play the older ones, but I'm making plenty of new ones now!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger JUnderCovers said...

It's been a lot of fun sharing our thoughts and ideas on music over the last couple months. Glad I could turn you on to some cool new stuff, and you know I'll keep sending you more and more!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Nocturnal said...

Talk about wasting no time, you guys did take the leap pretty quick. Nice post, you captured it all there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

finished - you're always very kind. thank you...

youdamom - ah! i remember creating every mix tape i have. the pausing and re-recording to get it just right. the decisions about what to leave off as you ran out of room on the tape. cripes, i even used to hold the recorder up to the stereo speakers to get stuff off the radio (and when i was a kid, it was to tape it off the television. that sucked!). your comment made me smile!

bono - finally!! you've come for me! i always knew you would. i've been ready for the laughing gas for years.

wha? oh...ftn. well. ok. you're in a band. i've heard you. your music has the potential to make me move in mysterious ways. i've promisted to toss panties. i'd put you on a mix tape. even if you make me feel old with that comment...

nanette - thank you, my friend!

cat - i nearly got rid of most of mine last summer in my impassioned need to clean out my life. it didn't work!

fusion - thank you so much for your visit. hope you'll return. and that perhaps one day you'll find you love what's on those mix tapes that remind you of your wife again.

j - ah, my music pimp. heh. is it ok if i call you that?! thanks for piquing my interests and adding to my collection. when "lazy eye" comes on the ipod, i always wonder for a moment, "huh. wonder what j is doing."

...now i'm just sounding creepy...heh...

nocturnal - yes, we were speedy, but we waited eight more months to get married, so i don't know if that makes it any better! thanks for the compliment!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:27:00 PM  

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