15 February 2007

valentine's passed


o valentine's. like any holiday, or i guess any annual occurence, it can end up as much about the past as the present, a familiar, evenly-spaced milemarker for easy reference. there was the valentine's that i saw beck at maxwell's (and lost some love for him), and the valentine's that hannah and i broke up, and the valentines i made for rabi. well, as it happens, those were all the same year (two-thousand-and-three, wouldn't you know, maybe a harbinger for that sea-change year of years.) i'll tell you more about that later. then there was the one when ester and i had watched american splendor and played poker, and then one when i was in sri lanka - i can't remember whether i had flowers sent or not. in high school i recall making blue-green chocolate chip cookies and passing them out with hugs, playing "my funny valentine" with brushes on the cookie tin.

in my senior year of college, i made little 3" cd-rs valentines for maybe eight or ten of my loves, each with customized artwork and a personally tailored (and non-overlapping!) little thematic mix. (i remember: movies for lillie, boys for ester, frenchyness for laura, tic-tac-toe for kat) they are destined to go undocumented, or at least not fully, but with hope they are still being enjoyed. (like some other things, those were inspired by rabi's 3" valcds from the previous year - i've still got mine somewhere.)

well, a year ago i quietly made this little mixtape for myself. it was the post-post after-the-fact realization of a concept i'd come up with maybe even a year earlier, when i still might have needed the catharsis; at this point i made it more from a sense of obligation to my past and to the idea. i guess it's a similar sense that inspires me to put it here now. anyway the titular "past" is that aforementioned '03 massacre, or more properly its aftermath, and i parlayed uncertainty about how/why to apostrophize the title into a not inappropriate ambiguity.

Title: a ghost of valentine's past
Format: 60-minute cassette
Date: 7 february 06
Packaging: labelled in lower case with a blue pen; short enough to fit on the front of the card.

side one
["she said always remember never to trust me..."]
your ex-lover is dead - stars
let it die - feist
pearl - new folk implosion
summer's gone - aberfeldy
a little bit more - jamie lidell
if not now, whenever - the books
the delicate place - spoon
modern girl - sleater-kinney
the suitcase song - nellie mckay

side two
a fond farewell - elliott smith
this time it will - jeff hanson
out of time - blur
when the angels play their drum machines - hefner
the only answer - m. doughty
dearly departed - daedelus
love love love - the mountain goats
if you ever need a stranger to sing at your wedding - jens lekman
there will always be - adem

so. it tells its own story well enough, which may or may not be mine. if nothing else, it presents a certain image of my listening habits at a certain point. (if i made it last february, i'd certainly been saving up many of the songs for close to a year; i know at one point "i summon you" was slated for this, but then it was deployed to october instead.) as you might expect: these songs are so sad and beautiful.

around the same time, but later, and delivered belatedly as i recall, i made this; not so much a valentine's mix as a valentine in mix form, for angela:

Title: The Vulpine Valentine
Format: 90-minute cassette, plus extra bonus 90-minute cassette ("Bonus Beats Me")
Date: February 2006
Packaging: construction-paper-covered slip-case (formerly a condom box) with a heart and banner on one side and a lovestruck fox on the other (see below), containing two cassette cases, with the tracklist of the primary mix in typewriter and colored-pencil rebus-style drawings on pink index card.

"a term - is't endearing?" (side one)
1. my angel rocks ))<>(( back and forth - four tet
2. angela - john vanderslice
3. she's an angela - they might be giants
4. thank you for sending me an angel - talking heads
5. good weekend - art brut
6. let me go home - camera obscura
7. heartbeat - annie
8. what i'm trying to say - stars
9. flowers - cibo matto
10. secret heart - feist
11. ways + means - m. doughty
12. love is an arrow - aberfeldy
13. l'amour et la morte - (the real) tuesday weld
14. if you find yourself caught in love - belle and sebastian
+ cheese grater - ed's redeeming qualities
"everytime i see you it's happy something" (side two)
1. every time she turns around it's her birthday - manitoba
2. digital love - daft punk
3. sleep like a dream - tears in x-ray eyes
4. good dreams - superchunk
5. she goes to bed - jason falkner
6. pillow - capitol k
7. here in the night - kelley polar
8. in a star orbit - rebecca gates
9. sleep late my ladyfriend - harry nilsson
10. sunday morning - margo guryan
11. sunday kind of love - etta james
12. in the lost and found - elliott smith
+ easy to love - edith frost

mmmm... a very nice mix, i think. it hits that balance of songs chosen for being appropriate to the mix but also for just being fantastic songs. which is to say that just about all of the songs are both. this tape also tells a little story, over its two sides - which is also our story ("good weekend," more or less) - about going out dancing, going to sleep, and waking up. there's also the part at the beginning about angels, and a group of songs about saying "i love you," which is a pretty good subject for a song.

here's the fox, by the way:

the second cassette ("Bonus Beats Me!") went a little something like this:

FRIENDS OF MINE - of montreal/FOLDING DIRTY LAUNDRY - radioinactive+antimc/ONE CEX - cex/YOU (BETTER LET ME LOVE YOU x4) TONIGHT - richard x f. tiga/JUST CAN'T GET YOU OFF MY MIND - spinners/JULIE (RMX) - jens lekman/ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES - los lobos/DISTORTED ANGEL - elvis costello+attractions/(THE ANGELS WANNA WEAR MY) RED SHOES - hem/WALK AWAY RENEE - billy bragg/UPSIDE DOWN - yo la tengo/NO SKY - guided by voices/RAZORBLADE - the strokes/WALK AWAY - franz ferdinand/NOW AND SLEEP - daedelus/I BUILT THIS CITY (MICHAEL MAYER MIX) - baxendale/NO FUN - vitalic/U DON'T KNOW ME - armand van helden/SUGAR (GIMME SOME) - trick daddy f. ludacris + cee-lo/TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS - danger mouse and gemini f. j-zone/WE GOT PANACHE - princess superstar/I'M A SLUT - bis/SUBURBIA - pet shop boys/SIDE STREETS - st. etienne/ON THE WAY TO THE CLUB - blur/PUNK AS FUCK - american analog set/SNOW - jesse winchester/SNOW SHOWERS - trembling blue stars/THIS LITTLE UKELELE - stephin merritt

this was a much looser and obviously wide-ranging mix that only lives up to the promise of "beats" about half the time. a couple "significant" songs; the rest just whatever seemed like a good idea. the first part of side two (basically all the techno and hip-hop stuff) was one of my earliest attempts at live-to-cassette continuous-mixed djing, and was done on the fly and i think in one take. [i only regret not putting "our little angel" instead of "distorted angel" (because it's a really nice song that i haven't already used on a bunch of mixes, and maybe other reasons), and maybe i regret using that dm+gemini song, although i guess it's interesting that danger mouse and cee-lo are sequenced together like that.]

so. none of these are just straight-up valentine's day, love-themed mixes. and neither is the li'l mix/podcast i put up yesterday that you're probably (hopefully?) listening to now, which is probably called "genrephilia" (it's not called "this boombox loves you," that's just a message from the boombox.) it might seem like it, and it is in part, but it's doing double duty in order to set up a series of posts which i guess is commencing with this one (though the others will be different) about various things i've been listening to and thinking about, but mostly about genre, that fave bugbear of mine, each of which will take up one of the songs from the 'cast as its "keynote," if you will. in the order listed, which is to say the reverse order from the mix. (just to make you more confused, though it will all come out right in the end.) i'm being a cock-eyed optimist by saying this, but i'll hope to get them all or mostly up by the end of this weekend. let's just assume that, unlike christmas, the valentine's season starts on the day itself and extends for a while after.

most of my mixes, like most pop songs, are already basically about love anyway. which makes sense; it's both practical and fun, with lots of interchangeable approaches to the same few familiar situations. recently, both gold star for robot boy and liquid crystal slivers are overtly love-themed, the former prob'ly more appropriate for valentine's, as the latter's somewhat somberer. [v's day is about happy love, i'm pretty clear - not necessarily happy romantic love, especially if you haven't got it at the moment; in that case you can substitute broader, general, elemental, humanward love. which happens to be the special province of mr. ross of love.]

if i had made a lovey-dovey mix, it probably would have wanted to have some of the songs from those, and the others documented above - it just would have been somewhat boring and redundant, generally - and certainly some of the things from this next, which still contains most of my favorite love songs despite being five years old now (!) [lately i've been thinking "you send me" might be the ultimate.] it's not a mixtape, although it has become one; it was a radio broadcast that we have a cassette recording of. it's sort of embarrassing to listen to, not just for the usual reasons but also because i think i'm being obnoxious and a little bit nasty towards alyssa in our bantering. hopefully i'm not like that anymore.

Title: Reality is Lubricated, special Valentine's edition
Format: two-hour radio show (also on 120 minute cassette)
Date: 14 February 2002

tracklist courtesy of reminced archives:
Oooweeoooh! Oooh! Oooh! [i.e. "Welcome to Tokio Otis Clay" by Clinton; our theme music]
“Grandpa” Myron (Mike) “The Moose” Cantor - As Time Goes By

Blur - Tender
XTC - I’d Like That
Björk - Like Someone in Love
[flubbed announcement - mic set on cue] [radio silence]
Paul Simon - For Emily, Wherever I Will Find Her
[apology to the listenerhip, repeat of set rundown]

The Old 97’s - Question
The Beach Boys - God Only Knows
The Kinks - Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy

The Fairways - Close to Me
The Pixies - La La Love You

The Sam Cooke - Medley: Try a Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me (live)
Prince - Kiss
[clarification from Alyssa about it being a song about sex]
Randy Newman - Falling in Love
[A n ODE to WSRN]
Joni Mitchell - A Case of You
Plastic Fantastic Machine - Love is Psychedelic
Jeff Magnum - I Love How You Love Me

Joe Jackson - Be My Number Two
R.E.M. - At My Most Beautiful
Pain - One-Legged Girl
[a little show here for people from Alyssa]
Kings Of Convenience - I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From
Pizzicato Five - Baby Love Child

The Moldy Peaches - Anyone Else But You
[apology to all the non-{Moldy Peaches Fans} in the audience]
The Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
Joe Henry - Scar
The Shins - New Slang (When You Notice the Stripes)

Buddy Holly - True Love Ways
The Yo La Tengo - The You Can Have it All
Jonathan Richman - When She Kisses Me
Ella Fitzgerald - Something’s Gotta Give
Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine
The Big Star - I’m In Love With A Girl
[Alyssa's declaration of love]

Nat King Cole - The Very Thought of You
Billy Bragg - Valentine’s Day is Over

so that's that! somehow, amazingly, neither that show nor any of the tracklistings i posted above include the elvis costello rendition of "my funny valentine," which is an absolute staple of the season for me. me being me. (as is listening to that billy bragg song on the 15th.) ["mfv" is admittedly sort of a silly song (in particular the lyrics to the middle-eight) - but it's still great.]

however... it is on "genrephilia"!:

12 my funny valentine Y elvis costello

so there you go.

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