The Mixed Tape

I believe in honesty.

In a sea of complete bullshit, people telling tales to get ahead, I feel
alone.  I’m looking for someone who will tell me their truth.

I used to find this truth in records.  They’re the ones I love the most. 
Joni Mitchell’s "Blue".  And Jackson Browne’s "Late For The Sky".  They’re
directly from their heart to mine.

Kelly Clarkson does a good job on "Since U Been Gone", but not for a minute
do I think it comes directly from her heart.  She’s singing a song, she’s
performing, it’s all part of the sausage factory, spewing money at the end.  I
can’t relate to the guy who wrote the song, her or the people who purveyed it. 
They searched forever for the right vehicle.  One that would push her one step
forward in the musical hemisphere, insure she’s a star.  And that just doesn’t
resonate with me.

Falling in love is strange.  You see someone from afar, your hormones start
to rage.  Then you talk to them and find they don’t fit your mental paradigm,
you’ve created a mental fantasy of your connection, but it takes two…and she
doesn’t fit the construct.

The people who fit the construct…  Most times they sneak up on you.  It
isn’t how they look, but the way they lock eyes when they tell their story. 
Reveal their hurt, their questions, along with their victories.

All these elements used to be in records.  They’re absent today.  And that’s
why I don’t believe.  Oh, you don’t have to believe to consume, just ask the
movie business.  People are buying the confections.  But the essence, the
essence is gone.

It’s not only white music.  It’s hip-hop too.  The days of Ice-T singing
about the street, about cops killing citizens, have been replaced by ditties about
the candy shop.  There’s a lot of swagger, a ton of image, but no resonance. 
And when you resonate, you know.  Your insides get warm.  It’s like falling
in love.

I got e-mail from this lawyer I know.  Barely.  It was the longest e-mail
I’ve ever gotten in my life.  He said it took him hours to write, and it read
like it.  It was the story of this guy who was the lead singer of Something
Corporate.  How he had cut a solo album.  And then had gotten cancer.

Oh, there were sidesteps into vision.  And Websites.  But what resonated with
me was my conversation with teenage Emily last summer.  In California scoping
colleges she asked me if I liked Something Corporate.  It stuck with me. 
Enough to go to this guy’s MySpace site.  Where I played "The Mixed Tape".  And
from the very first note, I heard honesty.  This guitar intro wasn’t perfect,
not instantly memorable, it wasn’t premeditated to instantly penetrate your
brain.  Then, the guy singing, no one told him to do it this way.  It came
straight from his heart.

It was emo.  All energy.  The type of sound we tend to dismiss.  The same way
people used to dismiss the Cure.  Saying it was music for mopes.  But, I’ve
got to tell you, there are more mopes than upbeat winners in our society.  And
even the biggest winners have down moments.  Not that they can tell anybody. 
It might hurt their image.  But the listeners, the peons, the consumers, those
not famous, they’re not so worried about their image, they need the
CONNECTION!  They’re so lonely, they want to reveal their truth.  They’re drawn to
anybody as honest as they are.

I’ve never made a mix tape.  Maybe I felt they wouldn’t listen.  That they’d
brush it off.  Or wouldn’t understand the amount of effort I put into it.  Or
maybe it’s just that connecting with other human beings is not my forte. 
They’re subtle, they’re moody, they get distracted.  Unlike records.  Which are
static, frozen in time.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to send somebody a mix tape.  Not someone
I’m involved with, but someone I desire.  If only she knew who I really was,
who I was on the inside, maybe she’d give me a chance.  But if I open my heart
so early, I’m fearful of being rejected.

And getting past this fear of rejection, making a connection, based on
honesty, I don’t want to let it go.  It was so hard to achieve.  The connection with
another human being is the ultimate life experience.  They say on TV it’s
about being rich, but that’s untrue.  Sure, riches will draw the opposite sex,
but what exactly is their attraction.

But so far, I’ve never had a relationship that lasted forever.

And I’d like to tell you I’ve forgotten them all, that I can laugh when I
hear their name.  But that would be untrue.  I’m haunted by their memory.  We
shared something.  Our stories.  We knew each other.  Not our image, not the
patina, but the substance.  The hole…it’s still there.

Oh, it fades.  But it comes back.  When you think you see them.  When you
pass a car they used to drive.  Out of the blue sometimes.  And at these moments,
the only thing that soothes is music.  But what’s best is music that depicts
where you are right at that very moment.

Where are you now
As I’m swimming through the stereo
I’m writing you a symphony of sound
Where are you now
I’ve rearranged the songs again
This mix could burn a hole in anyone
But it was you I was thinking of
It’s you I’m thinking of

Andrew McMahon is not speaking of the girlfriend who walked out the door the
night before, rather they broke up years ago.  But he hasn’t quite gotten over

And you can hear it.

And even if you dislike emo vocals, the rushed shout, the musical elements
get to you.  The piano’s like the music behind a montage, your whole life
together flashing before your eyes.  What do you do now?  Track them down, or wait for the mood to change, for your feelings to evaporate?

Then again, they never do.

I heard "The Mixed Tape" and got it immediately.

The lawyer told me he wasn’t sending a CD.  If I was truly interested, I
could get everything P2P instantly.

I fired up Rhapsody.  Track after track was palatable.  This is not the way
it’s supposed to be.

Every review on Amazon, all 39, gave the album five stars.  I’ve never seen
that before.

I had to possess the tracks.  I fired up my P2P app and took the songs.

I can’t say I’ve digested the whole album, I haven’t even listened to the
whole damn thing.  But I know the feeling, the experience, of hearing one song
and needing to hear them all.  Putting the record on the turntable and spending
all afternoon flipping it over and over, as the songs penetrate.

 Jacks Mannequin

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.