This is a mix tape. I’ve come to the conclusion that finding the perfect song is akin to spotting a satellite. You aren’t certain what it is when you first see it; you think, it might just be another star. Astonishment, then, when you realize it is man-made, that it came from the Earth, that you can point up at it and someone a hundred or more miles away could be pointing too and thinking, golly… golly, gee whiz. And, in its own deliberate pace, the satellite crosses over to another sky, maybe beeps a course out of the solar system. But the echoes that bind us never stop. For a moment, we are enclosed by the same musical sphere.
In his memoir, Love is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield tells us there’s always a reason to make a mix tape, however great or mundane. For washing dishes. Maybe a road trip, or a party tape to declare your good sensibilities. Perhaps to tell someone you love them. Wave a final farewell. Or, if you are that satellite, an electronic buzz for those lonely ballets along the farthest rings of Saturn. I’ve never made a proper mix tape before, where the order matters as much as the selection. When you receive this, please write back and let me know what you think.
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Metronomy – Heartbreaker
Sugarcubes – I’m Hungry
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If songs are satellites, then what is a playlist. S-, I wonder how you are faring. I have been thinking about you lately and am curious as to how the sum of our sporadic encounters will add up. If we have ascertained even a mere fraction of possibility. There’s a passage by Sheffield: I was young, idealistic, and reluctant to learn any of the ways of the world, even when it would have been to my advantage to do so. He says this just before meeting his wife. I suppose we are all afflicted by youth and idealism, as if it were something to be grown out of. The past couple years have been difficult; I’ve closed myself off to many things, little doorways and tightly bound closets. Just recently, I have been opening them up. In one corner, I discovered an affinity for you.
* * *
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
Catatonia – Dazed, Beautiful, and Bruised
My Cousin I Bid You Farewell – Style and Grace (live)
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This is a mix tape. It is a quantum flickering in and out of existence in the moldering heart of a woebegone galaxy. I have put it together, dismantled it, revised it, and devised a final form. It is a salvation of sorts. Perhaps it is the extension of a hand that reached across one loud night beneath a disco ball sky and dragged me back from the edge of a metaphorical ledge. Metaphorical because like youth, I hope sadness is something to be grown out of too. I don’t know. When I am beside you, my nonexistence becomes real. Does that make sense? For all the things I’ve lacked the courage to say, this tape can declare. It delineates borders. On the outskirts of these borders, black holes implode with much aplomb, inverted fireworks darkening the night. We are safe within our sphere, it is brighter here. And here, I exist only to collide with your phantom spark. Look! The evening sets. Our bodies twist to shadows, stretched by an indeterminate vortex. I barely know you.
* * *
Cassettes Won’t Listen – Freeze and Explode
Ladyhawke – Magic
Van She – Kelly
Janelle Monae – Many Moons
* * *
You tell me you are leaving. Soon, in a few short months, you will be crossing an ocean. If the job is permanent, you will stay there. If not, well, who knows where I will be. The future is haphazard and impetuous. We can spend years working towards a goal, only to be upturned by happiness down a side (and oftentimes, unforeseeable) path. I said I would miss you. I hope that didn’t come across as facetious because maybe you might consider it improbable for someone to miss another after so tenuous of a night, if we can even call ourselves friends over the scattered moments we’ve known each other. But it’s just as Los Campesinos shouted: absence makes the heart grow fonder, fondness makes the absence longer. And somehow, I feel like I’m being undercut.
* * *
Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines
Faded Paper Figures – North By North
US Royalty – Every Summer
Los Campesinos – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
* * *
This is it. The mix tape begs for a reply, even satellites with a chest of messages still get unraveled by the looping deck; because, out in space, there’s only the nebulae to keep you company. There’s only stars. I don’t think I can send you this letter anymore because I am frightened by my hand, that with a pen the stroke of a sum can add to a holier union, that it is possible to alter the tide from its natural course to crash on a dearer shore. Some people live to affect. Others live to be an effect. This crush is crushing for an outcome.
Outside, the night air is warm, early for the season. The strange scent of flowers have crept in through the window screen. You found me on a cold day, I am finding you on a warmer one. Wherever you are, I hope you are well, and when you go, remember that life can take more than you are willing to give, even if you are prepared to be swept away. Should you return sooner than later, don’t be a stranger. S-, before I end this letter, I need to tell you: I do not know how to or if I love you, only that I am here, drawn as bees are, to trace the outline of your scent.
* * *
Audrey Sessions – Relentless
Union of Knives – Evil Has Never
Raine Maida – Yellow Brick Road
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*Note: Lollerblades! This is me channeling sappiness! Also, actual mix is slightly different but that is because youtube does not have all of the songs. Should I give her this letter?!