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I have talked on a couple of occasions on my views on music as a cultural and psychological phenomenon.  I personally see music as a unique carrier for the experiences and memories that make up the tapestry of our existence.  There are few things out there that can become so attached to a particular memory the way music can.

Today, as I was listening to my iPod shuffle some of my favorite tunes in the typical strange transitions my eclectic tastes create, I caught myself doing something I hadn’t thought about for some time.  I was mentally crafting a mix tape.

I don’t know how universal the mix tape experience is, especially for those of you younger than me, but the mix tape was a common thing back in my junior high and high school days.  I do know it must have a certain universality because there is even a song about the mix tape in the musical “Avenue Q.” 

Now, I know that most mix tapes were the juvenile fumblings at attempting to express emotions we either A) didn’t really understand or B) didn’t really have, but thought we did.  I know in my day I made a few, and even today I occasionally mix a CD for my wife as a little gift to express my continued love for her.

However, these days, as I think about it, I have my head in a mix tape mode on an off-an-on basis for more than the typical reasons.  My head will find common themes in songs and raft mental playlists of songs to cover everything from trying to say I’m sorry to someone to music for when I’m in a dark mood to music that is good to drive to. 

The funny thing about this, though, is how completely natural the process feels.  I don’t make a decision to start doing it, and I don’t usually have the process going consciously.  It is like a background process in my mind that keeps going while I work on other things.  Because of this, the lists my head crafts rarely actually make it into iPod playlists or onto burned CDs.

Still, when I notice my head fall into that mode, it is interesting to shift my focus a little and see what’s going on.  It gives me a window into my current mood and state of mind that sometimes tells me things about myself even I didn’t realize.  It also allows me to discover new nuances to songs I’ve always enjoyed.

Now, where did I put those blank CDs.

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