setting a song free

Making mixtapes has been my thing since seeing High Fidelity in middle school.

Actually, if you want to get technical, I was making mixes even before that, shuffling songs around in Napster and burning them to CDs to play on my boombox. But it was John Cusack’s ranting and raving (and romantic woes) that solidified making a mix as an artform in my mind.

No one talks to the camera quite like John Cusack…

It’s only been since studying film and practicing collage art that I’ve come to realize how much creativity making a mix actually requires. There’s something magic about arranging songs written years and continents apart into a time capsule of sorts. A mix quickly becomes more than the sum of its parts. But a mix also transforms the individual songs themselves.

As Rob Sheffield says in Love is a Mixtape:

We music fans love our classic albums, our seamless masterpieces, our Blonde on Blondes and our Talking Books. But we love to pluck songs off those albums and mix them up with other songs, plunging them back into the rest of the manic slipstream of rock and roll. I’d rather hear The Beatles’ “Getting Better” on a mix than on Sgt. Pepper any day. I’d rather hear a Frank Sinatra song between Run-DMC and Bananarama than between two other Frank Sinatra songs. When you stick a song on a tape, you set it free.

There’s tremendous weight to taking a song from a record where it means one thing and placing it in a mix where it can mean something else entirely.

Once again, the power of juxtaposition.