When Gary Chapman penned his over-hyped The Five Love Languages, I think he forgot a few. Everyone knows I count sarcasm among my “love languages.” Sarcasm is a safe indication of my comfort level with a person. If I can mock you, I think you’re fantastic.
I hereby submit another love language for consideration. Mixed tapes have long been tomes of thoughtful messages, presented in a fashion that their creator could probably otherwise not manage. Technology has increased the ease of today’s version, the mixed CD, but the heart behind the project remains.
I don’t make such discs often. But when I do, I take immense pleasure in considering a selection of songs tailored to an individual. They may be selected based on the recipient’s previously indicated musical inclinations. This was the case with a disc I burned last summer for my friend Brandon. I knew he liked the little bit of Patty Griffin he’d heard. I sent him a sampler that included a few highlights from her albums, as well as songs from other musicians I suspected he’d enjoy. After he purchased Patty CDs, I knew the mission was successful.
Songs on a mixed disc may reflect a common theme. Alisa and I share a love of coffee and an ever-increasing snobbery toward that beverage. (She’s more advanced than I am, I must admit. And I would hope so, since she’s currently a barista at the ‘bucks!) Developing a compilation of coffee-related songs was a natural outpouring of that love. So too was a similar disc I created for a coffeehouse this summer.
Sometimes it’s fun to create a CD for a specific person but without a particular reason. That was my mission this morning. I have a postcard I’ve been meaning to send Lara, but I figured I’d wait until I had something to accompany it. I had a few blank CDs occupying my CD case, and I know Lara enjoys being exposed to new music. (She collected all sorts of recommendations from our fellow interns this summer!) So I grabbed my CD case, my computer and a blank disc and set to work.
The disc began as a compilation of songs she had probably never heard that I thought she ought to appreciate. (Isn’t that just dandy? Seize every opportunity to force your musical interests on others!) As I worked, it evolved into a twangier effort than I expected. Thus, Under the (Southern) Influence was born.
Under the (Southern) Influence
Never mind that the musicians on this CD hail from numerous locales, such as California (Nickel Creek), Missouri (Sandra McCracken), Massachusetts (Patty Griffin), Ireland (Damien Rice) and England (Jamie Cullum). Their twang evokes sophisticated echoes of my homeland. Several southerners – and Texans – are also represented, including Tara Leigh Cobble (Tennessee), Caedmon’s Call and Old 97’s (Texas) and Marc Broussard (Louisiana).
1. Home – Marc Broussard :: I love the percussion in this song, especially late in the track when they really let loose! Makes me wanna dance.
2. Volcano (instrumental) – Damien Rice :: I already adore Damien Rice (and the other two recordings I have of this song), but the interplay between the cello and electric guitar here make me fall in love with his music all over again.
3. English Girls, Approximately – Ryan Adams :: I don’t know why American Adams is fascinated with Brits, but I love the bright, cheery guitar on this song.
4. Here’s to Hindsight – Tara Leigh Cobble :: Tara Leigh called this a hootenanny, but this fun song also has a serious (and uplifting) message.
5. Florida – Patty Griffin :: Here’s hoping you never consider my home state with the same poetic forlorn as Patty.
6. All Night – Sam Phillips :: I know nothing about this artist, but I love the sultry vocals of this track.
7. Find You Out (What Matters) – Sandra McCracken :: Sandra is one of my favorite songwriters and the primary reason I’m going to Atlanta this weekend. (She also wrote “Manner and the Means,” featured later on this disc.)
8. Spit on a Stranger – Nickel Creek :: Nickel Creek is my favorite band, and their versatility is one reason why. This song is a cover of the indie alternative band, Pavement.
9. Melancholy Polly – Alison Moorer :: Moorer provides an easy listen, but the song’s upbeat nature betrays its lonely title character. I think of it as a musical character sketch.
10. 500 Miles – Sandra McCracken :: The hints of a banjo add charm to this song, already a favorite for a girl who regularly embarks on 500 mile journeys.
11. All at Sea – Jamie Cullum :: Here’s to relaxing with good music at the end of a long day.
12. I Should’ve Known Better – Nickel Creek :: I may not have cause for bitterness, but this remains a favorite angry relationship tune.
13. Calendars & Maps – Tara Leigh Cobble :: Tara Leigh cuts to the heart of long distance relationships – it’s a struggle, but it can be worthwhile. And that’s why I had to include it.
14. New York – Ryan Adams :: Because we need to take a trip there, someday!
15. Crash on the Barrelhead – Old 97’s :: As I added songs, this CD got twangier and twangier. What better excuse to include one of my favorite random songs?
16. Manner and the Means – Caedmon’s Call :: Because everyone should know that Caedmon’s Call is more than the simplistic songs played on Christian radio.
17. Dirty Pearly – Angela McClusky :: McClusky communicates a reminder of a woman’s worth in an honest vocal.
18. Dixie – Think of this as the theme song of the South. We may have lost the war, but we retained our heritage – and you know you love it! 🙂
19. Oh Atlanta – Alison Krauss + Union Station :: Krauss may be a Yankee by birth (she’s from Illinois), but this bluegrass number beckons me to road trip on a sunny Southern day.
Here’s hoping Lara doesn’t read this, because it’s way more fun to be surprised than to know you’ve got something coming to you. 🙂 But I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this page; she only gets online in the computer lab, so even if she does access it, it’s not on a terribly regular basis. Oh, and I know the songs aren’t all twangy. They just worked together, okay?
And now for a disclaimer merited by any mention of burning CDs. I am not all for copying music for people. I think it’s unfair to the artists who make their living from their craft, some of whom I’ve become rather friendly with. But I do believe in using a sampler disc to introduce people to music they may want to purchase. That’s why I never use more than two or three songs from a single CD on a mixed disc. You’ve always got to leave them wanting more! If you disagree with this policy, let me know… especially if your songs are included here. I’ll be sure not to include you on future compilations if you’re uncomfortable with the idea.