I’ve been transferring my music again – this time from Computer A, which has a stone-age processor and is made up of not one, not two, but THREE hard drives – to External Hard Drive B, that’s one-gazillionth the size of a Mack truck with five times the storage.
|Mix CDs given from the heart can be sweet
and musically a propos. But they can also be stark reminders
of why you broke up with Person X in the first place.
What always strikes me every time I undertake a Music Migration project – and yes, I do it so often that it has earned proper noun status – is not only how much of my music I never listen to, but how much my music collection is a direct chronological reflection of my dating history.
When I put my iPod on shuffle, I always frantically skip past at least half of the songs, and, much like when memories of my past love affairs creep into my mind, I cringe and say, “What was I thinking?” In my Pod you can find musical gems from such far-flung genres as gangsta rap and children’s Christmas music. There’s also ska, a Britney Spears song, and a disturbingly large collection of Butthole Surfers and Wu-Tang Clan. I even have files named “Mysterious Blank CD 1, 2, & 3.” All of which shows that over the years, I have melded music collections with a lot of people with widely differing tastes.
A tour through my MP3s will take you on a sentimental journey through my love interests, going as far back as high school. From the boyfriends of my early adolescence, I acquired The Cranberries, Live, No Doubt (I know, right?), Garbage and Tom Petty. Surprisingly, I still like most of this stuff. I also acquired Aqua and Tori Amos as creepy gifts from a secret admirer that wormed their way into my locker when I wasn’t looking.
From the first C— I dated in college (there were at least two, but who can keep track?), I got a bunch of funky/cool instrumental techno, sweaty boy music like Tool, and alphabet soup: IPC, APC and RATM. From the second one, I got a whole lot of P-funk, Toto, ska, Information Society, Devo, and Ani Difranco. He thought that 2/3 time was the future of music. Both the C—s disappeared after freshman year with nary a word of goodbye, but here I am, ten years later, living with a Specials album I never listen to and a weird song about a pickle that sometimes pops into my head without warning.
I inherited a cache of trance-y techno through J—, who left me for Seattle and a pill-popping girl with a tramp stamp. From S1—, whose heart I apparently broke, I got Sneaker Pimps and a letter in which he was kind enough to include a reading list, from which I learned that “Whores and Other Feminists” is not, as he thought, a diatribe excoriating independent women of loose morals, but an empowering indictment of misogyny and heteronormativity.
For Jim Morrison, Blur, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, Beck, and Leonard Cohen, I have A1— to thank. He also left me with an eclectic collection of novelty music, including Adam Sandler, the Bloodhound Gang and a coterie of sound effects from such estimable television shows as Invader Zim and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
From A2—, I inherited the entire gangsta rap oeuvre, from the 80s onward, of which my favorites are Eve and Lil’ Kim. The rest I keep just in case I ever need to throw a gin-n-juice party. I also am now the proud owner of every Indigo Girls song ever written. A2— also is responsible for that solitary, overprocessed Britney Spears hit.
From S2—, I got a few good things, like Mazzy Star and Thom Yorke. The rest included such not-so-good things as a freakishly complete collection of Chris Isaak and Corey Hart, and a bunch of stuff so odious it had to be destroyed: Soundtracks from 1970s porn, The Sound of Music, Ren & Stimpy, and Sesame Street, poorly performed audio erotica, and at least a gig of crappy, annoying sound effects. What is it with men and sound effects? From him, I kept a large contingent of Appalachian folk, just in case I ever need to soothe an errant, unwashed banjoist.
|Mixtapes represent the pinnacle of musical love gestures.
They can take a day or more of laborious effort to make,
and when someone makes you one, you
know you own them. Nowadays, I get my mixtape
fix via The International Mixtape Project.
L— has gifted me every single Tori song ever performed, from 1980s covers to live and/or remixed versions of Bells for Her, as well as Kirsten Hersh, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Lamb, Bat for Lashes, Joanna Newsom, and a bunch more. I’d say our tastes align the most closely out of the bunch.
Not all my music has come from lovers, of course. From my friend Colin I acquired a bunch of ridiculously good self-produced trance and a collection of Frank Zappa and Primus, which, oddly, I gave to my mom. Go even farther back and you’ll find the roots of my love for Tori Amos, in the form of mix tapes I used to get in the mail from my friend Naomi, whose tapes squeezed my impressionable brain into the proper shape for learning to appreciate loads and loads of weird music, if only on the most academic of levels.