A mix tape, and the story behind it

May 18, 2011

Production manager Seth Lind writes:

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out our storage closet (yes, it's as glamorous as you imagine around here), and came across a bunch of blank cassette tapes. I remembered putting them in the closet five years earlier, so I figured we wouldn't be using them anytime soon. Rather than toss them, I tweeted out asking if any listeners still make mix tapes and wanted to take them off our hands. A surprisingly large number of people responded.

But then I got curious about what mixes people would make. So when I sent off the tapes I asked folks to also upload a digital version on, a site that lets you legally create and share mixes, so that we could put a few up here on our blog along with the stories behind them. Maybe we'll even match up some of the actual tapes with other listeners.

Here's the first one, from Jamin Hoyle in Maryland. He made a mix with one song for each of his co-workers as he was leaving a job. It has 35 songs, so I'm guessing it filled two tapes. If you're not in the mood for, say, stories on a theme, give a listen.

Jamin writes:

I just left my job as an art director at a design and advertising agency. I was only there for six busy, stormy months. I made a mixtape for the agency and gave it to them on the last day. Because that's what you do when you're wrung out and you want to say something but you can't use the real words.

I put it on the server and let everybody download it, telling them there was a song in there for all 35 people in the agency. But I didn’t tell anybody which song was whose. I just thought it would be a fun puzzle to let people try to figure it out. Plus, the whole point of saying goodbye is hoping to be remembered for a little while after you’re gone. I’ve always been afraid of being forgotten.

One of my best friends at the agency is warm and joyful and exuberant and cocksure and from the Midwest. She got Hey Nonny Nonny, not really for the lyrics but because of the way the song makes me feel. It’s boisterous and loud but also reverential. And because Violent Femmes are from the Midwest.

A woman who worked pretty closely alongside me and did a lot of the heavy lifting got 99, which is about Agent 99 from Get Smart.

Get Me is about somebody who didn’t turn out to be the person I hoped or wanted he would be.

I've broken the agreed-upon conventions of mixtapes. i.e. more than one entry from the same band (and worse, more than one entry from the same album), it runs far too long, the first half is solid but becomes a bit of a mishmash after Wave of Mutilation, there’s just a shade too much pop-punk, no Al Green.

Truth be told, I had to cheat. I got close to my quit date and realized that I didn’t get to know every person in just six months. Some people didn’t get songs. On the other hand, I grew extremely fond of some people and they got multiple songs. And frankly, some songs are on there just because they’re cathartic and I like them.

Leaving of Liverpool - The Pogues
I Don't Love Anyone - Belle & Sebastian
Hey Nonny Nonny - Violent Femmes
You Don't Know... - Jawbreaker
Career Opportunities - The Clash
Ivy League College - J Church
The Boy Who Sailed Around the World - Go Sailor
Winterlong - Pixies
Jamie (Live and Acoustic) - Weezer
Ask - The Smiths
Hot Guacamole - MF Doom & MC Paul Barman
No Culture Icons - The Thermals           
Detroit Has a Skyline - Superchunk
99 - Screeching Weasel
Disappearing Boy - Green Day
Chesterfield King - Jawbreaker
Get Me - Dinosaur Jr
Brandy Alexander - Feist
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) - Pixies
Burn Your Way Home - Algebra One
Range Life - Pavement
Wings of a Dove - Madness
Young Livers - Rocket from the Crypt
Dead - They Might Be Giants
Maggie Mae - The Pietasters
We Ain't Even Married - Young Pioneers
Cottleston Pie - Rowlf the Dog
Now That You Are Gone - Mr. T Experience
My Favorite Place - J Church
Fett's Vette - MC Chris
Cut Your Hair - Pavement
Please Do Not Go - Violent Femmes
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism - The New Pornographers
My Brain Hurts - Screeching Weasel
Walcott - Vampire Weekend