its so funny that i rarely talk about music on the draw! pilgrim blog, and yet in reality it plays a very big part in my life. since i was about 13 i’ve been quite obsessive about music. expanding my tastes and finding new favorite bands are one of my life’s greatest pleasures. as a teenager i’d spend all my time in my room making mix tapes (when there were tapes) for long suffering friends. curating each playlist, carefully charting the arc of the tape’s mood, hand making covers and cases and most importantly making sure there were no bits of songs cut off at the end of the tape.
i longed for the time when i’d be finished with school for good and could spend the rest of my adult life making mixtapes, i mean, that’s a job right? well, alas, real life intervened with my grand plans for full time professional mixtapery and though i enjoy throwing together a playlist and whipping up a cover in illustrator it just isn’t the same, is it? ten years ago i sent my boyfriend a lovingly minted david bowie mixtape that think i might owe our whole relationship to!
when i’d run out of school friends to make mixes for, i went further afield. i made mixes to post to new found internet friends, friends who lived in exotic and exciting locations like hull, in england (when visiting hull later, i discovered it wasn’t nearly as exotic or exciting as i’d dreamed) and in return i’d get mixes back from them. on the whole it was mostly bands i listened to already, i poured over uk music magazines like they contained hidden clues to the secret of life, so by that point i felt like i’d exhausted the britpop /post punk/etc. just as i was about to move onto avant garde jazz or grindcore metal, my friend dominic sent me a tape. he told me it was made by his flat mate, and he thought i’d like it. it didn’t have a name and it didn’t have a case.
‘like’ is probably the greatest understatement possible. i’m not sure i listened to anything but that tape for at least 6 months. it was like being ushered into a radio station of my favorite music that i’d never heard before. i took it to school and listened to it secretly in class. i slept with it on repeat. the tape got jammed in my player, and so i took it to the audio studio and bribed the technician with custard tarts until he agreed to magically restore its life. this tape was the lynch pin of my adolesence. it was the seed from which all current musical taste has grown. am i making myself clear enough? i really loved the tape!
i can’t send every one of you a mix tape – postage and law suit costs make it kinda prohibitive (remember kids: home taping is killing music!) – but i want to share some of my favorite music with you. so, i guess consider this part one of an (in)frequent mixtape feature. part one, my teenage bedroom top five, part inspired by that precious mix tape. if you’re interested in any of the songs, click the link below the album covers to find out more.
song: i’m in love with a girl (who doesn’t know i exist)
this was track one, side one from that well loved mix tape of mine. it introduced me to the sarah records label and ignited a love of fey indie music. as it says on the wikipedia page this song’s title really does sum up the mood of the entire sarah records catalogue, and epitomizes those angsty teenage sagas of unrequited love.
“now the centre of my so called being is the space between your bed and wardrobe with the louvre doors
i remember being so excited when tigermilk was re-released 4 years after its initial release. it took me 8 weeks of patiently waiting while the lousy music store ordered it in. ah! that sweet pain of being a teenager and liking an obscure band! does that even exist in this download generation? feel free to insert your own rant about ‘kids these days’ haha
how could we talk angst and not mention the smiths?! crushing misery paired with jangly guitars has never sounded better. and what a loaded sigh of a song title! can’t you just feel the teen ennui oozing out? this was one of my favorite songs on my VHS mixtape. oh yeah, i didn’t just contain my mix tape-making to one medium. i was a mix tape mixed media artist, taping music videos and making super tapes!
song: when you sleep
with lyrics like “i can’t help feeling it cannot last, i can’t help feeling you will break my heart, break my heart” and “on account of you i am able to forget how painful i find living” the field mice fitted right in with sarah records’ forlorn indie pop style. they did have their occasional electronic new order style leanings, but mostly it was heart-wrenchingly acoustic guitar based songs of love lost, and love never found.
i know what you’re thinking, “the beach boys?!” well when they weren’t wishing the world was populated with california girls, and singing about surfing brian wilson, was shut up in his room with his neurosis. the eternal angsty teenager gives us this harmony soaked song filled with all the melodrama and longing of those teenage years, in a hymn to every teenager’s sanctuary. my old bedroom is pictured at the top of this post, in all its messy, confused-self-expressiony glory!
i hope you enjoy this modern day mix tape. we don’t even have a tape player anymore, except in the car – which i can’t drive, but i still have my precious tape. there’s a jump in the middle of two of the songs where the tape got chewed, then healed by ron-the-magic-technician. the label i put on it has faded to a barely readable pink smudge, and still i love it. adolescence is a miserable, confusing time. there’s crazy hormones and you’re trapped for a while in that lonely chasm between childhood and adulthood, but this tape made it just that bit better. so dom’s flatmate from ten years ago, where ever you are, i owe you one magnificent mix tape.