Friday, March 31, 2017

These Old Walkin' Shoes: Let the Music Do the Talking

A couple weeks ago, or maybe even longer ago than that (sometimes these things all seem to blur together) I wrote an article about the origami love notes that we used to send to each other in junior and high school. That got me thinking of another rite of passage that we used to engage in. Who remembers the mixtape?

It used to be that if you wanted to make a mixtape, you had to listen for your song to pop up on the radio. If it was popular, your best bet was to wait until the evening when the station did their daily top songs of the day. You’d eagerly await the song, fingers hovering over the record button, hoping you’d catch it in time to give to someone the next day. Of course, you had to hope that the DJ didn’t talk over the entire intro. That happened a lot, especially if the song was really, really popular. Sometimes I think they did that on purpose.

In those days, the mixtape was actually on a cassette tape. Today, they can be done simply by making a playlist on your iPod. For old guys like me, I eschew the mp3 players. That’s mostly because I think mp3s are audio equivalents of repeated nails on chalkboards, but that’s a subject for another article. No, for me I’m still using that dinosaur, the CD.

Laugh if you will, but I can get higher quality songs. These same songs would max out an iPod after only a few songs. With the CD, the richer sound of the higher quality files comes through. Granted, they still have nothing on vinyl, but they are massive improvements on mp3s. If you don’t believe me, put a record on your parents’ record player with some good quality headphones, and then listen to the same songs on your iPod through the same headphones.

Anyway, back to the real subject of this article. Mixtapes. They used to be able to send a “message” to the person you were giving it to. I tried to do it for Wendy last night just to see if she’d like my message as well as my throwback to 1990. Making a mixtape in 2017 is far different than it was back then.

It’s relatively easy to find the songs. It's actually probably the easiest time to gather the songs ever. Getting them onto the CD was another matter. There was a lot of back and forth between windows on the laptop (yes, another antiquated system, I know). Finally, I was able to put 21 songs on the CD and got it burned. I’m hoping that I got the songs in the correct order.

Wendy is a country music fan. Lately, I’ve found some delight in listening to some country music, too. My preference, though, seems to be in drinking songs. I’m not exactly sure why, but songs like “Pretty Good Drinking Beer,” “Day Drinking,” and “I Love This Bar” are among my favorites.

Anyway, I tried to send my message to Wendy by putting some songs on a CD and putting it with her work bag. She can listen to the music either on the way to or from work today. Maybe it will put a smile on her face after a long week.

If I did the burn correctly, the first three songs are the message I wanted to convey. It should start with “Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake it For Me),” followed by “Pontoon” and “Sober” by Little Big Town. If you can figure out that message, good on you. It’s pretty obvious, if you ask me.

For the rest of the CD, I put some of those drinking songs that I like. That way, I can listen to the CD in the truck while we’re out and I won’t really mind. Well, at least for a little while. Yes, I have a newfound interest in country, but I can only listen to so much of it before I have to go back to the Grateful Dead or some other classic rock artist live show. I rarely listen to studio music, so the country venture is very new to me.

I will probably not make another mixtape. It was time consuming. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get an mp3 player. I’m just not sure that my ears can handle too much of that sonic garbage that comes from those crappy files. Give me a record any day. Or better yet, let’s go to a concert. There’s nothing quite like a live show.

Craig Bacon is a snob when it comes to the sound quality of his music. He listens to a lot, so sub-par recordings will not do. That just means more concerts. And more concerts.