...that's right, the All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten guy.
In the process of moving my stereo equipment and various 45s, 33s, tapes and CDs to my true love's house, I've had the chance to get reacquainted with a few old friends, many comfortably in the OverEasy universe, and some less so. While reexploring these songs and albums, she and I have been pulling together a common songbook for the two of us, conjuring up something that's not just mine, or hers, but ours. (Keep your Doris Day references to yerself, dammit.)
The following quote from the introduction to Robert Fulghum's book Words I Wish I Wrote has inspired many a mixtape for my friends, and I happened to stumble on it again while puttering around the house and listening to audiobooks. It's somewhat excerpted to cut to the chase, but here's what he said:
“If your life were made into a movie, and that movie had a...soundtrack, and I went to a record store to buy a CD of the music, what would be on it? What mood would it leave me in when I played it?
"The questions necessarily impose limitations. The music must fit on a single CD; choices must be made. No defense of choice is necessary. It’s assumed the selections will be idiosyncratic, combining some music in the common realm with bits and pieces of melody patched together from who knows where. The music of the soundtrack of a life will not be original, but it has passed into us, left its sound in the jukebox of the mind, become part of us, and we will likely pass it on.
"Choosing is not easy.”
Indeed. My own efforts at this have been thwarted, frankly. A single CD? One? Yeah, right. The last time I tried to boil my tastes and backstory down in music maybe a decade ago, I came back with 45 hours of music scattered across 18 MiniDiscs, 6 core recordings (including one built around roads I've driven in my life), 6 in the OverEasy vein and the last 6 acting as the instrumental score. Another friend is routinely turning out double CD sets every couple of years, comprised of stuff that moves him, or that served as backdrop to his life.
Another thing to consider, a quote from another guy I consider quite the master of his form, jazz composer/musician Henry Threadgill: "Music should go right through you, leave some of itself inside you, and take some of you with it when it leaves."
That is what music does to me, quite often on a daily basis, at least once, whether new or old, borrowed or blue.
I'm hoping to post one or two of these songlists soon to give you a flavor for this, but you can also safely assume that any given episode of OverEasy catches a fair bit of this philosophy, the "mixtape dynamic" if you will, the feeling that the music must move the listener, and not just sit there as background. You can take a look at wttsfm.com for more.
For now, your turn: pick a format, preferably NOT an iPod playlist, but a finite time frame, say a 50-odd minute vinyl album - ah, hell, I'll be generous here, if Aretha Franklin's 30 Greatest Hits ran 100 minutes across two records, I think that's a fine standard, since it was good enough for her - a 110 minute cassette, an 80-minute CD or my old MiniDisc limit of 161 minutes and 58 seconds. Now, try to find a way to hit the high points of your personal soundtrack in that time frame.
I'll warn you, it's difficult. I've failed at it repeatedly myself...but now that I have a new story brewing, one with the most incredibly savvy significant other I could ask for, and two great kids to boot, I'm finding a way to document us all in some sonic detail. Now, I'd like to see what you come up with.