Cassette From My Ex makes me nostalgic for times I'm not even old enough to remember: times when boys and girls who liked each other made the effort to press record and stop over and over in order to perfect the art of the mixtape, instead of just the easy carelessness of creating a playlist on iTunes and hitting "Burn CD." Making mixes is still a definite sign of affection, though. My ex-boyfriend made one for me before he left for London called "I Can't Believe I'm Making a Pretty Mix For a Girl." (The title basically sums up our relationship in a nutshell) I distinctly remember making one for a high school boyfriend of mine before he went to Europe for the summer. It was wonderfully titled "Europe Sucks But I Swallow." All of my mixes, given and received, seem to include the same songs and bands. Perhaps they are representative of the times. Or perhaps they're just representative of the kind of guys I choose to date:
1. The Decemberists. Usually "On the Bus Mall," but can also include "Engine Driver" or another mopey song with fat, sad acoustic chords.
2. Sufjan Stevens. Every mix I've made since first being introduced to Sufjan has had "Casimir Pulaski Day" on it. Call me a traditionalist.
3. Bob Dylan. Young lovers see romance in Dylan's skinny, scruffy frame and cigarette addiction. I don't know why, he was notoriously incapable of true love.
4. Joy Division. In retrospect, it's probably a bad sign to have "Love Will Tear Us Apart Again" on a mixtape for or from your paramour.
5. Modest Mouse. Since my faint obsession with them began in 8th grade, they've always had a presence on my mixes. Usually "The Stars are Projectors" because it's sad AND romantic, just like I was in high school!
6. Radiohead. I mean - obviously.
7. Some Form of Ben Gibbard. Death Cab or Postal Service or Ben Gibbard solo always open or close an album, tying it up with intensely fearful and angsty lyrics.
8. Kanye West. Look! I can listen to "hip hop" too!
9. The Smiths. Always "There is a Light That Never Goes Out;" sometimes "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want."
10. Van Morrison. Straight from our parents' waning record collection, "Sweet Thing" is the be all end all of mixes.