Let me show you my collection of heads. I mean, tapes.

I have a great mix tape collection. I used to have more, but on Valentines day in 2001 someone broke into my car (okay, the door were unlocked, but I lived in safe Lancaster, so what do you expect?) and stole many of my tapes. Why they would steal them, I don’t know…unless they had heard about my awesome collection.

Recently, I have become completely dissatisfied with my collection of iTunes tunes. I’m tired of buying music at the iTunes store, and I dropped my computer, broke my disk drive, and can no longer add new music via that port. Sometimes I bring my computer to work, when I am tired of picking and choosing which songs I want to place on my iPod, and place all 5290 songs on shuffle and jam out. But, I’ve heard all the songs a million times, and not all of them are appropriate for a coffee shop.
For instance:

Although, recently I have found one hidden gem among the well worn rockings of my collection- Andy Votel, Songs in the Key of Death. If you don’t own this, get it. Immediately.

Because of this recent disillusionment I’ve started returning to the collection of plastic and magnets that have served me so well over the years.

Among the tapes that I pulled for work is the first tape mix tape I ever received. The label says “Tape for Courtney,” and I’m pretty sure that it came along with a letter from a Yahoo! chat friend (a Canadian named Jay) in 2000.

I have long since lost the track list, so aside from the brutally classic 90’s bands like Jawbreaker, Belle and Sebastian, the Weakerthans, and Jets to Brazil I can’t figure out who the rest of the songs are by.
And no, I don’t want to Google every song.

By far my favorite song that I gained from this particular tape was Jim Guthrie’s Sexy Drummer. It’s a total downer, but it’s really wonderful. It’s not an mp3, so I can’t put it in a player, but here’s a link to it on Lastfm.

I’m actually listening to the tape right now, and I can’t get over how great all these songs are, although so very dated by now I guess. Here’s another honorable mention from the tape.

I once had a wonderful tape from a friend named Nick S. He never gave me a track list, because he wanted me to eventually uncover all of the bands and songs on my own. It was a wonderful few years, hearing songs at shows, or at friends’ houses, and immediately recognizing them as having been on that great tape. The tape has since been stolen by another Canadian named J.D. But, that was forever ago, too. It’s probably in the trash. How sad.

Anyway, here’s a pictorial journey through some of my favorite tapes that I’ve collected through the years:
(*A quick note, these are in no particular order, and the photo quality of many of them is kind of crummy.)

This tape was made for and given to me by a guy I dated in Colorado, for my 18th, or 19th birthday. He titled it “Courtney’s Masturbation Mix,” which was totally embarrassing. I tried to rip the label off, because the tape is really really good, and I didn’t want everyone to see the title every time I pulled it out to play it. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and I was left with just the word “Masturbation.”
The tape includes songs by Rancid, Screeching Weasel, the Slackers, and American Steel. He was really into pop-punk.

This tape was made for and given to me by a guy I worked with at my first job as a pizza girl at Metro Express in Lancaster, named Matt U. He gave it to me when I was about to drive all the way to Denver, Colorado with everything I could fit into my car in order to go to school. The tape is called “Drive Real Fast,” and includes songs by Tom Waits, The Kinks, Nina Simone, and a ton of Bob Dylan.

(I would like to note that an awesome guy named Jim E., who was and I guess still is really good friends with Matt U. also made me a tape for my journey, but it got lost when my car got totaled in Denver.)

I made this tape for myself before I sold most of my CDs in order to finance my move from Denver to Philly. It includes two songs from each of some of the CDs I sold. It includes songs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the International Noise Conspiracy, and …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

This tape was made for me by a guy I used to date named Bobby S. I used to work at a grocery store cutting fruit at 5a.m. I would bring tapes to listen to, and at the time I was getting sick of the tapes I am currently so proud of. He made this for me so I had something new.
It includes songs by the Ramones, Operation Cliff Clavin, and the Fugs.

Okay, it’s not a real tape, but when my fiancee, Bob, came out to Minneapolis to scout it out before we moved here he found this little charmer, and made me a mix.
Tape includes songs by Grandpa Boy, Black Francis, and the Gin Blossoms.

This is a break-up tape, made to win me back. It worked. A little. We broke up later, and I moved away from Denver. The full title is Maybe it’s This Room/ But Everything Reminds me of You.
Songs include Big Star-Ballad of El Goodo, Pedro the Lion- Options, The Ramones- I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, Bouncing Souls- These Are The Quotes from Our Favorite 80’s Movies, and the Dead Kennedies- Terminal Preppie.

This is probably one of my most favorite tapes ever in history. It was made by this guy I had a HUGE crush on in Denver named Zach. This tape made it much worse.
Includes songs by Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, David Allan Coe, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Hank Williams.

I went for a visit in Vermont, and my boyfriend at the time made this for me. The songs include Bjork- Unravel, Death Cab for Cutie- Blacking out the Friction, Simon and Garfunkel- Homeward Bound, and Optiganally Yours- Oar.

I don’t think this tape was MADE for me. If I remember correctly, this super cool dude (now an awesome artist) Andy G. gave this to me in high school, because I’d never heard The Make-Up before. The other side is all Sonic Youth. I wasn’t cool until I got this tape. Thanks, Andy. (A little taste of The Make-Up following the tape photo.)

This was made by James Derosa. No matter how you feel about him, he’s really a character. He’s a memorable guy. I feel like that’s a dumb way to describe someone, but it’s just the flat fact about it. Even though I’ve got some less than stellar memories about him (he’s not dead or anything), I also have some good ones. Some really good ones. One of them is this tape. He made this tape for me on my first birthday in Philadelphia. I guess I was turning 21.
It is hands down one of the best tapes I’ve ever gotten, and I listen to it a lot.
Songs on this tape include a Dinosaur Jr. cover of Just Like Heaven (on the track list he wrote next to the song title “*Punches Emo Kid in the Arm* Do you want to cry? Or do you want to ROCK?”), James Carr- At the Dark End of the Street, The Blow- Jet Ski Accidents, Daniel Jonston- Come See Me Tonight, The Unicorns- Ghost Mountain, and Little Wings- Boom.

This is the same tape, but I had made him a tape in high school with this cover, and he still had it I guess, so he used it as the cover for my birthday tape.

So, to be honest, I rarely listen to this tape because it’s a lot of heavy drums and high-pitched male scream-singing that I just can’t get down with anymore, but Mike Z. made this for me. He also made me a tape at the time called “Eggshells and Thumbtacks” that I also lost in the car accident. I thought that should be represented here in some capacity, although I don’t recall what was on that tape either. But I remember liking it. Then again, I also really liked this tape when I got it, too.

Though not a mix, this is a wonderful tape. Zach S. made this for me, and I used to listed to it over and over and over again. Rainy Day Regatta is absolutely beautiful, but almost impossible to find. I will never get rid of this tape.
The other side has an album by a band called Go Sailor that had a song or two on the But I’m a Cheerleader soundtrack.

Richie Roxas. The title of this tape is “What did Frankenstein say to the rapper?/ UGGGGHHHH!” He told that joke for almost a whole year, but replacing “rapper” with everything, i.e. What did Frankenstein say to the dentist? UUUGGGGHHHH! What did Frankenstein say to the president? UUUUGGGGGHHH!
It was pretty funny.
The man was nice enough to make me this tape of socially aware hip-hop from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The Nonce song at the beginning of this post was discovered on this tape.
Other songs include Swollen Members- Lady Venom, Organized Konfusion- Questions, and Freddie Foxxx-Industry Shakedown.

Bob made this tape for me when we first started going out. Unfortunately the quality wasn’t the best, because who has a good tape player these days? Luckily, there was also a CD made of the same songs. I kept the tape for posterity, and because it’s cute.
Includes songs by Art Brut, The Pixies, and Andrew W.K.

This last block of tapes are all from the same person. Patrick Kelly.
We’ve been exchanging letters, tapes, CDs, pictures, and various other artifacts from our lives for about 5 years, or so. We’ve been in each other’s company maybe 20 times, due to visits, photo exchange, and a one-time video chat.
I count Patrick among my best friends, and it’s partly due to these wonderful, beautiful, perfect tapes. (He’s made quite a few mix CDs also, but this post isn’t about those).
The first tape pictured is the most recent tape he’s sent, and is my favorite to listen to at work. It features songs that have been either slowed, or quickened during the recording process. California Dreamin’ has been slowed just so, in order to sound rather ominous, and not cheery. Brand New Key has been sped up to sound almost too cute, and obnoxious.
It freaks people out. Someone asked me the other day who was covering the Crystals “And Then He Kissed Me,” and I had to explain that it wasn’t a cover, but it was just slower than normal. The girl who asked me seemed disappointed at my answer, and this gave me great joy.

The last tape pictured is of the first tape he ever sent me. It includes songs by the Decemberists, Tilly and the Wall, Belle and Sebastian, Jets to Brazil, Piebald, John Vanderslice, and some band covering Roky Erikson’s “I Walked with a Zombie.”

I would talk about the other tapes, but they’re all pretty personal to me, so I’ve already given you a lot, and I’d be surprised if you read this far.


6 responses to “Let me show you my collection of heads. I mean, tapes.

  1. The band that did “I Walked With a Zombie” is Elf Power. And they’re great. And so are you.

  2. Great post, but I have a question for you.

    How many Valentine’s Days were there in 2001?

  3. Those are some awesome filing cabinets of memories. Reminds me of trying to catch songs off the radio and hating DJs that would talk over the last part of the song.

  4. I read all of it and loved it. I love love love reading about things like this. The fact that you still have so many from years ago and how each one holds a different meaning is amazing.

  5. And I’ll send out your mix tape (well, actually it’s a CD) by Friday.

  6. okay, so i found your blog. and i am obsessed with this entry. and so jelly. all of my life’s mixed tapes are gone, gone, gone. you’re the bomb.

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