I guess I’m pretty much always working on mix. When I was finishing up Taken for Lost and Gone, I started thinking about what I’d do next. And, of course, the Christmas mix.
Before the last mix was even posted, I had a rough draft of an idea for the next mix. Sarah and I hope to take a trip to Utah this summer. She suggested that I make a roadtrip mix for the occasion. It didn’t take a lot of convincing.
The first thing I do after picking a concept is come up with a list of about twenty songs. About half of that list never makes the final cut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
After picking out the songs, I arrange them into some logical (to me) order. And then starts the listening. I’ll listen to it three or four times, taking notes as I go. Some songs are moved, others are cut, and, as they pop into my head, new songs are added.
While I’m listening, I try to figure out what little extras (samples, etc) might come in handy here or there. That goes in the notes, too. I’ve decided that my mixes will all be like the last one I did – brimming with samples, remixes and extra stuff like that. All of this is done at work. I have a pretty lovely job.
It takes about as long as it takes to finally get the songs in order. Sometimes it’s a week, other times it’s a month or more.
With this mix, songs by REM, Sons of the Pioneers, and the Grateful Dead were all axed. Sometimes you just can’t make one song sound essential when placed next to another song. There really is an art to this. I mean, you don’t want a slew of downer songs surrounding some country swing song, right? You don’t want a poppy synth tune crashing into a thrash song. You need flow. You need continuity. Cutting these songs helped me achieve that.
I kicked around songs by Utah Phillips, Public Image Ltd, Simple Minds and Miracle Legion, but just couldn’t make them work.
But today… oh today I think I’ve finally got it! Of course, I left my notes at work, so whatever changes I made today, I can’t make until tomorrow. You’d think I’d remember where I wanted to place Naomi Shelton’s “I’ll Take the Long Road,” huh. Did I want to move “Promised Land” after Lost in the Trees? I think so, but who knows? And will John Foxx’s “No-One Driving” really slide seamlessly into Anthrax’s “Got the Time”? And what does “You’ll Never Walk Alone” have to do with it? Yes, of course it will. You’ll see.
If I were doing “normal” mixes, I’d be finished at this point. But I’m not doing normal mixes. There’s a lot more going on here.
With this mix in particular, I’ve decided to focus on traveling in the west. Not all the songs are road songs, of course. Some are about places or people you might meet along the way. It doesn’t really tell a story, though the mix is kind of a narrative. It’s music, so I guess it’s the opposite of narration. There’s a start, there’s Utah, and there’s a road home.
For now, that’s all I know.