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I set about making this mix with a road trip in mind. Specifically, a road trip that Sarah and I will be taking next month. I wanted something that reflected the things and places we’d see along the way. Utah and the desert played a huge roll in that line of thought. As did generalities like the open road and people who we might meet along the way.
Well, along the way, I somehow got sidetracked.
The mix is still all about these things, but somewhere, somehow, it took a more somber turn. I’m not really sure when or what happened to make this occur, but the mix I envisioned was a much different thing than the end result.
That said, I really do like this mix. Though I wanted it to be happy and uplifting and it turned out to be somber and sort of dower, there is something in the thread that runs through it that perfectly captures the road.
Road trips themselves can be like that. You got into it thinking that it will be this amazing thing, but as you go, it starts to turn into something you didn’t expect. It’s not always bad – actually, it’s most often good – but the difference surprises you. And this surprised me.
The mix starts as I wanted it, as a sort of tribute to the teenage movies of the late 50s. Many of the samples that I used came from those (more on that in the next post). I wanted a theme song and found The Sonics’ “Have Love Will Travel.” I figured that it would work perfectly since they were from Seattle.
And I’ve always wanted to use Sugarhill Gang’s “Hot Hot Summer Day” in a mix. I even got to do a fun little re-edit of the song. It didn’t quite seem to flow with the idea of a road trip, but I figured that it set the scene. It’s summer, it’s the end of school.
I got farther off the course with Spark’s “With All My Might.” It’s not a road song at all. But it’s a clever song and I think it fits. I mean, it didn’t fit with my original idea, but as that began to slide into an idea all its own, the Sparks song slid along with it.
“Gold It’s In The…” by Pink Floyd is just a great classic rock song from an album stuffed full of similar songs. This is a road song about the journey, plain and simple. It’s a song about someone you’d meet in a roadside cafe or maybe you’d talk to while filling up the tank. He’s in it for the road, not the gold.
But Naomi Shelton’s “I’ll Take the Long Road,” is all mine. This is how I travel – physically and spiritually. I may not get there as fast as you, but I’ll get there.
I wanted this mix to utilize my ever-growing fascination for early 80s electronic music. Instead, I chose Martial Canterel’s “Windscreen,” a song that was recorded only a few years ago, though all upon early 80s analog synths. I wanted a song about the desert to lead us into Utah. I got that.
Getting lost in the desert is such a cliche, but it’s possible and very scary. Nobody can beat the desert. You can escape it, even live in it, but you have to respect it. The desert always wins. Los Angeles will figure this out soon enough. I know that “Where Do We Go From Here” by Death isn’t about any of that. But it’s easy to bend and shape things to seem what they’re not in a mix like this.
Especially when you bleed it into the Beach Boy’s “Long Promised Road.” Sure, the lyrics are a bit corny, but still pretty inspirationally foolish, when you realize you’re in the desert.
And in the desert is Utah. And in Utah is Brigham Young and the rest of his Mormon followers. You can’t touch Utah and not address the Mormons. They settled the place and built it what it is today. The history, however, is littered with all sorts of horrible and nasty episodes – but then, whose isn’t? Still, I do a bit of delving with the Carter Family’s “River of Jordan” (possibly my favorite Carter Family song) and OMD’s “Genetic Engineering.”
Following OMD, I drew a line connecting Brigham Young and Jim Jones. There’s some odd similarities going on there. Obviously one wasn’t the other, but maybe Jones could have had his Zion if things would have worked out better. “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” right?
This is all put to a stop by Lost in the Trees’ “Walk Around the Lake.” I picked this song simply because I wanted a song about a lake. Lyrically, however, I believe it fits with the motif. That said, where did the road trip mix go? Utah, I guess.
So we have to, once again, rely upon The Boss to bring us back on track. But getting back is more of a segue than an abrupt jump. “Promised Land” could be about Utah. In fact, that’s where it takes place. But instead of Utah being the promised land, as it was for Brigham Young, anywhere but Utah is the promised land in this song.
But out of Utah doesn’t mean out of the desert, and certainly doesn’t mean out of the West. And it’s strange for a wild west song from Big Audio Dynamite, but damn if they don’t deliver. With references to Custer and the cavalry, it’s like they watched “Die with Your Boots On” and then wrote a pop song about it. In fact, that’s where I nabbed the samples leading in and out of this one.
Just as it’s nearly impossible to make a road mix without Springsteen, it’s equally impossible for me to do one without the Handsome Family. Their song “Loneliness of Magnets” is, like a few other songs here, not really about the road. There is, however, a open West, even Native feel to it. Dreams and such.
I know that John Foxx’s “No One Driving” isn’t really about ghost towns, but it really does seem like the perfect song for living in a ghost town. Maybe someone you’d meet in an abandoned village would write this. Who knows? By this time, you’re tired and you’re thinking about home.
With those nasty thoughts of home come the nasty thoughts of all the things you have to do. Anthrax’s cover of Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time” perfectly captures that and the interplosion of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is enough to remind you that there’s at least one other that feels the same.
“All at Sea” is a strange way to end this. But that’s how it ends. The road is the sea and there is always more to it. Road, if you are incredibly fortunate, is home.
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Vinyl LPs from my personal collection.
Turntable: Audio Technica PL-120A
Cartridge: Shure M97XE for 7″
TCC TC-750LC Phono Preamp
Soundcard: Roland Edirol UA-1EX USB external soundcard
Audacity 1.3.13beta on Linux Mint 13
-Digital recording from soundcard
-Editing and splitting of tracks
Gnome Wave Cleaner 0.21-05
-Manual and automatic click/pop removal (used very sparingly)
-Converted WAV to 320kbps MP3