This week Thematic Static went meta! A radio mixtape made from songs on YOUR mixtapes, burned CDs and digital playlists —those both gifted and received. The idea came when I recently heard The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and was surprisingly reduced to tears remembering my middle school sorta-boyfriend who put that on a cassette for me.
Songs on mixes become ingrained in your life and imprinted on your heart, because they were curated specifically for you (often with a not-so-subliminal message). Some of you shared how you picked a tune with intention on mixtapes past with, uh, mixed results. This show was twisty-turny exciting and I sincerely hope that future internet navigators love listening to this sonic relic of so many past lives as much as we loved making it together.
Listen to the archived show (👇) and give us the goods when you introduce a future request via voice memo at wnxp.org/feedback!
#ThematicStatic Playlist – 7/20/23
T. Rex – “20th Century Boy” – This song is on a “Best Damn Road Trip Mix Ever!” CD-R (look it up, kids) with a lovingly handwritten tracklist tucked in the front of the jewel case. I don’t remember the year it was made for me, honestly. But I kicked off the show with something fully platonic, because it’s not just would-be lovers who dabble in the art of making and gifting mixtapes.
Leon Bridges – “Beyond” – And yet… how sweet when you can get to know someone through the exchange of music during your “courtship,” like our own Marquis Munson did with his beautiful bride. This appeared on a playlist Marquis made for Sarah and then they danced to this song at their wedding. Cue more tender tears!
Coil – “Things Happen” – This song is “just weird enough,” I assured the requester Laura via text. Her “gothic” high school boyfriend made her a mix called Black Birthday Cake (LOL) featuring this almost spoken-word song by an eccentric English ’90s band. Laura listened, loved and drove along her “little East Tennessee roads, smoking cloves and snarling like [she] was delivering a dramatic monologue with a Central European accent.”
Interpol – “C’mere” – I didn’t get a story paired with Evan’s request, but this is a great song for a mix, period. “It should be me! It should beeeee meeee.”
George Michael – “Kissing A Fool” – Someone please request that Khalil Ekulona croon us over the WPLN airwaves one day during This Is Nashville, now that we know his George Michael impression was so effective at wooing the girl. (Well, at least temporarily.) Young love spurred by a song on a summer break mix in the ’80s, you love to hear it!
Waxahatchee – “Can’t Do Much” – Zach said this one was on a mix exchanged he made for his now fiancé, and to which they will dance at THEIR wedding coming up soon. Precious.
The Nightwatchman – “The Road I Must Travel” – Turns out that Tom Morello’s solo work does not sound much like Rage Against The Machine, as a teenage Justin Barney learned from MIKE’S MEGA MIX, a collection I simply must get my hands and ears on.
Blur – “Tender” – This was another no-explanation request, but the tambourine-rich, choir-boosted late ’99s Brit Rock tune certainly struck a chord for Rachel when it was sent to her on a mix.
Litany – “PS2” – I’d never heard this song, nor this story, when Nashville Public Radio colleague Rachel Iocavone sent in her voice memo requesting the song that totally pulled her out of the Friend Zone. Nice work, Rach! This song said the thing so you didn’t have to.
Grateful Dead – “Shakedown Street” – Another buddy-bonding road trip mix selection, this one is from Jaime, who told me:
In 1999, my best friend and I decided to quit our jobs, open a credit card and drive to California. We threw some clothes, a junky guitar and a tent into the back of her Saturn and took off. But not before a wonderful friend put together a road trip cassette mix that would become the soundtrack of our journey west. Every morning started with black coffee, an atlas (!!) and “Shakedown Street” playing as we we decided, “Where will we go today?”Jaime on Instagram
Ron Sexsmith – “At Different Times” – This song reminds Jason Moon Wilkins of The Before Times, when he was a touring musician away from his beloved and had to connect from pay phones across many miles, sometimes even the ocean. He said he put this song on mixes to convey that very feeling of “missing someone so much and how odd it is to be on this Earth at the same time but…different.” This one’s for Carrie. <3