The Mister Webster Dictionary of Modern English defines a mixed CD as a shiny disc containing all sorts of music. That’s about all I knew going into this article, and boy was I in for a surprise.
I found the CD near the back wheel of a PT Cruiser in the Arby’s parking lot. The PT had some sweet bumper stickers (check page 21 for a full review), and narrowly avoided running right over this treasure. The gods were smiling upon me, and I smiled back and winked a few times.
The first thing that struck me about this little gem – the disc art. Never have I seen such great handwriting – it looked like the almighty creator of the Stussy S had done it himself. “To CINDY: TAKE ME BACK PLZ” Simple, direct, heartwarming in that cold, demanding way that drives Cindys crazy. This effective message, coupled with the charmingly uneven heart drawings all over the left side and what I could only guess was a snake standing upright between two rocks (a tone of wackiness standing in contrast to the emotional text), made this disc art among the best I’ve ever found, and I don’t just mean in parking lots (behind dumpsters, in desk drawers and empty fields also).
Now, on to the music! As I placed the CD into my boombox and waited for the laser to finally find the track, a chill came over me. I felt immediately transported to the mix maker’s dark bedroom, black light illuminating weird mushroom artwork and giving Gillian Anderson a sickly, purplish glow in the old X Files movie poster hanging above the bed. I can picture our artist, crying at his computer, drinking warm beer he kept hidden under his bed as he checked each track for the appropriate amount of romance and desperation. I feel like I could reach out and touch him, tap him on the back and ask “Why do you have a poster for the X Files movie and not the show?” I imagine his tortured, red-rimmed eyes would meet mine and he would whisper, in all sincerity, “It was on sale, and look at Scully’s boobs.”
My daydream evaporates as the music finally starts. I recognize the first track (“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette) within three drum beats, and I am overcome with emotion. I did not see this coming, and the fact that it starts skipping within 45 seconds gives me a minor heart attack. Is this what heartache feels like? Something perfect and hypnotizing presenting itself, only to be chopped into incomprehensible and unrelatable bits? Yes.
I skip to the next track and hear an off kilter voice talk-singing “I … want … you to know … that I’m … happy for you.” I appreciate the sentiment and respect the maturity this lady has in the face of heartbreak, but I’m confused why the mix-maker would wish nothing but the best for Cindy and her new love. This guy is seriously giving mixed messages! After the first line the disc immediately begins skipping again, so it’s on to the next track.
It begins with a little bit of tinkling piano, which invokes something in me. Is this what love feels like? A strange, deep, warm sensation in my belly? No. I realize that just thinking of the word “tinkling” has aggravated my overactive bladder. I press pause and hope for the best.
Starting the track over, the lilting piano is soon joined by a somewhat scratchy, perhaps even ruggedly unpleasant voice telling me to look into its eyes. A voice with eyes is intriguing, but I’m getting distracted. Before I know it I’m a full minute into the song, imagining a disembodied voice claiming that everything it does, it does for me. I think I’m in love.
And just as suddenly as this warm, gooshy feeling swept over me, an abject terror takes hold: the disc is skipping in a way I have never experienced. It’s as if love, anger, betrayal and bits of asphalt were trying to crawl out of the speakers, squawking and panting and dying.
While this mix only contained three songs that were partially enjoyable, it still ranks as the greatest thing I’ve found on the ground since I got a baby brother. It has inspired me to follow my heart, to be bold with my feelings and hold nothing back – you never know how close a PT Cruiser will come to destroying you. It has inspired me to express my emotions on paper, on disc, and on the internet. And most importantly, it has inspired me to change my name to Cindy.