On Side A I extolled the virtues of masters of the Maxell. What I failed to realize is that tape is a dead art form. As much as I would love to shout from the rooftops for everyone to grab a TDK 120 minute tape and Wang Chung tonight, I have to face facts. Unless, you're driving a pre 21st century car, you probably don't have tape deck capability. I give you kudos if you purposely installed a tape deck in your vehicle. Otherwise, the odds of you being able to listen to a mix tape, while driving, is slim to none, and slim just got off at the last exit. Even as we raced towards the horizon of the 21st century, ripping CD's onto our hard drives or surfing Napster and Kazzaa only to be shut down by the RIAA in favor of legally downloaded music, I still held onto the last bastion of mix tape mania. My 97' Chevy Cavalier had a non functional tape deck so I sprang for a $100 Sony stereo and CD changer installed in the trunk. While most people were buying generators for the impending doom of Y2K, I was prepared for tapes to disappear by just popping 10 of my favorite CDs into the magazine and hitting random.
While Y2K barely affected the world, the cassette tape slipped into oblivion and now hundreds of great road tunes languish in a box in my spare bedroom. I had to embrace the digital age and allow myself to work in the medium of mp3s. I will also allow all of you to do so as well. It's OK, really. I permit it. HOWEVER, don't think that gets you off the hook for quality. Just because you can burn hundreds of song files onto a CD or make a playlist that goes from here to infinity doesn't mean you can get lazy. I still expect the same thought out planning to be put into a playlist as you would into a mix tape. Truth be told, I actually like the ability to make playlists and mp3 CDs more than creating tapes. I would spend roughly 3 hours putting together a 90 minute mix tape. Once you gather all the source music and set up the equipment, you pretty much had to listen to the entire thing while you made it. Unfortunately, after spending an afternoon putting together a masterpiece, I was tired of listening to the songs. Some mix tapes would go unplayed for a few days after completion to allow myself a chance to get the songs out of my system. CD burning alleviated a lot of this with the ability to just drag and drop. Still, in the early days of CD burning, there was a substantial wait time for the completed project, not to mention "one and done" finality or the disc could get screwed up. I have a stack of CD's labeled "Bad" on a spindle next to my computer. This is my CD mix graveyard. With iTunes or other mp3 managers I can just drop and drag my files from folder to playlist in less than ten minutes and if it's not the end of the world if I don't like my selection.
Now that we have the ability to put together a playlist, let's apply technology to philosophy and create a kick ass, skull cracking, blood boiling, head banging playlist. Wow, does that sound limp. It's like replacing Shell Shock with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It goes from being a serious issue to a clinical afterthought. However, I refuse to let technology deter the quality of a good idea or story. This new fangled way of creating a "digital mix tape" will only serve to support the foundation of good music choices, not overrun it. I will not make The Phantom Menace, I will construct The Empire Strikes Back.
On Side A, I also gave a little insight as to how my list of songs could fit into a mix tape. Since we are forgoing the essence of the magnetic medium we are free to make a playlist as long or short as we want. We can envision a three song trip or one that spans the entire space of a 80gb iPod. It's truly up to you. I do feel the need to stress a safety concern. If you choose poorly and find yourself skipping songs on a list because they don't fit into your overall oeuvre of auditory delight, you may put yourself at risk of an accident. Just because it is not a cell phone, doesn't mean it is not distracting. So, choose wisely. I have outlined a category below and selected a group of songs for each. Whether you have a road trip planned for weeks or simply need to get out of town in a hurry, I have tried to dissect the essence of these songs and figure out where they can fit into your plans. Will it be daytime or night? Is it good weather or bad? Are you on the run or running towards something? These are all valid questions when it comes to planning out your highway hit parade. Here we go.
The Escape, Rescue, or Final Battle
Scenario 1: It's the end of the world as you know it and you need to get the hell out of town before the streets are jammed with people crawling at a snail's pace. Perhaps putting in that Gordon Lightfoot CD was a bad move on their part because now, the aliens are on their way and we're stuck in traffic.
Scenario 2: The bad guys got your girl and you have little time to be the hero and save her. You jump in the hot rod and make your way to the goon riddled hideout with only vengeance in your heart and a song in your car.
Scenario 3: The evil villain has the world held for ransom and it's up to and your trusty sidekick, the iPod to take his ass out. But, first you have to navigate the man streets to get there. Drop your shades into lock position and beat the rush early by having these songs preloaded on playlist, ready to go.
"You Know My Name" Chris Cornell (Casino Royale Soundtrack)
"Shot Gun" Southern Culture on the Skids
"Ballroom Blitz" Sweet
"Sabotage" Beastie Boys
"Spin Me Round" Dope
"Battle Flag" Lo Fidelity All Stars featuring Pigeon Head
"The Kids Aren't Alright" Offspring
"Take a Look Around" Limp Bizkit (Mission: Impossible 2 Soundtrack)
"Bodies" Drowning Pool
"Highway To Hell" AC/DC
"Kickstart My Heart" Motely Crue
"Pump it" Black Eyed Peas
"Push It to the Limit" Paul Engeman (Scarface Soundtrack)
"Pavilion / Venus Isle Reprise" Eric Johnson (instrumental)
"Don't Drink the Water" Dave Matthews Band
"The Final Game" Jerry Goldsmith (Rudy Soundtrack) (instrumental)
"Back to the Future Theme" Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future Soundtrack)(instrumental)
"Rocketeer To The Rescue" James Horner (The Rocketeer Soundtrack) (instrumental)
"Love Missle F1-11" Sigue Sigue Sputnik (You'll remember this from Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
"He's a Pirate" Klaus Bedelt (Pirates of the Carribean Curse of the Black Pearl Soundtrack) (instrumental)
"Mine all Mine" Van Halen
“Lunatic Fringe” Red Rider
The Bank Job or Slapstick Car Chase
Scenario 1: Somehow, you've just been wrongly accused of robbing a bank. Perhaps the teller misunderstood you, maybe the real crooks just left and your identity matches theirs. Either way, you've got to get out quick. Hop in the Hoopty and get gone.
Scenario 2: This could be segued into from Scenario 1. It could be a mad cap race to the finish line or the keystone cops are after you and all you have is a few short cuts and close calls between you and freedom. Avoid capture by calling up this list.
"Excuse Me, Mr.” No Doubt
"Cotton Eye Joe" Rednexx
"Higher Ground" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Steve's Boogie" Eric Johnson (instrumental)
"Take The Money and Run" Steve Miller Band
"Theme from the Goonies" Dave Grusin (The Goonies Soundtrack)
"Triangles and Cowbells" The Refreshments (Extended version of the King of the Hill theme)
The Ninja Mission
Scenario 1: You're a private investigator or wisecracking reporter determined to bust the case wide open, all you need is stealth and the right music to silently track down that bad guy to his hideout where the evidence is out in the open for you. Keep a safe distance and follow him to the dope.
Scenario 2: You need the supplies to carry out your mission and that abandoned warehouse has all the stuff you need. Don your ski mask and get to sneaking.
"Fletch" Harold Faltemeyer (Fletch Soundtrack)
"Mission: Impossible Theme" U2 (Mission: Impossible Soundtrack)
"Peter Gunn" Henry Mancini
"Axel F" Harold Faltemeyer (Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack)
She Loves Me
Scenario: Sometimes, you get the girl. Sometimes, the planets align. She chooses you. Now, you're driving high on the love. Get out there and make a fool of yourself.
"Girlfriend" Matthew Sweet
"Follow You Down" Gin Blossoms
"Some Kind of Wonderful" Grand Funk Railroad
"I Believe I Can Fly" Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies (Also doubles as a chase song if you are driving in San Francisco catching air)
"Are You Gonna Be My Girl" Jet
"Cold Hard Bitch" Jet
"Electric Dreams" Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakley (Electric Dreams Soundtrack)
"Slide" Goo Goo Dolls
"Dance Hall Days" Wang Chung
"She" Green Day
She Loves Me Not
Scenario: She doesn't love you anymore. She loves him. Get the hell out of here. You're better off without her. Now go out with the guys and get trashed. Please drink responsibly, designate a driver.
"Snowman" The Clarks
"Separate Ways / Worlds Apart" Journey
"Nothing Compares to You" Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
"The Bad Touch" Bloodhound Gang
"Sin Nombre" The Refreshments
"I'm Not Okay" My Chemical Romance
"The River" The Clarks cover
"Figured You Out" Nickelback
"Paint it Black" Rolling Stones
"Take on Me" Reel Big Fish cover of A-Ha
"Alcohol" Bare Naked Ladies
"A Little Respect" Erasure
"Who Knew" Pink
"Midlife Crisis" Faith No More
"Tributary Otis" The Refreshments
"Guilty" Matthew Ryan
Miami Vice Style City Drive
Scenario: Whether the sun is setting or has gone for the day, you still drive with your shades on and the top down. The neon blues and the shiny blacks hide the real reason for your trip as you just cruise the streets looking to cause some trouble.
"I Wear My Sunglasses" Corey Hart
"Numb" Linkin Park Also works when mixed with "Encore" by Jay Z
"California Love" Tupac / Dr. Dre
"Classical Gas" Mason Williams
Heading Out West, Slipping Down South
Scenario: Whether it be a high class job out in LA, or reclaiming your southern heritage by heading south to the homestead you will be on the road for awhile and need some appropriate traveling tunes. Also great for the last trip with childhood friends before growing up and becoming responsible
"Life is a Highway" Tom Cochrane
"Interstate Love Song" Stone Temple Pilots
"Take it Easy" Travis Tritt cover of The Eagles from Common Thread Album
"Send Me On My Way" Rusted Root
"Amos Moses" Jerry Reed
"Hell On Wheels" The Clarks
"Sweet Home Country Grammar" Mash up between Nelly / Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Tripping Billies" Dave Matthews Band
"Copperhead Road" Steve Earle
"Boys of Summer" The Ataris cover of Den Henley
"Gin and Juice" Hayseed Dixie cover of Snoop Dogg
"Working for the Weekend" Loverboy
"No Rain" Blind Melon
"Green River" Creedence Clearwater Revival
Pure Straight Up Rock
Scenario: No explanation needed. It's just straight up rock. Who needs a reason to rock out to classic hits on the highway or down to the store for a scratch ticket. Just hit play and drive, baby.
"Running Down a Dream" Tom Petty
"Don't Stop Believin'" Journey
"Dreams" Van Halen
"Into Your Arms" Journey (instrumental)
"Long Way To the Top" AC/DC
"Who's There" Smash Mouth
"China Grove" Doobie Brothers
"Ants Marching" Dave Matthews Band
"Einstein on the Beach" Counting Crows
"Head Like a Hole" Nine Inch Nails
"Leave the Change" Open Cage
"Shimmy Low" The Clarks
"Immigrant Song" Led Zeppelin
"Falling To Pieces" Faith No More
"Breakfast At Tiffany's" Deep Blue Something
Flip the tape over for Side A: