Nowadays I am a playlist girl with my beloved iPod and my click and drag iTunes catalog, but back in the day when Walkman still ruled I was all about mix tapes. I didn’t even know that there was a word for what I was doing then. I would sit with my tape recorder positioned next to the radio to catch my favorite songs as they came up on American Top Forty countdown every Sunday afternoon. I am not even sure where the idea to first do this came from either. I don’t think anyone showed me or told me what to do. It was an instinctive pre-teen thing. Popular music and adolescence have a long history. As the technology, such as it was in the 1980’s improved, I eventually had a boom box with a double cassette deck, which allowed me to tape tapes and capture singles as best I could from FM radio. I was good at that too. A quick finger, I seldom missed much past the opening bar or two of any song I wanted to record. But, I wasn’t much of a mixer. My tapes were eclectic to say the very least. Even when my next upgrade to a boom box with a CD player and a double cassette allowed me to organize, I didn’t often take the time. I wasn’t someone who made tapes for her friends or crushes. Until I met my husband Rob, I’d never been the recipient of someone’s musical taste either. Sharing music is an intimate thing you know. It is revealing of those things about you that no one suspects. Your passions. Your odd sense of humor. Where you find meaning and where you were at different stages of your life.
During my new hobby of periodic trolling for interesting blogs to read and share, I sometimes employ the tag surfer. It will bring up the latest blog entries that correspond to the many tags I have checked off on my search page. One of these searches revealed a piece on play lists about songs that refer to masturbating. That is something I have frankly never thought needed a soundtrack, but I recognized many of the songs the blogger had listed. 80’s songs, a lot of them that took me back to college days: She-Bop by Cyndi Lauper I remember was such a big deal because it was about a girl and even in our twenties, none of my friends at the time would admit to doing such a thing. We were all such prudes really and this in spite of the predatory sexual attitudes that were just becoming the vogue for young women. We would talk all racy and raunchy about sex and guys, but couldn’t talk about ourselves anymore than we could ask for what we wanted from the guys we dated. As I remember it, unless we were drinking (heavily) we couldn’t even sing songs like She-Bop and I Touch Myself in the company of anyone. Songs about guys doing themselves were different. Dancing with Myself and Turning Japanese were double entendre enough we could ignore what they meant because, well, they didn’t mean us anyway and everyone knew that guys did nothing but jack off, right?
I have to admit that the idea of a self-wanking playlist isn’t on the top of my list of things to listen to as I mainly use the iPod for working out. But the idea of a sex mix isn’t a bad one. Rob used to send me love songs during our long distance days. He would attach them to his emails. Desperately Wanting and Got You Where I Want You. Mark Knopfler’s Prairie Wedding is still one of my favorites. Our first weekend together at the Holiday Inn Express in Idaho Falls was soundtracked by A Perfect Circle primarily but also an interesting variety of heavy metal and rock. Nights on the sofa, before its lice infestation and subsequent banishment to the Clover Bar Landfill, were accompanied by the satellite music provider Max Trax, The Edge – mostly because the windows were always open and we are loud. I can’t say if any of the songs were romantic or even remotely related to sex or making love, because there is a difference. It was loud and pulsating. Like those long ago days of dancing until sweat drenched in the clubs of Iowa City. Primal and urgent and out of breath, knowing that the next day you were going to feel it in muscles you didn’t know you had.
Funny the images that music will bring to the forefront even when it’s just a list of long forgotten tunes.