The Music of Our Lives

Chaos in Print

I’ve always been trying to develop the perfect mixed tape. Things just kind of got worse when my parents finally got a computer with a burner. Now, I’m constantly trying to develop the perfect mixed CD. I often find myself wishing for better Internet access, so I can crank up the file sharing services to full speed and track down all kinds of obscure songs. Being back in school and studying broadcasting, I’m starting to learn that this a common habit among my classmates. My parents just got a new printer, so I purchased the fancy CD labels so I can finally make proper liner notes for all of these projects. And, I’ve just about got all the right MP3s downloaded so I can make my next attempt at manufacturing the perfect compilation. With all this going on, I’m just thinking about this quite a bit lately. So, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on all my previous attempts at making “the perfect CD.” Besides, it’s a great way to put off writing a real column.

The MP3 Collection: My first attempt at making the perfect CD which came about in the spring of 1999. My final year of university (1998-1999) was when all my fellow computer geeks had discovered this new kind of file format called “MP3s,” and since we were all on the school’s computer network, we pioneered file sharing. So, we’d go on the computer network, grab MP3s off of our next door neighbour’s hard drives, and then surf the Internet looking for new ones. Napster was still a year away, so we were scouring the websites of budding young pirates trying to grab the latest. Anyway, as school was winding down, I started looking at my MP3s and thinking, “Gee, I wish I could play these on my final radio show.” I went to the dorm next door to visit Streiff, who just had a burner. After I made sure he could do it, we sat down and began burning all my MP3s onto CD for my final show. I only had, like, 10 or so, and Streiff was the kind who didn’t want to waste CDs. If you’re burning one with him, he wants you to cram it full. So, then, to get a full CD, I started going through all his CDs and some that he borrowed from Darmok so we could stuff it full. At the end of the afternoon, I had a CD I dubbed “The MP3 Collection,” and here’s the track listing:

1) Unicron’s Theme [Transformers: The Movie] – Vince DiCola
2) Ranma ½ Theme – Unknown
3) I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred
4) Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers
5) Batman Beyond Theme – Kristopher Carter
6) The Incredible Hulk: The Animated Series Theme – Suki Levy
7) Gargoyles Theme – Carl Johnson
8) The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) – John Williams
9) (Got My Mind) Set On You – George Harrison
10) Why Should I Worry? – Billy Joel
11) Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
12) Victory Celebration [Return of the Jedi] – John Williams
13) It’s the End of the World as We Know It – Great Big Sea
14) Basket Case – Green Day
15) Suite from Star Trek Generations – Dennis McCarthy
16) Main Titles/Locutus [Star Trek First Contact] – Jerry Goldsmith
17) End Titles [Star Trek First Contact] – Jerry Goldsmith
18) Ooby Dooby – Roy Orbison
19) Change the World – Eric Clapton
20) Never Had a Friend Like Me – Robin Williams
21) Throne Room and End Titles [Star Wars] – John Williams

Swinging Singles: Three years later, my parents buy a new computer with a burner. Napster had just been banned, so the whole world switches to Kazaa. I start thinking, “Hell, yeah! Time to start cranking these out full time!” Sadly, I was to go to Japan in a month, so I knew time was of the essence! My first project was a rather simple one. I had amassed a few cassette and CD singles in my life, and I always thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if these were all on one CD?” I gathered together all of my CD singles, found MP3 counterparts for my cassette singles, but still only had a 40 minute CD. To max it out, I went through all of my albums, looking for those cases where all I wanted was one song, but wound up buying a whole album instead. And I called the result “Swinging Singles.”

1) Opposites Attract – Paula Abdul
2) Doubleback – ZZ Top
3) Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
4) Smells Like Nirvana – “Weird Al” Yankovic
5) Star Trek – Orion
6) Mission: Impossible Theme – Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen
7) The Saint – Orbital
8) Spy Hard – “Weird Al” Yankovic
9) Cantina Song [Star Wars] – John Williams
10) Jedi Rocks [Return of the Jedi] – John Williams
11) Look at Me – Geri Halliwell
12) Wild Wild West – Will Smith
13) Men in Black – Will Smith
14) Polkamon – “Weird Al” Yankovic
15) James Bond Theme – Moby
16) Bicycle Race- Blossom
17) Cotton Eye Joe – Red Nex
18) Mentally Dull (South Park mix) – In Vitro and the Cast of South Park
19) All Star – Smash Mouth
20) Bang on the Drum All Day – Forgotten and I haven’t made liner notes
21) Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

Chuck and L’s Special Blend: Of course, once all this was in place, I just had to share the love. I had been downloading MP3s left and right, and started feeling altruistic. I wanted to share the love and music! So, I decided that the next CD I burned would be for my friends Chuck and L. I carefully selected the proper songs and put them in the proper order and, once I burned the first copy for Chuck and L, I thought, “Hey! This is pretty damn cool!” and burned a copy for myself. Sadly, this endeavour also proved to me how subjective the “ultimate CD” is. Once Chuck and L had it in hand, I asked Chuck what he thought of it. He said, “You put too much country on it. I’m not a big fan of country.” I grew up with county, and still listen to it on occasion. That’s why I stuck a couple of country tracks on “Chuck and L’s Special Blend.”

1) CLCR Station ID
2) The Ballad of the Three Amigos – Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Marin Short
3) Spider-Man – Aerosmith
4) Boss of Me [Theme from Malcolm in the Middle] – They Might Be Giants
5) Tryin’ to Get to New Orleans – The Tractors
6) Building the Crate [Chicken Run] – John Powell & Harry Gregson-Williams
7) Pacific Coast Party – Smash Mouth
8) My First, My Last, My Everything – Barry White
9) Stay Home – Self
10) Deep Voice
11) Pretend to be Nice – Josie and the Pussycats
12) Good Run of Bad Luck – Clint Black
13) Pinch Me – Barenaked Ladies
14) Heaven and Hell [Being Geri Halliwell] – Geri Halliwell
15) I Do It for the Money – Charlie Major
16) Across the Stars [Love Theme from Attack of the Clones] – John Williams
17) Spider-Man – The Ramones
18) End Titles [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan]
19) Finale [Batman] – Danny Elfman
20) If I Didn’t Have You – John Goodman and Billy Crystal

And just think! Now, I’m trying to condense all of this onto a CD label. I’m still scouring for a few more for the next volume. I still want Empty by Eminem and Everybody’s Got a Story by Amanda Marshall. Plus, now that Trouble tells me she’s going to China, I’m thinking about throwing together a small compilation of stuff I picked up in Japan.

And while I have you on the line, a great Christmas present for me would be an MP3 player. Then, I can make a new “ultimate compilation” every week.

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