How To Make A Lust-Filled, Badass Mix Tape in the Digital Age

There is a song
that every time I hear it
no matter what I’m doing,
it instantly transports me to two days before Summer break in 10th grade.

I’m walking across the grass of the church where our bus stop lets us off.
I’m practically skipping across the perfect green lawn
and I glance at the church
thinking I’m probably going to hell
because I’m am absolutely forbidden to date.
Yet in my possession,
driving through my ears at that very moment
cradled in my hands
in the cocoon of a Sony Walkman
was a lusty teenage mix tape
with hand scrawled tracks
by the boy I had been crushing on forever.

Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

I’m out of high school now.
I’m a burlesque artist.
And I’m definitely going to hell.

On Wednesday night in New York City,
among sweaty bodies clad in latex and club kid chic,
I danced until 4am
and the second song before the lights came up
and the club closed…
was that old familiar opening bass guitar riff in the key of G…
of Love Will Tear Us Apart.
And I spun in New York City in this club in the Winter in the East Village,
but I was really running across a green lawn of a church in Summer in a small Florida town.

Music is a drug.
Music is the great escape.
Music is a powerful time travel tool.

And if wielded correctly….
music will make you fall in love with someone
or make them fall in love with you
and even if it’s just for a moment
even if it’s just a for a few days right before Summer Break
a proper mix tape
will make someone remember you for years.

Now 90 minute Maxwell Blank Cassette Tapes
may not be your go-to method at the moment,
so let me show you how to rock a proper mix tape in the digital age….

♥  Get a sexy USB drive like this retro one and drag your mix of up to 15 songs in.

♥  Now…what do you put on those mixes?

Here’s some of my Top 10 Favorites:
1. “Yoo-Hoo” – Imperial Teen (The self-proclaimed Queercore group includes backing vocals on this of heavy breathing and panting.  I cannot get 1999 Rose McGowan as a dominating femme fatale teetering on heels and rocking a body hugging pink onesie in the video out of my mind.  This song is danceable sex.)

2.  “Cactus” – David Bowie (This song was originally by the Pixies…but I think the Bowie version is sexier.  The lyrics are dangerous, desperate, hot and all sorts of longing is entwined.  Sample:  “Just run outside in the desert heat, make your dress all wet and send it to me.”   The dirty odd lyrics of this song? My kind of poem.  Just sayin’.

3.  “Closer” – NIN  (The lyrics say it all.  Blatant.  Honest. Dirty.  Yes, Please.)

4.  “Such Great Heights” – Kim Boekbinder and Amanda Palmer (The original was released by The Postal Service on Subpop, but I like this slow acoustic ukulele version of it the best.  This is the we-were-meant-to-be-together song with the opening lines of “I am thinking it’s a sign -that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss – they’re perfectly aligned.”

5.  “I Would” – Jane’s Addiction.  (Something about this song always got to me.  I don’t really know how to explain it).

6.  “Do You Love Me?” – Nick Cave (“I found her on a night of fire and noise…” the opening lyrics had me hooked from the first time I heard this.  It’s very wild-bad-fucked-up of love songs.  It’s a neon sign in Vegas buzzing on and off in the desert).

7.  “Like A Bad Girl Should.” – The Cramps.  (Lux Interior + Poison Ivy were one of the most badass couples ever.  She played guitar and also bass guitar and walked around in catsuits, corsets and insane heels.  He took over the stage half-naked and convulsing in wild voodoo moves.  I grew up wanting to be them.  Fun Fact:  If you’ve ever seen me go-go at the Slipper Room – this is one of my signature songs.)

8.  “I Put A Spell On You” – Both versions are incredible – the  original Screamin’ Jay Hawkins one is badass and the cover Marilyn Manson that was  featured in Lost Highway.  This is voodoo, sexy, wildly possessive and weird.  I like it alot.

9. Everytime I’m With You” – Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse (A slow, end of the night make out song that leads you to the gutter.  This came from a compilation album called Dark Night Of the Soul and featured a book of photographs by director David Lynch.)

10.  “Flames” – VAST.  (This was the first song I danced with Burke to when we were married.  He had made a mix for me years before with this beautiful song on it and it made me cry.)

*Bonus Tip: If you really love a song, enter it into and see what other similar songs come up – you might discover a new one that you’ve never heard before that would be perfect for your mix.

♥  Scrawl a clever mix tape title on the side.

Some examples of ones I’ve sent are:
“Fortune Cookies and Plastic Rayguns” – for a friend who I have wild adventures with,
“She Devoured His Heart For Lunch” – for a girlfriend who was going through a bad breakup and needed a pick-me-up,
“We Don’t Have The Fingerprints To Stay In This Town” – a Bonnie and Clyde style mix for my lover,
“The White Lines on The Pavement and 14 Songs.” – my infamous road trip mix.

♥  Find a fun way to deliver to the intended.

– Go super retro and rock out by sending snail mail
– Leave behind in a place they will see it (wrapped in a bow on their computer, leaning against their front door, placed on their pillow)
– You can look them dead in the eye, slip the mix into their palm, put their fingers around it, wink and walk away.

What song would you put on a mix?
Rock my world in the comments.

Love Will Tear Us Apart,
Veronica Varlow
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