I’m sitting here finishing the mix on a pair of discs for a new friend we’re meeting tomorrow for lunch at a new place that we’ll prolly love. Naturally it makes the most sense we’d find places we love as we’re readying ourselves to leave! It strikes me how much I miss making mix tapes for people, way back in the day before there were CD burners.

The ritual of the mix tape. Sitting in front of my music shelves, I began to select songs that I thought the intended recipient might enjoy or had requested. I’d take a few requests but if someone asked me for more than 5 songs, I usually told them to come over and make it themselves because it wasn’t an OpusMix – I was kinda particular about my mixes. When I was done with the initial selection process, there sat a pile of teetering discs stacked beside me on the carpet or the armful of vinyl propped against a leg of the piano bench that served as my makeshift table.

I’d light an American Spirit and donned on my headphones, trying to decide which song sounded better melding into the next. Once I had selected more songs than I needed, it was time for more organisation. I needed to be sure track times all fit together and there would be no awkward pauses or abrupt endings to a song. My notebook scrawled with song title, artist, and track length … and many many scratch outs and arrows indicating track 4 should go here instead of here.

Once I had it – the mix, I’d file away all the discs that I did not need, and get to recording. After ensuring all the songs had made it, I’d break off those two plastic tabs on top to make it my creation that no one could record over unless they stuck some Scotch tape over the holes. There was the creation of the liner notes: some more detailed than others for friends that wanted the release date or chronology of the album in the specific artist’s oeuvre. After handwriting them all painstakingly down with a fine-tipped Pilot rollerball, I’d make the artwork from torn pages of magazine ads and cutout lettering. Each cover specific to the mix and person involved, never the same cover twice.

A friend of mine told me once she brought two of my mix tapes to a party she attended and by the end of the night, someone had absconded with them. I remade those tapes for her but the covers were different. This was the only time I ever duplicated a tape’s music list. GC and I made tapes for each other during our courtship. It made me so happy to get that padded mailer in the postbox that I simply knew held something he made just for me.

My whole convoluted soup of memories brings me to this moment, making mix CDs (née tapes) for new friends so I can expose them to new music and get them hooked on this band or that singer. And as I go through the process of choosing what song makes the cut or not, I’m listening to the final track on the live CDs sold after the DCD 2005 tour. One song in particular, “Hymn for the Fallen” is playing in my headphones sweetly in my ears …

I heard this song for the first time with GC and 17,000 other people at the sold-out Hollywood Bowl performance in September of 2005. The crowd was moving slowly to exit the Bowl when Lisa returned to the stage alone to sang that song.

The song I hear now.

The white noise of the exiting crowd was halted nearly immediately and it was eerily silent for that many people. Ears straining to hear every word of this beautiful song. An entire venue brought to reverence by her voice.

It’s a memory that will be etched forever in the pantheon of concert memories that I keep tucked away with the Buffy quotes and the prick of my first tattoo and the Latin prayers from school and how to drive Houston side streets and the birthdays of friends long gone. A memory like the one I have coursing through my consciousness now so strong I feel like I nearly cannot breathe. The memory of the way that a father hugs his daughter when it feels like no one can harm you, like no one can break that bond.

It’s been over two years and he’s still with me. I keep him close, never far. I miss you, dad and as schmaltzy as it sounds, I love you.

Thank you DCD for that memory.

Thank you GC for holding me while she sang as tears flowed freely, wrapped in an embrace where I feel the safest since your death.

And thank you Lisa for this song.

“Hymn for the Fallen” by Lisa Gerrard

My attends to you as a mother fears while her children sleep
Now look, see how they’re dreaming
The black reciteries, while the children dream
Don’t go so deep in slumber
Where you’ll shy
Know you’ll wander in sleep
Don’t you fly too far away
Some men die without crying
Suffering so long and alone
Softly, children, dry your eyes
Gently, children, be wise
My attends to you as a mother hears all her children’s fears
So don’t cry, all will wash away when we pray
Soon, soon, soon, soon, soon
So if it’s okay, i’ll wait with you while the sun began to shine
Oh look, your wings are broken
But never a lie was spoken
The murdered thing is love, you see
Drifting on a lake of memory
Now sleep, close your eyes and have no fear
A wide blue sky is very near
Soon, soon, soon, soon, soon
Now sleep, close your eyes and have no fear
A wide blue sky is very near

See you on the flip side, with a decidedly more ebullient entry …
– GermanCityGirl

Listening to: Hymn For The Fallen by DCD, recorded live in Chicago (12 October 2005).

Meal: Probably yakisoba when GC gets back from his bike ride, so undecided as of yet.