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Let's Get It Wrong?

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us and many of us like to express our feelings with music. But just as there are rules to flowers and chocolates (carnations and white chocolate? I don't think so. Not unless the night will be ending on satin red sheets under a mirrored ceiling), so too are there guidelines for the mix CD.

Here then, are ways that Monitor Mix can help you achieve your Valentine's Day music goals.

1. Be prepared to back it up.

If you feel self-conscious about intimacy anywhere but in a bedroom, with the shades drawn and the lights off, then don't put "Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith on the CD. And you shouldn't put Al Green's "I'm A Ram" on the mix if you're more like a lamb or a cuddly Golden Retriever puppy. This is what's called false advertising

2. Don't put a song on the CD that you would be embarrassed to listen to in the same room or car as the person whom you made it for.

There's nothing worse than that false sense of confidence as you lay down some dirty, sexy track on the mix. Sure, "Whole Lotta Love" seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the two of you are driving up the coast and he pops the CD into the car stereo, you don't want to have to avoid eye contact when Robert Plant starts moaning during the breakdown.

3. If the relationship is new, or you merely have a crush, go easy on the messages in the songs.

You don't want the recipient to feel like they're being pursued by a crazy person. "Ok, she wants to hold my hand, he is dating someone else but likes me, she wants to make out but is scared, he's a former meth addict with good intentions, he likes cats but is allergic, he is going mad with lust, she usually marries for money but has found true love with me", etc.

In the above instance, it is better to be flirtatious than direct. Try something like Neil Young's "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown", "Work All Week" by The Mekons, or "Send Me A Postcard" by the Shocking Blue. And if you haven't yet said it in person, avoid songs that say "I love you" or "I think I'm in love with you" (see rule number 1).

4. Know the meaning behind the innuendo in songs.

"Pearl Necklace" by ZZ Top is really all I have to say about that one.

5. Don't be a cliche.

Yes, Juno is a great film. But that doesn't mean you have to be one of the millions of people putting the song "Anyone Else But You" on your mix this Valentine's Day. If you do that, you'll be just like the people who put "In Your Eyes" on a mix tape in 1989 when Say Anything came out, or those who wooed their lover with "Up Where We Belong" after seeing An Officer And A Gentlemen. Forge your own path!

6. If you've already sealed the deal—two, five, ten years ago—there's not too much to worry about.

Throw a few classics on there and call it a day. But it might be nice to just make a well rounded mix and to not pummel your significant other over the head with twenty ways of saying "I love you, I know I'm not as funny or attractive as I was when we met, but please don't ever leave."

7. Lastly, two songs that belong on any great February 14th mix:

"The Book Of Love" by the Magnetic Fields, and my personal favorite, "If Not For You" by George Harrison.

Happy Valentine's Day!



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I have a rule of starting any love mix with the Magnetic Fields "Absolutely Cuckoo" so, should I miss the target on any of the goals you listed, I always have the escape of pointing out, "Well, I told you from the start that I'm nuts."

Sent by JJ Hellgate | 4:21 PM | 2-13-2008

Based on brutal personal experience - and countless instances of heartbreaking trial and error - I'm going to give you three songs that, under no circumstances, should you put on your sweetheart's Valentine's Day mix.

1.) "Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph
2.) The "Ghostbusters" theme song by Ray Parker, Jr.
3.) "The Super Bowl Shuffle" by the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Actually, I'm a little bit undecided on that third one.

Sent by Ted | 4:48 PM | 2-13-2008

Your tags are no longer in all caps. I don't know how I feel about this.

I love making mixes for people but I don't think I'd ever make one for a crush (especially on Valentine's Day) 'cause it would just feel so silly/stupid/cheesy/creepy. Unless they asked, of course.

Sent by Jaime | 5:12 PM | 2-13-2008

It would be awesome if you turned this into an MP3 blog and put the songs you mention up for downloading.

Also, most romantic song in my book? "Out the Blue" by John Lennon.

Sent by Devin | 5:21 PM | 2-13-2008

I was having the damnedest time coming up with a Neil Young song. I never even considered "Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown," because I associate everything on "Tonight's the Night" with drug use (not my own, but Neil and the band's). It's a new relationship so Neil gets a breather this year. "Harvest Moon" is a wonderful song for your category 6 though.

Sent by Piggy | 5:31 PM | 2-13-2008

Is "Too Drunk To Fuck" by the Dead Kennedys the wrong way to go?

I've got a friend who calls Robert Plant's moan in "Whole Lotta Love" the "Robert Plant Sneeze." It's sounds like he's about to sneeze, and now I can't listen to that damn song without thinking that.

Sent by Nick L. | 5:32 PM | 2-13-2008

I just finished off my mix and magnetic fields are on it. I feel so proud right now...
it went:
the ronnettes: be my baby
aislers set: red door
undertones: teenage kicks
jonathan richman: my baby love love loves me
marine girls - honey
yo la tengo: sugarcube
magnetic fields - book of love
teenage fanclub & jad fair: the power of our tenderness
the pastels - i'm allright with you
the ronnettes: baby i love you
dr. dog: i've got to tell you
jens lekman: higher power

i'm in love. it's gross

Sent by esme | 5:50 PM | 2-13-2008

I was just thinking about this last night, as I was listening to the Magnetic Fields. Honestly, can any V-day mix-tape ever rival "69 Love Songs"?

Sent by Jenn | 6:12 PM | 2-13-2008

also, i have to say that this is one of my favorite entries yet!

Sent by esme | 7:52 PM | 2-13-2008

for sweet love, "you can have it all" by yo la tengo.

for mainstream love, "the one i love" by david gray.

for on the verge of breaking up but kinda want to stay together love, "anything, anything" by dramarama.

for getting down to business, "50 minutes" by robots in disguise.

Sent by Lauren | 9:18 PM | 2-13-2008

Valentine's Day? Pah! Ignore it, it only encourages tat.

PS Yes, I'm in love - 8 years and counting. Never sent a card/gift, never received one. Really couldn't give two figs :-)

Sent by Julia | 9:49 PM | 2-13-2008

Book of Love is a great love song for anyone who prides herself on being cynical and detached. It's like "The fact that I'm in love with you makes me feel like a walking cliche, but it doesn't change the fact that you + dopey behavior that I make fun of other people for doing=happy me, and I feel pretty good about that."

Sent by mernlar | 9:58 PM | 2-13-2008

the net phrase of "lol" is often over used and over typed...
but this did indeed make me COL (Chuckle Out Loud)

Question : Would Chuck Berry's "My Ding A Ling" also fit into number 4? ;)

"Silver balls hangen from a string, she told me it was my ding a ling a ling..."

This reminds me of that old myth, that all the old classics, anytime you hear the words "rock n roll" "rock" "roll" is refering to "sex"

Good Rockin Tonight, Rock Around the Clock, Reeling and Rocking, and it even brings new meaning to the song Jailhouse Rock...

Heres my song to our fearless Monitor Mix leader for this special day... and I'll even let the King introduce it...

A very tender love song... a ballad...

Sent by Kramer | 11:17 PM | 2-13-2008

Another case of continually mistaken identity = Every Breath You Take by the Police.

But this is probably what you deserve if you're relying on iTunes Essentials for your love song needs. No one should trust a prefab playlist that describes music as the "food of love" and the succeeding mix as a "full-on banquet."

Sent by Zia | 11:42 PM | 2-13-2008

My wife and I wanted to tell you Happy Valentine's Day Carrie! We both loved Sleater Kinney and we're huge fans of Monitor Mix. When we first met, part of how we bonded was over our love for the band, and admitting we both had huge crushes on you (I'm blushing). Hope you have a very nice day tomorrow, and that whatever you do or whoever you're with, that it's special.

Sent by Sam Stordahl | 11:48 PM | 2-13-2008

I like to go with You Got Lucky by Tom Petty.

Sent by melissa | 3:33 AM | 2-14-2008

you forgot to mention the cover...nothing is worse than a well thought out mix stuffed into an ugly generic jewel case.

Sent by kristen | 4:37 AM | 2-14-2008

I'm a cliche, i'm a cliche!

I have to disagree on this one. Mixed tapes and cds often hold little historical references within my relationships. If a movie or a song from a movie holds a special place for you and your loved one. I think it's okay and it can be used as a documentation of the time.

Sent by Shannon | 8:05 AM | 2-14-2008

This year's V-day mix includes John Frusciante's live version of "Songbird" by Fleetwood Mac. Just too gorgeous not to include, really.

Sent by Amy | 8:33 AM | 2-14-2008

Every mix must have these two songs; "St Valentine's Day" by the Mekons and "Cynically Yours" by Amy Rigby. Right, I am not overly romantic.

Sent by Janine | 9:03 AM | 2-14-2008

So funny! I'm dying - thanks for making my morning!

Sent by Rachel | 9:08 AM | 2-14-2008

I completely agree about Juno/Anyone Else But You. For those who really want to reference that adorable film in their Valentines CDs, I strongly recommend the song "Dearest" by Buddy Holly. It was featured only briefly in the film so it's not a really overt reference (which is good, as per Rule #5), and it's one of the sweetest songs I've ever heard. Also worth noting is that I think he recorded this song just 2 or 3 weeks before his death, which (for me, at least) makes the whole listening experience that much more moving and captivating.

Regarding "Book of Love" though-- this is an incredible song, but doesn't it kinda violate Rule #3? The line "you oughtta give me wedding rings" has the potential to hang in the air really awkwardly, especially since it's the last line of the song. I prefer "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing" to fill my Magnetic Fields quota, in part just because it rhymes Lansing with dancing.

Sent by nikki | 9:54 AM | 2-14-2008

Good lord, this is a funny post. I didn't know that ZZ Top had a song called 'Pearl Necklace'. Wow.

Sent by Johanna | 10:11 AM | 2-14-2008

You prefer George Harrison's "If Not For You" over Bob Dylan's version? I'ver never heard Mr. Harrison's take on Bob's song but I imagine it to be super sincere like the other songs of George's. What I like about Dylan's version on the album New Morning is that it comes off as stretch for Dylan, like he's trying really hard and it works.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Sent by Simon D. | 10:27 AM | 2-14-2008

I'd like to disagree with Ted's assertion that "Yakety Sax" should never be included on a Valentine's day CD. That song will improve ANY CD and is never more relevant than on Valentine's day. Especially if you plan, like I do, to chase lovely ladies in bikinis around at an incredibly fast rate.

Sent by Mike | 10:31 AM | 2-14-2008

my honey and i went to see Stephin Merritt be interviewed by Rick Moody a few years ago, and Stephin seemed astonished that Rick had chosen The Book of Love as one of his wedding songs. To him, the song wasn't a profound expression of devotion to another person, but a depiction of boring people who can't come up with any eloquent ways to express or feel love other than giving presents. in some ways I respect that Stephin Merritt doesn't mind insulting his interviewer and his hordes of fans who consistently rate that song among their favorites...but I still felt insulted.

Sent by jane birkin | 11:09 AM | 2-14-2008

I've been married for 10 years and "I Love You, I Know I'm Not as Funny or Attractive as I Was When We Met, But Please Don't Ever Leave" just became the title of the Valentine's day CD I've been working on.

So, thanks for that.

Anyway, here is the current tracklist (I've added George's "If Not For You" because it's a great song and fits perfectly. So, thanks for that, too.):

(1) "Happy Valentine's Day"--OutKast
(2) "If Not For You"--George Harrison
(3) "Tell Everyone"--The Faces
(4) "All I Need"--Radiohead
(5) "Slip Away"--Clarence Carter
(6) "Nothing Can Change This Love"--Sam Cooke
(7) "Good, Good Lovin'"--The Blossoms
(8) "1-2 Crush On You"--The Clash
(9) "Feeling Called Love"--Wire
(10) "Bad Cover Version"--Pulp
(11) "Love"--John Lennon
(12) "My Love Will Not Let You Down"--Bruce Springsteen
(13) "The Desperate Kingdom of Love"--PJ Harvey
(14) "Valentine's Day is Over"--Billy Bragg
[Hidden Track: "If You're Into It"--Flight of the Conchords]

Sent by Mick (not "Mick") | 11:28 AM | 2-14-2008

Another wise idea: stay away from story-songs. Unless you're Tom T Hall or Bruce Springsteen, it usually doesn't work out too well. Even Dylan has trouble with them, e.g. Lily Rosemary & Jack of Hearts, or especially Black Diamond Bay (yuck). It's a tough genre.

I made the mistake of putting Springsteen's The River on a CD for my wife a few years back, and we ended up getting in a fight about the ending. She believes the narrator kills himself by jumping into a dry riverbed ("sends me down to the river, though I know the river is dry") while I correctly insisted it was a metaphor for their lost youth, etc.

I would have been better off just sticking Tom Sawyer on there instead.

Sent by Rick | 1:16 PM | 2-14-2008

man, i haven't made a mix tape (CD) in forever! what a good idea to celebrate a holiday I do not jump for joy for. i am probably too lazy to make one though. but "feel like making love" by bad company would definitely have to be on there (I have this on another mix CD). I am in a 4+ year relationship and from the first day we met our song was "Joga" by Bjork, and maybe even "Big Time Sensuality".

Sent by janet | 2:14 PM | 2-14-2008

Great post! I refuse to do Valentine's Day. For all of my exes (who may or may not read this), I would like to say that I resent your roping me into it. Especially B, it was mean to say you hated Vday and then get mad that I didn't get you anything - buying flowers on the 14th can be hard. And to my current love, thank you for not being one of them. Thank you for not celebrating this consumerist "bump" to the lull between Christmas and Easter. Thank you for not celebrating Christmas or Easter either. I kind of botched the no holiday thing though because I got your corduroy jacket relined for you.

The only exception to my no holiday rule is the mix tape CD.

I figure if people can list their mixes, I can shout out.

Sent by Elizabeth | 3:34 PM | 2-14-2008

A few songs that found their way on to past mixes for the loved one:

"39-21-46" by The Showmen
"Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell
"You're My Best Friend" by Queen
"Everyday I Write The Book" by Elvis Costello
"Sole Salvation" by The English Beat
"You're My Favorite Waste Of Time" by Marshall Crenshaw
"Get Me" by Everything But The Girl
"Your Hand In Mine" by Explosions In The Sky
"Truly, Truly" by Grant Lee Buffalo
"Hard To Beat" by Hard-Fi
"Avenues" by Whiskeytown
"Little Guitars" by Van Halen
"Your Favorite Thing" by Sugar

Would you like some crackers with this cheese?

Sent by Kevin | 3:34 PM | 2-14-2008

OMG, this blog was already my favorite and now you've gone and raised the stakes entirely. What about giving songs to your crushes that have their names in them--if you happened to have two current crushes, say, you might use "Naomi" by Neutral Milk Hotel, or, uh, "Carrie" by Joni Mitchell (oh yeah, the one with the man-referred-to-as-daddy, but I have switched the genders--so there).

"If Not for You" is genius although I too prefer the Dylan version (and maybe even the odd & cool recent Bryan Ferry cover). There's also:

  1. "You Angel You" off of Planet Waves
  2. the genius "All You Have to Do Is Dream" (unreleased Basement Tapes track)
  3. Velvet Underground, "I'll Be Your Mirror" (fun to view as a love song)
  4. PJ Harvey, "You Said Something" (well, at least that's what I think PJH is talking about)
  5. Van Morrison, "Come Running"
  6. Van Morrison, "Crazy Love"
  7. Patti Smith, "Frederick"

Is "I Wanna Be Your Mary Timony" a love/crush song? How about "You're No Rock & Roll Fun"? I think I could make a case for either one...

Sent by David G. | 4:13 PM | 2-14-2008

Some Magnetic Fields songs could potentially be really awkward. (See "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits").
This post was really awesome.

Sent by Dan G | 4:33 PM | 2-14-2008

Personally I just pick my favorite songs at the moment to put on a mix tape and I hate when people read too much into them. This girl thought a song on a mix tape was about her and I wondered if it was Trailer Trash by Modest Mouse but apparently it was some sappy love song.

Sent by Peg | 4:51 PM | 2-14-2008

What's a "pearl necklace"?

Sent by confused | 11:56 PM | 2-14-2008

"Let's Get It Wrong"

Jazz Butcher reference? Whaaa?

Sent by ibc | 12:02 PM | 2-15-2008

Dear Confused,

Google: pearl necklace slang. Don't make Carrie explain. I just checked and a decent definition pops up under the first entry.

A Concerned Reader

Sent by Elizabeth | 3:42 PM | 2-15-2008

Here are some songs which remind me of longing, togetherness, and breaking up.

Girl Dreams-Beck
Is this love-Bob Marley
Black Eyed Susan-Paul Westerberg
Rebel Rebel-David Bowie
Night Nurse-Dean/Britta
Falling slowly-Hansard/Irglova
My rollercoaster-Kimya Dawnson
Fade into you-Mazzy Star
Saving all my love for you-Tom Waits
Good Things-Sleater-Kinney
Fairy of New York-The Pogues
Goodbye-Steve Earle

I'm sure there's a psychiatrist out there who can analyze this list and tell me how screwed up my emotions are.

Sent by xavier | 10:59 PM | 2-15-2008

you should start writing for Cosmo.

Sent by Anna | 4:52 PM | 2-16-2008

Excellent post Carrie! Tres amusing. I've been a 'lurker' until now, but am consistently amazed by your way with words...both here and in your musdic career. Keep up the great work...I'm reading, even if I may not 'pipe up' too often! x

Sent by Kiri Little | 7:08 PM | 2-18-2008

I saw this mix a long time ago and remembered it now:

Sent by peter | 4:45 PM | 2-22-2008

Okay, got "Whole Lotta Love" goin' on the iPod right now, and to tell you the truth the meaning of the words don't do anything for me. It's the raw groove initiated by Page's Telecaster/Supro combo that kicks in after that little laugh recorded at the beginning, especially with those volume swells. So all "back to schoolin'" is null & void through my ear canals. Listening to the atmospheric swirls of "guitar air" emanating off the illustrious, primative syncopation totally out does the senses while Plant's croon is tracked alongside. It's that damn solo that is just so "Whoa": short, sweet, to the point, no dilly-dallying around, with an almost 'greasy' and viscous texture spilling over the brim from it's fluid-like play straight from the right headphone. "Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)" doesn't even paint a derrogatory image of this femme fatal sung about either, it's that subtle use of the Vox Wah that solidifies the whole jive to me. Ramble On.

Here's to showing appreciation any day of the year.

Sent by |3rian | 2:49 PM | 3-1-2008

nothing spells love like the replacements valentine. "If you were a pill, I'd take a handful at my will and I'd knock you back with something sweet and strong."

Can't forget "shoot you full of love" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion", actually anything off that album will keep one a celibate for life

but seriously use "if you need someone" by the field mice. Guarunteed success and a wonderful song

Sent by Devin(shire) | 5:53 PM | 3-8-2008