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Making the Perfect Mix Tape 
by T. Allen Merriman May 19, 2005

Go with the Flow

As for the order of the songs, one of the most solid pieces of advice comes from the movie High Fidelity starring John Cusack. He said you have to start off with something really good, and then with track two, you have to put something even better, but you don't want to blow your load too early in the tape, so you cool it off a bit for track three. After that, you might find yourself in a bit of a freefall. Don't panic. Just listen to your songs back-to-back and see if they sound good next to each other.

Sometimes You Can Pull Off Some Funny Things.

"The best transition we ever had was we had this nice quiet song with a sad ending, and then right after it, 'Do The Mario' played," Merriman said. OK, so the guy likes Mario.

Doller offers just a touch more advice then leaves you on your own. "The only tip I have is don't use the same band or singer back to back," she said. "Oh, and vary the tempo."

Mullett agrees with Doller and has a helpful tip on how to vary the tempo. "Almost all the mix tapes I've made have one overriding principle: Make each song very different from the last," Mullett said. "Therefore, I wouldn't have 'Strawberry Fields Forever' by the Beatles next to 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' by the Amboy Dukes, because they're both psychedelic. Instead, I would follow either song with, say, 'Angel of Death' by Slayer. Then I might put a Mozart piece on and maybe something by the Presidents of the United States of America or Camper Van Beethoven before looping back around to the other psychedelic song. "I just feel that it's boring to hear the same type of song twice in a row; far more interesting to have a juxtaposition."

He takes Doller's advice of not having the same artist back to back a step further. "Not only do I never put the same artist twice on the same tape, I try never to have the same musician appear twice on the same tape," he said. "Therefore, I couldn't put a Rainbow song on the same tape as a Deep Purple song, unless it's from one of the handful of Deep Purple albums that Ritchie Blackmore is not on. This rule requires some vigilance, as someone like Ritchie Blackmore or Jimmy Page played on quite a lot of 1960s recordings on a session basis, and it's not always easy to get that information, but I figure a mix tape isn't truly mixed if you've got two performances by the same person on it."

See? He's thorough.



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