Happy All Hallow’s Eve!

October 31, 2007 at 5:39 pm (Music Mixes)

Had a cool shindig with some old friends here in the District over the weekend, a small get-together with about 20 of us in a sort-of Halloween Party theme, although I can’t recall anyone wearing costumes (I went over after work, so I was dressed as a restaurant manager…)

Anyway, I get there, and I’m met with far more of a warm welcome than I’m ever really due. “You bring tunes?”

“I said I would.” My friends know me well enough to know that if one of them requested a mix CD for changing cat litter, I’d make one.

“Sweet.”

So here’s the scene: we’re in a fairly cool part of DC (Georgetown), we’re in a cool townhouse, we’ve got a bunch of cool, hip folks drinking beer, wine, and assorted scotches and bourbons….

….and for some reason a bunch of really crappy music is playing. I’m pretty sure we were listening to Cradle Of Filth, but I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that it didn’t work for Halloween music for a party. Apparently they’d started off playing it fairly loud, but that was met with protests of “turn this shit down”.

And so we add another person to the large group of folks who have no concept at all of how to make a Halloween mix CD. Scary is good–but scary is relative, and should be good creepy fun, too. Let me try to give you an example.

Way, way back in the college daze, Marc, Dan-O, Grant, and I came up with the brilliant idea of going on a camping trip where we’d be as far away from civilization as possible. I guess the other three guys had done a similar camping trip a few months before, and it was a good time, so we ended up giving it another shot.

Sadly, we were unable to procure the intoxicants of our choice, and we were left with having to “settle” for beer. Lots of beer. We found this isolated thick Ozarks woodland, managed to get Dan’s ’86 Ford Tempo to do some serious off-roading, and found ourselves completely removed from civilization. We set up tents, got beer in the cooler, and started a fire. The other three guys had made the brilliant decision to bring a huge boombox along, (with extra batteries!), and that weekend was the first time I can remember hearing the Beach Boys presented as something else besides the fat pop hacks doing “Kokomo” on the National Mall on holidays. No, Marc played “Sail On Sailor” for me, and I thought it was brilliant. Another moment of musical discovery that day: Marc also had Superchunk’s “Cool” and “Fishing” on a tape, and it ruled.

We’d all brought other music too. As the fire filled the black, inky night, the music led to some pretty funny discussions. Who’d be the best band to go camping with? (We decided that Teenage Fanclub would be the most fun, but Uncle Tupelo would really rule….and then someone mentioned that Neil Young would rule even harder, and that was that.) What REM song would be the perfect cover for another artist? (Consensus: Dwight Yoakam should’ve covered “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”)

Marc had brought a ton of CD’s. Seems he’d won a bet with a Sony promotions rep, and as part of it was allowed to pick a bunch of stuff from Sony’s music catalog. One of the things he’d picked was the then-recently released “Roots N Blues” series box of Robert Johnson. The fire started to go to embers, the sky a blanket of stars, and the woods were filled with Mr. Johnson wailing into the Ozark night about hellhounds on his tale, and deals with Ol’ Scratch himself at The Crossroads. Someone (I think it was Dan, but it could’ve been Marc) wondered aloud: “What would you do if Robert Johnson just strolled into our campsite right now?”

Someone else (Dan, maybe?) said “He’d probably say ‘Howdy boys! I been dead nigh-on fifty years right now, and I’m fixin’ to take y’all to hell with me!'” Perfect answer. We cracked up, drank more beer, and listened to Robert wail into the pre-dawn hours.

What does that have to do with Halloween Mix CD’s? Well, the perfect Halloween mix should sound like something you’d play on a dark, star-spattered night in the middle of nowhere; it should be music that not only chills, but thrills, music that is more than anything: fun. If you’ve seen the crappy Twilight Zone movie, there’s a scene at the end where poor John Lithgow is loaded into an ambulance, and a smiling, demonic Dan Aykroyd is revealed as the driver. He’s playing “Midnight Special” on the cassette deck, and as Lithgow says “I love Creedence!”, Aykroyd asks him if he wants to see something really scary.

A good Halloween mix should sound like the rest of the cassette tape Aykroyd would play for Lithgow as he took him down the night road to hell.

So. I brought a couple of Halloween mixes, they went over well, good times were had by all, and that’s how we do that.

Except I figured that since you read this far, I’d better share with the whole class. So here it is, Chris’s 2007 Halloween Mix for your ghoulish enjoyment (or, enjoyment of your goulash for dinner.) It always works best if you don’t peek at the tracklist ’til after you’ve given it a listen once…..


GRAVEST HITS, 2007! (Click me, I’m one 80-minute mp3 already mixed, normalized, and crossfaded…)

Tracklist:
1. …..
2. “How Far Can Too Far Go” -The Cramps
3. “Sympathetic Noose” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4. “She’s Not There” The Zombies
5. “Pentagram Ring” Chavez
6. “That Ol’ Black Magic” Sinatra
7. “Mr Greaves” The Pixies
8. “Modified Frankenstein” Cobra Verde
9. “Slow Hearse” Son Volt
10. “Grave Architecture” Pavement
11. “Little Ghost” The White Stripes
12. “Monkey Man” The Rolling Stones
13. “Voodoo Train” The Bellrays
14. “Vampire” The Blakes
15. “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” REM
16. “Black Cat Bone” House Of Freaks
17. “Spooky” The Classics IV
18. “Black Heart” Calexico
19. “You Passed” Neutral Milk Hotel
20. “Charlotte’s Remains” The Fuzztones
21. “Halloween” The Dream Syndicate
22. “Highway To Hell” AC/DC
23. “Go ‘Way Devil” Blue Mountain
24. ….

(BTW, it’s all in one ginormous mp3 file because this mix ain’t here to condone snagging the hard work of the musicians involved as freebies. Everything’s crossfaded, so even if you really did go to the trouble of trying to split the mp3 to get a certain song, you’d still have the intro and fadeout borked by the songs in front of and behind it. If you’re an artist with a song in the mix, thanks in advance for the enjoyment of your hard work, and rest assured this file will be pulled in a few days.)

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    Chris, if you want 3 photos from that very trip to embellish your post –and trust me, you want ’em – send me an e-mail RIGHT NOW atdlehr@newschannel9.com. I’ll fire them off to you as soon as I hear from you. A few other thoughts about that trip:*your account is pretty accurate. I’ll take credit for saying Neil Young.*for me, more fun than determining who’d be great to camp with was figuringout who would be awful. top choice, as I recall: Lou Reed.*the album I remember ‘shaking hands’ with on that trip was Blood on theTracks.*remember when you drenched yourself to get the frisbee?*I still have the cassette we recorded our musings on — albeit somewhere,in a musty basement, with no working tape deck to transfer it. someday.thanks for the memories.=dan=

  2. Chris H. said,

    Oh HELL yes I want those. Try chris -at- popnarcotic dot com for the email.BTW, the most enduring funny line from the entire trip belongs to Marc: “Still fit as a fiddle, unfortunately.” I leave it to the imaginations of readers who weren’t there to figure out the context therein…but that’s still a line I’ve been known to use at various appropriate times at shows, parties, etc.

  3. Beth C said,

    Wow, Chris. Great mix. Thanks for sharing!XO,Beth

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