March Madness 3: The Round Robin Mix CD Trading Group

A long title for a simple idea. In an age where less and less of us use snail mail because we expect instant delivery on everything, including music, a friend in Staten Island decided to revive the idea of the old-fashioned chain letter or postcard, but with a twist. He enlisted a dozen of us to set about making a mix CD to a theme (simply, “road trip”), writing up notes, designing a sleeve, and then sending it on to the designated person in our chain, after which we were told to simply sit back and wait to receive similarly themed mix CDs in the mail. It’s been a slow process – I finished my mix in October and am still receiving mixes from further along the chain. And not everyone followed the request for sleeve notes, let alone sleeves. But still, when at the start of March, I (finally) received a quartet of mix CDs that were actually compiled back in September, they turned out to be full of enough surprises to render them well worth the wait.

One CD opened with the surf music of Japanese actor Yuzo Kamaya (see above); another with the pop reggae song “Dat” by Pluto, which I have barely heard since it was a hit in 1975 but which instantly came back to me; another kicked off with confirmed indie legends Clinic; and the last of them with the music of the new English band the Horrors. As just this introductory summary confirms, the choice of music for each CD hails from all over the place, some compilers using the “road trip” notion in a narrative sense (as I did with my mix “The Greatest Ride of Our Lives” which I may yet put online), others choosing instead simply to mix in music from around the world. What has proven most fascinating about this social experiment is that while a few of the cuts on each CD are familiar to me, the vast majority are not, which just goes to show… Not only that even someone with a  collection like mine can never run out of new (old) music, but that some of the best things in life still come in the (truly snail) mail.

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October 2021