Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine Mix – A Gift For My Readers (And Their Loved Ones)

I'm not just Rob the DJ. I'm Rob Gordon at heart.

Gordon, if you might recall, was the central character in the 2000 film High Fidelity, a record store owner with a thing for stringing together music – especially when it came to making mix tapes.

I've been doing mix tapes since way back when – first for myself, then for others as I realized their power. Like a handmade basket or a homemade batch of brownies, they touch the recipient in ways that a more expensive gift can't. My efforts culminated a few years ago with the ultimate mix: As a 75th birthday present for my father, I loaded a 4 Gb IPod with his favorite music.

Since I began living with my wonderful wife, I have put together mix CDs for certain special occasions. Such as last year when, along with a dozen of her favorite roses, I presented her with a mix CD of about 20 songs – half of which had "valentine" in their title, half of which were some of her favorite love songs. She loved it because it was so personal and it required much more effort than simply going down to the drug store and buying a box of chocolates.

I don't know if it's too late for you guys and girls, but here are a few songs to give you a head start for your own Valentine's mix.

"Valentine" by Nils Lofgren
Bruce's longtime sideman puts together this lovely tune, with background vocals from Mr. Springsteen himself.

"Valentine" by Bobby Bare Jr.
The son of Nashville great Bobby Bare, the younger Bare has carved himself a niche as a practitioner of alt-country-rock. A word of warning, in a song featuring the protagonist bemoaning how he mistakenly killed his Valentine: Don't make this your romantic centerpiece unless you are more than a little bit on the deviated side. Still a great song, though. And it doesn't hurt to throw in some humor amid the sentiment.

"My Funny Valentine" by Chet Baker
The definitive Valentine's Day song, made all the more heartbreaking by Baker's world-weary voice and his ultimately tragic life.

"Valentine Moon" by Sam Brown and Jools Holland
Probably the best track on a sorely overlooked "Big Band" album from 2005 that also featured the likes of George Harrison, Joe Strummer, Eric Clapton, Sting and Van Morrison.

"Valentine" by the Old 97s
Singer Rhett Miller has become somewhat of an alternative idol, but his band isn't too shabby either, as can be heard from this 1999 release.

Other Valentine songs I highly recommend: "Lonely Valentine" by Push Stars vocalist Chris Trapper (here's an excerpt), "Valentine's Day" from ABC and "Valentine" by The Replacements.

Have fun. And I wish all of you fellow wannabe Rob Gordons out there good luck.

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