Today was all about loving on Nick through the Ultimate Romantic Gesture: The Mix Tape.
A mix tape is not so much about letting others express your feeling for you through words hears a million times before, as it is about the time, and the thought and the overall message of the mix. You've got to pace it right so the tape has a good flow with no jarring transitions (unless that was the effect you were going for, of course), that none of the songs sneak in anything you didn't mean to say and that you don't get the same artist back to back.
Which reminds me that Nick Hornsby says this a heck of a lot better than I do in High Fidelity: "To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind", but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."
Heavens, yes, are there ever rules. One rule I invented for myself was that every song had to be from the 1980s, when the home-made mix tape really took off. Somewhat surprisingly (or in fact, extremely predictably), I did have a CDs worth of 80s music that conveyed my gushiest of gushy feelings for Nick, the only trick was finding and selecting them. In fact, it took me a good two hours just to choose and research the songs, i.e., did the lyrics fit, and was that song really from the 80s, etc.
Now, I was going to make Nick an real tape-tape with actual button pushing sounds and everything, but my 2009 self just couldn't quite wrap my brain around the inefficiency of it all, so I went with a Mix CD instead. This way he can listen to it in the car, or at work, or put it on his iPod and all of that good stuff instead. I promise it's a better choice for the 2000s.
And because I know you are all dying to hear this wonderful compilation for yourselves, I am going to stop this frighteningly long post, and present this playlist.com version for your listening pleasure. Happy 80's!
PS: Here is a direct link to the mix for those of you with slow internet connections, or other undisclosed issues.
PPS: I also gave Nick a separate CD with Sarah Vowell's take on the mix tape from an old epsisode of this American Life. It's Act 3 of the show, or about 28 minutes in, if you want to listen.