More than anything, three books influenced the way I think about life and music and people and how music ties them all together. The first two were written by Nick Hornby: High Fidelity and Songbook. The third is Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield. What I loved the most about those pieces was the notion that music can deeply touch our souls and alter our state of mind. Unlike books and films, music is always around us – like radio waves. So it could really transform the most random moments in our lives and also change the most random relationships.
That’s why a mixtape is a powerful tool in the tricky game called love. Hornby and Sheffield spent quite a lot of time describing how music can help make a girl fall in love with you (or at least go out with you a few more times). I have a few tricks myself and one day I may share them with you. However, Yogi’s Choice is a reminder that mixtapes can also create misunderstandings and seriously screw up healthy (platonic) relationships.
I first started practicing yoga in LA in December 2009. Shakti Box in Los Feliz, on the cross streets of Vermont and Franklin, is a place that has changed my life forever. I didn’t immediately get into yoga. I was never too flexible and always tried avoiding situations in which there was a strong likelihood of breaking my neck (which is to this day my #1 yoga fear). So in the first few months, what kept me going again and again was the awesome music. Some of my greatest moments with The XX, Arcade Fire, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Moby and others were in Shakti Box. I felt and loved those songs like never before while I was there on my mat.
My favorite teacher/DJ was Stephanie. She had yellow Onitsuka by Asics sneakers and passion for indie music. She taught Fridays afternoon and by the end of her classes the sun would be going down and Griffith Observatory was changing colors in front of my sweaty face. It was magical.
In the following couple of weeks I started assembling a mixtape for Stephanie. Now, believe me, this was nothing romantic. She had a boyfriend and I knew that. I just wanted to give her something back after all she had given me.
When I gave the mixtape to her – it was awkward. The following week I walked in to class, assuming she would tell me the mixtape was great (maybe the best mixtape she has ever heard. Maybe). But Stephanie said nothing. She hardly looked at me. Awkwardness. Finally, I stopped going to her classes.
When I listen to this mixtape today, I can not blame her. It does include the word “love” over and over again. Also, the line “come hide you lovers underneath the covers” in Arcade Fire’s Rebellion (Lies) – doesn’t help. In my twisted head I can hear this now as an open invitation to Stephanie to run away with me in her yellow sneakers. Perhaps that’s how it sounded to her too.
Yogi’s Choice is proof that mixtaps are powerful and can work in both ways. And just like Darth Vader and the force – if you use it, make sure not to abuse it.
Yogi’s Choice (February 2009). Stream it here: http://iddopop.com/mixtapes/yogis_choice/