Essayist Geoffrey O'Brien has called the personal mix tape “the most widely practiced American art form.” At Simon’s Rock, this art form has become a tradition. A few weeks before every break, junior Sarah Jacobs sends a global email.
Subject: THE MIX EXCHANGE! THE MIX EXCHANGE!
It starts something like this:
Don't forget to submit something (ideally a mix CD) to the Mix Exchange this Friday! You can put your CD in the box that will be outside the Bookstore. Include a full track list and your name attached (if you prefer anonymity, let me know, but still include your name somehow so I can give you a mix in return!). Mixes are due in the aforementioned box by 3 p.m. on Friday. A brand new, completely unrelated mix will appear in your mailbox that evening.
If you’re stuck, she offers prompts:
- It was so warm out today even though it was raining! (i.e. spring is going to come someday!)
- It is still January WILL WINTER NEVER END?
- Maybe you still like winter, I don't know.
- Music you allegedly haven't listened to since middle school but secretly still love.
And it’s always signed:
Sarah didn’t begin this tradition, she inherited it. Like a lot of student-led initiatives on the campus, it was passed down from person to person—with each student branding it in their own way. If Sarah is affectionate and personal, encouraging even, her predecessor Noah’s emails were “hilarious,” she recalls.
Every exchange is different. This past exchange had fewer participants than other exchanges, which saw between 10 to 15 CDs submitted. Most participants, who have included faculty, staff, and even relatives, create their own musical narrative without prompt, but Sarah includes them anyway. “Noah would always include prompts in his mix exchange emails and I loved them. They were my favorite part of his emails.”
She laughs. “Last year I was listening to this CocoRosie song called ‘Werewolf,’ and I thought about whether or not I had enough material in my iPod for an entire mix of songs about vampires and werewolves.” She did. “I ended with eighteen songs that are sort of about vampires. It’s actually a really great list.”
Her most recent exchange mix was “French Film, French Film.” It was inspired by an Amy Hempel short story. The story itself is part of her cover art. This last exchange also included mixes titled “I Don’t Speak German,” “Keep Your Chin Up,” “Mercury Falling, Mercury Rising,” and “Of Companion Crates and Mad Men.”
Interested in participating? Jump in. The next exchange will take place right before the March 19--March 28 break. Contact Sarah at sjacobs07 at simons-rock.edu