I have specifically chosen people to do Mix Tape Monday that will creatively be able to have a full out conversation with me via email or whatever, not just letter form. If you have been a reader of my blog, I write like I would be talking...and my dear friend Cortney, across oceans and continents, is able to do this as well. There is a common theme threaded amongst all my dearest of friends, it is hard to put into words, but they are all very similar, and here is one of them.
US: Hi Cortney, thank you so much for being this week's featured DJ. I must admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to your mix as I screen it for errors and compile this interview. It is a good mix of old and new, and is quirky, my style. Now before there was ipods, there was burnt cds, and before that there was mix tapes, and if I remember correctly, you were a huge fan of the mix tapes. Do you still make mixes? If so what are you listening to them on and where do you listen to them?
Cortney: I was definitely a fan of the mix tapes, and still have some of our WWC mixes at my parents’ house. Those tapes got me through a lot of road trips and long jogs. I don’t really make mixes anymore – part of the fun of mix tapes is making the tape and decorating the package, but now it’s just all digital. So sad. But I did just get an ipod last month and have gotten totally hooked on podcasts – mostly I listen to essays, news, and shows from National Public Radio. And I listen to them while I walk, jog, bike, rest, sit at a coffee shop, or wait for my oil to get changed. I love having a portable pick-and-choose entertainment box – definitely beats hauling the yellow Sony sports walkman around with 10 of my favorite tapes. Ah yeah.
US:Now I know the history of your musical evolution, and this mix, my dear, represents a huge process. Now for the readers...in the past, lets say 11 years, (wow I have known you almost 11 years), how has your musical taste changed? Who has been a pivotal influence in your musical taste? The readers want the goods, and its a good story, take the time.
C:Well, it’s been an interesting journey, and since you asked, I’ll make a long story long. When I was growing up, my family always went to conservative churches that shunned listening to rock music, anything with a beat or drums or electric guitars, or basically anything that wasn’t a hymn or written 800 years ago. My parents didn’t raise us quite that conservative – I knew my parents liked Chicago, the Eagles, Carole King – but my dad was a leader in the church and signed a form saying that he and his family would abide by the church’s standards. So we rarely listened to anything but talk radio, the occasional Christian artist, and sometimes Oldies. I grew up assuming that “rock music” was inherently evil, and got offended when riding in the car with my friends and their parents who were listening to such filth. And I felt it was my duty to stand up for my faith, so I would ask them to turn down/off the radio. No shame. I cried when my parents bought my younger brother a Michael W. Smith tape – it was too worldly. Don’t even get my started on how upset I was when they allowed him to listen to P.O.D. (a heavy metal-ish group with Christian words). Yes, my brother was rebellious, but how could my parents compromise like that?!All my friends in high school listened to REM, Green Day, Sarah McLaughlin, Blues Traveler, etc. and would sing them on the school bus or in the hallways. Since I am an auditory learner, I memorized the words to lots of popular songs that I never actually heard on the radio until years later. Most of my friends didn’t share my convictions, but they knew I was sensitive about music preferences, especially since I was still under my parents’ roof. It’s miraculous that I wasn’t completely mocked.Then I went to college.These new friends at Wisconsin Wilderness Campus listened to all kinds of eclectic Christian music that I never knew existed – I just thought there was rock music vs. hymns. Now I had to face whether music with Christian words AND electric guitars was acceptable to God or not. My friends were not afraid to probe deeper into my convictions and ask me why I believed what I believed – not just adopting my church’s and parents’ standards. I remember tear-filled conversations several times that year as I was sorting out my beliefs – not just about music, but about everything. I believe that this heart-wrestling is a necessary process for making your faith your own.So the songs we listened to that year (Caedmon’s Call, Jock Jams, ska music, Sixpence, etc) represent an important turning point in my musical history. After that, I widened my view of acceptable Christian music, but still was not crazy about secular music. It’s been a long process of learning who’s who in the music world, and making up for lost time. Today I don’t stay up with the latest trends in music – not that I opposed all of it, but I’m just not that interested. I usually rely on the recommendations of my younger brothers – they used to listen to really hard core stuff which I just haven’t ever connected with, but now they listen to more mellow stuff and I really like some of their findings.Of course, if I hear a catchy song that I like, then I’ll buy it and enjoy it. Especially if it makes me want to dance. But that’s a whole other story.
US: First song was chosen by the Producer, it is The La's, "There She Goes," I am sure you know it, Sixpence rerecorded it a few years ago. This song reminds me of you because you are CONSTANTLY on the go. Where is your favorite place to go and why?
C:I have always enjoyed traveling. Probably because we lived in so many places when I was growing up (Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania) and I went to college all over (Wisconsin, Ohio, Israel) and grad school in Texas and North Dakota. I took short-term mission trips to Ireland, Romania, Mexico, and did backpacking trips in Canada. Now I live in Thailand and have traveled to lots of nearby countries (China, Nepal, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia).But despite all this travel (or maybe because of it), if you gave me a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world right now, I would without a doubt choose to go home. Home = wherever my parents and brothers are, which now happens to be North Carolina. That’s where I can truly rest and laugh and be my silly self.
US:Next Song, "You're Smiling Face," by James Taylor. Now, if there was an artist that reminded me of someone every time I heard one of their songs, it would be James and you. He is classic, but got his start way before our time, who first introduced you to James?
C:My friend Alyssa Sawyer got the James Taylor Greatest Hits album in tenth grade, and I liked the sound of it. Plus, even though some of the words weren’t exactly wholesome, it did pass the qualifications for acceptable music. So I went and bought the same CD myself, and within months had every word memorized. I could sing the whole album to you right now – every word, every guitar solo, all in order. James Taylor is truly an old, old friend.
US:John Mayer 3X5, good choice, now I can assume why you chose this song, but why don't you go ahead and share with my friends. Please share where you are now, and what led you there in regards to your travels. Questions that follow that will be, where is your most favorite place you have visited? If you were to write on a 3X5 right now who would it be addressed to and what would it say?
C:I love this song because it expresses my feelings of wanting to share all these amazing things that I see as I travel – but often I’m by myself or can’t quite capture the amazingness on film. My life in Thailand is basically one photo-opp after another – there have been so many times that I wish my eyes were a camera – like the whenever a man zooms by on a bicycle carrying 4 live chickens upside down by their feet, or I’m sitting at a stoplight and there is a family of 5 squished onto a little motorbike next to me, or I see an elephant being led down the highway.That’s interesting, I always thought of 3x5 as the size of photograph rather than a notecard. But if I were to capture a moment in words or pictures, I would want to send it to my youngest brother Taylor, who is one of my favorite people on the planet. I would say, “Dear Tay-monkey. Get your butt over here and experience this with me!” (this = my favorite moments: a boatride in rural Laos, eating sticky rice with villagers in Northern Thailand, gathering linguistic data in the Himalayas, riding a camel in Egypt, etc.)
US:Cake, Short Skirt, Long Jacket. This one surprised me...because not even I thought your evolution would go all the way to Cake! You most definitely need to explain this choice. It, like most Cake songs, has a great beat, and the voice just adds to it. I like when Cake comes on when I am driving somewhere, its good car dancing music. And speaking of Cake, I LOVE to eat a good piece of cake. What is your favorite kind of cake?
C:I learned about this song when I went to Nepal in 2006 to help/learn from some colleagues there, who happen to be our age and really hip. I think they played Short Skirt Long Jacket at their wedding reception because Christy is the kind of gal that is all business on the outside, but when you know her well, you discover her inner party animal. I don’t think this song describes me necessarily, but I do really like the imagery and paradox. My favorite words of this song are “I want a girl who gets up early...stays up late...with good dividends,” “cupholder armrest, white Chrysler LeBaron”. And last year while driving through boring Indiana, I listened to this song about 54 times in order to memorize every word. Well worth it.Cake – I definitely love cheesecake. That’s what I would always request for my birthday when I was younger, but sadly I can’t really get good cheesecake here in Thailand. I also like anything that involves chocolate and peanut butter together. One year my friends made me a chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake. HELLLLO!
US:Shackles, by Mary, Mary. You must like to bust out your best dance moves to this song. Kendall started dancing as soon as this came on for me to download. So do you still have dance parties at random times, and if so, with who? If you could pick a style of dance to be spectacular at, what would it be?
C:Definitely shakin my booty to this one. My favorite dance partner is myself – I look pretty awesome when I dance in front of the mirror, and that way I can perfect my moves at the same time. But I had an excellent pack of roommates in Dallas last year who would join me for dance parties on a weekly basis. That was so therapeutic and fulfilling for me. Now that we’re apart, we have dance parties via video skype from one side of the planet to the other. Isn’t technology amazing?I’ve always idolized Napoleon Dynamite’s dance at the end of the movie – now, if I could just get a copy of D’Quon’s dance grooves from the thrift store...
US:The Safety Dance, never a bad pick when you go with a throw back 80's song. Did you know this band, Men Without Hats, was originally, Men With Hats, but then changed their names because they would throw off their hats into the audience at the end of their shows? Now there is some of the random music trivia I have stuck in my head for you. But this song is really strange, don't you think? I mean what do you think the Safety Dance is?
C:This is a strange song. But it fits in perfectly with the randomness that is Cortney. I’m picturing the Safety Dance to be somewhat robotic-looking, danced at a safe distance from your fellow dancers so as not to poke an eye out. And I have to agree with these hatless men that if your friends don’t dance, then they’re no friends at all. I do, however, make exceptions for non-dancers that are especially humorous or helpful.
US:Sixpence, Trust, again, another song chosen by the Producer. This of course being a reminder of the year we met at WWC and singing with Becca and Meggan, both readers of the blog, (Hi Ladies!) Personally I still enjoy popping in my Sixpence cd while in a mellow mood. And how many times did we practice singing to 'perfect,' this song to only cry through it in the end? Oh how we thought our world was coming to an end that day. I still have so many memories of that year. What is one funny memory that you have? I will share mine after you answer, I still laugh out loud at many of them, but this one is the best, I am sure you can guess. Also if you could describe that year in one word what would it be?
C:We worked so hard to remember the words ‘tough-tough’ and ‘rough-rough’! That song was a pretty good description of our year. Sometimes I just laugh out loud when I think of some of those stories – like when we had to cross-country ski approximately 300 miles, and we were so exhausted and cranky that when we lost control on a downhill, we just fell over in the snow and bawled our eyes out together.And of course there’s the time that we were chillin’ in the Eagle lounge after dinner. I had to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to miss a minute of whatever thrilling conversation we were having. So I told you guys to time me and I rushed upstairs to the bathroom. I came down like 1.17 minutes later, having basically passed my entire dinner through my intestines undigested. And that was the night I had eaten a few bowls of Lucky Charms. Good times.How can I summarize all the breadth of experiences of that year into one word? Maybe “beginning”. It was the beginning of lifelong friendships, beginning to understand God in new ways, and beginning to figure out who I am. And the beginning of my career as a professional snowshoe-er.I wish.
US: And one of my favorite funny memories, there are so so many from that year, but the one I still think is hilarious when I picture it in my mind is this one day I was just in a foul mood, no idea why, but I was annoyed with everyone and everything, and I was getting dinner ready and I look out of the Dining Room windows with a scowl because I hear this shouting, and what do I see? Joyce twirling her baton and throwing it into the air, marching with people behind her, like she was some grand marshall of the parade, and then there is you jumping and twirling like you were some majorette with the band, I remember just standing there at first in disbelief, I mean are we that sheltered and that desperate for activity that playing parade sounds glorious, and then someone else came around the corner and busted out laughing and I just lost it right there, and was laughing so hard I was crying.
US:Dave Matthews Band, #34. I too, of course, thoroughly enjoy this song. Did you know that the saxophonist from the band that is the main instrument in this song passed away this past year? Did you know I used to play the saxophone? I did, from 4th grade up through Jr. High, and then I quit because it was not cool to be in the Marching Band in high school, you were a Band Geek, or whatever. What is or was a secret talent you have? I don't think I have a secret talent now.
C: I never was a band geek. But since college, my secret talent has been my wicked awesome dance skills, which are increasingly not-so-secret as I have more opportunities to dance in public. Rather than just in my car or kitchen. You’re welcome, world.
US:And lastly, this song chosen by me before you even picked a James Taylor song, even though I knew you would. This is probably my second favorite James song, the first being,'How Sweet It Is,' because it is my wedding song with my love. I love this particular song because my favorite vacations are to the Outer Banks. I would think that this song is special to you because that is where your family is and since you are so far away from them, you must go to Carolina in your mind frequently. However, if you could write a song about going somewhere else in your mind other than Carolina, where would that be and why?
C:Yes, I love Carolina now that my parents’ little white house at the base of the Smokey Mountains is my homebase, and that’s where my mind does go most often. For me, my longing is not necessarily for a place, but for people. Sometimes my mind flashes forward to some big event (my birthday, my wedding, heaven) where all my friends from all over the world come together for a mega-celebration, complete with a non-stop dance party and chocolate peanut-butter cheesecake. Yes, that would be heaven.
US: And that concludes the interview portion of this post. Thanks so much again Cortney from Coney Island for sharing your mix with us and then by default a little tid bit of you and your life! We miss you here, come dance on our hardwood floors to some mixes with us soon.
C:Love you, Sauce. My song for you will always be G.Love’s My Baby’s Got Sauce – I almost put that one in, but who else would really understand?Wish we could hang out :) Miss you!