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Love, Marriage, Mixtapes: A Musical Yin and Yang - International Mixtape Project
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Love, Marriage, Mixtapes: A Musical Yin and Yang

Music and mixtapes have always played an important role in my life. When I learned about IMP and got in touch with Ryan Mixtape, I was excited because I found a community where I could share the notes, melodies, and rhythms of my life. In my mind, these all encompass the universal struggles played out to music.

Music has enriched and enlightened some of my most cherished moments. More specifically, I made a mixtape for a very special person a decade-and-a-half ago, which communicated some of my deepest feelings and captured the beauty and complexity of my relationship with my future wife. "Steve's Mix" played an instrumental role in cementing the bond I now share with Kimberly, whom I am so proud to call my wife, friend, lover, true companion, and soulmate.

Fast forward to February 2007, and my wife and I are struggling a bit. On Valentine's Day, we celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. In an effort to recapture some of the magic that first mixtape conjured so many years ago, Kimberly is taking the reigns of my IMP mix this month to create a sort of companion piece to "Steve's Mix", which we plan to send as the monthly assignment. To be honest, this idea made me tingle with excitement. When Kimberly finished her mix and shared it with me, I was brought to tears by the emotions it captured: moments past, possibilities for the future, and the raw feelings of life at a crossroads.

In addition to Kimberly’s "A Snapshot of My Life" mix, which she describes track-by-track in beautiful detail below, I’m working on a reprise to "Steve's Mix", called "Snapshots Yang". I look forward to letting my IMP pal hear the role music has played (and sometimes failed to play) in our lives. I hope that these mixes allow their recipients to take a small peak at my relationship with my wife and help them learn a little more about themselves and the people in their lives, as well.

-- Steven Wright, 02/18/2007

A Snapshot of My Life

I am not a music lover. Music is not a sanctuary for me. Music does not simply echo my emotions nor provide me with a release from them. It often does the exact opposite. Music provokes in me too many emotions, emotions I often can not reconcile. Frequently, I find myself avoiding music—some songs are too painful to even listen to. The soundtrack to my life is amazingly short for my nearly 40 years and is punctuated by long periods of silence.

So how does all of this lead to me, of all people, sending you a mixtape? It is the first step in trying to save my suffering marriage and, ultimately, myself. It is an effort to provide my husband, Steven, some insight into my suffering soul. I am struggling as a wife, as a mother whose kids are on the verge of adulthood, as a nurse who finds her job soul-zapping and unfulfilling, and as a person who is looking for personal peace and fulfillment.

The following songs are a snapshot of happiness, torment, peace, and war (in no particular order). I hope, for everyone’s sake, that this endeavor is the beginning of a not-too-strenuous self-help regimen that helps me come to terms with some of the more troubling parts of my life and find the paths to happiness through music. I also hope this mix finds you happy or on your way to happiness.

1. "God's Love" by Bad Religion – This song is my standard pre-work pump-me-up. It summarizes everything I hate and love about my job as an ICU nurse. It echoes the cruelty and redeeming nature of nursing.

2. "Basket Case" by Green Day – This is how my mind feels on a regular basis. Is this real or am I just creating my own torture and pain?

3. "I Will Follow You into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie – This song is the musical equivalent of a letter to my husband when he was ill. For me, it embodied how he eventually would be physically gone from this world but would always remain in my heart and be the source of pleasure in my life.

4. "Dirty Little Secret" by The All-American Rejects – For all the dirty little secrets we keep.

5. "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against – This is the first song my daughter learned to play on the guitar, so it reminds me of her. It also reinforces a need I have to learn to be content with the simple things in life, to slow down and remember what is important.

6. "Not Pretty Enough" by Kasey Chambers – This song conjures images of all of the darkness inside me. It represents all my self-doubt, feelings of being ignored, and fears of getting lost in the shuffle. When I originally found this song, it was my anthem. It now feels like pouring salt in my wounds, and I no longer listen to it.

7. "I'd Do Anything" by Simple Plan – This one's for all the fight I have left in me to save my marriage. It embodies the feeling I have when my husband says he would do anything for me.

8. "Almost" by Bowling for Soup – This song reminds me how little control I have and how close I often am to my goals. Plus, it's fun!

9. "The Boxer" by Carbon Leaf – For the fight in all of us.

10. "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure – If any song feels like sex, this is it. It is the touch of my husband’s hand on my skin. It is the small hairs on the back of my neck that stand up when he kisses me. It is the earthshaking release of orgasm.

11. "Life Less Ordinary" by Carbon Leaf – This one reminds me how fast and hard my husband and I fell for each other and helps me remember all that it means. It perfectly captures both the hesitance and the anticipation of our first kiss.

12. "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness – Because I do.

13. "Fall Back Down" by Rancid – This is the song that made me want to make this mixtape. This is a staple of my workout music. It creates in me a sense of empowerment and security. I know that I always have someone to help me back up again when I fall. This song helps me imagine what my husband is like when he is mountain-biking. If I had to choose a single song that creates in me the feeling of who my husband is, it would be this.

14. "This Is the Day" by The The – My all-time favorite song!!! It's the song that most reflects my childhood. Being given everything isn't always everything it’s cracked up to be.

15. "White Flag" by Dido – When it comes to saving my marriage and myself, surrender is not an option.

16. "Change Your Mind" by Sister Hazel – Sometimes the solutions are so simple, yet seem so hard. This one was my weight-loss anthem and is about the power of the mind.

17. "Camera One" by Josh Joplin Group – Things aren't always what they seem to be. Things don't always turn out the way I plan. Similarly, this one is about how invisible one can be to those around them.

18. "Blasphemous Rumours" by Depeche Mode – This song (and, in fact, the whole Some Great Reward album) sustained me during a period of loss when it first came out in 1984. This is one of the most powerful songs on this list and the hardest to describe, in terms of what it means to me. It somehow echoes the joy and loss of watching children grow up and come into their own.

-- Kimberly Wright, 02/18/2007

photo of Steven and Kimberly


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