In short, just don’t do it. Don’t give someone a piece of your heart like that. It’s probably less risky to marry them than it is to burn them a CD of love songs.

But no one ever has, nor will they ever follow that advice. Billie Holiday and John Cooper Clarke can say “I love you” in a thousand different ways that are all infinitely better than anything you or I will ever come up with, and it’s a lot easier to just burn their songs on a CD than it is to come up with your own “I love you” that is creative, unique, and transcends space and time. And this advice is only valuable in hindsight, well after the CD has been burned and your heart has been broken (or maybe just a little bruised because it wasn’t a huge deal) because the second you start feeling feelings toward someone, you will think it’s safe to make them a CD for their dumb birthday.

But it isn’t safe to burn them a CD for their dumb birthday. You’ll sit on Spotify for an entire week while you agonize over which songs tell this person how you feel without being too obvious. You’ll pick the best songs you know to show them that you have good taste. You might also make the mistake that my friend Sean told me about: you’ll put one of your favorite songs on the mix. If you burn your favorite song on that CD, that song goes with them when you break up and will be totally ruined for you. Even if your lover was the most tender, kind person and you don’t regret a single second you spent with them, your favorite song will be ruined by them. In my humble opinion, no one should have the power to take away or ruin your favorite song like that.

The next mistake that can be made in the mix CD/mix tape process is choosing songs that portray your lover as some ethereal being that is above you and everyone else on this green earth. Of course, it’s very romantic and poetic to tell someone that they’re your Baby Blue, your Diamond Dancer, or the Queen In My Pictures. Music has that power and magic to make regular Joes and Janes into river nymphs and space cowboys, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in that romance and forget that we are all just people. It hurts a lot more to break up with someone who is made of stardust than someone who is just made of flesh and bone.

Even though that CD and you’re heart will end up tossed, scratched, and out of its case in the back of your sweetheart’s car, you’re going to burn it for them anyway. We all will. It’s a mistake that has a set of consequences that feel very cynical to write about: we end up getting hurt more than we need to and our favorite songs will eventually suck, but it’s all in the name of telling somebody you love them and how wonderful you think they are even if they aren’t made of magic, or if they turn out to be as crappy as everyone else.
Whether it’s a mix tape (not the fire kind of mixtape, by the way), CD, playlist, or standing outside someone’s house with a boombox, it can get messy when you melt your music with romantic conquests. If you follow the advice of not making a mix of songs for your lover, then I’m glad I could save you from some extra heartache. But if you don’t follow my advice (I can almost guarantee that I won’t even follow this advice), then beat the system and use this playlist.

Just remember that before you fall into a ring of fire, every person actually is made of the same stuff that stars are made of (thank you Carl Sagan), but is also made of the same stuff as dirt and garbage.

by Hayley Robertson

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