The ultimate mixed tape

<!– Link: High Fidelity

“There’s a trick to making a tape,” Rob Gordon (ne John Cusack) tells his audience in the film High Fidelity. And he goes into a detailed explanation about the subtle art of sequencing.

What Rob (ne John) failed to mention was the kind of selection that goes into making a mixed tape. A mixer shouldn’t just grab all the obvious singles from a bunch of bands and hope some random order will make it work. No — you need a bunch of different songs from different artists that can somehow fit well together.

Cusack (ne Gordon) and his film buddies have made such a tape with the soundtrack to High Fidelity. The tracks on High Fidelity range from little-known but still-great ditties from the Thirteenth Floor Elevators (“You’re Gonna Miss Me”) and the Velvet Underground (represented twice with “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” and “Who Loves the Sun”) to more recent tracks by Bob Dylan (“Most of the Time”) and the Beta Band (“Dry the Rain.”)

And while it’s unlikely to ever see Stereolab, Love, Stevie Wonder and the Kinks all on the same album, it’s even more of an accomplishment that no track sticks out significantly from the other.

If anything, putting Dylan, the Velvets and Elvis Costello along side John Wesley Harding, Sheila Nichols and Royal Trux shows how the former artists will somehow always be timelessly indie. It’s that spirit that somehow threads itself through the disc. Maybe it’s all those unadorned, electric guitars — no grand gestures of distortion on this disc, thank you very much.

Strange thing, though — the music in High Fidelity didn’t have as much of a starring role in the movie as other music-driven films, such as Immortal Beloved and Amadeus.

But really — a movie about Mozart compared to a movie about pop music? What am I thinking?

Yet it was that sort of co-starring status in the film that raised the question about whether the soundtrack would be any good. Duh. It is. It truly is.

P.S. I’m going to get my hair cut like Cusack (ne Gordon).