What do mixtapes say about us?


When my husband and I started dating almost 12 years ago, I did what most young people do in a new relationship; I made him a mixtape. Well, not a cassette tape; I’m not that old. It was a mixCD, and as it turns out, he still has it.

I threw it on the other day and laughed at the song choices I made. Then I thought about them some more. Why did I choose these songs for him? What made me love the songs in the first place? Was I sending him a secret message?

I came across an interesting blog article that may shed some light on why we make these mix“tapes” for our crushes. According to the article, there are six psychological roles music plays in our lives:

  1. To learn more about others and the world
  2. Personal identity
  3. Interpersonal relationships (making a connection by listening to it with others)
  4. Negative mood management
  5. Diversion (a distraction when we’re doing something boring)
  6. Positive mood management

I find the second role the most interesting, and the biggest reason as to why we choose songs for crushes. We’re not putting them on there because they love them, or because they’re the latest and greatest radio plays. We’re putting these songs on there because WE love them, and because we want our crushes to know exactly who we are. So essentially, instead of filling out a profile on match.com, you just need to make a mixtape.

I think the article sums it up nicely by stating “psychological research backs up the importance of the information music sends out to others about our personalities. In one study participants could broadly judge another’s personality solely on the basis of their top 10 songs (see: personality in your mp3 player).”

These songs say something. They build up a specific image of ourselves.

So back to Shawn’s mix“tape.” Here’s how I saw myself at 19, or at least how I wanted Shawn to see me.


  • Fever Dog -Stillwater (Almost Famous soundtrack)
  • Set Me Free -Pennywise
  • Angie -Rolling Stones
  • Heaven Tonight -H.I.M
  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy -Bobby McFerrin (inside joke)
  • Layla -Eric Clapton (which would become our future daughter’s name)
  • Sweet Home Alabama -Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend -Type O Negative
  • Sweet Leaf -Black Sabbath
  • Wired for Sound -Cliff Richards (another inside joke)
  • Me and Bobby McGee -Janis Joplin
  • Descending Angel -Misfits
  • Summer Breeze -Type O Negative
  • Maggie May -Rod Stewart
  • Listen to the Music -Doobie Brothers
  • Take the Money and Run -Steve Miller Band
  • Ohio -Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

I’d have to say, I was definitely sending him a message about the type of person I am (or was at the time). Well, all except for the Rod Stewart song. I’m not really sure what I was thinking with that one. It will forever remain a mystery.

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