Summer Sizzles

Our friend Timmay is somewhat of a music buff. He is relentless with his mixes. His first Christmas on the job he distributed his “Christmas Mix” to all of us in the office introducing us to the first of many mixes to come over his nearly five years with us. His Halloween mix is an annual favorite and he has been asked by our division SVP to build mixes for our grand hoo-hah conference each year. But his summer mix, that’s the one he talks smack about – the one in which he boasts of greatness. For instance last year he created the summer mix library comprised of countless CDs containing music organized alphabetically by song title.

So it was last year in all of his glory that myself and another cohort laid down the gauntlet. We challenged him to a contest to see who could build the best mix that most characterized summer – puts the listener in a summertime frame of mind. It was a great contest, not because the final result was free tunes for the participants. The contest took us out of the daily grind of working for a chapter 11 company that was just sold. We were able to build some fun on the job to help us cope with the crap news that surrounds such a situation.

Without elaborating on last year’s outcome too much, Timmay won. It was a good CD with sound effects, story telling and all the hub-bub. But because Timmay’s competition was new to the game, he had the advantage going in. Needless to say I think my mix in ’05 could’ve been much better and after the contest I built a separate “Summer Party Mix” that could have won pulling away. But regardless, the right mix won last year.

This year, with our company supposedly being sold (we’re about 45 days past the original close date) it was time once again to turn our thoughts to the summer mix. I can say without a doubt all three of us turned up the heat. Our unnamed co-hort built a solid genre themed disk; unexpectedly deep with a nice story line. I built a solid disk around a theme of what I look forward to in summer. Timmay, although a good disk of popular tunes, came in with an average mix (in my view based on previous mixes he has put out). Timmay’s playlist can be found in the site linked above.

When building my mix this year I started with several ideas. One was the “Summer Funk” mix, building on the soul and funk of the late sixties and seventies. Another mix was the “Adelphia go bye-bye please” mix featuring songs from previous company hoo-hah conferences as well as tunes of today. I also was working on a more general pop mix with hits from various genres.

But the mix I settled on for the competition is titled “The Southerner’s Summer Musical Companion (with Special Guest).” This mix is just good ole fashioned rockin’ rhythm and blues with southern roots. You can pop it in the CD player, pour a cocktail (with bourbon preferably), throw some pork fat on the grill, and relax. Here’s the playlist: (see if you can guess why it’s called “with special guest”)

  1. North Mississippi All-Stars “Shake Me Down”
  2. North Mississippi All-Stars “Po Black Maddie/Skinny Woman/Po Black Maddie”
  3. Blue Dogs “Walter”
  4. Widespread Panic “And It Stoned Me”
  5. Lynrd Skynrd “Sweet Home Alabama”
  6. The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies “Backwoods Travelin'”
  7. The Black Crowes “Hotel Illness”
  8. Derek and the Dominos “Have You Ever Loved a Woman”
  9. Wilson Pickett “Hey Jude”
  10. Kathleen Edwards “Back to Me”
  11. Blues Traveler “Mountain Cry”
  12. Gov’t Mule “Soulshine”

So there you have it – what I think should be a winning summer mix. Although Timmay points out in his column that this contest is crazy (already laying down excuses for his impending loss in the competition this year) and I agree to a point, summer tunes do have their own feel. Think back to any summer and there is always music. Whether it be the next big hit on the radio or an obscure b-side tune from your favorite album, there is always the music. So in that vain I don’t believe this is as much of a bogus subjective contest that Timmay has expressed.

And besides, the summer mix competition has once again allowed us to think about and focus on something fun and not related to “our company is sold and where will my next paycheck come from” drama. It has allowed us to build stronger bonds, have some laughs, and yes pick up some good tunes from our friends.

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