Why we don’t listen to our mixtape love letters anymore

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In the van everyone is arguing over the best love song. Tellingly, they are always the ones that are heartbreaking.

Those weeping odes to love actually lost, snatched away by cruelty or the lusty eyes of another. These are the musical moments that define our collective lump of emotion. It’s not how I actually want to think of love, but it seems like everyone can agree that no one really wants to hear about how happy we are. Instead we’d all just prefer a good wallow.

Some of us sing them out loud and I nod along and smile, a little bit sadly. I’m the only one who can’t sing. Born with a voice so decrepit and gross, it’s no wonder that I’ve been given the role of the bass player, the one with the responsibility of making sense of every mess except his own.

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“It’s the same/old song/but with a different meaning since you’ve been gone.”

It’s an amazing collection, and I wish I could put them all on a mixtape and pull them out every time I’m feeling lonely on tour. But the van doesn’t have a tape player, and no one really listens to mixtapes anymore, and my heart buckles and crumbles over and over.

“It’s the same/old song…”

I miss my girlfriend. Everyone keeps rolling their eyes when I talk about how she’s probably making too much soup back home, freezing the portions because she doesn’t know how to cook for one. A ladle-full of romance, the only thing that humanly could keep me warm while on the road in Europe, piled into our collection of mason jars on the other side of the world, I opine. Everyone groans, but knows it could be worse. I could be complaining about being single and lonely, and no one wants to hear that.

Or worse, I could be singing.

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I also miss Aaron, our drummer who chose to stay back in Canada. Instead of feeling like human crud, I tease Jordan. The new guy, and one of Aaron’s best buds forever, Jordan is cradling a beaten ticker. Tellingly, his love song suggestions are the best ones. He’s pretty good about it, because instead of wallowing in another’s drippy love stuff, he writes his own songs and they are more heartrending than anything I’ve ever heard. They are exquisitely lovely, and for a moment I wish I had his voice, even if it means sucking up all the pain along with it.

He’s lucky though, because when he goes home he only has to be alone for a few months before leaving town on another tour with a different band. He’s lucky because he’ll have a whole new batch of love songs to listen to and sing-along with, while all I’m left with ribbons full of recycled romance.

In the meantime, cruising through another slough of French countryside, I put on an album of songs written and played by musicians who were once married and are now divorced. The boys sing along with Stevie Nicks and the girls with Lindsey Buckingham.

I hum along.

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