Just as I was beginning to suspect that I might actually be getting bored of the Internet, I’ve discovered a new distraction — iTunes iMixes. Search for any album in the iTunes music store and there, on the right side of the upper frame, you’ll find a list of “Top Rated iMixes.” I wasted two hours digging through them last night. Start with a favorite but relatively obscure album — say, Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes — then browse through the ten, twenty, or two hundred user-submitted mixes that include at least one song from the album. It’s like swapping stories with old friends you’ve never met.
With Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People still on the brain — I watched it for the first time yesterday morning — I did an iTunes search for Joy Division’s Permanent and found an iMix that has crippled me with nostalgia cramps: WHFS: 80 from the 80’s. I wonder if I know the mix-creator. If he or she didn’t attend my high school, then he/she went to one of our rivals, because in the late-1980s, ‘HFS broadcast from Annapolis and its signal didn’t carry too far beyond the borders of Anne Arundel county.
There are a couple good histories of ‘HFS available online (click or click). My earliest memories of it are from 1986 or so, when I first began putting down my Rush albums long enough to discover other kinds of music. I remember buying The Smithereens’ Especially for You after hearing “In a Lonely Place” for the seventh or eighth time. I remember getting The Psychedelic Furs’ Talk Talk Talk and hoping that my parents wouldn’t hear me singing, “I Just Want to Sleep with You.” And, especially, I remember sitting in my 9th grade art class with some guys who, during the previous summer, had apparently decided that they would become “skaters” and listen to The Dead Milkmen, Fishbone, and Suicidal Tendencies. I’d listen to ‘HFS every afternoon and try to keep up.