I’ve loved music since I was a kid. I remember how I used to dance around my bedroom decorated with zoo animal wallpaper, bright orange curtains and a deep brown carpet, listening to music on a old wood covered radio given to me by my grandparents. The only station I could seem to get that played music was Radio Luxembourg, and even then the signal would fade in and out slowly, one moment clear the next distant, like the sound of waves making their way to the shore then retreating to the cusp of the ocean.

I can remember the first music I ever bought was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was a bright red Spanish Flamenco music tape I found at a jumble sale. I remember looking at the cover of the cassette box, a woman in a elaborate red dress was dancing with a man in traditional spanish flamenco attire playing guitar beside her. It cost me 2 pennies, a bargain even by 1978 standards.

A couple of years later I discovered ‘The Police.’ A post punk British rock band headed by a young and spiky haired man from Newcastle who curiously went by the name of Sting. One Saturday with my mother and young sister I went to town and with some record tokens I had saved I bought the ‘Regatta De Blanc’ album on tape along with a new battery powered cassette player.

In the warmth of the summer sun as we made our way home walking along the ‘Bunnies walk’ path by the river and the railway I enthusiastically raced ahead of my Mom who was pushing my sister in a stroller. I’d run ahead and then sit down and listen to a few moments of my newly purchased tape before Mom caught up and I repeated the process again.

Some time later I got a small second hand record player. Without any records of my own I browsed my Mom and Dads record collection which was located under the glass covered record player in the living room. The collection was small and featured artists like Harry Nilsson, Boney M, The Beatles, Abba and a Rod Stewart record that seemed out of place to me because of Stewarts questionable choice of trousers. One record that caught my attention was the classic ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. I must have played it thousands of times on that little old record player. I’d never once heard this album played by either Mom or Dad, so without asking I requisitioned Rumours deeming that this ‘LP record’ would be the one which would set the foundation for what was to eventually become an extensive music collection. Indeed despite no longer having anything to play it on I still have that record.

U2 took me through the mid 1980’s and into the 90’s, The Joshua Tree formed an inspirational cornerstone of my collection, as it did for so many of those born in the early to mid 70’s. Depeche Mode earned a place on what was becoming the sountrack of my life with their album ‘Violator.’ Other bands followed with anthems of the age, underlining the fact that music is uniquely powerful in its ability to attach itself to events and whole chapters of your life. Forgotten memories can be reconnected in an instant simply by hearing a track significant to that memory. You close your eyes and you’re no longer just remembering, you are right there in the moment once again.

Like many teenagers I made mix tapes for myself and my friends. But unlike a lot of my friends this was something I never grew tired of doing. In fact my tapes became labors of love, carefully poured over and intensely thought out. I would seek out obscure music, ‘B’ sides and rare tracks by popular artists. I wanted to do more than simply share some music with friends, I wanted to engage them in some way. To provide them with music that could possibly engrave itself into their lives and become an indelible part of their life.

To this end I would go to the effort of not simply producing a carefully compiled collection of tracks, but also tapes and CD’s with cover art and sleeve notes. I wanted to make something that could find its way into a music collection and earn it’s place among the mass produced CD’s and tapes that would always outlive their ‘mix tape’ neighbors.

I did this with a series of tapes under the collective name of ‘The Beautiful Damned.’ There were four tapes. ‘Out of the Blue’, ‘Brilliant Colour’, ‘These Long Roads’, and ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’. Each with a cover printed at my own cost and shared with only the hope that the person would enjoy the music.

In the ten years since ‘A Tale of Sound and Fury’ I’ve put together many CD’s for friends, but I’ve not produced multiple copies of any specific mix. The reason being I suppose, that time becomes strangely scarce as you put more years under your belt, and my friends have outgrown the days when we would sit in one anothers bedrooms listening to music allowing hour upon hour to ebb away like the scented smoke of an incense stick.

Music is still hugely important to me though. Much of my life is still, and will probably be forever punctuated by the music around me. It seems that life’s most inspiring of moments has some kind of theme whether heard at the time, or somehow applied later in memory.

The soundtrack to my life would thus far form an already voluminous box set. Unlike motion picture soundtracks, the listener would be unable to put each of the bizarrely heteromorphic tracks in context. While they might simply be able to enjoy the music on its own, the scenes and stories to which each track is umbilically joined to would be lost.

But who could even put together a complete sountrack of their life and hope to share in in context? That’s the beauty of making and giving away a great mix CD, while its context in relation to you might quickly be lost, it has the possibility of finding its way into someone else’s sountrack, someone else’s memories.