This American Life—the remix

I have always been a huge fan of This American Life because of all the shows on our NPR affiliate station WUNC that I listen to during the week, none make me laugh or make me cry so more rapidly, so frequently, or so powerfully as a typical episode of This American Life. A few months ago my wife Amy burned me a CD and said “you’ve got to listen to this—it’s so Miraverse you will die!”

The story was called “Break-Up”, and one of the stories was about the ends to which one person would go when dumped by the object of her affections. Answer: you have to hear the story, but it does involve a break-up song. And multiple mixes of that break-up song (which is the starting hook for the Miraverse, natch).

Well, not satisfied with the two different mixes/artistic visions presented on the show, the artists offered individual tracks for the audience to remix as a creative experiment. Here is the lead comment from the song’s composer (and the episode’s protagonist):

You don’t really know “surreal” until you find yourself on a Sunday night listening to 129 versions of a song you wrote about the guy who crushed you, remixed by 129 people you’ve never met. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who took the time to do this. I listened to every single song, if that matters to anyone. I think it would matter to me. There were a few times I found myself completely choked up, and I say that hoping it doesn’t come across as me tearing up at the brilliance of my own words. At the Oscars this year, they showed a clip of Emilio Estevez’s crappy film Bobby, and then they cut to his face right afterwards, and he was actually crying, he was that moved by the power of his own film. I’ve successfully avoided being Emilio Estevez my whole, entire life, and it would be awful to start now. Thanks—really.

What this tells me is that yes, yes, YES!! There is an aching desire on the part of audiences everywhere to be invited to participate in the creative process and most importantly, in the creative commons. I applaud Starlee’s courage to expose herself in this way, and I congratulate every entrant for adding their voice to this story. Bravo!

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