Acoustic tunes to play when cozied up around the campfire.
Music is one of the oldest forms of storytelling and today, we’ve got the story behind our resident master storyteller, Eric Harris, and his passion for music. Check out our very first agency playlist, MindHandle Mix Vol. 1: Flannel & Flint, created by Eric himself, and read the following interview to hear why he chose to share this particular mix of songs with the world.
Eric, how would you describe this mix?
“Flannel & Flint” is music that complements a long weekend of being outdoors. Pairs well with a fire burning, a cup of coffee in an enamel mug, a fleece blanket over your lap, and meals from iron skillets. Having a beard may make listening more enjoyable.
Warnings: Do not listen without plenty of firewood and be prepared to pour a glass of bourbon or two when the coffee runs out.
What inspired you to choose the theme?
Over the last decade, I’ve felt this primitive pull towards a simpler life. I’ve gotten rid of stuff I don’t use, simplified my diet, quit my gym membership in favor of running, and started meditating.
Most importantly though, I’ve made a concerted effort to get outside. To see sunrises and sunsets. Swim in lakes. Hike. Plant. Camp.
My preferences in music have simplified as well. Ten years ago, I was inspired by experimental/indie rock bands. These days, I find that perfection comes not from what can be added, but from what can be removed.
That’s why the musical themes in Flannel & Flint have some pretty accessible criteria:
- Lots of acoustic-guitar-driven tracks, including many with a bucolic, bluegrass tone.
- 2- or 3-part harmonies without many vocal layers.
- Very few instruments per song. To paraphrase Jack White, “It only takes 3 legs to make a table stand up. Why should it take any more instruments to make a song?”
- Vocals that neither stand out nor disappear, but rather blend with the instruments.
What is your favorite song?
“The Dreamer” by The Tallest Man on Earth.
While it’s very simple, it has so much texture. The solo electric guitar has just enough bassy crunch to it that it creates a much larger sound than if it were acoustic alone. And it’s the perfect complement to his alto/tenor vocals, which are pretty thin. Together they sound – to me, at least – like a violin/cello duet.
If this mix was a brand, which brand would it be and why?
Best Made, Filson or Shinola. Each has a knack for producing simple, yet high-quality and durable goods to equip an outdoor lifestyle. I feel like these are simple, yet high-quality songs to complement that same outdoor lifestyle, and could easily see this mix on one of those brands’ Spotify accounts.
What’s the secret to creating a great mixtape?
It’s all about the arc. A great mixtape, like any great story, captures listeners on a high at the beginning, then invites them to explore further and into the depths of the composer.
People want/need contrast, so when arranging a mix I try to make that easy for someone. I tend to structure mixes like sonnets, which means they have 3 parts. The theme is introduced in the first, it’s deconstructed and explored in the second, and it’s reprised, having changed, in the third.
Do any of the songs bring up a specific memory?
I used to play the guitar and sing “Upward Over the Mountain” by Iron & Wine to my daughter while my wife was pregnant with her. She’d kick like crazy at the sounds and we used to say she was dancing. We still sing that song together at bedtime, and if I’m lucky I’ll get to sing it with her forever.
And that’s a wrap, folks! Thank you, Eric. I’m not crying, you’re crying.