This whole website started because a couple of idiots, Matt and Jamie, noticed in the 1990s that there always seem to be those songs that people mention in every day conversation. They’re the songs that people cleverly change lyrics to, make jokes/puns about, or use AS sentences when talking about something. These aforementioned idiots decided the best way to celebrate this phenomenon was to make mix-tapes full of these types of songs for their friends. They called them “Songspeak’s Greatest Hits” and made like, 13 of them. Years later, they decided that they’d convert all these mix-tapes to compact disc. Of course, they took so long trying to do this that technology advanced once again. With both of them now owning iPods, it’s clear that the concept of songspeak was more important than the actual mix-tapes/mix-cds themselves. Songspeak always evolves.
Here’s the long-winded version of how this all came about:
Another one rides the bus:
Matt and Jamie met each other on the bus in 1992 when they were both in high school. Soon enough, they were talking about one of the most popular bands of the early 1990’s, Pearl Jam. Jamie was into a lot of classic rock and “good ole fashioned rock and roll like AC/DC and Aerosmith”, and Matt was into a lot of folk stuff, rock and, like a lot of other flannel-wearing people those days, the Seattle “grunge” scene.
Workin’ for a livin’. Living and a-workin’:
As years passed, Matt and Jamie settled into their co-dependent friendship, which at times was a little scary. There was a pattern of working and living in the same places from time to time. It began with both of them working at Grecourt Bookshop at Smith College. Their antics wreaking havoc on the Smith community, Jamie and Matt had definitely left an impression before leaving their jobs. They met a great group of “Smithie” friends there, and the concept / phenomenon of Songspeak was born.
Get by with a little help from my friends:
Somehow their group of “Smithie” friends and the group of friends comprised of people they met over the years and/or still hung out with from high school got along. Some high school friends started dating Smithies… this was referred to as “group-cest”. Vacations were taken and fun times were had. Over time, they all developed a pretty tight-knit group, even though it involved a large group of people. Everyone liked to joke around about music, quote tv commercials and jingles, and lines from movies all the time. Jamie and Matt started maxing mix-tapes for all their friends with these songs, sound clips, etc. on them. They called these tapes, “Songspeak’s Greatest Hits”. There were 13 of them, known today as “The Original 13”. They registered songspeak.com and started a site that had a forum called the Songspeak Culture Club and a place where you could download coupons for CDnow.com. Remember them?
Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living:
After getting a job at a silkscreening company, Matt quit the bookstore and got an apartment in the same complex as Jamie’s. They had an intercom between their apartments, it was weird. Soon after, there was an opening for another person. Matt recommended Jamie. Once Jamie started working there too, they shared a paper-airplane-infested office, littered the walls with bad puns and posters, and travelled together to various NACA conferences to get college kids to buy t-shirts and posters. Jamie helped Matt design the company website, too.
Matt left after a few years to start his own promotional products business with his friend Aaron. They listened to a lot of internet radio during the work day at Matt’s apartment / their office. They also discovered the wonders of a little program called iTunes, which they put on shuffle in order to listen to Matt’s arsenal of music throughout the day. And no more would anyone have to make mix tapes; now they could make mix cds with ease in iTunes. This discovery prompted Matt to regale Jamie with stories about how wonderful iTunes was, and they soon started dreaming up ways of re-doing “The Original 13” as cd mixes.
The times, they are a-changin:
The idea was stalled by life issues. Jamie got in a pretty bad car accident-and yes, “The Original 13” were in the car at the time. Matt had some health issues and spent a good amount of time in and out of hospitals. During this time, Jamie and Matt made Songspeak’s Greatest Hits cds from time to time and re-discovered how much fun it was to think about songspeak again. Jamie eventually recovered from his accident and he and his wife had a baby. Matt eventually recovered from his illness, left his promotional products business, made some other life changes, and life moved on. They made about 18 cds before realizing that they likely would just use their iPods to listen to Songspeak from now on.
More about Jamie here
More about Matt here