Mixtape in the Key of Life

Written by: Kevin Reynolds, Kidney Recipient

January 17, 2018

I realize not everyone is as forthcoming about their health journey as I have been, and that’s why I enjoy being a LifeCenter ambassador. I’m also not above using my story to try and garner attention about organ donation in some unusual ways.

I’m a big fan of the musician St. Vincent. To try and describe her music to those not familiar with her (real name Annie Clark) would not do it justice – it’s rock, it’s pop, it’s loud, it’s emotional, it’s brilliantly written and even more brilliantly played (she’s a guitar genius), and her live show has moments of performance art. It is singularly unique. Katie Dillon is a huge fan – ask her about St. Vincent next time you see her.

Annie is still very attuned to and grateful to her fans. One thing she does is offer to make you a mixtape if you write to her and have a reason. To request one, you go to her website and fill out a form that says: “Submit a letter describing what in your life would benefit from a St. Vincent-curated mixtape.”

It’s an interesting approach. It forces you to think a bit. To formulate thoughts and sentences, not just quick clicks or answer some banal questions. What in your life would benefit? Of course, I read that and figured, “I want a mixtape – let’s bring out the big guns!” Here’s what I wrote:

I recently celebrated my 5-year kidneyversary – a friend donated her spare to me since I had both removed due to cancer & lived 5 years on dialysis. Now that I have my life & freedom back, I’m doing a lot of road trips to spend time with family & friends, including some I haven’t seen in decades. If not now, when? I’d love a mixtape for these roadies! And I can’t wait to see you in Cincinnati in January!

Kevin here with his living donor and friend, Suzie

Not a long, involved answer, but apparently effective. Within hours, I received an email asking if I’d be available the next day to talk with Annie. At 3 pm that next day, the phone rings and I’m connected with one of the most genuine, friendly, interested, caring human beings who has ever worn hot pink latex on stage. We talked for about 35 minutes about my health journey, my friend/donor/hero Suzie, my life on dialysis, the transplant process, my road trips, all of it. She had questions about the wait list, living donation, how Suzie was doing now, all of it. She also referenced my “if not now, when” line – something I think she’s as big a believer in as am I. My journey proved that time is fleeing so embrace life while you can. I’m not sure what I expected, but I hung up the phone as big a fan of Annie’s as of St. Vincent.

A month later, I got an email telling me my mixtape and my interview with Annie with the mixtape music spliced in would be posted on Apple Music the next day. I’ve listened to the interview once (I already know how it comes out) but the mixtape gets played whenever I get in the car. Most of the music was new to me and I’ve enjoyed being introduced to artists like Curtis Harding, RAC, and Gemini Rising – plus she threw in a few choice tracks from the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Beck. But beyond the music, it reminds me of a wonderful conversation, the chance she gave me to talk about organ donation, and that indescribable feeling of connecting with another human being, even fleetingly. And really, isn’t that our mission as ambassadors – to make the most of fleeting connections as we staff tables or talk with groups?

Be ready to share your story, even with international music stars!

If you subscribe to Apple Music, seek out the St. Vincent Mixtape Delivery Service – I’m episode #46.

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