After months of forcing my kids to listen to Lilith Fair music (for a project I've been working on, not merely because I enjoy torturing them), I decided to throw them a bone and make them a playlist of fun "essential" songs they should know. I started going through my iTunes library, picking out the ONE song by each artist that I would consider "essential."
Then I got to The Beatles and had a hard time deciding which song was the most "essential." So I dragged them all to the playlist.
And then it started to get silly. Like, is it really "essential" that they have four Badly Drawn Boy songs on the list? Or every song in my Belinda Carlisle cache?
Suddenly I'm only through the "B's" and I have 250 songs on the playlist.
Back in the day, I was quite the mix tape maven. I made them for all occasions -- going to school, coming home from school, being dumped, having a crush, getting banana shakes at Checkers -- and I kept most of them scattered around my parents' 1992 Toyota Previa, much to their chagrin. I loved the art of the mix tape, the finality of it, the way it captured a moment in time. I loved how there'd always be about a minute and a half of time left at the end of the side, and I'd throw on half a song I didn't really care about just to avoid dead air. This is the reason that I, to this day, only know the first verse and a quarter to Mocedades "Eres Tu."
iTunes has given us a lot of freedom, but it's also killed the art of the mix tape (or mix CDs, even). It has made us gluttonous in our playlist making and has made the listener more likely to skip over songs, rather than listen to the journey of the song list. When there are 75 songs on the list, the list maker didn't really have to agonize over what to include and what to leave out, so why should you feel the need to listen to every single Belgian disco dance remix on the list?
So I'm going to start imposing a 45 minute limit on my playlists. I want to have to worry about whether or not I can fit James' "Sit Down" on the playlist or if I'll have to include "Laid" just because it's shorter. I want to feel the need to make a "Songs to Listen To When You're Sad, Part 2" because I couldn't fit Aimee Mann's "Wise Up" on there and it's killing me.
Or maybe I'll just extend the limit to one hour because, you know, I can.
What was your ultimate mix tape/CD from back in the day? Who gave it to you? Who did you give it to?
(Mine was a mix CD entitled "100% Vagina." It remains my finest work.)
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