Thoughts and ramblings on tech, media, culture, and food. Plus some other stuff, I'm sure.

On Mixtapes [and Their Progeny]

Mixtapes are hard. Putting on my old man hat, I remember sitting in my bedroom in junior high with a dual cassette deck recording mixes of songs for long trips. Those tapes lasted, maybe, 90 minutes and my music tastes were atrocious; such terrible taste didn't belong on any sort of tape or played on any sort of stereo.

In late high school and into college as my music was transcoded to bits and bytes and I had tools like Winamp to organize songs, I would create elaborate mixes for myself, mainly. I listened to amazing music, then, and spent hours crafting playlists applicable to everything from seasonal whims to "Songs that Affect Me". Eventually, though, my music collection bordered on 30,000 tracks and I couldn't keep up. I began dumping albums into playlists and hitting 'shuffle' to sort of fit a mood.

Today, I have access to so many more songs than that, and it's even harder. I don't get how friends of mine have created so many Rdio or Spotify playlists. It takes forever to create just one. For me this is especially true as I'm crafting a playlist that's currently 5 hours and 18 minutes long (and growing), trying to capture my early college listening habits. It's hard. It's time-consuming. I still love it.

I can be lazy about stuff like this because it takes so much time, and that's primarily why I don't have many playlists of tracks... mostly just collections of full albums. But the past few days as I've been putting together my "Crying in the Corner" playlist on Rdio, I've taken time with the flow, transitions, and hunting down of the perfect tracks. I have become frustrated with bands like Mineral and Texas Is the Reason aren't available on the service. I've considered going back to Spotify (briefly).

But this has only highlighted one of the issues I have with music streaming services like Spotify: I feel like I've lost the personal connection with the music and with the bands. Maybe it's really just a product of growing up, but those songs and records that I used to hold in my hand (or, at the very least, see a little folder icon of on my hard drive) bring back so many memories, even though I am usually too forgetful to listen to them.

Perhaps that's the real appeal of creating a playlist or a mixtape; perhaps the building of a monument in remembrance and appreciation of these songs is the driving motivation. It stands as a symbolic body of a certain time, a certain relationship, a certain collective of echoes in memoriam.