The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. – High Fidelity
There’s a reason High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies. (Well, several, including John Cusack.) I have always loved making mixes for my friends – it’s the perfect thoughtful low-budget gift from a broke twenty-something. I give them to my family and friends on their birthdays and Christmas, and they always seem to appreciate them more than a store-bought gift.
It’s so much more personal; you’re choosing a collection of songs suited to the person, your history with them, the occasion you’re commemorating, the time of year, or all of the above.
People tease me for the stacks of mix CDs I keep in my car, but I think of them as little time machines. I pick one at random and pop it in my CD player for my 40-minute commute to work and I’m instantly transported to a different time and place.
I remember what these songs meant to me when I burned that CD (or when someone gave it to me). That one unforgettable summer. The trips I took with my friends. The person I was falling in love with (…or breaking up with). The excitement & uncertainty about where my life was going at the time.
Once again feeling the feelings I felt when these songs became so important to me. Music has the ability to unlock such vivid memories, and it’s so exhilarating to experience those jolts of nostalgia when you hear a song that recalls a specific time, place, or feeling.
I still have the mix an ex-boyfriend made me six years ago when we first started dating, and I pop it in once in a while and remember how I felt when I first put it on. I’ve even mastered the art of the breakup mix – you know, the one you put on in your car and sob to for a month…..the one that definitely includes Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and Rilo Kiley’s “More Adventurous” (and if if i had gotten my heart broken today, would also include Usher’s “Climax”).
In middle school, I remember begging my friends who had CD burners to make me mixes – I’d make them a list of what songs I wanted (Jagged Edge’s “Where the Party At” and Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” definitely made it onto one of these lists), and they’d burn them for me.
By the time my parents got a computer that had a CD burner (a Gateway, I think?!?! RIP), I had a FIELD DAY. I made tons of CDs for myself & my friends, and over a decade later, that still hasn’t stopped. I send a mass email to friends & family near & far with a link to download a new mix every few months.
Spotify has revolutionized the playlist-sharing game – the fact that it’s so public makes for a more conversational experience, and it’s a great way to discover new music, but it’s far less intimate and personal, which is why I still hang onto my blank CDs.
If there’s one song that’s gotten me through the first half of my twenties, it’s LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” This one makes it onto almost all of my mixes. I don’t know if I’ve ever related to a lyric as much as this one:
“You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan and the next five years trying to be with your friends again.”
I made a super-nostalgic Spotify playlist full of songs I loved my first year out of college living in LA, when I was desperately clutching onto my youth, trying to figure out what I wanted in life, making new friends, falling in love, getting to know a new city. These songs are really special to me and I hope you enjoy them, because they take me back to a time when I was naive and unsure of myself and had my life ahead of me. (If you want a CD….well, you’ll have to become special to me first.)
- ALL MY FRIENDS – LCD Soundsystem
- THIS MODERN LOVE – Bloc Party
- LISZTOMANIA – Phoenix
- LITTLE SECRETS – Passion Pit
- CULT LOGIC – Miike Snow
- MY GIRLS – Animal Collective
- AMBLING ALP – Yeasayer
- ANIMAL – Miike Snow
- SEX ON FIRE – Kings of Leon
- WANNABE IN LA – Eagles of Death Metal
- THAT’S NOT MY NAME – The Ting Tings
- CAN YOU TELL – Ra Ra Riot
- SO INSANE – Discovery
- WHAT UP MAN – The Cool Kids
- BEST I EVER HAD – Drake
- STILLNESS IS THE MOVE – Dirty Projectors
- LOOK GOOD IN LEATHER – Cody Chesnutt
- DON’T YOU WORRY BOUT A THING – Steve Wonder
- TWO WEEKS – Grizzly Bear
- NO ONE DOES IT LIKE YOU – Department of Eagles
- THE NEXT TIME AROUND – Little Joy
- OOH LA LA – Faces
- THE GENERAL SPECIFIC – Band of Horses
- EUCALYPTUS – The Deadly Syndrome
- I THINK UR A CONTRA – Vampire Weekend
- FAKE EMPIRE – The National
- SKINNY LOVE – Bon Iver
- LUA – Bright Eyes
By Maggie Lyons