Posted on July 30, 2014 at 6:00 am
I’ve made, and received, a lot of mixtapes over the years. The early ones were literally tapes; hand-labeled cassettes painstakingly recorded in front of the radio and full of an 11-year old’s dubious taste (Electric Light Orchestra, Donna Summer). As technology evolved, so did my mixes and I blew through stacks of cds, throwing together such incongruous playlist mates as the Pixies, Parliament, Magnetic Fields, and Gillian Welch. Mixes from friends similarly expanded my musical repertoire, deepening and expanding my tastes. While the cassettes, sadly, are long-discarded, finding an old CD mix now is like discovering a time capsule, immediately bringing me back to who I was, where I worked, and what was going on in my life when I made it.
I still make mixes, fine-tuning them for a variety of occasions from long car trips across the state to what I want in the background when I finally get around to having a backyard soiree. The great thing about technology now is that there are so many options for curating and saving your playlists. On Pandora, which lets you build your own feed based on “seed” songs and musicians, I have an embarrassing 43 stations, ranging from Ludwig van Beethoven (and friends) to the imaginary soundtrack for the “novel” I work on in my spare time. And if I want to make a concrete list of specific songs in my own library and save it for future listening, I can just do so on my computer (and access it from my phone, my iPad, etc.) or on Spotify.
Summer is a great time for making your own soundtrack—there’s something about the sparkle of lake water, the scenery rushing by the car windows and the gorgeous, hazy twilights that inspires marking the moments with music. Over the years I’ve developed my own “recipe” for making a good mix, which I’ll share here, along with a few of my favorite current playlists. And a quick caveat, I’m by no means the only expert on staff—SCLD is lucky to have a number of enthusiastic audiophiles and at least one musician on the payroll. So if my lists leave you scratching your head, ask your favorite staff member for some recommendations, or check out Hoopla for immediate streaming on new and classic music.
Below are some mixes to get started. And I’m always looking for new music to discover so leave your mixes in the comments!