Amazingly, mixtapes are still a thing. They may exist as Spotify playlists, but plenty of people are still making 60ish minute compilations of songs they enjoy. And it’s not an old people nostalgia thing as far as I can tell. It wasn’t too long ago Drake was making big news releasing a mixtape on iTunes. There’s something about keeping songs chunked together that seems to meld perfectly with our collective short attention span.
But mixtapes can get kind of boring, as they are generally all one very similar group of music. Maybe it’s all your favorite 180BPM EDM jams of the last 6 months. Or your favorite hair metal bands that were all at least 28% edgier than Bon Jovi. Either way, not a lot of variety generally.
So an idea I had while wandering the neighborhood and waiting for the dog to crap was that it would be fun to do more. More than just the “here’s the big variety of music I’m listening to now” mixtape1. But something bigger, almost seemingly more important. It would be fun to make a mixtape of your life.
The premise would be, start at whatever age you started actively selecting music. And try to select one song for every year since that point. Each song should best encapsulate your musical taste at that time.
Maybe it’s just a great song from whatever genre you were into. Maybe it was that huge summer jam that you couldn’t get enough of. Either way, it’s fun to think through how your tastes have progressed2. It’s also fun as I’d suspect that most people reading this blog will have the songs start looking very similar year after year at some point. There’s always that spot where you’re older and have so many more responsibilities than just discovering new music. And you just kind of settle into a pocket and stick there for a long while. Maybe forever.
I’m trying to do this for myself. It’s hard to place things as you might have a lot of memories from when you were 10, but the year after could be blurry. But with time, it seems to sort itself out.
Some highlights from my progress so far?
- The earliest I can come up with is probably when I was eight, and I picked the theme from The Wrath of Kahn as I had this sci-fi theme compilation CD… that was the only CD I owned at the time.
- For age 10, Bring the Noise by Anthrax. I remember my friends and I all thought it was so cool that there was a bunch of bad language on the Attack of the Killer B’s album.
- 13 is Longview by Green Day. Radio friendly punk!!!
- 15 gets confusing, Kung Fu Fighting
- 17 is G Spot Tornado by Zappa
That’s a whirlwind and definitely not songs you want to listen to back to back. Fun nevertheless. From there on it’s a battle back and forth between gloomy British bands and overly technical guitar music.
What’s disappointing is that for the last 5-10 years, I could probably have the same song repeated. Maybe a little variation. It’s kind of inspiring, makes you want to vary your listening habits.
Anyway, give it a try yourself. I know it’s a lot of work, and probably embarrassing. But it’s fun.