June 14th, 2011
“Now the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art, there are many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing… To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again… A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do.” – from Nick Hornsby’s “High Fidelity”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve categorized things according to music, and have always believed that my life should be accompanied by a soundtrack. Events throughout my day, significant or mundane, often trigger a series of songs to accompany my mood. An afternoon of cleaning requires either the soulful sounds of Stevie Wonder or perhaps The Black Keys. Arcade Fire or Florence and the Machine are the best remedy for the stuck-in-traffic blues. The White Stripes go along perfectly with my morning routine and Beck’s “The Information” is a requirement for any road trip.
Naturally, along with the constant soundtrack in my head, I developed a mini-obsession with creating music mixes. I love the challenge of discovering a song that would seamlessly connect The Strokes “Gratisfaction” with The Flaming Lips “The W.A.N.D.” all while still fitting the mix’s theme. I find endless ways to challenge myself. Is it possible to get Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the same mix with Owl City “Cave In?” You bet it is. Just throw in some Stevie Wonder and perhaps a Ryan Adams track to ease the transition and you have a flawlessly constructed compilation. I’ve done playlists to see how many different genres I can mix together. I’ve done playlists made from songs all released in the same year. I’ve even heard of playlists made so the song titles rhyme. That seems like a headache to me, but I admire the creativity!
Some may feel that the delicate art of making mixes is reserved for middle schoolers or the hopeless romantics of decades past, but they are missing out on a highly underutilized means of self-expression. Like writing in a journal, creating mixes allows you to express yourself in a unique way, to take what’s in your head and permanently encase it within a CD. I can listen to mixes I made years ago and still remember exactly what I was feeling when I made it.
Cecil County Public Library’s CD collection has been one of the best places for me to get inspired. To construct the perfect mix, I check out CDs from the library, find the right songs, and then buy them online or cue them up with a free site like Grooveshark. No more buying a whole album just to find that I only like one track. The library’s collection saves me money and gives me the freedom to explore the artists or genres that I’ve been curious about – greats such as Blind Old Dogs and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. And who knew that the “World Music” section had so many treasures? So don’t let the fine art of creating music mixes die with the dust covered tapes in your attic — put a smile on someone’s face and make them a mix! Stop by the library and check out some inspiration.
Want to hear the great songs in this post? Search our collection or you can listen to a special mix for free online. Now, with the library’s collection at your fingertips, what’s going on your playlist?