Making playlists reminds me of making mix tapes for friends (especially the special lady friends) back when I was a kid and on through young adulthood. I have always enjoyed sharing beloved music with people, but there was something about making a mix tape on cassette that was truly special to me.
For one thing, there were 2 time limits, one on each side of the tape. I had to plan it out and then find something short, but fitting, in order not to leave too much dead space at the end side A and then side B. That challenge forced me to dig a little deep in my collection to find just the right piece.
Another part of the experience I enjoyed was that I had to make the thing in real time. You couldn’t drag and drop back then. You had to start playback from the original source and hit record on the capture tape. I’d adjust levels from one track to the next so that the final tape was decently ‘mastered’ and no one song was too loud or too soft. If some of the songs were ripped from the radio (old-school illegal downloads), I might have to fade-in in order to cut out the DJ intro or the previous song’s cross-fade. It required time and care.
Finally, I enjoyed making suitable artwork for each tape. There was a message behind each tape, and it had to be captured in the artwork. I used drawings, magazine and newspaper clippings, fortunes from fortune cookies. It had to look right, like an album cover, because it was the first impression as well as what the recipient might look at while listening.
Since these are just playlists, and not technically bound by any limits, I’m creating a limit of my own. I plan for each playlist to be no more than 10 songs. I may have way fewer when I include long movements from classical works. I’m doing this to spark my own creativity and hopefully to also spark a few conversations with some of you. Also, I’m writing a lot of new music these days, and I need the inspiration and focus. I have so many records on my iPod that it’s overwhelming sometimes. Whenever I thoughtfully create a playlist, I have something to listen to that carries a theme while offering variety that will keep me from looking for the next thing while still listening to the current thing. I’m going to make artwork each week to accompany the playlist using photos taken on my iPhone…yep, I’m a New World Man (from Signals by Rush – sure to be on a playlist at some point!).
So, I hope you all enjoy it. Stay tuned for the first installment tomorrow morning, and come back every Friday morning for the new list.