As MP3 blogs have started popping up around the Internet, I've found myself seriously eager to run one to offer tunes that I'm enjoying. Problem: I'm too freaked out about the possibility of getting sued (even if the industry seems to be okay with these blogs) to offer the files myself. It's not so much that I expect to get sued; it's the part about not knowing what they are and aren't willing to allow. So I figured I'd try something else.
For Christmas back when I was nine, my parents bought me a boom box. Starting that day, I did what any pre-teen kid with a boom box and some blank tapes does: I started taping songs off the radio. Before long, I started identifying periods of time by the tape that was compiled during that time. When I was fourteen, I used my parents' stereo to compile my first "real" mix, where I took songs that I'd taped off the radio and MTV and made a specific mix. When I finally acquired my own complete stereo system about a year and a half later, I made my first officially "dated" mix: December 1990.
When people would jump into my car in college, they would always be amused by the mix tapes with a date on it, and would ask me what the dates meant. Beyond the time association, it just seemed like the easiest naming scheme, rather than trying to come up with something random. I never heard of anyone else making mixes like this until discovering that music writer / filmmaker Cameron Crowe had been making "dated" mixes since his youth. (He took a photograph of a batch of his mix tapes, and I was stunned to see familiar months on a few of his tapes.)
Part of the drive to make the mixes was the horribly bad radio stations in the area around my college. Once I moved away, I found myself with less drive to sit down and make them. But I continued compiling lists of songs that would make a mix for that month were I ever to actually make them.
In the key days of the mixes, though, I found myself coming up with rules, as follows. Keep in mind that the original rules were designed for 90-minute cassettes.
1) No more than one song per side by a specific band.
Exceptions: solo projects by members of a given band; two songs that can function as a medley (ex: Green Day's "Brain Stew" and "Jaded").
With the advent of CD, this has turned into "no more than two songs per disc".
2) Songs that have appeared on previous mixes are off-limits.
Exceptions: alternate versions (remixes, live versions, etc).
A friend of mine used to make regular mixes. It wasn't uncommon for half of the last tape to appear on the next. That always annoyed me: why not just listen to the old one?
Recently, I've added a ten-year exemption, but the song has to be seriously worthy. Basically, I have to fall in love with it as if it were new.
3) I have to have some recording of the song in my possession by the end of the month of the tape.
This rule got ditched when I stopped making the actual tapes.
So, anyway, since I'm still making the lists, I figured they might best represent what music I'm listening to at any given time. Keep in mind that the current list "in progress" is still fluid. It's not uncommon for me to stick a song in the list, realize that I don't actually like the song, and remove it.
Where possible, I've added links for preview / download. At the moment, I haven't been serious about tracking down those links - basically, I added it if I could find it within one search on Google. If/when I get a computer that can run iTunes (or something similar), I may add links of that variety.
So here's the grand experiment.
(Text updated: February 17 2005)