How to Make a Mix CD

  1. Start trying to pick out tracks.
  2. Realize all the stuff you’ve been listening to more recently is off-limits because they’re not in your CD collection yet. (And you still can’t, in good conscience, burn MP3s to a CD.)
  3. Start trying to figure out the order–what follows nicely after what. Can’t have three long, slow songs in a row.
  4. Realize all the working sound of your mix CD is sadder and more aimless than you anticipated. That’s good though, gives you something to work with.
  5. Go looking for sad, aimless songs.
  6. Go rifling around for something on Bandcamp, seeing as you bought it, but didn’t have it downloaded.
  7. Debate buying tons of Earlimart and Built to Spill CDs while you’re at it because they fit the mood, dammit.
  8. Quickly rip a CD it turns out you didn’t actually have ripped. For one song.
  9. Start ironing out the order, realizing you still have holes you have to fill, but with what will have to wait.
  10. Find another song in your big pile that fits nicely, but lordy, where does it go??????
  11. Try three different orders, trying to listen enough that you get the feel of the order, but not so you wear out songs you’ve already heard a bunch of times.
  12. Find another song in your big pile that fits nicely. Repeat.
  13. Let it all sit for an evening so you can come back and hear it with fresh ears. Sounds good.
  14. Take it all into Audacity and do a quick mastering job so all the volumes are equal. Can’t be blasting people’s ears out, that’s no way to make a mix CD.
  15. Realize another day’s passed and the friends you intended to have listen to it are asleep.
  16. Wait to send it the next day.
  17. Order CD-Rs because you ran out. Gotta hear it as intended, yeah?
Some mix CDs I recently burned

That all probably makes it sound like I hated making it, but actually, it was a lot of fun. And fun getting one to hear and burn back. I dunno, something distinctly lower-tech about it all? Spotify playlists might have the same function, but certainly not the same feeling to them. Doesn’t take as much effort to drag a bunch of songs you only half-like into a playlist and give it a ridiculous, misspelled name.

In any case, I’d love to make more. Got a ton of music lying around, so I can try some other moods and genres (to some degree–no electronic megamixes from me yet), or hell, even specific themes!(Rediscovering highlights mix CD, perhaps? That’ll be a real mix right there.)

If you want a more serious look at the thoughts, ideas, and process behind it, have a quick check of dcb’s Patio. (He’s also got a list of which tracks I used on my mix CD, if you’re curious.) Find it super fucking neat, I do. Seen CD burning stuff in Windows Media Player and Microsoft promo materials all my life. About time I make some for myself.

I’d be burning these and mailing them to people if more than half of my friends’ parents knew I existed and wouldn’t ask about strange media mail arriving at their houses.

In any event, gonna go pop one in right now. Gotta get back into the habit of listening to CDs. The Rediscovering pile isn’t gonna discover itself! (Also Sound of Dentage tomorrow.)

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