I miss the days when my friends and I made mix CDs for each other. I would spend countless hours scrolling through my iTunes library, curating 16-song playlists for each friend, never using the same song twice. I would consider the merits of each song carefully: Will she like this song? How hard is he going to judge me for listening to Colbie Caillat? Is this the right track order, or should I have the Jason Mraz one before The Fray to balance it out? Maybe I should make it so the song titles spell out her name acrostically?
I miss making “album art.” Thinking of a clever name for the mix. Writing out the track listing on the back of the cover. Deciding whether or not to include the artist’s name alongside the title. Including an inside joke only the two of us would understand. Signing my name with one of those “S” doodles (yeah, you know the one) everyone used to chain during math class.
I miss putting the blank CD into my laptop and praying, oh praying to God iTunes wouldn’t screw up. I miss the 50% success rate. The cacophonous whirring of my laptop. The insurmountable joy of seeing the “Burn Complete” notification. Ejecting the CD drive and putting the mix into a jewel case. Using the $1.09 magenta Sharpie I bought at the drugstore to decorate the plastic. Taking the CD and putting it in my stereo to make sure it worked. Ending up listening to the entire mix while wearing the biggest grin on my face.
I miss giving these mixes to my friends. Seeing their faces light up. Watching intently as they read the text on the inside jacket, desperately hoping they’d get the joke, eyes crinkling as a smile slowly spread across their face. Hearing the “thank you!”s and “you’re the best!”s and knowing they truly meant it. Having them Facebook message me that night telling me their favorite songs from my mix.
I miss getting CDs in return. Appreciating the thoughtful album art. Eagerly reading the inscriptions on the inside cover. Listening to each song end-to-end and knowing they chose each song for a reason. Trying to guess that reason. Playing my favorite songs from each mix over and over. Googling the lyrics to those songs so I could find out the artists. Listening to these artists. Downloading their albums and adding to my library, so I would never run out of fresh songs to include on my mixes.
It’s been a while since I’ve given or received a physical mix CD. Just as communication has (d)evolved, so has the art of discovering music. Sharing a Spotify playlist with someone just isn’t the same.
So this year, I am making a conscious effort to resume giving out these mixes. Because I miss everything about the mix CD. Because I’m an analog man stuck in a digital world. Because I want others to feel the same. Because I want to kick nostalgia in the balls and welcome back the good old days.
Hopefully, some of my friends still have CD players they can use to play my mixes.