My friend Lydia had this theory that there are essentially two kinds of people in the world: those who make mixtapes and those who have mixtapes made for them (there is an extremely rare third breed that can belong to both categories, but I've never met one). I am definitely someone who makes them for other people, and this section is my obsessive-compulsive attempt to document this activity (which is fairly obsessive-compulsive in and of itself). This section has two purposes: one, to show you the mixtapes (really mix CDs) that I've made for other people, and also to create and document custom mixtapes for each year starting with 1986, which I've somewhat arbitrarily chosen as the start of the musical life that I'm documenting on this web site. I'm calling these mixes the Year Series.
There are a few groundrules I've set for myself in terms of the Year Series mixes. The most important boundary is that the songs on the mix not only have to be from an album released during that calendar year, but they also have to be songs that I was actually listening to so that you'll really be able to get a sense of what music was playing in my head that year. Believe me, it was hard to resist the urge to put tracks by Throwing Muses, Game Theory, and Hüsker Dü on the 1986 mixthey all produced great albums that year, but I didn't discover those albums until a year or two later, so they're off limits. At some point I may decide to break my released-that-year rule, because there is so much great stuff that I didn't discover until a year or two after it came out, but for right now I'm sticking to it. Also, I have chosen to limit the length to what could be burned to a typical 75 minute CD-R. I know that mix lengths are going to become increasintly irrelevant as we move further into the iPod era, but it helps give me a framework for choosing songs that best represent that time in my life; otherwise, it would be too easy to include one or more songs from every album I liked that year, which would lead to an excessively long list.
I've also tried to resist the opposing impulses to include songs just because they are more well-known (which might make the mix more accessible but less interesting) or to include obscure songs that might have a special place in my heart but don't play well with others. There will likely still be a couple of songs of each type in every Year Series mix I do, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum.