Mixtapes (whatever the format) create a quintessential part of most high school experiences. There’s something so poetic about carefully curating a collection of songs to capture a moment, identify a mood, or communicate a feeling to someone else. So today the staff has gone through our tapes, CDs and playlists to share a little corner of our past selves.
Audrey, Staff Writer
Title: Windows Down, Volume Up
Made for: Myself, the world
It was senior year, and I thought it was supposed to be great. And it was, in a lot of ways, despite all the regular turmoil and insecurity of being 18-years-old and having no clue. When I made this mix, I think I wanted to convey the reckless senior year can’t-stop-me-now vibe, but damn, it gets heavy at a couple points. “Train In Vain,” by The Clash? “Back In My Head” by Tegan and Sara? I want to give myself a hug. It also features Hoku and Fun. from before they were famous, and it ends with “Soco Amaretto Lime,” because who among us born after 1985 did not scream “I’m gonna stay 18 forever so we can stay like this forever” a capella on some swingset in some park?
Laura M, Staff Writer
Made for: me and anyone riding in my car
Going through my old mix cds from high school, two things struck me:
- I spent an awful lot of my youth blithely singing along to lyrics that I clearly did not understand as well as I thought I did. (Did everyone else know that “Jane Says” was about drug addiction?! I definitely thought she was physically kicking something…)
- I had zero sense of moderation. In one inexplicable masterpiece, I chose to end with four U2 songs in a row, “This World” by Zero 7, then two more U2 songs. Because, you know. That’s just what you do in high school.
This particular playlist only contains two songs by the same band, and it’s The Dandy Warhols! So I consider that a great success. One thing that I really appreciate about this mix is the wild, shameless genre swings between tracks. I was really earnest about the things that I liked back then, even when they were terrible and/or incongruous. I’m still like that, I guess, but I don’t shout-laugh my feelings down school hallways or sing-shout them out car windows so much anymore. I write them down and post them on the internet! Like an adult.
KaeLyn, Staff Writer
Title: Party Like It’s 1999
Made for: Me and My Sony Portable Discman Portable CD Player with Anti-Skip
This was made on a CD, which I have to point out was very high tech in 1999. CD burners were still pretty expensive and Napster had just become a thing. It was the year before Y2K and everyone was concerned that the whole world might explode at midnight on December 31, 1999. It didn’t.
This is a mix of my favorite songs of the time. Like most 90’s girls, I liked to pretend I knew all about 80’s music, even though I was a wee child in the 80’s. (I hear teens and undergrads these days listen to 90’s music ironically, so the tradition marches on.) Also, that I only listened to alternative rock and didn’t like popular radio music, but I kind of did. Add the best 90’s pop-ska and hip hop and you have my junior year of high school jams. It was my junior year that I started to kind of peek out of the closet. I didn’t come out as bi for another year, but by 1999, I knew what was up. And what was up was I had a #1 crush on Shirley Manson.
Lydia, Fashion/Style Editor
Title: Where The Party People At?
Made for: Me and The Party People
I was 17, I finally had a boyfriend, and he was throwing a party. Despite attending high school in a city which was rather… conservative in it’s outlook, I always wanted to dance at house parties. Often times the music would be terrible, and typically the night would result in one or two friends joining me which everyone else didn’t dance.
I clearly had a “good time” in mind with this playlist, with “SexyBack” followed by “Barbie Girl” for a double hitter, later bringing in “Wannabe” by Spice Girls. My allegiances to Britney Spears and Kanye were already going strong… Crowd pleasers (ending in the Big & Rich classic, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”) were my teen hopes that maybe, just maybe, someone living room would feel like the dancefloor in a super cool nightclub in the Big City. If not, I’d be dancing on my own to what I thought was an excellently crafted burned CD.
Maddie, Staff Writer
Title: Eight Songs, In No Particular Order
Made for: Moments of Deep Longing for My Friend and Nostalgia for Decades I Wasn’t Alive For
At this playlist’s conception, I had just turned fifteen and was a year into high school, where I had fallen in with the straight-edge counter-culture hippie-type freshmen, who were very supportive of my deep love for very long songs from the 70’s. We wore a lot of flowy skirts over jeans during that time, sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the girls’ locker room at lunch. Most of us were pretty fuzzy on our sexual orientation. We were also very into Rent. I found this playlist written down in my journal, between two different entries where I talk about how much I wanted to lie next to my best friend, who I was in love with, while listening to Phish. I also compare us to characters in David Levithan’s YA classic, Boy Meets Boy.
And just as a note, I only put the three minute version of “Thick As A Brick” on here. For the full experience, please see the 45-minute version.
Yvonne, Senior Editor
Title: Random Car Jams, 1 & 2
Made for: Me and friends who were in my car
I made this mix CD as a senior in high school when I had already kissed a girl and liked it. This playlist was for me to scream-sing on my way home after band practice, after hanging out at the library with my best friends or after dropping off my secret girlfriend (aka my best friend) at her house. I lived in the outskirts of town so it was at least a 20 minute drive anywhere, which was plenty of time to contemplate life’s complexities and scream-sing along to this playlist. I also was all up in my fluttery, first-love feelings and thought a lot about said secret girlfriend. I was really into “alternative rock music” and was one of those kids who were right near the stage at All Time Low concerts with my friends so this mixed CD is full of that kind of music. At the time, I didn’t know how to rip like 50 songs onto one CD so that’s why I had to split 30 songs onto two CDS. I lost the first CD but the second one still exists and I occasionally dust it off and listen to it to relive all those angsty teen years.
Stef, Music and Vapid Fluff Editor
Title: C30 C60 C90 Go
Made for: Sittin’ Up In My Room
This isn’t actually an actual mix I made myself so much as a collection of songs I remember recording off the radio. As an adolescent, I didn’t really have a whole lot of friends, and I was just beginning to figure out what kind of music I was into. I took CD purchasing really seriously; I had to absolutely love at least two singles off the radio, and I obsessively kept my CD collection in the exact order in which I’d purchased them. I also spent my mornings before weekend horseback riding lessons (I was that kid) keeping careful track of the top 40 on the radio, noting which songs had staying power and which faded away. I’ve always been a student of pop music, with a serious soft spot for one-hit wonders. The first artist I really became enamored with was Alanis Morissette, and although in retrospect I had absolutely no fucking idea what she was talking about, I identified deeply. Shortly thereafter, I bought my first Garbage record, dyed my hair red, started wearing heavy eyeliner and everything went to hell.
Title: Middle School Megamix
Made for: Chilling with friends
In middle school, my friends and I tended to like all the same things at the same time. I mean, Amelia went a little rogue — she got me into The Indigo Girls and Grateful Dead, and even more into the James Taylor, Rolling Stones and Simon & Garfunkel my parents had already laid the foundation for. I was raised on classic rock and The Beatles were in heavy rotation. Then I became a pre-adolescent girl and adopted communal Bad Taste.
Not ALL of it was bad, really. In 6th and 7th grade we were heavy into R&B, The Bodyguard Soundtrack and The Boomerang Soundtrack. In 7th and 8th we adopted grunge rock, like all the cool kids. We liked really depressing music, too, because I think most of us were clinically depressed. Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself! All I know is we cried a lot, like abnormal levels of crying. I also listened to a lot of soundtracks. A LOT OF SOUNDTRACKS.
Title: Revolt: The Summer 98 Mini-Van Mix
Made for: Driving around Michigan in the summer
There are three songs on this tape that I can’t put on a Spotify playlist: one is the live recording from Lilith Fair of “River is Wide”, which isn’t on Spotify. The other two are ’cause I obtained them by hooking up my video camera to my cassette recorder. They were songs Kim sang at the last Coffeehouse of my junior year and her senior year — basically a monthly-or-so open mic night hosted at the boarding school I attended — and I couldn’t listen to them now without getting big sad pangs in my gut, but I’m pretty sure they were about good friends and the future and the lake we loved and how she’d miss everything. Everybody had a crush on her, I think. She was good at everything: art, music, poetry, looking cool in leggings with a nose piercing. Over the summer I worked a lot and drove a lot, mostly to visit friends from Interlochen. This required a lot of mix tapes.
[Take a Drink – Kim]
Me & Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
Angel – Sarah McLachlan
Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
River is Wide – Lilith Fair
32 Flavors – Ani DiFranco
I Shall Believe – Sheryl Crow
Hammer and a Nail – Indigo Girls
Life in a Nutshell- Barenaked ladies
Eternal Flame – Susana Hoffs
Party Generation – Dar Williams
What I Am – Edie Brickell
If He Tries Anything – Ani DiFranco
[Goodbye – Kim]
Brown-Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
Sweet Surrender – Sarah McLachlan
Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Untouchable Face – Ani DiFranco
Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
As Cool As I Am – Dar Williams
Too Darn Hot – Ella Fitzgerald
Let It Be – The Beatles