Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Mix

For Mother’s Day this year, we decided to give The Mother a handmade gift.  This traditionally carries connotations of cards made of construction paper or plaques made of macaroni.  But, hey: we live in the digital age, right?  We can do something more exciting than that.

Accordingly, my eldest and I put together a playlist for The Mother.  Now, you might think this is a pretty trivial thing to do, but it’s a bit more work than you might imagine.  First, you have to come up with a list of songs.  For this mix, we wanted songs that The Mother would enjoy, of course, but it needed to be more than just that.  We were looking for happy songs.  Songs that perk you up and lift your spirits.  When coming up with a mix, one of the best ways to start is to find one sing that epitomizes the mood you want and then build around that.  For this mix, the Larger Animal suggested a centerpiece of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, which you probably know better by its chorus:

Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing
Gonna be all right.

So now you have a theme.  Next, you have to come up with 15 to 20 other songs to go with it.  Better to come up with too many and then you can whittle it down.  You’re looking for songs that fit the theme, but also provide some variety.  It’s okay to have an artist or two repeated, but don’t overload with too much from one band.  In fact, I don’t like to overrepresent any one genre, or even decade.

Once you’ve figured out which songs you want, now you have to go find them.  Some of them you probably have digitally already.  If you’re like us, some of them you have on CD, but you’ve never gotten around to burning them.  Which means you have actually find said CDs.  And some of them you may not have at all, which means you have to go buy them.  Happily, that’s pretty easy to do without ever getting off the couch these days, unless you’re looking for something really obscure (we weren’t).

Finally, you have to put them all in order.  Many people don’t bother at all with this step.  They just throw everything in a pot randomly.  But this is foolish.  Songs need to transition from one to the other.  If you have multiple songs from one or more artists, you need to spread them out.  There’s no use in having a variety if you’re going to put all the fast songs in a row followed by all the slow songs.  To get it right, you’ve got to experiment, which means listening to all the songs, or at least pieces of them, and that takes time.

And, of course, once you get all that done, you have to burn it to a CD.  Preferably with a decent burning program, one which has volume normalization and can write the track info and an album title.  Nothing beats having your giftee stick the CD into the car radio and having it announce “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Anyhow, for those interested, here’s the playlist we came up with.  It’s only 3 seconds shy of 70 minutes, which is all a typical blank CD can hold.  So I think I’m not exaggerating when I say this mix is chock full o’ goodness.

Links go to Amazon in case you’d like to purchase them for yourself.

Here’s hoping you had the opportunity to do something nice for your mother today.

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