A photo of a cassette tape.

Mixtape #1 (Kavinsky, Radiohead, Beirut, Charlie Chaplin … Yes, Charlie Chaplin)

Whatever happened to the mixtape? Ever seen the movies High Fidelity or Almost Famous? Those movies were about sharing music. I mean, actually sharing music. There was a time when people saved up their hard-earned pennies for a month just to buy one new album. Yes, a physical album they could hold in their hands. Sure, vinyl is making a comeback. But now, how things have changed. With YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify at our hands we are able to access pretty much all music anywhere anytime. And that’s great, don’t get me wrong. I love that. It just occurred to me the other day that perhaps in this age where half our data lives in the invisible ‘cloud’ we just need to remind ourselves that sharing is caring. Sometimes you’ve got to actually slow down, take a breath, and actually share. Not just click a button that says ‘share’ but actually give. Lest, you get caught up in the storm clouds.

A good mixtape is not just about packaging a bunch of songs together. A good mixtape takes time and thought and contemplation to create. A good mixtape flows just like an album in its own right. It conveys not just one emotion but many, woven throughout multiple themes both subtle and obvious, trickling from start to end like a beautiful (or beautifully ugly) river. The start might be as wide as the Amazon or as hazardous as the Niagra falls, while the end may be a mere babbling brook. A good mixtape makes a lot of individual songs stand out and yet chime together.

If you’re new to my site let me introduce myself. My name is Stu. I’m a playwright and lately a dabbling artist. And a music fiend. I listen to music every day without fail. I listen to music while I write. I listen to music while I paint. Basically, I feel a bit like a converted Daniel talking to Sam-I-Am:

‘I listen to music in a boat!
And I listen to music  with a goat.
And I listen to music  in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
It is so good so good you see!’

In the past writing and even producing my own plays I’ve always listened to music as a source of inspiration and a way of channeling certain emotions and keeping a consistency throughout those emotions that I need to write and edit a work over and over again. Playlists allows me to add a soundtrack to the movie of my imagination. Indeed, when it comes to my plays, in the past I’ve always loved creating a playlist (yes, the technician required a CD) for every show, music to be played pre and post performance. I’ve even gone to the lengths of mixing my own beats and sound effects for use during shows and after each play’s run actors and audience members alike each time asked for copies. Which is flattering, though I won’t get too carried away. I’m not the one making the music! In essence, what I was creating were handpicked soundtracks for my art.

This got me thinking. Why wait to create a soundtrack just for my plays when I pretty much create a soundtrack to my art every week? Why don’t I share the music that inspires me and my art more regularly? Below I’ve compiled a list of fourteen songs that over the last week or so have really inspired me, taken me to wondrous lands inside my head, and made me feel something. My music taste is very eclectic so be warned (everything from ragtime to techno). It changes from week to week. My playlists also have a way of switching genre midway through. But it’s all about sculpting that river.

This particular mixtape is an eclectic mix of some well-known and newly discovered gems. Electronic, rock, soul, punk, folk … add some Charlie Chaplin to garnish and yep, you’ve got yourself a mixtape!

Maybe I can make this a weekly thing?

So here goes. Here’s my ‘mixtape’:

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