I grew up in a strange time in history. I was born in '88 so my teenage years were contained solely in the first decade of the new millennium; the decade of internet piracy, blatant copyright infringement and CD burners. Everyone knew that a standard CD had enough room for 18 songs, 19 if you were lucky, 20 if the songs were 1 minute a piece. Everyone had that CD case that would strap to their sun visors and was just packed full of burned CDs. I knew some very entrepreneurial kids who actually managed to make some extra cash by burning CDs for other kids.
Now I imagine that most people approached CD making with the shotgun approach, which in hindsight is the best approach. They'd grab 18 songs and bam, CD was made. I on the other hand tended to take the surgical approach. Every song had a purpose, the order of the tracks was done with a specific intention in mind. Every CD I made was like a concept album. I remember pissing my friends off by delaying trips for a half hour just so I could put together the perfect road trip CD.
There was something special about putting together the best CD you could. It was like sorting through the library of all the songs that have meant something to you, either emotionally, or just because you connected with the beat, then picking out those memories and gathering them in one place. Sure, there are still playlists for mp3 players, but there was something much more permanent about making a CD. Once you clicked that "burn" button, it was over. There was no turning back. Your careful consideration and tedious nitpicking about whether Semi-Charmed Kind of Life worked better either before or after California Love would soon be a physical object. Your contemplation on whether or not Matchbox 20 belonged in that "Romance" CD you didn't tell your friends about.
Speaking of romance. I know I'm not the only one out there who made CDs for girls. That was the epitome of CD making. This was the chance to show how awesome you were without having to say a single word. If you could put the right songs in the right order she'd fall in love with you right? You'd make sure some of her favorite songs were in there. Then you'd throw in one or two of your own. Then towards the end you'd get a little cheeky. R,Kelly Bumb n Grind, TLC Red Light Special, Spice Girls 2 Become 1, yeah because you know what you really wanted to happen after you gave that CD to her. Don't lie.
I know before the onset of CDs people made mixtapes, but I didn't so I don't care.
Well, I'm older now, but I'm back to making CDs. Funny how some of those skills never leave you. Now if you excuse me I have to go put together the ultimate indie rock/punk folk CD ever.