Scribble & Scran: The Old Mix Tape

‘To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again, and I wanted it to be a good one’ – Nick Hornby – High Fidelity

My dad would spend ages making a holiday tape, vinyl to tape, balancing the left and right signal, putting the needle in the right groove, not creating too much of a gap, taking the tape out, using a pinkie to just nudge it back a few seconds.  A complete distraction to packing or getting organised for the trip!

Some 40 years have passed and I can remember some of dads holiday tapes, a mix of Peter Frampton, Bob Marley, Olivia Newton John,  Charlie Dore and the haunting Pilot of the Airwaves brings back so many memories.  Especially of an old Ford transit parcel van that my dad converted one summer.   We camped on the beach and I’d sit in the front and watch the ships go by on the horizon, no phone or tablet to keep me entertained.

For some reason, that craziness before a trip and I can’t fathom out why was passed onto me.  Perhaps it’s those memories that spur me on and I usually have to create some kind of play list for a big holiday or a life event.  The odd tape still survives merely labelled ‘Mix Tape’, no inlay card so definitely mine.  The Honeymoon mix is amazingly labelled so easy to scan through.  There’s a stack of minidiscs that I can’t bring myself to throw out and a few silver disks in the CD drawer with only a couple of words to give the listener a clue as to the event they were recorded for (Germany 2006, France 2004 and York).

In one way I’m thankful it’s a lot easier today to make a playlist, who has time for putting needles on the record, turning it over and finding the right circular grove and queuing it up.   Although because it’s so quick it’s easier to break the unwritten rules.  The art of making a great playlist is lost in the mists of time.  That or I am over romanticising the whole thing and it’s just a bunch of songs to express a feeling.  I’m thinking about the rules of never repeating the artist, sticking to the right amount of songs that will fit onto the media you are using.  Can you imagine being constrained to 30 mins each side and adding a new song in at the start means re-recording the whole thing.  A play list can be however long you want it to be now, it self-documents and tells you how long it lasts for.  You’ll even get suggestions of what to add based on the list itself although these sometimes can be a little dubious!

The latest life event that called for a great playlist was for my son going off to university.  Spotify our family choice and a simple gift that wouldn’t load him down too much, doesn’t need a tape,  minidisk or cd.  He’d have nothing to play them on anyway….which just blows my mind!   My plan then was to create a track list of 10-15 songs or so.  Give a node to Guardians of the galaxy and call it Awesome Mix 1.   It still felt impersonal and too easy, so decided I wanted to make a flyer and include with it some thoughts and best wishes on a good luck card.

Creating the physical playlist was easy but the end to end process of sticking to 15 songs hard.  I’d keep remembering songs and it was way too easy, to find them, add them, and take them away.   I found myself going down memory rabbit holes, and had to ask myself what was I trying to do here.  I just wanted him to hear some good tunes that his dad liked, back in the day and one or two were from his childhood at the time.  In the end I settled on about 22 tracks and then it came to trying to export the text.

Turns out it’s quite hard using Spotify itself to export the text of a playlist in a way that you can use for editing despite all the drag and drop stuff I came across .  Thankfully I came across SpotListr which enabled me to create a comma separated file in seconds.  Which I then brought into excel and then formatted as a table.  I then transferred this to PowerPoint, on a page that was sized for my printer paper.  I then added a few photos, and a little text.

You can also create an album type cover for the playlist at Spotlistr Cover.  This will work as cover art for any playlist provider.

Over the lockdown period we tried a couple of restaurant boxes, one of them provided us with a specific Spotify QR playlist code.  Just click on search, use the camera and bish bash bosh…..the playlist is there.   It wasn’t quite the ambiance of the restaurant but a wonderful touch in providing some music where the choice had been made and you just had to listen.  This gave me the idea of creating the code, and you can do this here Spotify Codes.  This creates another little image file that can be added to the powerpoint slide.

 

Create an Export: SpotListr

Create the Cover: SpotListr 

Create the Code: Spotify Codes