Back in high school, I can remember falling in love with music and burning mixtapes. I would spend hours listening to music and scrolling through Kazaa and LimeWire searching for the latest singles to add to an upcoming mixtape. Unlike today, it would take literally hours to download music due to the speed of dial-up internet.

It was a tedious process and you had to be careful and patient.

That is what made curating a mixtape so special to me.

Each mixtape that I created during those times had an idea or feeling that I wanted to relay to the listener. For instance, in college, I created a CD for a girl I was into. I created this CD to express the feelings I had towards her. It was the best way for me to express my feelings to her. Especially since I was still a shy guy.

Sequencing Was Crucial

When putting together this particular tape I paid close attention to the lyrics and songs I chose along with the order I put them in. The flow of the tape had to be perfect. The message I wanted to convey had to be clear and concise. Since it was going to be made permanent on a disc, I only had one chance to perfect it.

That’s another thing that made burning CDs special.

They were permanent and were a physical representation of music. The effort of putting it together was more important because it was permanent. When you think of the effort put into creating these mixed CDs it’s like you are going through the same process an artist goes through when putting together their own albums.

Even though you can do the same by curating a playlist for others, it’s just not the same. Creating the perfect mixed CD was an art form that only a few could do. Being able to physically hand people your work was also special and something to be proud of. Texting around playlists seems so impersonal. Playlists don’t carry the same weight of having a CD had back in the day.

What are your favorite memories from the era of CDs? Did you burn your own mixtapes or did you prefer to receive them from others?