Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Best of 2012 Playlist

I've been putting together a year-end compilation ever since I started my annual best albums list in 1996. For the first four years it was a cassette, of course, which requires a lot more effort than creating a playlist in iTunes, inserting a disc, and clicking File > Burn Playlist to Disc. Then, I skipped 2000 completely, for no better reason than the dilemma created by Richard Buckner's The Hill. It was one 34-minute track and I didn't know of any software for editing it down at the time.

From 2001 on, I've been using the CD format, which has the added advantage of allowing me to create my own "cover art," which usually consists of a photo of me drinking a beer. It's been suggested in recent years that CD is an outdated format, a fact I'm not going to try to deny. In fact, I'm generally the type who tries to stay current with technology, but there are still things I try to cling to, mostly for nostalgic reasons, but sometimes because I'm frugal.

I don't really feel this way about mixed CDs, though. The mix tape is really the format that inspires a feeling of nostalgia in me. But, when that no longer was a viable alternative, the CD mix became its logical extension.

Now the question is who really listens to CDs anymore? I'd be willing to guess most of the friends I've burned CDs for in recent years just rip them to mp3. I'm sure some of us have a stash of CDs in our cars, particularly those who have cars without mp3 capability. KJ and I have a 2010 Toyota Highlander with an mp3 player jack, but we still prefer to have a rotating selection of prior years' compilations on the 6-CD system, in addition to the children's music, of course.

But, I already admitted I have a tendency towards clinging to outdated ideals. Am I alone? Probably not, but I'm prepared to render that question a moot point, as far as the aforementioned dilemma is concerned.

I've only handed out three 2012 CD compilations so far this year, and I didn't give out that many more last year. By comparison, my list used to be in the 20-25 range. Part of this has to do with logistics. I stopped mailing them a couple years ago, mainly due to time constraints. But, I suppose it could also be attributed to laziness. Or maybe that's just me being hard on myself. Either way, now I only give them to people as I see them. That is, when I remember.

What this is all leading up to is saying I've produced a Best of 2012 Spotify playlist. Most people are using Spotify it seems, at least the free version on their computers, so I think this makes sense. I'm still going to continue making the CDs, and handing them out at least as sparingly as the last couple of years, but I'll also produce them by request if asked.

But, the playlist format does afford a little more flexibility, allowing me to not have to worry about fitting all my favorites onto a couple 80-minute discs. So, this playlist has three distinct differences from the CD format: the inclusion of the 16-minute "Walk Like a Giant" instead of "Born in Ontario," from Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Psychedelic Pill; and an additional song each from Spiritualized and Of Monsters and Men, in keeping with my old, but sometimes broken-by-necessity, tradition of including two songs from each of my top ten albums.

One potential drawback is not every artist/label has licensed with Spotify, but that doesn't apply to 2012's list. If it does in the future, I'll deal with it then.


  1. Would it work for you to simply burn a data disc? This would allow for many more songs, and it could all be imported in to iTunes (or whatever program you use) with proper artist/song info.

    My 2007 Honda stock CD player plays mp3 data discs. I imagine your Toyota does as well. The sound is better when you play the raw mp3 rather than the red book->mp3->red book version.

    1. Hi Joey, yeah I could burn a data disc, but the mixed CDs always felt as close to the mixed tape experience as possible. Besides, two 80-minute discs is probably enough for one year.

      I haven't tried to play mp3 discs in the
      Toyota, but I'll give it a shot, thanks.

  2. I realized the CD was a goner when I went to the beach a couple years ago and found the same six CDs in the car changer from the previous year's beach trip. They may still be in there.

  3. Listened to it on CD this morning, on way to work. I still like loading up the carousel at home, too, and setting it to random - one of my apartment-cleaning rituals (meaning it happens about 2x a year).