If you were to make a mixtape to sum up your life, what would you put on it? As challenges go, this one has been my toughest yet and has actually taken me months to complete. Compiling what is perhaps my ultimate mixtape, a collection of songs that somehow sums up both me and the last 30 years, was always going to be a bastard - where the hell do you start??
I started mulling over the tracklist six months ago, when I was making my list of things to do before turning 30, but it has finally reached the point where I've just got to stop and realise that not everyone can be included.
My first tactic was to write a list of the bands I couldn't live without and when that got out of hand I turned to picking out songs that I can't imagine never hearing again. Some have been chosen for the memories associated with them, others for their awesome riffs and, of course, there are plenty with lyrics that just click with me.
My love of making mixtapes stretches back as far as my love of music, but while my compilations have since shifted to appearing on CDs and as playlists on my iPod for sheer convenience, I still prefer using cassettes for this game (they still sell them in Poundland if you want to play along). It's what I grew up with, what I bought my first single on ('Any Dream Will Do' by Jason Donovan, in case you were wondering... I was eight, don't judge me) and what I listened to on the go right up until I was 21. It's not just the combination of music that I like pulling together, it's also the cover...
Yes, that is a picture of me.
According to my mum I did nothing but scream,
with fists clenched, for the first three months
of my life (to be honest, I would cry for three
months now if I had to wear pink dungarees), so
I think it's quite fitting that I grew up to
like punk and hardcore.
My original plan was to create a mixtape of my 20 favourite tracks of my 20s, but it seems more fitting to have 30 songs for 30 years. Just to make things more difficult for myself the 30 tracks had to last no more than 90 minutes in order to squeeze them onto a C90 - good job I'm more into punk than metal otherwise this never would've worked - and every track had to be released after I was born, so post 1st March 1983.
While having the date restriction helped to cut down the volume of music I had to choose from, it also meant I had to leave out some of my most beloved bands/songs, including The Clash, The Sonics, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, X, The Misfits and The Ramones.
There were also some agonising decisions that had to be made, resulting in Weezer, The Smiths, The Descendents, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Wildhearts, King Adora, Refused, AFI, Kerbdog and A Wilhelm Scream (I could go on forever with this list...) not making the final cut. It's important to point out though that my life is richer for their part in it.
About five times I thought I'd got the final cut, only to realise a key band/track had been missed out and the whole process would start all over again.
Just to give you a rough idea of how tough this challenge was, here's my music collection. Please note this doesn't include the shoe boxes of tapes that are stashed at my mum's house.
This is where the overspill ends up.
30 Songs For 30 Years - Side A
30 Songs For 30 Years - Side B
Verdict: possibly the most awesome mixtape ever and therefore a massive WIN!
So what would be on your ultimate mixtape?