(Or Why Do Middle-Aged Men Make Mixtapes?)
Bill, Carl and Tim are three middle-aged men brought together amidst a chaotic and uncaring universe by the shared desire to make, distribute and discuss mixtapes.
Throughout human history mankind has sought, without much success, to express its private self and its innermost feelings through poetry, art and religion. Then, in 1963 at the Berlin International Radio Exhibition, Philips launched the audio cassette tape and a manner of self-expression more befitting the psyche of humanity was born: The Mixtape.
Unfettered by concerns of prosaic meaning or mimetic symbolism, mixtapes finally allowed one to give full form to one’s emotive self through the meticulous selection and sequencing of popular songs. A mixtape could be a love letter to a secret suitor, a heartfelt handmade birthday gift or a self-portrait showing one’s deepest worries, hopes and joys, and it could be all of these things at once. Or it could be none of these things and still carry as much meaning and human feeling as any sonnet, sculpture or watercolour still-life. Mixtapes were the high watermark of human creative achievement and ushered in a golden age of artistic, spiritual and inter-personal exchange between generations of people as they perfectly described romances, friendships, holidays and road-trips. Then in 2010 Sony ceased production of the Walkman and the Lexus SC 430 became the last production car available with a cassette player, and the last nails were finally sent into the coffin of the audio cassette. There were brief flings with CD burners and some passionate dalliances with Mini-Discs for a time but the magic was lost and mix-tapes slipped from memory and knowledge.
However, the idea of the mixtape, if not their physical form, endures still. They were reborn, in the words of The Buggles, “rewritten by machine and new technology”, as Spotify playlists. It is upon this strange and formless digital rock face that we find our three intrepid middle-aged audiophiles clinging, with nothing but their dwindling wits to guide them, as they seek to craft the finest playlists within their power to summon and thenceforth construct their own Everest: The Golden Shuffle – The Greatest shuffle playlist of All Time