You see, I know what I like when it comes to music. The problem is, I don't know how to describe what I like. If I hear it, I'll be able to tell you if I like it. Sometimes, if a particular song is playing during and event or at a place that I enjoy, I like the song just because of the association with good times. Sometimes I'm really attracted to lyrics. But really, when it comes down to it, if I like it, I like it. If I don't, I don't. Can't really explain it better than that.
So, yes, I love getting mixed cds because, inevitably, my friends do a much better job at finding music I like than I do. I love the thrill of hearing something new. I love wondering what's going to come next after one song ends. I love it all.
My love of mixed cds is perhaps reflected in my appreciation of really good playlists. Some people seem to think that iTunes and the ease with which it allows average folk to arrange music playlists is ruining music. I am very much not one of those people. I am continually impressed by the amazing and eclectic playlists one meets with on a regular basis nowadays: at restaurants, at parties... and at picnics.
Picnics like the one that went on outside of my new house today (I moved! To a house!). The neighbors had some folks over for pizza and beer on the lawn, which in and of itself is probably nothing out of the ordinary on a large college campus. What about it was completely awesome, though (aside from the fact that it was a picnic, and I love picnics)? The playlist.
There were great mellow, indie rock, and pop-ish tunes at the beginning, when people were arriving, mingling, and just getting into the picnic vibe. Then there was some amazing piano jazz and thirties-sounding stuff while they were eating; great background music to small groups of people chatting and chewing. Now we're at the stage of the party when everyone has moved inside (mosquitos, boo). And to go with, there's total "house party" music: a good amount of bass-thumping hip hop, 80's-sounding rock, and a few choice songs that have turned into impromptu karaoke. (It's not creepy that I've been hearing all of the music. The walls at my new house are not soundproof at party volume.) I love it! I don't yet know these neighbors, but I am already super impressed by their playlist.
If I could choose to hone only a handful of skills over this last year of graduate school, the art of the playlist would definitely be one of them.