Mixtape heaven

Somewhere in the garage I still have a shoebox filled with old mixtapes.

Some are from former boyfriends and current husbands. Love letters comprising carefully chosen songs, with messages waiting to be teased out in song lyrics.

Others I compiled myself, envisioning them as sonic self-portraits. I remember one particular teenage mix, heavy on the Smiths, R.E.M., Cure and Cocteau Twins. Certain it exemplified my soul, I made a copy for my best friend, viewing the act almost as akin to handing her the key to my diary. I know, how very high school.

The art of the mixtape is, for all intents and purposes, now largely dead, a relic of ancient technology.

Or is it? In a way, the mixtape spirit still thrives via its modern descendants: the Spotify playlist, the iTunes-curated jam, the carefully transferred vinyl-to-CD sampler.

These newfangled mixes also boast many purposes: workout motivation, cooking soundtracks, road trip mile markers, love letters to a crush.

All reasons why I've been looking forward to this week's issue. The project, the brainchild of SN&R junior art director Brian Breneman, reveals new facets of many Sacramentans.

Who knew, for example, that City Councilman Steve Hansen was a Daft Punk fan? Or that Taxi Dave likes to crank the classic '80s rock? Or that SN&R columnist Ngaio Bealum loves that one Kacey Musgraves song?

Check out this week's cover story (see “The Playlist Issue,” page 14) for lists and details on how to hear them. Participants include me, Breneman and this issue's cover stars, Sacramento ballet dancer Alexandra Cunningham and librarian/roller derby queen Jessica Zaker, the latter whose list convinced me we needed to become friends thanks to her inclusion of Jenny Owen Youngs' cover of Nelly's “Hot In Herre.”

The modern mix(tape). Maybe not so unlike high school after all.