Well, it’s that time of year again when the days get real short and the temperatures drop (and take the will to live with them). But. BUT. It’s also that time of year when coffee tastes best, snowball fights can happen and coziness is the most important thing. This is a mix full of, and for, both the hope and the desolation that winter holds. Enjoy!
(listen via the embedded player above or click here to listen on 8tracks)
- Long Way To Night- Joan Shelley
2. To Make It True- Daniel Martin Moore
3. Damn It All- The Staves
4. Dawning On Me- Villagers
5. Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens- Tiny Ruins
6. Liverpool- Nathaniel Rateliff
7. So Long- Leon Bridges
8. Lay Down- Sun Little
9. Kaleidoscope- Mike Clark
10. This Feeling- Alabama Shakes
11. Satisfied Mind (Mahalia Jackson cover)- Justin Vernon
12. It Won’t Be Long- Sean Rowe
13. Portland, Maine- Donovan Woods
14. My Love Is For- Jill Andrews
15. Seventeen In Roselore- Small Houses ft. Samantha Crain
16. The Trapeze Swinger (Iron & Wine cover)- Gregory Alan Isakov
17. St. Helens- Joel P. West
18. Go Home- Julien Baker
And now, some insight into the mix and how it was all put together.
* Does this mix have a name or specific cover art? What’s the story behind it?
I’ve been doing these seasonal mixes for friends and family for about the last 6 years at this point, and not once has the name been anything other than season/year. It wasn’t really all that conscious of a decision originally- it was born out of laziness and inability to pick out a lyric or line best capture what I was going for- but as I’ve gone on it’s been kinda nice to have it be simple and serve as a definitive marker of what I was listening to and where I was at during any particular part of a year.
The cover art, though, has always been something I’ve thought of as important. For all but two of the mixes over those 6 years the pictures used have been ones I’ve taken, and each time I try to find something that sort of captures the scene I have in my brain when making the mix. For this one the picture comes from this past winter at the end of a February night. Me and my now-fiance were at a show one of my friends bands were playing and while we were there a sort of pop-up blizzard happened in Denver, so on the way back we made our Uber driver drop us off at the top of the hill we live on (he wouldn’t have been able to stop in front of our place) and what you see in the picture are our tracks coming down the hill. It’s one of my very favorite pictures from the last year and a half we’ve lived in this little house, a picture of a perfectly still snow-covered street at midnight. It’s the scene that flashes through my brain when I think of this mix.
* Why’d you pick these songs? (or better put: what’s the story you’re trying to tell with these tunes?)
I sat down with the intention of making a very cozy mix of slow-ish tunes, some happy, some sad. For me winter has always been quiet, sad bastard for the most part, which some years has lead to some brutally sad mixes (again- real sorry about that winter mix in 2012). This one, though, I think finds the right balance between the hard parts of winter (that month or so where it’s just so goddamn cold and horrible you wonder why anyone lives in a place where ‘winter’ is a real thing) and the nice parts of winter (coffee tastes best when it’s real cold, and snow is real pretty, as are Christmas lights). There’s a lot of sad strumming going on here, and some desolate tunes, but also some soul and a whole lot of beauty.
* Why’d you put these tunes in this specific order?
If you know me, you know this was the most important part of the whole mix thing. Sometimes there’s a song that’s obviously the first one, but in this case it took a few tries at making the mix in order to figure out what song was best to start with. (It ended up being a lovely Joan Shelley tune. She only makes lovely tunes.) From there’s it’s just a big puzzle to put together, trying to figure out what songs go in what order so that when you’re listening to it you aren’t startled when the songs change- finding a rhythm that carries between a song, or a drum beat, or the tone of the voice or the guitar…anything, really, just something to carry one song into the next.
* How’d you decide this mix was ‘finished’? How many iterations of it did you go through before you were satisfied?
Like most times, I decided it was done when I finally uttered the words ‘it won’t get any better than this’ in frustration after trying to add another song and finding it didn’t fit how I wanted. I think those words came out of my mouth after the 4th different complete version of the mix, by which time I had probably cycled in 35 or so songs. There were about 10-12 songs that were on every version, then the others got put on and yanked off any number of times until I was happy about what was coming out of the speakers.
* Favorite song on the mix? Any particular reason why?
I’ll cheat and say there are three that share that title- the Joan Shelley one and the Daniel Martin Moore tracks both sound like the perfect soundtrack to the coziest morning ever, and the Julien Baker tune is just one of my favorites of the year and I love it every single time I hear it.
* Any song you had to cut/didn’t put on it that you were hoping to include? Why didn’t it make it?
There’s a live version of My Morning Jacket’s ‘I Will Sing You Songs’ from a radio broadcast they recorded around Christmas some number of years ago that I’ve been trying to put on a mix for as many years as I’ve been aware of it, and just like every other year I wasn’t able to make it fit. It’s 8 minutes long, and so having two songs about that length really seemed impossible to do and still expect people to listen to it, so Gregory Alan Isakov covering Iron & Wine won out. That My Morning Jacket song will end up on a mix at some point, damnit.
* Anything else you want to say about the mix or your process for creating it?
Nah, this is already too long and you have already seen too far into my music dork psyche.