Did you see “Guardians of the Galaxy” this past summer? You probably did. I did. I loved it, though I’m a big nerd and love comic book and superhero movies in general. I’m a total sucker for the Marvel Universe. I buy it all, 110 percent. But I digress.
Aside from the giant explosions and awesome spaceships and cool aliens and adorable monosyllabic tree people, the best thing about that movie was its soundtrack. A well-planned selection of classic rock, pop and r&b from the late 1960s and 1970s, paired perfectly with the movie. It was the first soundtrack consisting of songs that had already been released to reach the top of the Billboard charts. This past fall, the soundtrack (“Awesome Mix Vol. 1”, naturally) was released on vinyl and on a limited edition cassette. Let it be known that I, the owner and proud driver of an old ass Volkswagen, still have a cassette deck in my car. I love cassettes. They cost practically negative money. Well, except that “Guardians” soundtrack.
Now, if that’s not a ringing endorsement for the joys of making and then listening to a mix tape or CD, I don’t know what is. The “Guardians” soundtrack is also a clever marketing scheme, of course, but I’d be willing to bet most people enjoy the music and the movie first, and the act of spending money on said soundtrack and movie and accompanying products a distant second. Cynic that I am, I still think that’s true.
My point is: there’s something to be said for carefully picking out a selection of songs, arranging them in a sonically and aesthetically pleasing order and giving them to people, or lots of people, as the case may be. And since my pet passion as a journalist is covering Maine’s music scene, I of course have prepared my own Awesome Mix for everyone, featuring 21 of the best songs by 21 of the best bands and artists the state has to offer. It spans the genre gamut from hip hop to folk to metal to electronic to indie rock. As it should.
This is the third year in a row I’ve done it, and each year it gets harder and harder to whittle everything I’ve heard all year down to the 20-odd songs I always choose. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and there’s always stuff I leave out, but I’m committed to making it fit. The playlist is just long enough to fit on a blank CD. Or a 90 minute cassette, if you’ve got it. Do it old school. Listen to it on a Walkman. You can get them for like five bucks at Goodwill. You’ll be glad you did. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and thanks for supporting art made here in Maine, you guys. I’ll offer up my Best Albums of 2014 blog post next week — generally speaking, not just Maine. ‘Til then, enjoy the rest of your year!