The Art of Storytelling

The mighty mix tape was such a major part of my youth. Remember collecting your favorite songs, sequencing them just right, sharing them with your people? It was vital. It became a language for communicating all the feels.  Now, Spotify playlists have become a staple around my house- putting the power of a great mix tape at my fingertips.  I’m constantly adding and tweaking the lists (but never deleting- once a song makes a list, it stays). There’s a few playlists in my library that have become road maps for the last two years of my life- illustrating certain times and experiences that I will forever link to these songs.

For Baby Girl was made for my angel. We bought a pair of belly buds (green earphones/suction cup looking things) that I placed on my wife’s pregnant belly a few times a week- and played this mix on repeat. It ranges from “Jimmy Mack” by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas to “Didn’t I” by Darondo. Straight up soul music- something you can feel. And while I haven’t revisited this list since baby girl was born, I stand by the fact that she’s calm and collected because while she floated- nice and warm in mommy- the sounds were pure and true classics.

Get Your Soft Rocks Off was initially made for my daughter as well. Absurd title aside, this mix was pieced together during the late nights and early mornings in a rocking chair with a snoring little creature on my chest. This mix makes me truly happy. I’m not a typical soft rock guy- but the more I explored the genre- the more I came to rediscover so many classic songs my mom and dad played on their record player every weekend. Christopher Cross, Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne, King Harvest.  The mood is super mellow- it helped soothe the baby- and now it keeps me centered when frustration threatens to take me over. I’m constantly adding songs, and the running time as of today is over 22 hours of music.

The Ledge is my playlist masterpiece in progress. My true love is hip hop and this list-which began as a Golden Era salute (I know, I’m old and washed)- has now become the spot to put any and all hip hop that moves me. It’s a wildly eclectic mix that runs for over 59 hours and spans history and trends from Lil Kim to Ratking. Every Friday I throw a handful of new releases here to keep the blood flowing. This one deserves a decent speaker and plenty of volume. It’s also my favorite driving mix.

What a Quarantime To Be Alive was started when we went into hiding this March. I started putting some songs together that made me happy- but also reminded me that we’re living in the absolute strangest of times. It’s all over the place in terms of sounds. Lots of pop records, lots of deeper cuts from bands like Talking Heads and Brian Eno. There’s hip hop from Mobb Deep and the Fugees- it’s truly a scatterbrained vibe, but it makes sense when you shuffle it up and put the pieces together. This is also a playlist by request. People send me tracks and I throw them on. Currently we’re at about 28 hours on this mix.

If you didn’t listen to emo/pop music in the early 2000’s- go on and skip to the next paragraph. Scene Kids is my ode to the years of cheap beers and basement shows. Lots of tight tees and studded belts. A confusing and drunk time for your boy, but also some incredibly formative years (good and bad) were had. This list is a tad over 4 hours full of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, The Early November, Taking Back Sunday etc etc. Emotional. Ridiculous. But also fun as fuck to revisit nice and loud. My pal Josh took the emo playlist to the next level with his take, Once Upon a Time…On Long Island which is most likely the most comprehensive and fun emo playlist ever made.

Now I don’t have to buy 100’s of blank tapes or CD’s to share this shit with you all. That’s the joy I find in Spotify- my only gripe is they pay artists a pathetic little slice for each stream. Hopefully as streaming continues to push music further, they’ll renegotiate their deals.  Either way, go find HardWorkingHand on the world wide web and turn it way up. There’s 47 playlists there for you to explore. Enjoy and share if the music makes you feel a type of way. Have a great weekend.


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