For the past four or so years I’ve created my one (and only) birthday tradition: to make an annual birthday playlist.

There are some rules: 

  1. It has to contain one song for every year I’m celebrating. No more. No less
  2. It gets made in the final week of that year, no sooner, and has to be done by birthday-eve. The point is to capture who I am as I depart this age
  3. It’s gotta come from the soul – a tribute to my journey over the past twelve months, where I am now, and where I want to go in the coming twelve
  4. It has to be current, taste wise. No nostalgia trips or anything that’s going to be too triggering emotionally – just what I love and listen to right now. A kind of archive, documenting my tastes and obsessions of this specific point in my life 

Those who moan about the demise of the mix-tape clearly aren’t using Spotify properly. I live for the Spotify playlist and creating a new one is something I’d consider to be a top 5 hobby of mine.  A really meaty project that I get drawn into and obsess over. 
I have set processes and philosophies that apply no matter the reason for and given playlist – be it for an event, emotion or specific purpose. A draft playlist will undergo days, if not weeks, of editing and curation and probably only a handful of my original tracks will remain in the final cut. Picking the theme. Getting the right balance between new and classic. Familiar and obscure. Tone and tempo. A mix that works when played not only in order, but on shuffle – because you just never know how someone will play it. It then undergoes numerous test runs at home, on my commute, and in the office, before it goes public. And I maintain ongoing playlists that feed other playlists. 

Yes. I’ve a lot of playlists. But don’t fear. They are all meticulously arranged into folders and sub folders, by theme or source.

The whole process is like an intricate puzzle or game that I adore every minute of. Mining the depths of my musical knowledge and memory to make tenuous connections in lyrics and titles, recalling cover versions that might serve better than the original, and dredging up every snippet of interview, magazine feature, or list that I’ve ever read, in the hope that I might recall that one golden track I’d long forgotten ever existed.

The mix-tape is not dead. The mix-tape just got a load more fun and convenient!

This year’s birthday list, Thirty-Three, comprises of 33 songs.

In terms of my ‘soul story’ – I’m in a phase of personal empowerment – growing strong, healing from emotional events and change in the not too distant past, aiming high in professional and personal pursuits (hello 100 Days Project!), and just wanting to be a totally independent, self sufficient, glittery, superstar, who doesn’t look back, or put up with unnecessary emotional labour and drama. So no pressure, then.

So it became clear, very quickly, that based on this theme, there was only one thing for it – this playlist had to be a women only affair.

So here it is below, Thirty-Three amazing women*, most of whom I want to be, and worship the hell out of, singing about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go. 

The soundtrack to my year.


*and one lil cameo from Jarvis Cocker because if I’m going to invite a boy to my party it’s only ever going to be Jarvis

One thought on “Day 10: PLAYLIST – THIRTY-THREE

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