The Biographical MIx, Part One: Introduction and 1990

I don't think I've ever known anyone who hasn't made a mix, be it a tape, a CD, or a playlist. I think it would weird me out to meet such a person, as if they lack some sort of basic human sense of adventure or curiosity. I would imagine they probably own every volume of "Jock Jams," which could count as a mix, but not one that they actually made.

I've made mixes for as long as...well, as long as music has been personal to me, which I'll get to in a moment. It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles 7 years ago that I realized I'd begun making mixes on a regular basis -- like clockwork, almost.

While my original mixes were given random names (I had a mix called "Beige" at one point -- no, really), I soon started labeling them by time period. As I made a lot of mixes in college, I started naming them by season, since I a) live in Ohio and b) went to a college that was on the quarters system. The problem with this, however, is that I graduated from college 9 years ago.

I had a lot of free time and a lot of disposable income over my first years in Los Angeles, so I was listening to a lot of new music. At first, I tried to stick with using seasons to order them, but that proved hard to do, simply because winter spans two different years. So starting in 2004, I kept the quarters system from college, but incorporated it into a regular calendar: 2004 Part One would be January to March, Part Two would be April to June, Part Three July to September, and Part Four October to December.

And then, of course, I had to start doing a mix for each year as a whole -- a "best of," if you will. That was easy enough for the years where I was organized, but I certainly couldn't stop there. I wanted mixes going back as far as I could.

I say "as far as I could" because there got to a point where my year by year mixes would have become a basic Billboard Top 20 list. There were a lot of early years where I basically listened to the radio, and while those songs hold some nostalgia, I don't really consider them mine.

I discovered that my first year of honest music appreciation was 1990. This was the second half of 8th grade/first half of 9th grade. I'd dabbled in music I'd never really heard on the radio, but it wasn't until that year that I fully submerged myself.

My brother is to blame for that. He graduated from high school in the late 80's, heading off to college at a time when college music/college radio were becoming more and more important. Since he went to school in the same town we lived in, I could periodically head into his room and look through all of his tapes. I really didn't know who most of the bands were, but I gave all of them a chance.

Keep in mind, though, that I was also 14 when 1990 started, so the radio (and MTV) still played a big part in my life.

Also keep in mind that these are songs that I listened to in 1990 -- that doesn't necessarily mean the songs came out that year, just that I discovered it that year.

So, without further ado and in no specific order, here's my "Best of 1990" mix:

"Rock the Cradle of Love" by Billy Idol
"You Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer
"Poison" by Bel Biv Divo
"The Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground
"Blaze of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi
"Suicide Blonde" by INXS
"More Than Words" by Extreme
"Joey" by Concrete Blonde
"Forgotten Years" by Midnight Oil
"Pure" by the Lightning Seeds
"Ball and Chain" by Social Distortion
"I'm Free"" by the Soup Dragons
"Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode
"Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants
"Roam" by the B-52's
"Orange Crush" by R.E.M.
"Here's Where the Story Ends" by the Sundays

I think you can actually see my slow transition away from "mainstream" music in 1990. I can actually remember friends of mine making fun of me at the time for some of the more obscure (then, at least) bands I'd started listening to.

That would change, of course, as there was grunge on the horizon...

NEXT: 1991