I get a lot of crap from my friends for my unrepentant winter-boosterism and fairly so, but everyone knows that the best part of a good Midwestern winter is how much sweeter it makes the spring.
There's something so completely and utterly-joyful about the first warm, sunny day after a long winter. When the grass is still brown and the trees bare but the air tells you that better things are coming. If there were a way to bottle the feeling of walking around in a tee shirt for the first time, it would be the hottest thing since sliced crack.
Since modern food science is still at least a decade away from being able to physically bottle abstract concepts, I always turn to music as the next closest thing to joy in a bottle and every year, without fail I make some version of the first day of spring mix. Although it will vary from year to year, one constant feature of the spring mix is that it's made for the road.
As an incurable spring fever sufferer, I invariably back in college, when such things were feasible, I'd often skip class on the first warm day, cue up some songs and drive straight into the Wisconsin countryside, windows down, utterly in love with being alive. Now that such spontaneity is a bit more tricky, making rent-wise, I'm a bit more vicarious.
This year I've decided to make my spring mix travel-themed, creating my own little sad music nerd road trip that I can escape to on the way home. As befits the immensity of my desire to take to the road, this one's a two-parter. Because I'm also a bit of a map nerd, I've made it as geographically coherent as possible and tried to tell a story or some shit.
Even if the story works only in my head, I'm pretty psyched about this set of songs. It includes perhaps the finest ode to the state of Illinois from the Mountain Goats, an enchanting vision of wanderlust from the band Illinois, an underlooked Josh Ritter gem from way back in the day, a lovely Decemberists b-side, a cuddle core rocker you probably recognize from the They Might Be Giants version, a ballad of truly devastating beauty from Rogue Wave and, you know, some other pretty decent music as well.
Download The Mixtape As A .RAR
1. Do Anything You Wanna Do [Eddie & The Hotrods] [Live] - Ted Leo Buy All The Ted Leo
2. Are You Coming With Me - Illinois Buy The Adventures Of Kid Catastrophe
3. New York City - Cub Buy Mauler
4. O New England - The Decemberists Buy Always The Bridesmaid Singles
5. Travel Song - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Buy Broom
6. Sweet Virginia - The Rolling Stones Buy Exile On Main Street
7. Cigarette State - Robbie Fulks Buy Revenge!
8. Hotel Song - Josh Ritter Buy Josh Ritter
9. Weekend In Western Illinois - Mountain Goats Buy Full Force Galesburg
10. Nebraska [Bruce Springsteen] - Deer Tick Buy War Elephant
11. Maps And Legends - R.E.M. Buy Fables Of The Reconstruction
12. Get Out Of Denver [Bob Seger] [Live] - Eddie & The Hotrods Buy Doing Anything They Wanna Do
13. Portland - The Replacements Buy All For Nothing/Nothing For All
14. Pacific Coast Highway - Sonic Youth Buy Sister
15. California - Rogue Wave Buy Descended Like Vultures