The Subtle Art of Mystery Mixing

4 Jun

I’m on a mission to start a new movement: Mystery Mixing


How to make a Mystery Mix:

1. Make a mix CD. Have fun with this part. Before April introduced me to 8tracks my music mixes were largely based on what the mood, genre, or purpose of the music was. I had playlists with titles like “Celtic” or “Singing Mix.” Then I stumbled on themed mixes and everything changed. Suddenly my playlists had titles like: “Space” “Travel” and “Yarr!!”

For example I made this playlist for my friend Ben shortly after we met Yosemite Bear of Double Rainbow Fame:

Bunch of Red Roses by the Prodigals
Nectarine by Mike Doughty
Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
Green Finch and Lynett Bird by Jane Wisener (From the Soundtrack to Sweeney Todd)
Killing the Blues by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
American Tale by Carbon Leaf
The Violet Hour by The Civil Wars
Old Red by Old Crow Medicine Show
Orange and the Green by the Kreelers
Yellow by Coldplay
Green Grow the Rushes Oh by Cherish the Ladies
When the Stars Go Blue by the Coors featuring Bono
Indigo Bunting by the Ohio Division of Wildlife Bird Songs (Yes, I have bird calls in my iTunes Library. Don’t judge me!)
The Violet Hour by Sea Wolf (A completely different song from the one of the same title by the Civil Wars.)
Double Rainbow Song by The Gregory Brothers and Yosemite Bear

My music library is by no means extensive, but I found at least two songs that invoke each color of the rainbow, even if I cheated a little bit for orange and indigo. (Deciding which song among “Yellow Submarine,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” or “Yellow,” would get the ax was pretty tough too.) Browse your library, you’ll be surprised by what you find. You can see a few more themed Mystery Mixes on my 8tracks.

2. Write an infuriatingly cryptic message on the CD. Under no circumstances should you reveal clues to your identity or the theme of the mix here. This is for the recipient to decode.


3. Deliver the CD surreptitiously. My favorite delivery method is to sneak over to the intended victim’s house under cover of darkness and leave it on the driver side window of their car. Mail boxes, bedroom doors, and snail mail also work well. Passenger pigeons are acceptable but may be messy.

4. This is the really difficult part: Keep it a secret!!!

The next time I saw Ben after I had planted his Mystery Mix he was positively giddy and running a one-man inquisition on the subject with the zeal of an eleven-year-old trying to get tickets to a Justin Beiber concert.

“Did I know if anyone put anything on his car? Did I see any of my housemates burning CDs lately? Did I know anything about this?”

“Nope. Sorry.” I told him.

I laughed for nearly twenty minutes after he left.

Sadly, however I ultimately became my own undoing. I was having too much fun to keep it all to myself, so I let a few trusted individuals in on the secret. A few of them (no names) went double-agent on me and it was all over.

My short reign as Mystery Mixer brought me a lot of delight. I am still happily making CDs, but I miss the glee of seeing a friend try to puzzle out where this anonymous gift came from. But I’m hoping that if I can get everyone to start sharing the Mystery Mix love, maybe my friends won’t be able to tell if they’re coming from me again.

Think about it. It’s a lot of fun.



One Response to “The Subtle Art of Mystery Mixing”


  1. Countdown to Halloween: Serial Playlists « - October 17, 2011

    […] obsession with making themed playlists has not ebbed since last spring’s mystery mix mania, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a Halloween mix would be part of our countdown to […]

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