Last weekend I was in San Francisco at Outside Lands. On Sunday, I was hanging out with my friend Sydney that I’ve known since middle school, and her younger sister and mom were both there that day as well. It was awesome spending time with them and it couldn’t have gotten more nostalgic than when Third Eye Blind played in the late afternoon on the main stage.
I’ve seen Third Eye Blind a handful of times before and they’ve always put on a solid show. But there was a different excitement being there with people who I knew when they were still at the peak of their powers, so to speak. It made the singalong that much more sweet.
After they played “Motorcycle Driveby” from their classic debut album, I turned to my friends and said “Man, that song was on pretty much every mixed CD I made during the first few years of high school.” Sydney said something along the lines of how she would’ve loved a mixed CD from me back in the day, which is funny because I distinctly remember burning her no less than two CDs from back in those days. So here I am trying my best to assemble a playlist that would have mirrored what I would have put on a CD back then, clocking it in under the 80-minute limit you could reach on a blank CD-R.
I’m not going to pretend that the 2004 16-year-old version of myself had the absolute best musical taste. But I’m staying true to what would’ve appeared on one of those CDs back in the day. Some of it is pretty typical for someone my age at the time: Incubus, The All-American Rejects, American Hi-Fi, Third Eye Blind, Phantom Planet, The Hives — very poppy radio-friendly stuff. The New Amsterdams were a similar discovery of mine thanks to the file-sharing days of Kazaa, Morpheus and Soulseek.
But there were a couple of curveballs usually. Creeper Lagoon is a San Francisco-based band that I got into through the soundtrack to the rather terrible movie Orange County. They became a favorite of mine and they seemed to be in the wheelhouse of a lot of my friends’ tastes at the time. My older brother had gotten me into Ben Harper around this time, maybe a few years earlier and “She’s Only Happy in the Sun” came from his Diamonds on the Inside album, which was the first of his I purchased on my own.
Fuel’s “Shimmer” might have appeared on more mixed CDs than any song. I think it’s a perfectly-written pop song that still holds up greatly to this day. I dug this band pretty hard but that song stands the test of time whereas some of their other hits sound a little dated.
These mixes were usually good for a random one-hit wonder or two. On here, you have Duncan Sheik but not his big hit “Barely Breathing.” He had a couple really solid tunes and around this time I was big into the singer-songwriter genre. Primitive Radio Gods’ 90s one-hit wonderful “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth…” was epic as fuck, complete with a dope B.B. King sample (R.I.P.).