Like most hardcore music nerds, I used to live and die by the mix tape. And, while I still fashion the occasional mix or playlist for a friend, I rarely bother any more for myself. That's because I find that the ebst mixes tend to come out of the random shuffling of bits. Through the simple act of hitting shuffle I have discovered miracles of musical synchronicity.
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There's no way I would have ever stumbled upon any of the strange and beautiful connections I've discovered this way on my own. What is the likelihood I would have discovered how well Willie Nelson went with Robyn Hitchcock? Or that the Cure and Can were so compatible? And yeah, the shuffle throws up as many duds as it does gems -- probably way more, honestly -- but those few moments of genius that appear in a day's listening, and the odd connections they suggest and way that they have helped me see music as one complex continuum make it my preferred way to listen to music.