As affirmed in an essay posted elsewhere, I do believe we human beings are rather more interesting, musically, than the internet gives us credit for. Enough with the genre-specific playlists and customized “radio stations” that serve up a steady flow of songs that sound as much as possible like the song previously played. I mean, really? That’s the best we can do?

I for one am tired of it, if only because I grew up musically on playlists—we called them radio shows back then—that thoughtfully mixed music together from different rock’n’roll eras, creating an intriguing and enjoyable flow of songs, whether or not they were all the exact same kind of music. Indeed, the point was that they were not the exact same kind of music. And the larger point, now, many years later, is that we remain just as interesting and unpredictable as human beings as we ever were, and therefore, in theory, just as capable of being entertained and enlightened by eclectic playlists as at least some of us used to be.

This, then, is the kind of playlist I am making an effort to construct here on a monthly basis.

It’s an elusive art, putting something like this together. I aim for a bit of live-radio-like spontaneity (“Ooh, after this, I’ll play this!”), while taking obvious advantage of this not happening in real time after all. Some of the songs work next to each other with purposeful effectiveness, others became neighbors serendipitously, but in all cases each list is constructed with the idea of linking decades together rather than segregating them in playlist ghettoes. I also like the idea of mixing together the perhaps less well-known with the probably more familiar—but this can itself be something of a slippery aim when offering a playlist to such a wide-ranging coterie of music fans as those of you who might in fact be reading and listening.

No eclectic mix, in any case, is perfect; while I do my best each month to keep the music bounding across musical sounds and time periods, I can always see after the fact that I have (obviously) left out any number of genres and/or eras, even with 20 songs, which for no particular reason has become the standard length of this playlist series.

For complete song listings see each link below.

1.01 – December 2013
(featuring Brian Eno, Ben Folds Five, Laura Veirs, New Order, et al.)
1.02 – I think I’m waking up (January 2014)
(featuring The Stone Roses, Arcade Fire, Björk, Randy Newman, et al.)
1.03 – Hidden eyes could see what I was thinking (February 2014)
(featuring Liz Phair, Vampire Weekend, Connie Francis, Stevie Wonder, et al.)
1.04 – I’ll go public in my own time (March 2014)
(featuring Courtney Barnett, the Grateful Dead, the Cars, Portishead, et al.)
1.05 – Someone will come to help you (April 2014)
(featuring Elvis Costello, St. Vincent, Dusty Springfield, The Grays, et al.)
1.06 – I was sure until they asked me (May 2014)
(featuring Arctic Monkeys, Roxy Music, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Al Green, et al.)
1.07 – This is not what I thought (June 2014)
(featuring David Bowie, Sinéad Lohan, the Vaccines, Raphael Saadiq, et al.)
1.08 – Despite what all the studies have shown (July/August 2014)
(featuring Andrew Bird, the Beatles, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elastica, et al.)
1.09 – Somewhere not too far from here (September 2014)
(featuring Prince, Jenny Lewis, Tom Waits, Jethro Tull, et al.)
1.10 – I get mixed signals (November 2014)
(featuring The Sundays, Yo La Tengo, King Crimson, Sinéad O’Connor, et al.)
1.11 – I didn’t really know where to go (December 2014)
(featuring Radiohead, Leo Kottke, Alvvays, The Temptations, et al.)
2.01 – Just when it seemed about hopeless (January 2015)
(featuring Warren Zevon, Guided By Voices, The Flirtations, Screaming Trees, et al.)
2.02 – I wouldn’t want to make anyone nervous (February 2015)
(featuring Utopia, Joan As Police Woman, Matthew Sweet, Annie Lennox, et al.)
2.03 – Everything seems to be up in the air (March 2015)
(featuring Mink DeVille, Blake Babies, Blind Faith, Nina Simone, et al.)
2.04 – I like it here, at least so far (April 2015)
(featuring Broadcast, U2, Laura Marling, Michael Penn, et al.)
2.05 – How did this come to be? (June 2015)
(featuring Neil Finn, London Grammar, Pet Shop Boys, Blonde Redhead et al.)
2.06 – A list of things I didn’t do (July/August 2015)
(featuring Wilco, The Jam, D’Angelo, Waxahatchee, et al.)
2.07 – I’d rather see this on TV (September 2015)
(featuring CHVRCHES, Patricia Barber, Edwin Starr, Rilo Kiley, et al.)
2.08 – As you reach a certain age (November 2015)
(featuring The Bird and the Bee, Traffic, Kate Bush, Big Star, et al.)
2.09 – Close your eyes and hear the call (December 2015)
(featuring Crowded House, Johan Agebjörn, Speedy Ortiz, Marvin Gaye, et al.)
3.01 – The heart that sings before it breaks (January 2016)
(featuring Kirsty MacColl, Arthur Alexander, Donald Fagen, Dawn Landes, et al.)
3.02 – With the moon round his waist (February 2016)
(featuring Erasure, Betty LaVette, Charlie Hilton, Madonna, et al.)
3.03 – I trust I can rely on your vote (March 2016)
(featuring Steve Winwood, Metric, The Mighty Wah!, Cate Le Bon, et al.)
3.04 – A pair of dancing legs (April 2016)
(featuring Elliott Smith, the Ronettes, Bob Marley, The Records, et al.)
3.05 – Every bird that goes by gets me high (May 2016)
(featuring The Soft Boys, Paul Weller, Carly Simon, Captain Beefheart, et al.)
3.06 – How could it come to this (June 2016)
(featuring The Bongos, Jonatha Brooke, Nick Drake, The Bangles, et al.)
3.07 – This thing that we do (July/August 2016)
(featuring Foo Fighters, Nancy Sinatra, Elastica, Pink Floyd, et al.)
3.08 – I’m holding my breath (September 2016)
(featuring Wye Oak, The Stylistics, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Lloyd Cole, et al.)
3.09 – Now we’re alone in this freaky place (October 2016)
(featuring Lydia Loveless, The Cars, The Olivia Tremor Control, Rhiannon Giddens, et al.)
3.10 – Sometimes I can’t believe how dark it can be (November 2016)
(featuring Heather Nova, Nancy Wilson, Rachael Yamagata, The Honey Trees, et al.)
3.11 – Maybe it’s right to be nervous now (December 2016)
(featuring Sad13, The Pretenders, Ennio Morricone, Bon Iver, et al.)
4.01 – This is no place, but here I am (January 2017)
(featuring Pavement, Steeleye Span, The Jezabels, Al Green, et al.)
4.02 – Oh boy. Right again. (February 2017)
(featuring Martha Wainwright, Eurythmics, Fountains of Wayne, The Jesus and Mary Chain, et al.)
4.03 – With incredible mistakes (March 2017)
(featuring George Harrison, The Last Shadow Puppets, John Coltrane, Neko Case, et al.)
4.04 – The part that isn’t thinking (April 2017)
(featuring Roxy Music, Metric, Poliça, Led Zeppelin, et al.)
4.05 – Or was it day? (May 2017)
(featuring Jennifer O’Connor, David Lindley, The Byrds, Don Byron, et al.)
4.06 – Quite clearly I don’t have a clue (June 2017)
(featuring Todd Rundgren, Mice Parade, Arcade Fire, Sade, et al.)
4.07 – Dancing us from darkest night (August 2017)
(featuring Eels, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Kirsty MacColl, Carla Morrison, et al.)

Note that I began constructing these playlists on Spotify, which has some advantages (it’s easy to use and widely adopted) and rather a lot of disadvantages (commercials on the free version, no control over precise segues, registration required, inadequate library). Somewhere around Volume 4 or 5 I began building the same playlists anew on Mixcloud, and I haven’t looked back. Mixcloud has three major advantages (free to use without registration, radio-like segues, access to all songs) and one minor disadvantage (more difficult to skip to hear particular songs). To browse through all the playlists via Mixcloud, and listen without limitation, go here:

http://www.mixcloud.com/fingertipsmusic/