Tina Kakadelis
YA Author


Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

Zen and the Art of Mixtapes


There are a few things in life that are indisputably sacred:

1. Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album

2. Reduced Fat Oreos

3. Mixtapes

Dropping truth bombs left and right over here, aren't I? I don't want to get into a fight or anything, but just know that I'm right about reduced fat Oreos. They're infinitely better than all other types of Oreos. I once direct messaged the Oreo Twitter account to ask if they'd stopped selling reduced fat Oreos because I couldn't find them anywhere. I don't mess around when it comes to reduced fat Oreos.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about mixtapes. I. LOVE. MIXTAPES. I remember the very first mixtape I ever got. It was in middle school from a girl named Lizzy. She started it off with Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson. A bold start to a mixtape, right? Other hits included Seasons of Love from RENT, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day, and I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic! At The Disco.

(Obviously I'm not talking about actual mixtapes because, sadly, cassettes are an antiquated music storage device that even hipsters couldn't resurrect.)

Mix CDs were the last dying breath of the art of mixtapes. If you ask me, iTunes and all these digital music offerings murdered mixtapes. No, I will not get off my soapbox, ya damn hippie. Wait, I'm probably the damn hippie here.


I like mixtapes because they're usually from people who are important to me, plus new music rocks. O.G. mixtape maker Lizzy and I don't talk anymore, but we had a solid few years of middle school friendship. It may come as a surprise to you, but I knew nothing about music in middle school. I barely knew who Green Day was or Jack Johnson. My music tastes began and ended with Disney Channel stars. Aly& AJ were my first concert. Maybe my cool factor has dropped significantly, BUT I still stand by the fact that their cover of Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe In Magic is actually pretty great.

There's an art to making mixtapes. You can't just throw the songs on a CD all willy-nilly like some kind of heathen. Are you kidding me? There's gotta be a flow, a natural order to the songs. They have to build on one another. Tell a story. It's not as simple as all fast songs or all slow songs. You have to let the tempo ebb and flow.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm clearly not the type of person who just shuffles her music. I make playlists for every mood. Oh, is it raining outside and I have to drive somewhere? Let me put on my rainy weather driving playlist. What's that? It's fall and I'm wearing flannel and sipping on a latte while surrounded by leaves changing colors? Better put on Pumpkin Spicy (yes, that's an actual playlist I've made).

If you do it right, mixtapes enhance the mood. It's why we have movie soundtracks. It's why musicals exist. Music just makes the world make sense. You have to pick songs you love because mixtapes are meant to be sung. Loudly. That's it. And put the songs in an order that isn't just a savage free-for-all. There's not much else to it.

Also, in case you were wondering, there's no wrong number of times you can put Heaven Is a Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle on a mixtape.

My friends have brought it to my attention that the music genre I most enjoy could be classified as "Dad Jams." I think they're right. I like music your dad probably listens to when he's wearing a short sleeve button-up Hawaiian shirt, sippin' on some whiskey, talkin' about the good ole days. I, too, wear Hawaiian shirts, drink whiskey, and reminisce about my youth. One of my proudest mix CDs is called Sad Dad Jams. I made it for one of my roommates, along with the companion mix CD, Happy Dad Jams.

Without further ado, my pride and joy. Sad Dad Jams, Vol. 1


  1. Poor Man's Son - Noah Gundersen
  2. Fake Empire - The National
  3. Shiver and Shake - Ryan Adams
  4. Going to California - Led Zeppelin
  5. Never Going Back Again - Fleetwood Mac
  6. To Be Alone - Hozier
  7. Just Another Girl - The Killers
  8. She Lit a Fire - Lord Huron
  9. Work Song - Hozier
  10. Cigarettes - Noah Gundersen
  11. I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen
  12. The Wind - Cat Stevens
  13. Oh My Sweet Carolina - Ryan Adams
  14. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
  15. Crimson and Clover - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  16. You Don't Know How It Feels - Tom Petty
  17. Starting All Over Again - Daryl Hall & John Oates
  18. April Come She Will - Simon & Garfunkel
  19. To Leave Something Behind - Sean Rowe
  20. 100 Years - Five for Fighting