I had this all planned out, and it was gonna be pretty cool. After many months of toiling to repair my iTunes and realizing that my hard drive isn't quite as spacious as I'd like it to be (long story), I was going to create and publish iMixes and then link to them here. We did a similar thing over at Pajiba a while back, only I wouldn't be requesting songs from you (at least not so soon after last time), but instead sharing some of the alt-country and other mixes I've made over the past few years, both as a way to share some good tunes and conspicuously declare my tastes while also subtly seeking your validation, since you know you're the only reason I do this. Yes, you. Anyway, it turns out that some of the tracks in my mixes aren't available on iTunes, thus making the creation and publication of iMixes at the very least problematic. So I've decided to just post the track lists, with iTunes links where available, and let you buy the songs yourself. Or buy the CDs. (These are good artists, and I don't really believe in piracy anyway, and if you live in the L.A. area you can just come over and borrow the albums. Or if you'll be in Texas the next time I am, give me a heads-up and I will bring the CDs. I swear.) So, with that in mind, here's a mix I made between 3 and 4 years ago. It's fascinating to keep all these different mixes in occasional rotation in my car (I listen almost exclusively to CDs instead of the radio), because each one is a reminder of particular songs I was deeply obsessed with at a certain point in my life. I still love all these songs, of course, but you know what it's like to need to hear a song daily, to inject it in your bloodstream and let it guide you. I've listened to these compilations so often that when I listen to the full albums from which the individual tracks were drawn, I always suffer the schism of alternate realities when the songs end, since half of me patiently waits for the album's next track but the other half anticipates hearing the track I placed after that song on a separate mix. I love that. The first version of this mix was good, but shorter, and this version incorporated some songs I got from a friend who made me a mix called The Gospel According to [his name], which is itself a damn fine compilation. So this album owes a debt to him, and to the great city of Buna. Here it is: Alt 2.0 1. "Timebomb," Old 97's — This remains probably the greatest album-opening track of all time. 2. "Firecracker," Ryan Adams — Beautiful. I still think Ryan Adams is a great artist, but I wonder if he'll ever recapture some of the magic of his old stuff. 3. "Wildflowers," Tom Petty — I listened to this album a lot in high school. That should tell you plenty. 4. "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight," Whiskeytown — Great lyrics, great steel guitar, and guest vocals from Alejandro Escovedo. Stranger's Almanac was their best album, hands down. 5. "Forget the Flowers," Wilco — Country-rock and power-pop Wilco will always be better than electronically self-indulgent Wilco. Like, always. 6. "Tampa to Tulsa," The Jayhawks — Can't think of anything particularly worth adding here. Just a good song about a bus trip, and how many of those can there be? 7. "Birds Sing," The Refreshments — I have many, many opinions about The Refreshments, including the utter laughable waste Roger Clyne has become, but their second studio album is still fantastic, and this is a great country-rock track. But one thing always bugs me: The chorus in part says, "It's a melody I stole from a bathroom wall / And it's the words I hear the birds sing." That's backwards, Roger. It would make infinitely more sense if you stole the words from a bathroom wall, where people carve words, and the melody from a bird, because birds cannot speak. Anyway, it's a great song, grammatical screw-ups notwithstanding. 8. "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)," Old 97's — A great track for those just getting into the 97's and wanting to start poppier. 9. "Angelyne," The Jayhawks — One of the best songs in the history of recorded time. 10. "Windfall," Son Volt — This is the first Son Volt song I ever heard, and it felt as if I'd heard it before. A cynic would chalk it up to the fact that Jay Farrar may have just been recycling Uncle Tupelo sounds and country heritage, but that person would be a soulless douche. No, it felt like I'd heard it before because it connected with me instantly in a way only a great song can. It was so pure, so honest, so downright transcendent, that it seemed it had always existed, and all Jay Farrar did was scratch the surface of something to find it and write it down. 11. "Oh My Sweet Carolina," Ryan Adams — Because college is about feeling like you know the depth of the world's sorrow. 12. "Don't Wanna Know," The Refreshments — A more mainstream electric ballad, but it fits the CD. I listened to this album a lot in high school, too. A lot. 13. "Someone Else's Song," Wilco — Good grief. I was totally that guy in college, you know? 14. "I'm Good Now," Bob Schneider — A great song from a really solid album. Some of my fondest memories of senior year are listening to this album in my roommate's bedroom while watching him play an endless series of RPGs and talking about women. 15. "Bad Time," The Jayhawks — This is my Patsy Cline song. 16. "Houses on the Hill," Whiskeytown — Arguably among the three greatest songs Whiskeytown ever recorded. 17. "Far, Far Away," Wilco — Untouchably wonderful. Why the hell Rainy Day Music and Tomorrow the Green Grass aren't on iTunes is beyond me, but it's a travesty. Anyway, have fun.