Sirius/XM 1st Wave was rocking out today with their hour long Halloween mix, which I then was pumping through my stereo and singing along badly. Somehow this pushed me down the rabbit hole to generate a Spotify holiday playlist of (mostly) punk, pop, rap, ska, and other non Michael Buble artists. Tada! So below is 12.5 hours of holiday music to get you in the mood.
When TheExHusband and I returned to the cabin from our errand running this afternoon, and I had finished building the holiday playlist, this seemed like a damn fine time to import 100g (not including new stuff I’ve picked up recently) into iTunes so I can play my own shit at home without necessarily relying on Spotify or Amazon. It’s been so long since I’ve looked into this dark corner of my nas, I was truly clueless to what was hiding in there.
The lack of playing music at home has nothing to do with not wanting to listen but the relative ease of using Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and buying mp3s from Amazon/iTunes. Why should I pull up my mp3s of Elbow when I can stream all of their albums in Spotify? Why should I track down a CD when I can buy the digital album via Amazon?
Long live physical media. Physical media is dead. (Except for vinyl. Shaun Cassidy for the win!)
When I was packing my stuff within the recent years, I found one of my old mix tapes (yes, on cassette), from 1992 or so? I would have been driving at that point (I got my license at 19) and more than likely driving the inherited mumsy’s old Cadillac Cimarron. So about ’92 or ’94ish? One side of the tape was “Manic” and the other was “Depressive.” Aren’t I clever? The tape is packed somewhere amongst the ruins of my material life thus the track listing is escaping me. That is probably the only physical evidence I have of my early music mixing youth.
Making mixed tapes, from cassette to CD to Spotify playlists, is part of my DNA. If I love you, platonically or romantically, you’re getting a mixed tape. I became more active in making said tapes when I made one for TheBassist in ’05:
(TheBassist confessed when we started dating last year that over time, as he swapped from computer to computer, he made sure a copy of that mix was always with him and he played it constantly during the last 10 years. You can imagine I was flattered like hell.)
TheEx and I would exchange mix tapes during the course of our relationship:
For the first holiday with TheEx, I created a holiday mix, which I also gave to people who wanted a copy:
I know I’m definitely not alone in using music to convey my feelings. I once read somewhere those who use music to pontificate their emotions was due to their inability to vocally articulate said feelings themselves. Articulating feelings is not a problem for me as I have nearly 20 years of my life on the internet, but I use music to manage those feelings and it’s freeing. It’s much more satisfying to dance manically in one’s living room to a pounding beat over chewing thoughtfully on a pen after you scribe. Amirite?
Roping back to listening to 1stWave (or any station really), it’s been particularly hard these last few weeks and years. While I’m driving, I often find it difficult to listen to a particular tune without wanting to flip everything off or pound the steering wheel in fury or having tears well up. It’s not necessarily just the recent string of my lovers but how I associate music with people, places, and times.
(It doesn’t help TheEx and TheBassist are the same age so of course I bonded with them on the music of our youths, which is primarily played on 1stWave. The dicks.)
I was just outside. The stars are shining bright and the gods are talking to me through the tree tops again. I thought writing this would exorcise some of the feelings associated with these songs and I think I was wrong. It’s hard when nearly every memory is easily accessible via music and it all feels like yesterday. It’s been nearly 20 years when TheExHusband and I first dated, 10 years since I met TheBassist. Nine years since I met TheEx. Those three were, in various incarnations, my heart for a very long time. And now, now, all of that music is just a burning bright reminder of where I’m at now. I feel like I’ve been handed a big bag of memories and it’s up to me to sort through it all, donate some to charity and keep others. I forget at times they may be going through the same thing themselves, but fuck’em.
For the last ten years, I’ve been banging on about my life is High Fidelity. I am the female Rob, something I had in my dating profile long ago and what wooed TheEx to contact me. The following fourth wall monologue by Rob resonates how I often feel:
What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while I thought it would interesting to pull up the music from my exes and talk about the influence the songs (and them) had on my life. Memories at the push of a button.
TheExHusband (1997-1999, 2008-2014)
TheExHusband and I reconnected earlier in 2008 right after TheEx and I broke up. Seven to eight months later, we planned a get away weekend which we refer to as The Great Bang of 2008. We were glued to each other’s hip for nearly seven years and it’s hard to narrow just a few songs to encapsulate our relationship.
After we got married, I created a wedding mixtape and here is why those songs still resonate with me, about him, today:
Every couple has an “official” song, usually some Michael Buble remix or regurgitated emo bullshit. We have Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, a band we both gravitated to after hearing them on All Songs Considered. Lyrics can be found here and YouTube is here.
Granted, this is not a typical love song by a long shot but Idiot Wind is off of TheExHusband’s favorite Dylan album, Blood on the Tracks. This album was one we listened to on repeat on one of our second first dates back in 2008 and it is also one of our mutual favorite tracks.
“Intergalactic,” the single off of Hello Nasty by the Beastie Boys, was released in the summer of 1998, right when TheExHusband and I started dating the first time. According to him, I listened to Beastie Boys, Lords of Acid, Sarah Mclachlan, and Afghan Whigs nonstop during that period. Since I was not, for the sake of the story, sober for most of that period, I’ll take his word. In 2009, Justin bequeathed me an art poster based off of “Intergalactic.” I knew based on the first few lines of the song, and the history behind it in regards to us, had to go into the mix. Video is available here.
In the world of pop and rock music, one of the definitive albums that is still seen as the holy grail of influence is the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Any kind of music critic, if apparently worth his or her salt, will name check this album in their review at least ONCE, regardless of the song/album/band/genre they are reviewing. Most of my die-hard music friends also name check this album and agreed that yes, one should at least have Pet Sounds in their repertoire. For Christmas 2008, I indeed received Pet Sounds as a present from TheExHusband. “God Only Knows,” in stereo not analog, is included in the mix. Again, with the stupid still photos with musical background only available on YouTube or terribly edited live version, there is only lyrics, which are available here.
“The Sausage” is an obscure track sung by an obscure calypso artist, Baldhead Growler. It’s become an in-joke of sorts, where one of us will randomly start singing this song for no particular reason other than it’s fun and raunchy.
TheBassist (2004-2005, 2014-2015)
When TheBassist and I got back together, he gave me a run down of all the songs he had compiled over the years to express how he felt for me. This seemed like a good time to put together a playlist of songs that resonated and represented how we presently felt about the other.
Interpol’s second album, Antics, had just been released and we were both ga-ga for the band. We quickly proclaimed a particular Interpol song for the other. Mine is Slow Hands about him, his is Obstacle 1 about me. I once had a t-shirt that said, “She can read, she’s bad.” Both songs come up, still, frequently on alternative stations and it should be no surprise they drag up a lot of feelings.
We thought the ultimate pinnacle of our relationship would be to see Interpol live. We never did go.
This song, by Elbow, is the tale of a female drug addict, but to me the song represents/ed what a twat TheBassist had been when he dumped me back in 2005. It still resonates today.
This song, and another one that is not on the list and is escaping my memory right now, is the best description of how he felt about me during all of those years. The yearning, the love, the everything broke my damned heart when I heard them for the first time.
Doves was/is a band that came along the same time as Elbow (they know each other in Madchester) and this song, which is apparently about nothing, was heavily played when TheBassist and I met the first go-round. It was also included on his 2005 mix tape.
If Interpol was TheBassist’s and I band, Bloc Party was mine and TheEx’s. We traveled often to see shows across Michigan and to Chicago. A Weekend In The City came out a month or two after we started dating and we caught their tour that summer and I still stand by my declaration it is one of the best concerts I have ever been to.
This particular song was chosen because there is a Brighton, MI, a city you pass on I-96 as you travel to Detroit. We would crank this song up on high as we roared past because we were, more often than not, driving to Brighton for the weekend.
I’m a big fan of shoegaze and apparently I missed out on a lot of American bands who were the forefront of the movement during the early ’90s. The American Analog Set is one such band and this song was on one of the first CDs he made for me.
Snowden is a relatively little known indie band comprising of one guy but who has a backing band when he tours. TheEx got me hooked on him and when I was one of two up for a gig at AMG, I interviewed Snowden as my assignment for my interview. As you may have noticed, I did not get the job.
Another single TheEx put on of his earlier mix tapes. He must have known one day I was going to become a librarian.
Derrick was an old co-worker of mine at UUNet, who I found out a few years after I left, had a big crush on me. That crush turned into a romance that didn’t last terribly long (six months or so?), but we parted on good terms. Within the last year or so, Derrick got in touch and mentioned he thought of me fondly and has been slightly kicking himself for letting me go after he was diagnosed with MS. We are super friendly with the other, BFFs on Facebook and all that rot.
Derrick is a huge ska/punk fan and every time I hear this song, I think of him.
Patrick and I knew each other forever (hence the 1996ish start date) but didn’t really start to date until around 2003 or so. We split for a number of reasons but still remain(ed) friendly. He’s married now. Within the last few years he said something along the lines that while he still loved me, he found it too hard to be friends. I get a happy birthday from him every year and that’s about it.
ExFiance #2 (1999-2002)
ExFiance #2 and I parted on good terms and were friendly for a number of years after the breakup. BUT since he’s been married (and has a family of his own), he’s been talking shit about me across the Internet. Why? I have no reason but I’ve had several of our mutual friends confess that what he was saying didn’t match up with how I actually was. Men.
Relationships may come and go, but I will always have my music. Just press play.