All Together Now

The Farm – All Together Now

It’s been a while since I posted a Tape Deck Tuesday. I was off for a while, then I was driving a different car, summer is like that. I hope you all are getting away from the computer and out of your regular routine a little too.

Today I grabbed Follow Our Trax: Volume Six. I have no idea where I got this from. It says “Promotion Only. Not for Sale” and it dates from 1991 so I’m guessing I got it from a friend who was a couple of years younger than me and getting these type of things in at a college radio station. One of those, hey check out these bands/artists we are trying to promote!, deals. It has this super long insert that unfolds several times and is printed on both sides with all kinds of positive marketing language (in a loopy scripted font) about the bands on the tape. It’s the sort of thing that makes you think about the people tasked with writing the copy. There’s a thankless job. I like to think they were trying to amuse themselves and see how close they could cut it to satire while still making the higher ups happy. Otherwise I’m not sure how you wind up with things like:

traxFrom the labs of Muzic Research in Germany to your audio system comes one of the most innovative forces in the realm of technologically driven song writing. The two common threads of all BiGod 20 tracks are strong lyrics and hard beats. “Carpe Diem” is the second single from their upcoming CD Steelworks. Given the amount of fans BiGod 20 gained on modern rock radio with “The Bog,” this single should establish them as the band ready for the future.

Uh, sure. It’s like trying to come up with something original to say when you’re on your 20th thank-you card after a baby shower. What can I say about this hooded ducky towel? It’s such a cheery yellow!

Anyway, here’s the line up.
Side A
Morrissey – Sing Your Life
Violent Femmes – American Music
The Mighty Lemon Drops – Unkind
Stress – Flowers In The Rain
The Farm – All Together Now
Bigod 20 – Carpe Diem
Merlin – The Approach
Bomb The Bass – Understand This
Betty Boo – Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)

Side B
Lush – Etheriel
Ride – In A Different Place
Chris Isaak – Don’t Make Me Dream About You
John Wesley Harding – The People’s Drug
Tanita Tikaram – Only The Ones We Love
BoDeans – Paradise
House Of Freaks – Rockin’ Chair
Molly & The Heymakers – Walking To Iran

That last track is pretty cringe-worthy. If I hadn’t been stuck in traffic and managed to listen to both sides on the way to work, I have to be honest, I wouldn’t have finished it off for the ride home. This compilation is a strange one and comes off as really dated. I don’t suppose that’s something you think about when you put one of these things out, as a record company, these are the latest hits (you hope). I just don’t think it does any of these songs any favors. I’m surprised I still have it.

Since this week marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, The Farm track seemed like an appropriate choice. Sadly, I don’t think there’s much of an All Together Now spirit these days.


Public Image Limited – Rise

I seem to have a little theme going here this week. Uprising. Rise. Yes, definitely a stand up kind of week. This week’s Tape Deck Tuesday is a tape called Listen ~ Sing, April, 1989. There is a banana sticker firmly stuck to the case that I’m sure I stuck there. The tape was made for me by a friend shortly before the end of my senior year, her sophomore year, of college. She’d made me a tape of songs that she loved that I didn’t have so I would be able to listen to them (and sing) once she was gone.

This friend had been in my dorm the previous year. It was an old house that had been turned into a dorm, all women, of course, there was no other option. It was on the edge of campus, which is why I had picked it, but the majority of freshman and sophomores in the house would have preferred somewhere more happening. I was also looking for space, and something beyond your standard issue cinderblock with non-opening windows. I had been all over campus and had zeroed in on this dorm and this one room. It was the largest double on campus and I wanted it. I needed more room for dancing, after all.

If I remember correctly, the house had two singles, two or three doubles, a couple of triples and two quads. That’s a giant room with two sets of bunk beds. This girl arrived as a freshman and was put into one of those quads with three other girls who couldn’t have been more different from her. My roommate had been a total lucky lottery pick, just a junior like me who didn’t have a preference so they put us together. It turned out she didn’t have much in the way of preferences for any of the things that mattered to me. She liked to study with some background noise but didn’t care what it was so I could play my music pretty much any time I wanted. She didn’t have a lot of stuff so I could hang my posters any place I liked. Consequently this freshman saw and heard that I might be sympathetic to her situation and she ended up hanging around with me a lot.

The following year she brought a car back to campus with her. A car meant road trips and that called for tunes for the ride. She was a big fan of bands on the 4AD label, in some cases just because they were on that label. There are a bunch of those on this tape, a couple of her cult favorites (not The Cult though), and then some more of your usual college radio bands. PiL falls into that latter category.

Listen~Sing, April 1989
Side A – Listen
Persephone – Cocteau Twins
Muscoviet Mosquito – Clan of Xymox
Cut the Tree – Wolfgang Press
Fish – Throwing Muses
Birthday – Sugarcubes
Land of the Glass Pinecones – Human Sexual Response
Privilege (Set Me Free) – Patti Smith Group
Lucretia (My Reflection) – Sisters of Mercy
Unforgettable Fire – U2
Crushed – Cocteau Twins
Frontier – Dead Can Dance

Side B – Sing
This Corrosion – Sisters of Mercy
Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor
Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
Caribou – Pixies
Jackie Onassis – Human Sexual Response
FFF/Rise – PiL
I’ve Been Tired – Pixies
Holiday – Salem 66
A New England – Billy Bragg

I had totally forgotten about Human Sexual Response. Completely. But when Land of the Glass Pinecones came on, I remembered. I liked the Jackie Onassis song in a campy way but Land of the Glass Pinecones was just a little too out there for me. Were they serious or not, I couldn’t really tell. This friend loved it. She used to sing along and really try to make that vibrato over the top just to annoy me. And This Corrosion by Sisters of Mercy is the classic song college DJs would put on when they needed to go to the bathroom, or run out to the other room to get more records, because it was so long.

My brother had been a Sex Pistols fan so I knew who Johnny Rotten/John Lydon was. Somehow though I had missed Public Image Ltd. in those years after he went off to college and we moved up to Maine. This video reminds me a lot of staying up late on Sunday nights to catch 120 Minutes on MTV. A bunch of these songs were aired on that program now that I think about it.

This is a fitting song for my mood lately. I am just as angry, if not more so than yesterday. So remember, “Anger is an energy.” Just make sure to funnel that anger into something productive. Get energized. It’s going to be a long haul.


Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

It’s finally summer, my favorite season. I’ve always loved summer best, especially when I was young and summer meant no school. As I got older and carefree summers turned into summer job summers, I still loved it because hanging out with your friends became so much easier. Suddenly everywhere was a potential party, instead of having to find some indoor spot.

As I raced out the door this morning I grabbed an old tape that I’d recorded in the summer between finishing high school and starting college. A friend and I found our way to a party that someone was having out on a field somewhere down by the water. When I think about these things now, I can only assume I told my mother I was going to someone’s house because you’d be crazy to let your kid go to a party down by the rocky shore in a pitch black field. Who really knows where we were. I’m sure I wouldn’t even have been able to find the spot again the next morning. It was not one of our usual spots. Our usual spots were the athletic fields that were not in use by the local college during the summer, or the blueberry fields. Only in Maine*.

The party was your usual BYOB (and bug spray) and just hang out. Someone had made a small fire. In addition to the people you would expect to see, there were two guys from England, someone’s cousin and his friend I think. We got talking to them and while one of them was trying to pick up my friend, the other guy and I were left to make small talk. Naturally, I asked what kind of music he liked. He replied, British bands. Well, that’s not much help. Granted, after two years of living in Maine my knowledge of British bands was not very robust but surely he could name names. I offered up the English Beat which he pooh-poohed immediately and said no, try this, and handed me a tape.

Side A: Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
Orgasm Addict
What Do I Get?
I Don’t Mind
Love You More
Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
Harmony in My Head
What Ever Happened To?
Oh Shit!
Noise Annoys
Just Lust
Why Can’t I Touch It?
Something’s Gone Wrong Again

Side B: The Stranglers – The Collection 1977–1982
(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
Hanging Around
No More Heroes
Walk On By
Something Better Change
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
Bear Cage
Who Wants the World?
Golden Brown
Strange Little Girl
La Folie

I took it home and copied it so I could give it back to him at the next party out in a field somewhere else later in the week. So thanks, random English dude with curly hair, for having a friend that dragged you along to a party in the Maine sticks. These are some truly classic songs and a foundation for many bands that would come after. It’s also a great testament to the whole culture of tapes. Having handy some music you could share with someone. Would you carry an LP to a party on a field? No, you would not. But a tape, definitely.

* These were just wild blueberries growing in some undeveloped land behind a new-ish group of houses. It’s not like we were partying amidst someone’s crops. Wild Maine blueberries are the best kind but no one was there to go berry picking.

Stop It

Pylon – Stop It

Hey! Kids! I’m in the crunch phase of a project at work and it’s the end of the school year, there’s a lot going on. Still, I did drive to work today and I did listen to a tape in the car so here we go. This Tape Deck Tuesday was just one of the cassettes where you wanted to have some albums on tape for the car or Walkman and not because you were creating some masterpiece.

Side A:
The Replacements
Let It Be/Stink

Side B:
The Replacements – Stink
Pylon – Gyrate

I’ve already written about Let It Be so I’m going with the Pylon track. Also because I just finished reading No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes, an oral history of City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. I was only at City Gardens once, to see Pylon in 1989. It was right before I graduated from college and I think now what lucky timing because if they had come through just a few days later, I would have left the area and missed the tour.

It’s no surprise that I first learned about Pylon because R.E.M. covered Crazy and talked about them a lot back in the mid-80s. I love that song. I had to know more. I can’t remember if I bought Gyrate or Chomp first but I have them both still, complete with the DB Records order form inside to order more great stuff! No matter which album I had first, I became a devoted fan. Some of the songs are just fun. “Precaution” comes to mind. Or “Read a Book.” You should see the way my kids look at me when I sing “Turn off the tv! You can learn more try to do without it.” Others are bit more nuanced, even if Vanessa is kind of shouting the lyrics as much as she is singing. Some of my favorite song lyrics are Pylon lyrics.

Speaking of books again, I really enjoyed the City Gardens book. If you had never been there, or weren’t aware of its legendary status, I’m not sure it has a lot of appeal. There are recollections of shows from band members who performed there as well as staff and club regulars. Since I was only there the one time, I didn’t really have much knowledge of the scene back then but I liked how each chapter/year began with a list of that year’s top 10 hits. Nothing could have been further from those top 10 than the stories that follow the listing. I’m not even a fan of most of the hardcore bands that are featured but I can appreciate how City Gardens was an oasis for kids in the area.

1989 was a period of time when Pylon was active in their on again/off again way. They had yet to put out Chain but a CD had been released that was a selection of songs from their two early albums. I loved the show. It was a small crowd, which always hurts a little, but on the other hand, I had plenty of room for dancing. Now rock & roll now!

My show may not have made the cut for inclusion in the book but I’m very glad that City Gardens existed and that I got to see Pylon there. I still have the t-shirt I bought that night and I consider it to be one of my most prized possessions. Sorry to say I have no idea if Jon Stewart was working the bar back then.




The Smiths – Ask

Let’s stay in Manchester a while, shall we? A few weeks ago I listened to a tape from my senior year of college that was titled “Anguish, Fear, Lamenting.” That one was a thinly veiled account of my frustrations with my lack of progress with a certain guy. Long time readers might have thought to themselves, wow, no Smiths on that tape? That’s a surprise.

Well, that’s because only a month earlier I had made the tape I listened to today. The title should tell you all you need to know. “Does the Body Rule the Mind or Does the Mind Rule the Body, I Dunno!” Subtitled “Morrissey’s Most Moaning Melodies.” I didn’t need any Smiths songs on that other tape because this one had 90 minutes worth, all trying to answer that question.

Body Rules the Mind (Side A)
This Charming Man
‪Handsome Devil‬
‪Hand in Glove‬
‪The Boy With the Thorn in His Side‬
‪Stretch Out and Wait‬
‪There Is a Light That Never Goes Out‬
‪Reel Around the Fountain‬
‪Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want‬
‪Oscillate Wildly‬
‪Well I Wonder‬
‪Half a Person‬
‪Suedehead ‬

Mind Rules the Body (Side B)
‪I Want the One I Can’t Have‬
‪Girl Afraid‬
These Things Take Time
‪You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby‬
Miserable Lie‬
‪Still Ill
‪Back to the Old House‬
‪Accept Yourself‬
‪How Soon Is Now?‬
‪I Know It’s Over‬
‪What Difference Does It Make?‬

I contemplated writing this entire post just stringing together lyrics from these songs to tell the story but I don’t have that kind of time and the songs tell it all themselves anyway. So I made a YouTube playlist this time since these songs are all readily available, unlike some of the other old tapes.

Tomorrow should be #WhereILivedWednesday so I’m borrowing another song from this tape to help out. Stay tuned!

She Bangs the Drums

The Stone Roses – She Bangs the Drums

I’m reading Peter Hook’s The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club and I’m up to 1993. In addition to recording how horribly mismanaged the club was, especially financially, from its very inception, it’s full of tales of the Madchester scene.

The movie 24 Hour Party People covered some of this, and how much of that film or Hooky’s account of events can be really accurate is something he even acknowledges in the beginning of the book. With the kind of rampant drug use depicted in both and the intervening years blurring memories, I’m sure there are holes in some of these stories. Still, I believe it was a wild time and that crazy things were going on in Manchester back then.

For Tape Deck Tuesday I decided to pop in my Stone Roses Fools Gold cassingle. Do you remember the cassingle? It seems like such a joke of a format. This one was even some kind of maxi cassingle because it was the cassette version of a double A side. Both sides of the cassette were the same, the full version of Fools Gold, followed by What the World is Waiting For, then the short version of Fools Gold. Even though I bought the thing, this seemed stupid to me. So I pulled the old, piece of tape over the little hole on the top, move and recorded a bunch of other Stone Roses songs over the short Fools Gold and all of side B. Blasphemy? It’s a cassingle, how much worse can it get?

Fools Gold

I used this tape for the first test of the tape deck, because cassingle.

Side A
Fools Gold
What the World is Waiting For
She Bangs the Drums

Side B
Elephant Stone
Shoot You Down
This Is The One

There’s the visual from Instagram for you.

I liked the Stone Roses and the Charlatans (UK) but I didn’t get into the whole scene. Maybe you needed to be on ecstasy to really appreciate them all but that wasn’t my thing. I rather liked being in control and I never really saw the appeal. I remember going to a Grateful Dead concert with a bunch of friends in high school and one guy in our group became truly green (I’d never seen a person actually turn green before) and passed out. These were some pretty hard partying kids but they were usually drinking beer and smoking pot and he had taken god only knows what. He was a big guy too, fell like a tree being chopped down. If he couldn’t handle that, little old me, who didn’t even smoke cigarettes, had better not take any risks. I wasn’t a total goody-two-shoes but I didn’t see the need to lose myself either.

I used to think I would really have loved to have been able to go to the Haçienda. Now I know that I would have been happy to have been there during the early days when it was a split of dance nights and live bands, and I probably would only have gone on the band nights, but I’d leave the ecstasy-fueled raves to others. The music is enough of a high for me.

Teen Love

No Trend – Teen Love

This morning got off to a rough start, chalk it up to having had Monday off I guess. Just enough time to get yourself a little bit out of the daily routine to leave us scrambling to get out the door. Consequently I forgot my breakfast, which I usually bring along in the car because I don’t have time to eat it before I leave.

I was annoyed with myself for not having my breakfast and looked through the seven or eight tapes I had in the car to choose one for Tape Deck Tuesday. Which is how I came to decide that today was the day for ON THE FRINGE OF THE FRINGE (Assorted new music) Vol. 1.

This tape was given to me by a guy named Fred who was a graduate student when I was an undergrad in college. I can’t remember what year it was but probably 1986-87. My on-campus job in the costume shop at the theater meant that I got to know just about everyone at the school who didn’t fit the dominant big hair/mullet, sorority/fraternity paradigm, simply because that was the only welcoming spot. Fred wasn’t one of the regulars but he was around often enough at one point to have heard the music I was playing when I was the one working in the shop. He suggested I might be interested in some harder stuff and he’d bring me some tapes.

I assumed he’d bring in some of his tapes for me to listen to during whatever show was being performed, or he’d let me borrow some for the length of the run. Instead he gave me two tapes, ON THE FRINGE OF THE FRINGE (Assorted new music) Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. He may have had these mixes at home already or he may have made them just for me, I wasn’t really sure. He was very nonchalant about it so I took them to be tapes he really didn’t need cluttering up his car anymore. The insert was typed, on a typewriter, which is an impressive level of detail, or an admission of horrible handwriting, either one. I’m typing it up the same way it appears on the tape for authenticity.

I’m sure I dutifully listened to these two tapes a handful of times so I could feel like I could talk about them if Fred came around and not sound stupid but my overall feeling was, if this is the fringe of fringe, I’m pretty sure the actual fringe is not my cup of tea. I had heard of some of the bands and maybe one or two songs were something I’d heard on one of the other college radio stations’ hardcore shows but mostly this was unfamiliar territory.

Side A
The Light, the Sound…
The Old Woman…
Sex Bomb
Mt. King/Louie Louie
Thing With a Hook
Diddy Wah Diddy
Love Split With Blood
Lightning’s Girl
Lazy in Love
Seele Brennt
Halber Mensch

Side B
Life Without Adjec.
Georgie Girl
Eye of the Chicken
Creep in the Cellar
American Woman
Red Alert/Orphans
The Closet
Burning Rubber
Crown of Thorns
Red Alert
Teen Love
Your Love
Karma Nights

Ironically, the box is checked off for noise reduction. I’ve kept these tapes all these years mostly because I never get rid of music and I’ll admit that back in the day, I liked having something like this as part of my collection. I didn’t have Volume 2 in the car with me today but I think that’s the one with Hüsker Dü and Sonic Youth, among others, so I probably listened to that one more often. As for Volume 1, this No Trend song brought instant recognition when I heard it as I pulled into the parking lot at work. Timeless, really.

The Noise of Carpet

Stereolab – The Noise of Carpet

Another unmarked tape. This time it was in a soft plastic case with a small picture of Ralph Fiennes from the movie Strange Days taped onto the cover. I thought at first that it must have been a tape with the Strange Days soundtrack on one side but no. Chances are there’s another tape floating around with that on it and I just mixed up the boxes. After all, it hardly matters when there’s nothing written on the box.

I am pretty sure this tape comes from summer 1996 since a bunch of the songs were on albums released that year but it doesn’t have any songs from the Luscious Jackson release later that year so it only makes sense that I made this compilation before that came out.

1996 would put it at a time when I was living up in Maine, trying to save up money for my next move (which wound up being graduate school in Wales a year later). I worked at an insurance company, very boring work, and I didn’t have a lot in common with most of my co-workers. I had bought my first car to get back and forth to the job. It was the most bare bones model they had. It didn’t come with a stereo, not even an antenna, just holes for where the equipment could go if you paid for the upgrade. I figured a car company stereo was probably pretty shitty anyway and I would just go to a local car stereo store and set myself up.

Well, I dropped a huge chunk of change on the stereo at the local place. I got a six-CD changer installed in the trunk, which was controlled by the unit in the car that had a tape deck as well, and a detachable faceplate. This was the height of sophistication in car stereos at the time. I really liked the detachable faceplate feature because I tried to go down to New York, Philadelphia, and DC as often as possible to visit friends and go to shows. So popping off the faceplate made my otherwise very basic car look like it had already been stripped down and not worth breaking into. At least that’s what I told myself and, whether the lack of a noticeable stereo had anything to do with it or not, my car was left alone.

The drive from where I lived in Maine to New York is at least six hours, more if you stop along the way or hit traffic. Usually I would load up the disc changer with six discs that would help kill all that time. However, once you get right down into the heavy traffic area, you can’t be fiddling with the stereo and I would have already burned through all six discs on the way down. I needed a tape that was fast paced to match that last stretch of the drive. I’ve found that the key to driving in cities is to drive as the locals do. This means it’s usually a lot faster and more aggressive than you might otherwise be comfortable doing. Add in unfamiliar territory, frequent lane switches, pothole-ridden pavement, construction detours, and that’s just on the BQE. I made this tape for just those kind of drives.

Side A
Wrong – Everything But the Girl
Shu Zulu Za – Poi Dog Pondering
City Song – Luscious Jackson
Spark Plug – Stereolab
The Noise of Carpet – Stereolab
Stutter – Elastica
Surprise – Luscious Jackson
Waking Up – Elastica
Diamonds and Buttermilk (Matt Warren remix) – Poi Dog Pondering
Big Deal – Everything But the Girl
Flipside – Everything But the Girl
The Chain – Poi Dog Pondering

Side B
Carnival – The Cardigans
Here – Luscious Jackson
Hard Sometimes (M-Theory remix) – Poi Dog Pondering
Before Today – Everything But the Girl
Percolator – Stereolab
Cybele’s Reverie – Stereolab
Wrong (Todd Terry remix edit) – Everything But the Girl
God’s Gallipoli (Arqueen remix) – Poi Dog Pondering
Platetectonic – Poi Dog Pondering
Complicated (Berlin remix) – Poi Dog Pondering
Rise and Shine – The Cardigans
Zap Disco (House-O-Magic mix) – Poi Dog Pondering

Model Worker

Magazine – Model Worker

I’m fighting off a cold so for this installment of Tape Deck Tuesday, I wanted something that would not tempt me to sing along. I picked up Urgh! A Music War, which I’m pretty sure was taped through some elaborate VCR to cassette arrangement by my best friend, back in the analog days.

She had a friend from high school who had a cousin (if I’m remembering this right) who was into cool music and he dressed really funky and was really good looking with curly hair that flopped in his eyes. He was the one who had maybe taped it off of tv or something, and she had borrowed it during the summer and taped it for me. It wouldn’t all fit on one 90 minute tape so she left off bands we already knew enough about, like the Go-Go’s and Joan Jett, in favor of the more obscure ones like Klaus Nomi and Invisible Sex. Accompanying the tape was a long letter with her impressions of the visuals that I would have to wait to see until a future date.

I know I did eventually see the movie because I remember seeing those performances by Klaus Nomi and Invisible Sex and thinking, what is going on here? Very unlike any concert experience I had had up to that point. Likewise Skafish doing “Sign of the Cross” and Pere Ubu. And the Cramps. I knew the Cramps because my older brother was a big fan but I’d only seen the album covers and I just remember watching the video and wondering how Lux Interior managed to keep his pants from coming completely off. Many of the clips are on YouTube now but not all of them. I really wanted to see “Sign of the Cross” again but no luck.

Here’s the track listing for the tape I have (the actual movie listing is here):

Side A
Wall of Voodoo – “Back in Flesh”
Toyah Willcox – “Dance”
John Cooper Clarke – “Health Fanatic”
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Enola Gay”
Chelsea – “I’m on Fire”
Oingo Boingo – “Ain’t This the Life”
Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Puppet”
XTC – “Respectable Street”
Klaus Nomi – “Total Eclipse”
Athletico Spizz 80 – “Clocks are Big; Machines are Heavy/Where’s Captain Kirk?”
Dead Kennedys – “Bleed for Me”
Steel Pulse – “Ku Klux Klan”
Magazine – “Model Worker”
Surf Punks – “My Beach”
The Members – “Offshore Banking Business”

Side B
Au Pairs – “Come Again”
The Cramps – “Tear It Up”
Invisible Sex – “Valium”
Pere Ubu – “Birdies”
Devo – “Uncontrollable Urge”
The Alley Cats – “Nothing Means Nothing Anymore”
John Otway – “Cheryl’s Going Home”
Gang of Four – “He’d Send in the Army”
999 – “Homicide”
The Fleshtones – “Shadowline”
X – “Beyond and Back”
Skafish – “Sign of the Cross”
UB40 – “Madame Medusa”
The Police – “Roxanne”

I’ve mentioned before how just being able to see a small sampling of what the music scene was like outside of the mainstream (in those couple of years before I was old enough to take part it in it myself), felt like putting the puzzle pieces together. I don’t think I listened to this tape all that often but I liked knowing what the bands both sounded and looked like. It definitely played a part in my overall music education and if you get a chance to see it, you should do it.


The Connells – Try

Oh, you are glad you were not with me in the car today for Tape Deck Tuesday. As is probably obvious, most of my tapes are from the 80s and early 90s. These are my high school, college, and early adult years. Highly angst-ridden times.

Today I pulled out a Maxell XLII 90-minute tape, created on 1/18/89 (after several days of deciding, rearranging, and adding up minutes, no doubt), which puts it at the very beginning of my final semester of college. The title is “Anguish, Fear, Lamenting”* so you already know you’re in trouble. I spent a great deal of time drifting from one of those emotions to the next. I had one semester left and I was hoping to get somewhere by the end of it. The guy I’d had my sights set on was the main source of frustration but life in general left a lot to be desired and none of it was matching up with my vision of where I was supposed to be, at 21 and nearly done with school.

Choosing this tape this morning, I knew it was full of songs about anguish, fear, and lamenting, but actually listening to the songs, in order, put me right back in that dorm room. As each song came on, I could immediately remember what it was about that song that earned it a place, and its particular place, in the mix. I was always very particular about the flow from one song to the next. From my much more objective position, 25 years later, there are a couple songs I would probably encourage my younger self to replace but that’s mostly because Sting doesn’t age well and In Your Eyes took on mythical proportions later that year when Say Anything hit movie theaters. I was first! I want credit for having it on my tape months before the movie came out and Lloyd Dobler set all of our hopes too high. But back then, the spot each song had was purposeful and as I listened in the car, I remembered exactly why for each one.

Side A – Anguish, Fear
Troy – Sinéad O’Connor
Scorpio Rising – 10,000 Maniacs
The One I Love – R.E.M
9–9 – R.E.M.
Altitude – Pylon
Be Still My Beating Heart – Sting
Red Rain – Peter Gabriel
Temptation – New Order
O My God – The Police
Crazy – Pylon

When you start a tape with Sinéad O’Connor’s Troy, that’s some seriously pissed off shit right there. It should be mentioned that this was a tape I meant to torture myself with and never give to someone else. I’m sure I never listened to it unless I was alone. Scorpio Rising picks up that angry mantle and gets in little digs at that guy. The version of The One I Love is a live version from an old bootleg, before it was released on a studio album, because it’s still really raw. If you heard this version first, there would have been no chance you would have mistaken this for a love song.

So we have our anguish off to a good start, then we start bringing in the fear with 9–9. Conversation fear. Check. Altitude. “I’ve been watching so long I’m afraid to move.” Yup, that would have been accurate. And on it goes, wrapping up the first side with the album version of Crazy, with the overdub of Vanessa singing “I’m not crazy” at the end. Had I not been driving, I’d likely have hurt myself trying to dance like 25 years hadn’t passed. What was I afraid of? That I would say the wrong thing. That I wasn’t cool enough. That things wouldn’t work out the way I wanted them to, or that they would. Honestly, I was pretty ill-equipped to deal with either one.

Side B – Lamenting
Does Everyone Stare – The Police
Androgynous – The Replacements
Scotty’s Lament – The Connells
That Voice Again – Peter Gabriel
Cotton Alley – 10,000 Maniacs
Maps and Legends (live at McCabe’s guitar shop) – R.E.M.
In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
Try – The Connells
I Will Dare – The Replacements
Age of Consent – New Order
Kiss Me on the Bus – The Replacements

Side B keeps the good times rolling with songs that seem practically tailor-made for me and this untouchable guy. Does Everyone Stare, Androgynous, Scotty’s Lament. Ha! Subtle as a brick. It’s really remarkable the power that music has to bring moments from the past into clear view. I’m certain I haven’t heard that Police song in decades but there I was, singing along, picturing events on my college campus like it was just last semester.

Some of these songs are so deeply entwined with my life in college that they don’t just bring back the memories, they bring the emotions back up too. Especially when they are stitched together in this way. Of course, that was the intention at the time. What’s that? You’re not a reeling mess yet? Ok, let’s see if this one will push you over the edge. I needed a cathartic release and sometimes the only way out was the hard way. “Nothing can hurt you, unless you want it to.” Part of me definitely wanted it to. 25 years later I’m not dialing those emotions up to 11 like I would have in college but singing along, alone in the car, I still felt a little red in the face here, faint butterflies in my stomach there.

I’d backed it off toward the end there, going for songs that had a hint of hope to them. I hadn’t totally given up, I was just, cautious. Wary. Life sucked, and it was maddening to always get thiiiiis close to my dreams. Maybe, just maybe that last semester would hold some surprises. A girl has to try, right?

*”Anguish, fear, lamenting” is a line from a 10,000 Maniacs song that’s really about nuclear war but at the time it seemed too good to pass up.