April 21, 1999
- Room at the Top – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- High and Dry – Radiohead
- The 11th Hour – Rancid
- Garden of Delight – Lisa Loeb
- State of Love and Trust – Pearl Jam
- Sugar Spun Sister – The Stone Roses
- Basket Case – Green Day
- Alright – Supergrass
- Bright Yellow Gun – Throwing Muses
- Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel
- Destiny Calling – James
- But Anyway – Blues Traveler
- Free to Run – Gomez
- Too Like You – Money Mark
- To Be a Millionaire – Spacehog
- Weird – Sebadoh
- Now They’ll Sleep – Belly
- Uh-Huh Oh-Yeh – Paul Weller
- No One Else – Weezer
- Piggy – Nine Inch Nails
- Mess – Ben Fold’s Five
- Sleep on the Left Side – Cornershop
- Debaser – Pixies
- I’m Always in Love – Wilco
- Very Ape – Nirvana
- Solace of You – Living Colour
- Jubilee – Blur
- One Sweet World – Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
- Elvis – Longpigs
- Everything’s Ruined – Fountains of Wayne.
THE LINER NOTES:
It’s hard to remember now, but there used to be a time where I would get up in the morning (or late morning) (or afternoon) and have absolutely nothing to do. No where to go. No one to see. No plan. No agenda.
These were great days.
They were especially great in the Boston springtime. The air was fresh, the flowers blooming and everything was beautiful. Even Allston. If I bothered to leave my apartment, I would take the Green Line into the city, getting off at Fenway or Kenmore. I would have my headphones on, of course, and the tunes would soundtrack my walk. I’d pop into the record shops, scrounging for bootlegs or imports. I’d hit Angora Cafe for a frozen yogurt blended with banana and Oreos. I’d find my way to Newbury Pizza for a slice or two. Tower Records was great for their listening stations, and if I heard something I liked, I’d head to Newbury Comics to buy it cheap. I’d eventually find myself at the Public Gardens, watching the Swan Boats and writing or drawing in an ever-present notebook.
The Red Line would take me to Harvard Square for the record shops and pizza places across the Charles. And for the people watching and music listening. As my mixtape progressed from track to track, my surroundings and actions kept changing. And more often than not, the moment and the melody would be in perfect synchronization. And that’s why I would wander on these aimless days– for those perfectly soundtracked moments. When they hit, it was euphoric. I can’t really explain why. Perhaps it gave me the feeling my life was a movie and worth watching. I mean, I would often say and do things for the simple enjoyment of the non-existent viewers at home, so this soundtrack was likely just an extension of that.
But whatever the reason, I miss those nothing-to-do days. I miss having that kind of time.
Whether I was feeling crappy or not.
THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:
First– there’s no Oasis.
Second– it’s not a great mixtape. Probably because there’s no Oasis.
I remember making this one. I wasn’t sick, I was down. I can’t recall why exactly, but I was a sad sack. It’s likely something was going on with Melissa and I. We had sort of kind of started trying to maybe get back together. I can’t pinpoint the dates, but I spent a long weekend in Maryland rekindling. And she visited me in Boston and I’m sure there were plenty of phone calls in between. And maybe she didn’t return a message or something. She was, after all, the love of my life and not getting a call back from her within minutes of me leaving a message would be devastating. DEVASTATING!
So for that reason, or something close to it, I was feeling crappy. And on a day with absolutely nothing to do, I put this mix together. I remember deciding to pick tracks I hadn’t used before, or at least hadn’t overused. And I think I was also skewing towards sad and bitter tunes, consciously or not.
Perhaps that’s why things open with the melancholy lines “I’ve got a room at the top of the room tonight/I can see everything tonight/I got a room where everyone/Can have a drink and forget those things that went wrong/In their life.”
Radiohead’s “High and Dry” doesn’t exactly brighten up the party either.
But depression doesn’t become the theme of the tape, just a little something that pops up here and there. Which is too bad. This collection of songs needs a theme– there needs to be a bigger purpose. A mixtape needs something to drive it. One can’t always be aimlessly walking along the cobblestone. Here, there’s no connectivity from song to song, something I think I’ve been better about doing since the earliest mixes. Instead of trying to transition from track to track in some meaningful way, I was just plopping one song next to the other.
“Destiny Calling” is one of my favorite James songs. And “But Anyway” is classic Blues Traveler. But they really have no reason to be played next to each other. Except now, in video form, because I’m writing about them.
Reading through the tracks again, there’s really not a terrible song here. So it’s strange that putting them together on a mix is so unsuccessful. This is probably the tape I’ve listened to the least out of all 30+ I have in front of me. It’s a sloppy mix, too. Songs go on a bit too long, so there’s a half-a-second blast of another song heard before the next track plays. Or the endings get cut off early, jarring you out of any sense of enjoyment.
At least I end the tape appropriately: “Everything’s Ruined.”
PLEASED TO MEET YOU:
Since there are no new-to-me bands appearing on this mix, I’m going to highlight the first appearance of Spacehog on one of these tapes. I first “met” Spacehog in the wake of discovering Oasis. I was taking in all things British and their debut Resident Alien hit my radar. “In the Meantime” is their most popular track, but I’ve always loved “To Be A Millionaire” more. It’s a short and simple song, but pretty powerful. For all its jaunty, acoustic guitars, it’s a sad little track with this straightforward message: “Be happy where you are, or as lonely as a star.” It’s a gem of a tune from a band people either laugh off or don’t remember.
WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:
As this whole tape is kind of problematic, there’s no song that stands out as a misstep. But I’m thinking maybe Lisa Loeb might have jumped out at you as you scanned that track list. That’s no mistake. I enjoy me some Lisa Loeb. And not in a “guilty pleasure” sort of way. It’s just pleasure.
THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:
Yeah, and there’s Billy Joel on this mix, too. Sure, my collection skews indie rock, but there’s no denying the power of Billy Joel. This song may be ubiquitous, but that doesn’t change the fact that you love it. I mean, come on– you love it!
Play all the tracks with the Spotify link below!