Welcome Gomez

DATE:

April 27, 1999

THE COVER:

IMG_7348

THE TRACKS:

SIDE A:

  • All Along the Watchtower – Dave Matthews Band
  • For All the Cows – Foo Fighters
  • Too Like You – Money Mark
  • Gepetto – Belly
  • Your Redneck Past – Ben Folds Fives
  • Tread Water – De La Soul
  • Pink Triangle – Weezer
  • Sale of the Century – Sleeper
  • Time Bomb – Rancid
  • (I Could Only) Whisper Your Name – Harry Connick Jr.
  • Happy – Travis
  • Denise – Fountains of Wayne
  • On and On – Longpigs

SIDE B:

  1. 108 Battles (Of the Mind) – Kula Shaker
  2. Hoodoo Voodoo – Wilco
  3. Super Rad – The Aqua Bats
  4. 78 Stone Wobble – Gomez
  5. Acid Jed – Letters to Cleo
  6. Recently – Dave Matthews Band
  7. Waterfall – The Stone Roses
  8. Army – Ben Folds Five
  9. M.O.R. – Blur
  10. I Go Blind – Hottie and the Blowfish
  11. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
  12. Cadillac Boogie – The Mighty Blue Kings
  13. Let It Be – The Beatles
  14. Travellers Tune – Ocean Colour Scene

THE LINER NOTES:

There was a major turning point in my life in the spring of 1999.  But it feels like it’s taking forever to get there.

When I started this blog, I thought I’d reach this point in my (partial) life story far sooner, especially when I realized that my earlier mix tapes only started from the year prior. And looking back, it didn’t feel like it took that long in real life to get to that turning point. I didn’t feel like I had been living in Boston for very long before getting a call from an old college friend telling me he was going to make a movie and he wanted me to be in it. But a year is, in fact, a long time. Nine mixtapes worth of time.

The movie was an idea that a few of us had tossed around back while I was still living in Los Angeles. It was an idea that I had completely forgotten about until Jason gave me a call. He had written it, secured money and a crew and was going to be filming in May. It was a road trip movie, and we’d be traveling from Los Angeles to Boston, crashing with friends and relatives, and filming along the way. Without even trying, I was going to be in a movie.

I had been working full-time at Fidelity and part time in the evenings at the novelty gift store to build up my funds for the trip and for rent while I was away. I had also been working to build up some sort of solid relationship with the on-again-off-again long distance love of my life. Of course, long distance relationships do not work, but Melissa and I were trying anyway. In early ’99 I was able to make  a trip to Maryland  to see if things could be rekindled. And to me, when we were together, it was as if we had never been apart. To her… it was as if we had never been apart.

While I was yearning for the familiar, it was that sameness that was pushing her away.

Still, a few weeks after my visit, she came to Boston. It was another weekend of the well known, but with some hints of newness peeking through. We talked about my month away and tried to convince ourselves that this separation was going to be great for us. It was going to be impossible to stay in touch. After all, it was still only 1999 and cell phones only had a reach of about eight feet. And I didn’t have one. So come May, it would be as if we didn’t exist in each other’s lives. In theory, we’d be able to come back to each other with something new– a month’s worth of experiences we didn’t share together. We arranged for her to come back to Boston in June. I wasn’t sure how I could make it that long without hearing her voice, but I knew it would be worth it.

I was having a hard time letting go.

THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX:

And with Welcome Gomez, I was having a hard time letting go. This tape is song after song of the familiar. Sure, there’s one band hinting towards something new (Gomez), but everything else has been in my life since high school or through college.

And in a lot of ways, it all feels really good. The entire second half of Side A lights me up every single time I hear it. It starts with the happy-go-lucky positivity of De La Soul’s “Tread Water.” With it’s animal parables and sing-song rhymes, this track can turn any frown around.

“Sale of the Century” also shines through here. Sleeper is my favorite female-fronted Britpop band, and this song is a good representation of why. I’ll love anything with a jump-along chorus.

This side closes out with two more sunny tunes– Travis’ appropriately titled “Happy”– and “Denise” by Fountains of Wayne. I love Utopia Parkway, Fountain of Wayne’s second full-length, and it’s saying something to tell you “Denise” is not even the album’s best track. This is power pop glory and it will do nothing but make you feel good.

So it’s interesting that after all that familiar sunshine, I end Side A with a bit of a downer track– Longpigs’ “On and On.” It’s a more appropriate song than I knew at the time. The sentiment sounds simple: “My love for you goes on and on.” But it’s so much darker than that. The protagonist knows he shouldn’t be clinging to this love. He wishes he could leave her. He wishes she would leave him. But instead, it goes on and on and on and on.

Positive, sunny happiness, followed by a love that continues to drag on. Thankfully, Side B isn’t so on the nose.

PLEASED TO MEET YOU:

Because I’m sticking with the familiar, there’s once again no “new-to-me” band to include here. Gomez is the closet thing, but we’ve already said hi to them. So instead I’ll highlight Ocean Colour Scene. This is another Britpop era band that my Oasis fandom introduced me to. They don’t get much respect, but their first few albums are great, including a collection of B-Sides that I absolutely love. They’re not edgy, they’re not breaking new ground, they’re not cussing and fighting with other bands. They’re writing some solid songs. “Travellers Tune” is all about getting out there and finding new places and different worlds. So the music continues to push me along.

WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:

There are a few “Wait. What? Why?” moments on this mix. The inclusion of a Hootie and the Blowfish track may stand out as one to you, but I quite enjoy those first two albums. (And “I Go Blind” is from the Friends soundtrack!) No, the real misstep with this tape is the opening track– Dave Matthews Band’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower.” Ugh. The slow build opening makes this version sound too pretentious and self-important, like the band is doing you a favor by covering it. And perhaps this is a track that absolutely kills live, when the one-time experience of squeaky (skwanky?) sax solos can be short-lived, but here, with repeated plays, it’s no reason to get excited.

THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:

“Waterfall” by The Stone Roses is ethereal. It floats. And I have a Pavlovian reaction to it every time I hear the bass line join the shimmering opening guitar. I float. I physically lighten when I hear this song. Whatever worry or stress that’s in my life disappears and what remains is this song.

Only this song.

And here’s the mix (minus De La and those pesky Beatles)

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