Trick Candles


August, 1999




I pushed this mix into the tape deck of my car and it picked up in the exact spot it left off the last time I listened to it. The middle, rousing, drum-thumping part of “Knot In It” by Buffalo Tom blasted through the speakers. This is a classic (for me) from that era– 1999. Check out some of that thumping around 1:41 into the track:

This song has come up a couple times on the previous mixes, but not to the point of overkill. So as I started listening to Trick Candles, I was hopeful for a fresher collection of tunes. But then Gomez came next. Followed by “Super Rad” and “Tree.” And I started thinking I was once again going to be looping through the same old tunes I’ve been rearranging for five or six tapes now. “Tree” especially stuck out. I kept adding this song to mixes at this time as a glimmer of faint hope that perhaps, someday, maybe, things would come back around with Melissa.

“See how we’ve taken all this sweet time to decide/Watered that tree, watched it grow another 50 feet high/Together, shared and strong, step right in/Forever is not that long, let’s begin”

It’s a beautiful song that I know I thought about sending to her on a weekly basis. So there I was, still holding on to the past, and this portion of the tape clearly represents that. Melissa lingered. Even Kirsten lingered. Yes, only in my mind, but they were there.

I was slow to move forward with any great strides. But then again, like this mixtape, I was trying to. I actually went on a few “dates,” as they were called back then.

There was one very uncomfortable double date to a Beastie Boys themed laser show. It did not end with a kiss.

There was also my favorite date of all time. We dined in the North End and then happened upon a rollicking street carnival. I won her a stuffed bear. We then happened upon a free, outdoor Aimee Mann concert. And it ended with a rain-soaked, movie-ending makeout in the park.

Our second date was less eventful– we discussed the time she had fleas. There was no third date.

So like life, this tape turned out to be more than the same old songs from my past. And a few of these new tracks are from bands that would become some of my favorites of all time. Like that North End date.

And the Friday nights out after work where I could hang out with Daniele.

I’ve hinted to Daniele before. Let’s talk about her again now, because it’s around this time that I wanted nothing more than to be with her all the time.

You may recall, I called her “trouble” in this post. That’s because she was a coworker, and if television and movies and the legal system have taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t get involved with someone you work with. I honestly felt I should uphold some sort of ethical, moral code and not persue her, even though it became very clear she was open to such an idea. To make things more complicated, after a little bit of time, I became her supervisor. So instead of hooking up, we hung out. A lot. At work, we would eat lunch together, take breaks together and find each other during down times. And flirt. After work, we would walk out together, make evening plans and bar hop. And flirt. Tim and I would throw parties as often as we could afford excess alcohol, often just so I could invite her and hang out some more.

I liked her. A lot. And I was torturing myself with all the time we spent together, knowing I was not going to allow myself to go any further. We were coworkers. It wouldn’t be right.



  • “Center of the Universe” – Built to Spill
  • “Birthday” – The Beatles
  • “Super Bon Bon” – Soul Coughing
  • “Wired On” – Echobelly
  • “Knot In It” – Buffalo Tom
  • “Rhythm and Blues Alibi (Pre-Mellotron Version)” – Gomez
  • “Super Rad” – The Aquabats
  • “Tree” – Sebadoh
  • “Call Me” – Throwing Muses
  • “Melanie Davis” – Supergrass
  • “Cold Brains” – Beck
  • “Here Comes the Breeze” – Gomez
  • “Maybe I’m Dead” – Money Mark
  • “Statuesque” – Sleeper
  • “Bloodclot” – Rancid
  • “You Mama You” – Jude


  • “It’s Your Thing” – The Isley Brothers
  • “Low Light” – Pearl Jam
  • “Good Enough” – Dodgy
  • “Hat and Feet” – Fountains of Wayne
  • “Hangover” – Gomez
  • “He’s Stayin'” – Letters to Cleo
  • “Headaches” – Longpigs
  • “Army” – Ben Folds Five
  • “I Can’t Sleep” – The La’s
  • “This Lonely Place” – Goldfinger
  • “Like You” – Kristen Hersh
  • “Driftwood” – Travis
  • “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” – Wilco
  • “Everyone Says that You’re So Fragile” – Idlewild
  • “Rosalita” – Gomez
  • “Goodbye Little World” – Remy Zero
  • “Do the Devil” – The Amazing Royal Crowns

Trick Candles is an appropriate title for this mixtape. Not only did it initially trick me into thinking it would be a same old, same old tape, it also came packed in a Travis wrapper. And I was really looking forward to writing about some Travis. But after this initial confusion, the tape comes off as very solid.

It opens superbly (see “Please to Meet You” below) and is loaded with fresh surprises. It’s fun to hear The Beatles’ “Birthday” randomly thrown in here– you know, on a non-birthday related mix. And “Low Light” is also a nice inclusion. It’s not exactly the first song (or third, or twelfth, or twenty-second) you’d think of from Pearl Jam, but it’s a heartfelt little ditty. There’s also a couple of great, early tracks from Throwing Muses and Letters to Cleo. Here they are in YouTube form.

I’m still riding the Gomez wave, which is interesting to look back on. Around this time, there were two newish bands that really grabbed me– Gomez and Travis. Thanks to Newbury Comics’ import section, I was able to find and buy all the singles and B-sides available from both groups. (As well as some other bands: Supergrass and Longpigs both have B-Sides representin’ here!) Gomez had a nontraditional, three-singer/songwriter brand of ganja-fueled, indie acoustic DIY bluesy Britpop. Travis was a sincere four-piece with chops.

Looking back now, Gomez stood out. Travis stood the test of time.


Built to Spill had released three albums before Keep It Like a Secret. And I can’t remember how I heard of the band or this album. I may have heard them on the radio. It might have been a listening station at Tower Records. I might have just found the album in the racks and been curious based on the cover and great album title. Whatever the reason, the album found its way into my CD player, and shortly thereafter, so did their first three albums. And all subsequent.

“Center of the Universe” is not your typical Built to Spill track. It’s short, straightforward and poppy. It’s also damn near perfect.


In a very short time, “You Mama You” has worn out it’s welcome.


“Center of the Universe” almost took this title. Even now as I’m typing this, I’m wavering. It’s such a a great song.

But to convince myself of my choice, I just need to listen to “Goodbye Little World” again. This is one of those songs that is a perfect combination of lyrics and music. It’s a story song set to a perfectly matched tune. You get lost in the world being sung about, as if you lived it, because, really, you have. We’ve all had our perfect little worlds, the kind that can’t last forever. I was living in such a place in Boston in 1999. And it’s that connection to this beautiful song that gives it the Super Ultra Mega distinction. Thank you for recording it, Remy Zero.

And now… Spotify!:


One thought on “Trick Candles

  1. Pingback: Life In Rain | Super Ultra Mega Mix

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