THE LINER NOTES:
My 25th birthday party was a hell of a good time– the minor details of which I will never be able to fully recall. But there are a few big things that happened at this party that I will never forget.
During our time living together, Tim and I hosted a lot of parties. Now 15 years removed from that era, the memories of these all-nighters have blended together. I don’t remember exactly which party coincided with the snooty wine-and-cheese gathering the girls across the hall were having. I don’t remember which party included the never-ending supply of Jell-O shots. And I don’t remember which party had Max waking up around the corner in somebody’s bushes.
It may have been this party. It was probably this party.
Still, there are a few things I do remember about turning 25. Tim and I had started drinking around 1pm. The party was scheduled to start at 8pm. The first guests arrived around 7:30pm, they were initially uninvited, and they all crawled in through my bedroom window.
An hour or two into our pre-party binge, we got a call from Jason. The same Jason who had written and directed the road trip movie and had left town in August to head back to L.A. And now he was back in Boston. He was working for some newfangled, high-tech Internet travel series (or some such) and would be heading out of town again the very next day (or some such). Of course, he was immediately invited to our shindig, but he hesitated because there were a couple other people he wanted to see that night. We solved his conundrum by inviting any and all of the folks he wanted to hang with to our party. And they all accepted. So at 7:30pm, through my bedroom window came Jason, Elissa, Carrie and a couple of other guys that are unimportant to this retelling. This was my third time seeing Carrie. My first time since she blew off a previous invitation to one of our soirees. As much as I wasn’t planning on seeing Jason, I had absolutely zero expectation of ever seeing Carrie in my lifetime again.
The details of what happened over the next couple of hours elude me. I was, after all, very, very drunk by this point. But since Carrie was early, I had some free time to flirt and fraternize. Then, as the other guests started arriving, a complication arose. Daniele was now there.
With the expected guests and the unexpected guests and the who-are-you-exactly? guests, this was turning out to be a pretty full night. I was bouncing around from group to group, buzzed and on fire. There was a lot of laughter and inappropriateness. And then at some point in the evening, my brother called to wish me well. I cleared out my packed-to-the-rafters bedroom to hear him better. When the call was over, I realized I wasn’t alone. (Or it’s possible I purposely kicked everyone out except this person. No one seems to remember for sure.) It was Carrie. Instead of heading back out into the party, I did what any man would do in a situation like this. I pulled out the Labyrinth game I’ve had since the sixth grade.
With the kind of adorable charm I only have after 12 beers, I playfully bet Carrie I could traverse the entire course in one turn, and that if I did, she would owe me a kiss. We shook on it and I made my attempt. By this point in the evening, I was blitzed and blurry. But this is a game I’ve had and played since I was 11.
I beat it on my first try.
And she kissed me.
“There we were, now here we are/All this confusion, nothing’s the same to me”
We stayed in my room for a few minutes, pushing the wooden maze out of the way to make room for some making out. It ended too quickly as the crowd needed to spill into the space. And ten minutes later she was gone, pulled home by her roommate and their fear of missing a train back to The North End.
I was feeling good, and the party was still going strong. And now Daniele was backing me into private quarters. I don’t know if it happened immediately after Carrie left, but at some point that night, Daniele and I found ourselves alone together, continuing our hands-off flirtation I had resigned myself to as coworkers. Except this time, she didn’t keep her hands off. She made her move so perfectly. Alone on a bed, sweet talking, head tilted ever so perfectly, leaning forward ever so slowly, saying something ever so innocuous while still being surprisingly sensual.
And then she kissed me. And we kissed. And I was lost in that for a while.
But whoa! Hey! Wait a second. Snap out of it. Yes, Daniele was gorgeous. Yes, she was into me. Yes, she tasted like melting. But this was someone I worked with. And for whatever stupid reason, I was refusing to let myself get involved with someone I worked with. So I dialed it back. I sweet talked, but I brought it back around to neutral. I liked Daniele. She made my job worth showing up for. I didn’t want to complicate things with kissing and groping and all the dirty bedsheets such activities generally lead to. And within a few minutes I felt like I had successfully talked us both down from the ledge. The kissing was a moment that had to happen, that we had to get out of the way so we could continue to be friends and work together. And she agreed.
The party raged on into the early hours. I didn’t want it to end. I had made out with two women that night, leaving one wanting more and convincing the other it was just a one-off gig.
I was the champion of 25!
THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:
- “Columbia (white label demo)” – Oasis
- “Sweet Potato” – Cracker
- “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” – Ben Folds Five
- “The Line is Fine” – Travis
- “Giving It All Up For Love” – Huey Lewis and the News
- “I Think I’m Paranoid” – Garbage
- “Whippin’ Piccadilly” – Gomez
- “Lock, Step & Gone” – Rancid
- “Soul Driver” – Ocean Colour Scene
- “Fool’s Gold” – The Stone Roses
- “Buddy Holly” – Weezer
- “Shimmer” – Throwing Muses
- “Brimful of Asha” – Cornershop
- “When I Come Around” – Green Day
- (portion of “Wibbling Rivalry”)
- “The Stone” – Dave Matthews Band
- “Song 2” – Blur
- “The Magic Number” – De La Soul
- “Glorified G” – Pear Jam
- “Every Single Day” – Dodgy
- “What I Got” – Sublime
- “Got My Own Thing Now” – Squirrel Nut Zippers
- “Pick a Part That’s New” – Stereophonics
- “Slow Dog” – Belly
- “Electioneering” – Radiohead
- “This is a Call” – Foo Fighters
- “Waiting For Somebody” – Paul Westerberg
- “I Got Time” – Letters to Cleo
- “Elvis” – Longpigs
- “Kitty” – The Presidents of the United States of America
- “Cheapskate” – Supergrass
- (portion of “Wibbling Rivalry”)
Like my birthday, this tape is good… and even better when I’m drunk.
The mix opens as all my mornings should begin, with Oasis’ “Columbia” demo. The album version of this track is great, but there’s a sparseness and simplicity to this demo that makes me prefer it. It’s raw. It’s desperate. It’s rock.
And Oasis is an obvious choice for kicking off this all-star birthday mixtape. They were, after all, my favorite band at the time. But surprisingly, this tape didn’t turn out to be the “best of” collection I remember making. Yes, there are a number of all time favorites Me at any age can enjoy– “Buddy Holly,” “Whippin’ Piccadilly,” “The Magic Number,” “When I Come Around,” “Fool’s Gold”– but a lot of these tracks are either more recent discoveries or deeper cuts from favorite artists.
“Giving It All Up For Love” is a perfect example.
When one thinks of Huey Lewis and the News, one rarely thinks of this cover song from Picture This. And when I say “rarely” I mean “absolutely never.” Which is part of the reason why I love it here. It’s unpopularity always makes it sound brand new.
It seems I took this angle for several other of my favorite bands on this “anniversary” tape. Pearl Jam is represented with “Glorified G.” Radiohead gets “Electioneering” instead of “Just” or “Karma Police.” And instead of “Bright Yellow Gun,” we get Throwing Muses rocking out with “Shimmer.”
So the tape doesn’t really live up to its moniker. It’s not as “all-star” of a tape as I would expect from that era. And there’s no Wilco, which a glaring omission for a tape with such a title. But that aside, this collection of songs flows together well. It really is a good tape (improved with alcohol).
PLEASED TO MEET YOU:
Stereophonics released their sophomore album, Performance and Cocktails, in 1999 and I caught wind of it through the British music press I was reading while loitering the magazine rack at Newbury Comics. Oasis comparisons ran aplenty, so I picked up the album. I don’t remember much about the CD (which is no longer in my possession) and when “Pick a Part That’s New” came up on this tape, I had to check the tracklisting to figure out who it was. So safe to say, Stereophonics did not become a mainstay in my collection.
WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:
You think I’m going to talk about The Presidents of the United States of America, don’t you? Well, you’re wrong. The “Wait. What? Why?” i can’t figure out on this tape is Dave Matthews Band’s “The Stone.” I mean, I get that their album Before These Crowded Streets had been in rotation for the last year and it would be on my radar, but there are peppier songs I could have picked. “Rapunzel” is great. “Stay (Wasting Time)” is a jovial romp. But instead we have “The Stone” making another appearance. It has a cinematic feel to it, and I suppose that might have been the draw. But i’ve clearly lost my taste for it over time.
THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:
Travis is one of the few bands I first heard live in concert. They were opening for Ben Folds Five and I had no idea what to expect. But in the middle of their set, I found myself loving their sound. Youthful, exuberant, sincere rock and roll. I played their first album All. The. Time. “The Line is Fine” is my favorite from that debut. It opens with a declaration: “Look at me, I’m so disgusting/I will never find another quite like you.” It’s reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Creep,” but where that song was downtrodden, Travis’ tune is somehow joyful in its self-deprecation. He may or may not get the girl. She’s probably out of his league. Right now, they teeter on the line of will they or won’t they. Down the line, could all be fine, but right now they’re on the line. And the line is fine.
And now listen to the mix at work (minus a couple tracks unavailable via Spotify):