February 28, 2000
THE LINER NOTES:
The history of comic books is divided into different Ages. The Golden Age of Comics began in the 1930s, with the introduction of Superman. Soon to follow were Batman, Wonder Woman and many of the familiar tropes of comic book storytelling. These are characters and ideas that are still with us today. The Golden Age laid the groundwork for what comics would become. It was the humble beginning.
1999 was my Golden Age of Mixtapes.
My cast of characters was limited (Oasis, Huey Lewis, Ben Folds, Travis, Gomez), but I was learning how to put a good story together. Loud, quiet, British, woman, hip-hop, repeat. I was working out where the spaces could go, and where they shouldn’t. The audience was a factor. As was the time of year. The tapes would reflect all these things. And as I think about how this era was my mixtape Golden Age, I’m wondering where is Everything fits in. Are we still in the midst of the first era of mixtapes, or does this tape and the new year signal an end to the illustrious Golden Age?
My personal life, too, was in its own Golden Age. 1999 saw many new things falling into place. The cross-country trip earlier in the year was my Golden Age’s Superman. From that point on, nothing would be the same. The groundwork was being laid for the next phase. My cast of characters was growing. Tim was my Batman. And Carrie was my Wonder Woman. Life was exciting and new and I would be taking all of these experiences with me when it was time to move into my Silver Age. And in a lot of ways, that Silver Age my have began on New Year’s Eve, 1999.
It was supposed to be the party to end all parties. Prince had told us so. It was New Year’s Eve, 1999. A year earlier, I had been at an actual party at a friend’s apartment in Allston. At this party, I drank heavily, flirted heavily and actually, you know, partied. Heavily. My night ended on second base and I had no complaints. But 1999 was better. There was no party. It was just Carrie, Tim and I, hanging out in our basement pad in Brighton. Probably watching movies. Probably eating Chinese food. Certainly drinking. Reluctantly, because we felt we had to do something on this momentous date, we headed into Boston and walked around with the crowds celebrating the flipping of the calendar. We were probably looking for a bit of communal joy, but honestly we didn’t need a crowd. At least I didn’t. I was happy just hanging around with the two of them at the turn of the century.
I had lived through my Golden Age, a time of new people and new ideas. But I was ready to settle into my Silver Age, where I could take what I had learned and grow it to new heights. And all I needed was Carrie.
THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:
- “The Only One I Know” – The Charlatans
- “Worry Rock” – Green Day
- “Sun Hits the Sky” – Supergrass
- “Naomi” – Neutral Milk Hotel
- “Twisted” – Sleeper
- “Prove Yourself” – Radiohead
- “Center of Attention” – Guster
- “Gimme Stitches” – Foo Fighters
- “On Days Like Yours” – Ben and Jason
- “Rick James” – Jude
- “Why Bother?” – Weezer
- “Lovely Rita” – The Beatles
- “Village Man” – Travis
- “Battle of Who Could Care Less” – Ben Folds Five
- “Foxy’s Folk Faced” – Ocean Colour Scene
- “Elizabeth My Dear” – Stone Roses
- “Natalie’s Party” – Shack
- “Buggin'” – The Flaming Lips
- “Dog Got a Bone” – The Beta Band
- “Sometimes” – James
- “Temporarily Blind” – Built to Spill
- “Straight to the Man” – Stone Roses
- “Carry On” – Spacehog
- “Rhythm and Blues Alibi (Pre-Mellotron Version)” – Gomez
- “Great Things” – Echobelly
- “Who Feels Love?” – Oasis
- “Radiation Vibe” – Fountains of Wayne
- “Anaesthetic” – Feeder
- “Start All Over” – Kula Shaker
This tape knocked me out. As I’ve written before, and as I’ll remind you here, I don’t look at the track list before popping in the tape. I just push play and go. And song after song after song on this one completely fit.
But it was more than just songs sounding good together. It was the variety, the new bands, the deep cuts. There have been some stellar tapes before this one, but something about is Everything sounds different. I’m not retreading familiar territory here. I’m reaching for something more, even if, in many cases, I’m reaching backwards.
There are a few examples, and “Naomi” stands out as one. I had recently been introduced to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by a coworker at my night job. It’s a great, lo-fi indie album (as any hipster list maker might tell you) and I was playing it a lot. Newly focused on expanding my music collection, I sought out more from the band. This track is from their first record. Horizons expanded.
I was really doing a lot of backwards sound seeking. In 1999, I was listening to recent albums from Radiohead, The Charlatans and James. And apparently in the early months of the year 2000, I making a point of recalling (or, more likely, hearing anew) their songs from years earlier. The Charlatans “The Only One I Know” is a fantasitc opener to Side A.
“Prove Yourself” is a nice deep cut off Radiohead’s debut, Pablo Honey. I hadn’t purchased that album until well after I had worn out the welcome of The Bends and OK Computer. While a decent track, it’s nowhere near as timeless as James’ “Sometimes.” This song is unrelenting with its sound and imagery. Though I had heard their hit “Laid” before, I didn’t pick up a James album until 1997’s Whiplash. My musical palette was growing. In reverse, but growing.
Man, that is a powerful song.
PLEASED TO MEET YOU:
So where does is Everything sit in the history of my mixtape? Honestly, it’s hard to say without yet having the full picture, but I’m going to venture a guess anyway. It’s my blog. Who’s going to stop me?
I say that is Everything is the first tape of the Silver Age. And the song that tips it in that direction is “Dog Got A Bone” by The Beta Band. More than anything else here, it points towards the future. I had been expanding my back catalogue, listening and learning from the previous albums of bands I already enjoyed. With The Beta Band, I was taking a giant step forward. Not only was it a contemporary group, it was a contemporary sound, mixing samples and scratching in with its Brit folk groove. It was a more spaced out Gomez. And it was a new band to me. It was the unfamiliar. I wasn’t testing it at a listening station or hearing it from Tim. I had simply read about them in Q and sought out their collection of EP’s at Newbury Comics. And I was taken back when I heard its opening notes on this mixtape. For some reason, I thought I had several more tapes to go through before reaching this turning point. This song was exciting to hear because I know what comes next. The floodgates to new music opens.
Or so that’s how I’m remembering it. Do I actually keep it up? Does the next mix expand on my expansions? Or do I retreat to the familiar again? Guess we’ll know for sure in about another week.
WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:
Here’s where you’re going to have to humor me while I talk about Oasis for a while.
It seems the popular opinion is that Oasis’ third album, Be Here Now, is where the band dropped a turd on the world. I disagree. While not as fantastic as their first two albums, Be Here Now is a solid album and worthy of repeated listens. Is it overproduced and overlong? Absolutely. But that’s part of its charm. No, the real Oasis downfall came with their next album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. This album is overproduced and sounds like crap. It’s a homogenous mess. Guigsy and Bonehead left the band during recording, and Noel ended up playing all their parts. Vocals are over layered, or replaced by synths where backup singers should be. Same goes for orchestration– instead of strings, we get synths set to strings. Lyrically it’s a waste. Melodically it’s a waste. Reading through the track list now as I write this I can’t think of how most of these songs go.
But, it was Oasis. So I bought it the day it came out. The singles, too. And I tried to find the reasons why it might be the greatest album released in the year 2000. I thought, perhaps, “Who Feels Love?” could be one of those reasons. But it wasn’t. Not even close.
THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:
For this tape, it simply has to be “Dog Got a Bone.”
Video above. Play it again.