Blackout

DATE:

May 1, 2000

COVER:

IMG_1589

THE LINER NOTES:

I was subconsciously in love in the spring of 2000.

I was saying “I love you” to Carrie pretty early on, but I didn’t realize I was actually in love with her. It was just something you said to the person you were dating. Like, “I’ll be there for you,” “Don’t have a cow, man,”or “The truth is out there.” It was a 90’s thing.

So, yeah, I didn’t realize I was actually in love. But I did realize that I absolutely loved having Carrie in my life. We both loved it. We clicked a hundred times over. She got my jokes, I got her references, we both… had… toes. We weren’t just dating, we were becoming amazing, toe-having friends. But in a few months from now (August), she was moving to California.

Whenever we talked about this fact, no matter what options we may have discussed, it would always come back to us agreeing that we wanted to stay in each other’s lives. Forever. I had done the long-distance relationship thing. I did it all through college. I did it just out of college. I even tried to extend a summer romance further than it could actually go. And at that point in my life, I was no longer in touch with any of those women.

And that fact terrified me. I really wanted to stay in touch with Carrie. With her, I felt like I had a friend for life. I couldn’t do a long distance relationship with Carrie because I didn’t want it to end like all the other long distance relationships– broken up and out of touch. We talked about this together at length, and we both agreed we didn’t want to lose our friendship. To us, the only possible way for us to remain friends was to break up now and stop spending time together. If we ended the romantic relationship before we became too entangled, we could continue our friendship later and then forever.

So it was agreed. We were no longer a couple. And we wouldn’t speak for a month. Or was it two? Whatever it was, it was a great plan. A fantastic plan. A never-not-NOT-going-to work plan. We would reconnect again before she moved and we would remain close for the rest of our lives, even with the entire contiguous United States between us.

It was a stellar plan.

THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:

SIDE A:

  • “Machismo” – Gomez
  • “So Long” – Guster
  • “Big Star” – Letters to Cleo
  • “Sabotage” – Beastie Boys
  • “California Stars” – Wilco
  • “High as a Kite” – Travis
  • “Principal’s Office” – Young MC
  • “She’s Got a Way” – Billy Joel
  • “When I Come Around” – Green Day
  • “Weird” – Sebadoh
  • “Swallow” – Sleeper
  • “Thin Air” – Pearl Jam
  • “Debris Road” – Ocean Colour Scene
  • “It’s Your Thing” – The Isley Brothers
  • “Aurora Bori Alice” – Cotton Mather
  • “I Would Hurt a Fly” – Built to Spill
  • “Fight Song” – Aqua Bats

SIDE B:

  • “Sunday Morning Call” – Oasis
  • “Satellite” – Dave Matthews Band
  • “Bye, Bye Badman” – Stone Roses
  • “The Good Life” – Weezer
  • “Dozen Wicked Ways” – Longpigs
  • “May Day Cafe” – The Neilds
  • “Lock, Step & Gone” – Rancid
  • “Removables” – Manic Street Preachers
  • “What I Meant to Say” – Ben & Jason
  • “Waster” – Gomez
  • “Let Forever Be” – Chemical Brothers
  • “Best Imitation of Myself” – Ben Folds Five
  • “Autumn’s Birds” – Cotton Mather
  • “Paranoid Android” – Radiohead
  • “I’ll Follow the Sun” – Beatles

Upon the first re-listening of this tape, I thought I still had last entry’s Little Help? in my car. It shares 12 artists and five songs, including the same two Gomez songs. It’s almost as if Blackout was deliberately a companion tape to the previous one. (At the very least, it’s a self-aware mix whose name tags back to 1999’s Whiteout.) Because of the similarities, this tape doesn’t have a lot of surprises. Add to that an unexpected melancholy tone, and this has been a tape I wanted to get over with quick to get on to the next one.

Usually on my tapes, I try to keep things up beat. I was making them to listen to while going to and from work, which took an hour-plus, if I’m remembering correctly. As you’re riding the T through Allston/Brighton, Back Bay and downtown, then jumping on a shuttle bus to take you to the harbor, you generally want to be listening to something that will keep you alert and awake. The Beasties Boys could do that with “Sabotage,” Green Day could always be counted on, and Rancid was typically up tempo, if not lyrically sunny.

But a majority of this tape finds the songs plodding along at mid tempo or slower. Some of these are sad songs, some are sweet songs, but it’s a greater number of these types of songs than my mixtapes usually tally– unless that was the point of the mixtape. For instance, what was my goal for including Pearl Jam’s “Thin Air” during my daily commute. Was I challenging myself to stay awake? “Thin Air” is like anti-coffee in the morning. And I already don’t drink coffee.

There’s a lot of mid-tempo gems on Blackout. Wilco’s “California Stars” is a given. As is Guster’s “So Long.” (one of the best break-up songs ever recorded). Cotton Mather gives us the great “Aurora Bori Alice,” a quirky little song that peters out abruptly just as it was building up steam. Honestly, the examples on this tape are many– Billy Joel, Beatles, Built to Spill, to name a few “B”s– so let me highlight just two.

There’s something aurally I absolutely love about Ocean Colour Scene’s “Debris Road.” There’s probably a defined musical phenomenon that occurs when given chords are played in tandem with a given melody along the “y” axis of a given bass line, all in quarter time. And if there is, it’s happening here.

The other great mid-tempo treat from Blackout is Longpigs’ “Dozen Wicked Words.” This band’s debut album, The Sun is Often Out, doesn’t get enough credit. That album’s most popular song, “On and On” (a #17 hit on the U.S. Modern Rock charts of 1996), is fairly indicative of the album as a whole, in that it’s got plenty of ernest lovelorn crooning. Though “On and On” is probably the album’s most straightforward ballad. The other songs are closer to “Dozen Wicked Words,” where the balladry meets a slightly heavier edge, with strained vocals and hauntingly shimmering guitars. The falsetto near the songs end always gets me. And, oh, look. The song is about finding the wicked words that should end a great relationship before it starts so they can start again sometime.

I was subconsciously making tapes about Carrie in the spring of 2000.

PLEASE TO MEET YOU:

Have we met The Nields? I feel like we must have, but a quick scan through the blog’s back posts yields no results. So… hi. Meet The Nields.

The Nields’ album If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now is one of a handful of albums I bought based solely on the album cover. This was a very inviting cover to me. The cartoon nature of the map was quaint and cute. The greens massively appealing and soothing. The “The” in the band name was a plus. And, chances are it was on sale for $5.99 at Newbury Comics, so it was practically being thrown into my bag. I don’t own the album today, and I’m okay with that. I like this song, though.

WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:

Hey. It’s “Sunday Morning Call” from Oasis’ crap fourth album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. I’m not going to bother with a clip.

I imagine this album is going to take up the “Wait. What? Why?” section for a few more tapes. My apologies.

THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:

OK Computer was a breakthrough album for Radiohead, and “Paranoid Android” was the debut single off the album which ushered in the dawn of Radiohead’s transformation. It’s a sonic travelogue through a collapsing mind. Maybe. Perhaps. It rocks, is all.

And I wouldn’t be wrong to make this the Super Ultra Mega Song of this tape.

But “Best Imitation of Myself” is really putting in a good fight for the crown. I mean, how can it not be the winner with such lyrical ease as this: “‘The problem with you’ speech you gave me was fine/I like the theories about my little stage/And you saw I was listening, but I started drifting/Around the part about me acting my age/Now, if it’s all the same, I’ve people to entertain.”? I mean, come on!

Oh, wait… did “Paranoid Android” just enter it’s fourth mind-blowing mini movement?

Winner.

 

 

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