I think I mislabeled my tapes.
I did not date these tapes as I made them. Just a title, a random picture and a tracklist. So when I decided to listen through all of them chronologically and write about it, I had to go through every tape and roughly guesstimate when it had been made. I did this using two methods. For the most part, I read through the songs and determined which was the newest on each mix. Then I looked up that song’s release date and could assume this tape was made after that date. I wouldn’t have had the song before that. Then, of course, I had to cross reference the other tapes, comparing those songs’ release dates and put them in order from first to last.
So now, looking at the dates of tapes coming up, I’m realizing there is a giant gap. We jump from June 2000 to September 2000 to April 2001. This doesn’t seem right or realistic. I know I must have made more than just three mixtapes in that 11 month period. So either my guesstimates have been inaccurate, or I’m simply missing a lot of tapes. Overall, though, the general order of what I have is still correct. I probably should have just spread them out a bit more here and there.
The second guide I used in establishing the order of these tapes was far more reliable. Several of these mixes came with obvious markers. The “Christmas Mix” was clearly made in December, the birthday mix was formed in October, and so on. These are the tapes that I can say for certain are the most accurately placed.
Baby’s First L.A. Tape is one of those accurately placed tapes. Carrie left me in June, 2000.
The breakup experiment before her departure seemed to have worked. Sure, we had gotten back together and were hooking up as often as possible prior to her hopping on that plane for Los Angeles, but we were hooking up as just regular friends, not “dating” friends. We were splitting up on good terms. We were going to keep in touch, but we were not going to bother with trying to maintain a cross-country relationship. And I wasn’t going to be following her. I had been to L.A. before and it was a disaster. I was loving Boston too much. Life was good. I had a good job, great friends, a best friend sitcom roommate and an annual T Pass I wasn’t about to waste.
I didn’t like seeing Carrie go, but it had always been expected. It was one of the first things she told me when we went out for our very first pizza only eight months earlier. “I’m moving to Los Angeles in the summer.” Funny how friendships start.
And since we were going to stay friends, I gifted her several going away presents. I gave her a Boston-themed Monopoly game, a Boston-themed calendar, and a Boston-themed mug filled with Boston-themed baked beans. I also gave her a Los Angeles Thomas Guide and this mixtape. Baby’s First L.A. Tape. A tape containing five different movements. In retrospect, the tape is the only thing I should have given her.
You know, ’cause we were just regular friends.
THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:
- “L.A. Woman” – The Doors
- “Going to California” – Led Zeppelin
- “Santa Monica” – Everclear
- “California” – Gomez
- “Another Day in L.A.” – Indigo Swing
- “California Stars” – Wilco
- “California Sun” – The Ramones
- “So Long” – Guster
- “She’s Leaving Home” – The Beatles
- “Last Goodbye” – Jeff Buckley
- “Stop Your Crying” – Sleeper
- “Go” – Pearl Jam
- “One For the Road” – Ocean Colour Scene
- “Time to Go” – Supergrass
- (Monty Python)
- “It’s Your Thing” – The Isley Brothers
- “Destiny Calling” – James
- “I’ll Back You Up” – Dave Matthews Band
- “Your Star Will Shine” – The Stone Roses
- “I Love You” – Longpigs
- “Super Rad!” – The Aquabats
- “Anything, Anything” – Dramarama
- “Round Kid” – Buck-O-Nine
- “Garden Grove” – Sublime
- “Here in Your Bedroom” – Goldfinger
- “Only a Lad” – Oingo Boingo
- “Design For Life” – The Manic Street Preachers
- “Devil’s Haircut” – Beck
- “Wonderwall” – Oasis
- “Slide Show” – Travis
- (Monty Python)
Of course I was going to make her a mixtape. OF COURSE I WAS!
We had spent the last eight months in my room talking, making out and listening to music. I would often interrupt the making out to make sure we got to listen to the song that just came on. “Wait. Listen to this.” “Here comes the best part.” “How can you not love this song?”
So, yeah. A tape was inevitable. But it had to be something more than just a random collection of songs I thought she had to hear. It needed to have a deeper meaning. It needed to say something. There needed to be a theme.
My girlfrie… I mean, my “just-a-friend” was moving to Los Angeles. So my first thought was to put together a collection of songs about L.A. and California. But as I was rummaging through my CDs to find such songs, I realized I was gravely short. My British-heavy stack of albums didn’t contain a lot of references to the Golden State. So instead, I made do with what I had and decide to break up the tape into five segments: “California,” “Goodbye,” “Support,” “Sounds of L.A.” and “Nameless Little Bonus Section.”
Of the first movement of tunes, songs 1 through 7 on Side A, three of them are from Tim. In 2000, I had yet to add the Doors, Led Zeppelin or The Ramones to my collection. (Don’t worry, they’re all there now). I know I wanted “L.A. Woman” on this mix, but Tim suggested the other two. The Ramones was an easy add, since I was a fan and the song is fun. I wasn’t really into Led Zeppelin at the time, but “Going to California” was an easy song to fit in as well. The mood was right, as was the destination.
With California taken care of, it was time to acknowledge Carrie’s physical departure. And I started this with one of the greatest breakup songs ever recorded. In retrospect, this was not a good idea. The lyrical tone of “So Long” is very cold. It’s heartless. It’s a song about being completely done with the woman involved. It opens with, “Yes, I heard all that you had to say/That’s when it all fell apart/Might be hated, but I can’t pretend/I liked you better before.”
It’s a gorgeous tune, yes, but not exactly the message I wanted to give to Carrie. But I included it because I knew she wasn’t going to take every line of dialogue literally. “She’s Leaving Home” has a title that is completely accurate. But lyrically the song has nothing to do with her situation. Pearl Jam’s “Go” might be written about Eddie Veddar’s pickup truck. So, yes, there are some weird, mixed messages in the lyrics all over this tape. But Carrie was leaving home. She had to go and I had to say, “So long.”
Moving to Side B, it was time to remind my friend that I believed in her and I would always be there for her. She had her thing to pursue, and no matter what, I would back her up. Even in our short time together, I knew she was destined for great things. Indeed, her star would shine.
PLEASED TO MEET YOU:
I’m bending the rules a bit for this installment’s “Pleased to Meet You.” Monty Python bits have already been included on previous tapes. In fact, they were a filler track on the tape before this. I can only assume I had just recently purchased their double-disc release The Final Rip Off and I was happily filling in the dead space at the end of my tapes with my favorites from this compilation.
For Carrie’s goodbye mixtape, Monty Python was the perfect pick for some levity and a little bit of torture. At the end of Side A, I gave her “Sit On My Face,” plus my favorite Python song of all-time:
And for torture, I ended this tape (the last one I may ever give her) with a song she despises. Because I’m the kid on the playground throwing acorns at the girl I have a crush on.
WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:
With my limited CD collection, I wasn’t able to find anymore inspiring tunes to pad out Side B to reach the closing movement. So to fill in that gap, I opted to give Carrie a taste of Southern California music from bands local to the scene. Again I need Tim’s assistance. I borrowed his Oingo Boingo and Dramarama. (Another mixed message with “Anything Anything.” Shouldn’t have added a song with the line “Marry me, marry me, marry” shouted so passionately.)
I added a few ska punk bands here, a genre I was just getting into in 2000. But I do wish I had more variety at the time of making this tape. I probably would have left off “Garden Grove” if I had had more to choose from. Not that I hate the song, but it slows the groove down a little too much here.
THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:
The last four songs might have been the first four songs I knew I wanted to include on this tape.
I think I’ve made this clear, but in case you didn’t know, my brief relationship with Carrie was soundtracked by the band Travis. I played their albums and singles nonstop. We went to every concert and in-store event in the greater Boston area. We triumphantly sang their songs together– drunk and sober. And one of their tracks had this gorgeous refrain: “There is no design for life/There’s no devil’s haircut in my mind/There is not a wonderwall to climb or step around.”
I love songs that reference other songs. I love stories that reference pop culture. And I love (LOVE) Travis’ “Slide Show.” It’s simple perfection.
So when it came time to make this tape, I knew I wanted the referenced songs to play in the reference order, leading up to the closing number. To do this, I had to go out and buy the Manic Street Preachers’ album that contained “Design For Life.”
I never did get into the band, but this is a great song. And one that played often while Fran Healy was strumming his acoustic guitar and writing down the songs that would eventually change my life.
“There is a slide show and it’s so slow, flashing through my mind.”
Seemed an appropriate send off for a woman that I would never forget. Always to be flashing through my mind.