Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 12

Hank Williams is Sacred  by Alex DiFrancesco

Read this piece by clicking on the album covers below.

About the author:

Alex DiFrancesco is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism who has published work in Tin House Online, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Entropy, The Millions, and more. They are a winner of Sundress Academy for the Arts’ Out Spoken Competition for LGBTQ+ work, and a Summer 2018 Firefly Farms Writing Residency participant. Their storytelling has appeared in The Fringe Festival, Life of the Law, and The Heart podcast. Their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press) and their second novel All City (Seven Stories Press) are forthcoming in 2019.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 11

creep  by Fullamusu Bangura

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About the author:

Fullamusu Bangura is a 2nd year English graduate student at Northwestern University, currently studying queer afro-diasporic water spirits. She is originally from Washington, D. C. and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Catch her on Instagram singing to her cat Taraji or thirst-tweeting Marc Lamont Hill at @killamusu.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 10

Tape Deck   by Rachel Peach Leonard

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About the author:

Rachel Peach Leonard is taking a break from titles. She’s spent the past year living out of a backpack since graduating from IUPUI with a Creative Writing BA. She’s kind of homeless, but her poetry has found permanent residencies in the Indianapolis Review, Occulum Journal, the Rising Phoenix Review, and a lot of truck stop toilets around the Midwestern United States. She is currently living in a miner’s shack in the middle of the Daintree Rainforest. It gets lonely; she’d love it if you visited her at www. backpackingpeach.com.

Prewitt Recommends: “Cutting My Hair” by Facing New York

Throughout the summer of 2005 I’d wake up for my landscaping job at the local nursery by exiting the rusted RV and cranking the garden hose valve lefty loosey. I’d retreat back inside my house-on-wheels to the shower stall and hit the play button for what had become my go-to morning song that season: “Cutting My Hair” by Facing New York.

I had dropped out of city college the year previous and found myself working as a gigging drummer while doubly working various minimum wage jobs until I found a home at the nursery.

I’d return from work and sneak-walk through a small opening in the trailer park’s perimeter fencing, gaining access to a small footpath that led to the corner store where I’d pick up a six-pack of tallboys. This pattern repeated itself every single day for what seemed like eternity.

I was an alcoholic. I was a heavy weed smoker. I was a dropout. I was valueless and by the hour it seemed less and less likely I would ever become something more than this.

“I’m throwing up/
And falling down/
I’m never what I seem, it’s like I’m walking through a dream.”

This song nagged at me. It reproached me for not trying, for not doing the bare minimum.

I didn’t wash my face or cut my hair. I had asked for this. I wanted this existence.

My sea change began simply enough and it had everything to do with personal hygiene. I started washing my face. I cut my mangy mane. I clipped my dirt-filled nails.

And slowly, ever so slowly, this small bit of self-care led to other iterations of self-care as I began to crawl out from my cave.

“And that’s how I’ll get by.”

I recommend this song as comfort food for anyone that finds themselves feeling stuck in a toxic cycle; whether that’s a cycle of addiction, depression, or simply trying to survive the rat race.

It remains an anthem of sorts for me and every time I hear it I recall the sensation of bitter City of Goleta-water hitting my face.

(Song recommendation by Prewitt Scott-Jackson)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 08

Marble Floors and Human Connections  by Emmeline Clein

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About the author:

Emmeline Clein is a freelance humor writer living in New York City. She has a Bachelor’s in history from Columbia University. She currently contributes to Betches, and pursues various side hustles, most recently organizing a Rabbi’s home office, to pay her rent. Her great passions in life are reading the news, listening to hip-hop, and eating barbecue.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 07

Jungle  by Gabrielle Gilbert

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About the author:

Gabrielle Gilbert has left Pratt Institute with a Bachelor’s degree in writing as proof, as well as many ghosts and student loans. Her weird words have been published in multiple issues of Selfish magazine and multiple issues of Alien Mouth, as well as Dum Dum Zine, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Witch Craft Magazine and Literary Orphans. She also has a book! A chapbook. Which can be found through Dancing Girl Press under the title Change of Engagement. She has found her saving grace in Memoir Mixtapes and has previously been featured in Volumes 1, 2, and 4, as well as a B-Side for Volume 3. Her Instagram is sometimes @gabbigilbert and she is sometimes living in Portland, ME.

Alan Recommends: “She Left Me for Jesus” by Hayes Carll

I’m mostly OK, most of the time, with my lot in life, but I also wish I was Hayes Carll.

Carll is one of those musicians who is acclaimed and respected but not famous. He is so skilled as a songwriter that I’m comfortable talking about him in the same breath as John Prine and Townes Van Zandt. Every song he writes is better than almost every mainstream country tune that’s been recorded in my lifetime, but my favorite song is “She Left Me for Jesus,” from Trouble in Mind, an album that opens with a song Carll wrote with an acclaimed and respected but not necessarily famous legend, Ray Wylie Hubbard.

“She Left Me for Jesus,” which was co-written with Brian Keene, is the last and the countriest song on the album, featuring a steel guitar and Carll singing with a little extra twang in his voice. The song plays on the classic jilted lover theme, with a humorous twist equivocating on the word “find” in finding Jesus:

She left me for Jesus and that just ain’t fair
She says that he’s perfect, how could I compare
She says I should find him and I’ll know peace at last
If I ever find Jesus, I’m kickin’ his ass

The narrator thinks his rival is some sandal-wearing hippie-freak-commie named Jesus, but the listener knows the narrator is actually jealous of his lover’s Lord and Savior. At the moment, I can’t think of any other songs, in any genre, that employ dramatic irony.

The funniest moment comes in the third verse, where the narrator declares,

I’m gonna get even, I can’t handle the shame
Why the last time we made love, she even called out his name.

It’s a funny song, but it’s not a novelty song. The musicianship is first-rate. Even some Paul Ryanesque ignorer of discomforting lyrics could still dance along.

For the record, I could imagine some hyper-sensitive Christians being offended, but the joke here is on the narrator, not anyone’s religious beliefs; although I’m less certain about that claim after watching the video.

(Song recommendation by Alan Good)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 06

Guera, Where You Going?  by Kelly Shire

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About the author:

Kelly Shire’s creative nonfiction has appeared in The Coachella Review, Full Grown People, and Hippocampus, among others. Another music-based essay, about George Jones, is forthcoming in the journal The Museum of Americana. A third-generation native of Southern California, she holds an MFA from Cal State Long Beach, and continues to live in the region with her family, where she is working on a memoir.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.5, Track 05

“These Will Be the Best Years of Your Life”  by M. Stone

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About the author:

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry and fiction while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, Star 82 Review, UCity Review, and numerous other journals. Find her on Twitter @writermstone and at writermstone.wordpress.com.