Jeanne Recommends: “Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones

Spring 1999: I was almost 23, beer-buzzed, and canoodling with a guy who was all wrong for me on an ancient couch in the living room of a worn out rental house in a tiny college town. His housemates were smoking weed and listening to music. After a few random songs, one of the guys put on Some Girls, the 1978 Rolling Stones album.

At the time, I was just a burgeoning Stones acolyte — but something about Some Girls, and in particular, “Beast of Burden,” went straight for my soul. Maybe it was Keith Richards’ and Ronnie Wood’s unforgettable guitar work or the ache behind Mick Jagger’s vocals that got to me, but that song made me forget where I was and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the next note.

I’ll never be your beast of burden
So let’s go home and draw the curtains
Put some music on the radio
Come on baby make sweet love to me

Another gal who was there — an art major — took a photo of me and the wrong guy on that decrepit couch. She shot us from above. I looked cute. He looked wrecked, his first relapse into alcoholism beginning to show all over him. His left arm was slung across my chest and his hand gripped my shoulder, so even if I cropped him out I could never use that damn photo for anything without having to explain the phantom arm bifurcating my upper body.

Am I hard enough?
Am I rough enough?
Am I rich enough?
I’m not too blind to see…

A few weeks later, my 23rd birthday arrived and my aunt Marie mailed me a card with a $20 bill in it. I took that money down to the local music store and bought my own copy of Some Girls. I listened to almost nothing else for the next few months. “Beast of Burden” became my go-to on karaoke nights at the now long-gone Golden Horse Lounge, too.

I tried to forget about the wrong guy. I almost succeeded, until he resurfaced — sober — a decade later. I was wrapping up a divorce, so he proposed, I said yes, and then he shitcanned me five weeks later in a fit of paranoia. Sobriety suited him, but getting there had left some ugly scars. “Beast of Burden” saw me through the worst of the heartbreak.

There’s one thing baby
I don’t understand
You keep on telling me
I ain’t your kind of man

Years later, I came to associate “Beast of Burden” with another man, a man I know I will love for the rest of my life. We spent a desert afternoon together naked, sharing a cigar and drinking kölsch while listening to Some Girls from beginning to end. Later, he said of that day and that music, “I love that. I want that to be a forever memory between us.”

He has nothing to worry about.

I was browsing in a random record store during a trip out of town last fall and I found a first press of Some Girls. I bought it without a second thought. It has some scratches, one so deep that the record skips during “Lies,” but “Beast of Burden” sounds even better with a little hiss and pop.

Those wrong guys will come and go, but the Stones will never leave me.

(Song recommendation by Jeanne Sharp)

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 12

Take What Comes by Sara Lippmann

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Sara Lippmann‘s collection Doll Palace (Dock Street Press) was long-listed for the 2015 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She was the recipient of an artist’s fellowship in fiction from New York Foundation for the Arts, and her work has appeared widely in print and online, notably Slice Magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Diagram, Midnight Breakfast, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. Find her at saralippmann.com.

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 11

On “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin by Douglas Menagh

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Douglas Menagh is a writer based in New York City. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. He writes reviews for New Noise Magazine and song recommendations for Memoir Mixtapes. His writing has also appeared in Lunch Ticket,Meow Meow Pow Pow, HOOT Review, and Annotation Nation.

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 10

Rain by Joaquin Fernandez

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Joaquin Fernandez is a recovering filmmaker and Miami native perpetually drifting west like an errant rain cloud and tinkering with his first novel. His fiction has appeared in Okay Donkey, Cotton Xenomorph, and Rhythm and Bones, among others. His first chapbook, A Beginners Guide, comes out this spring and he can be found on Twitter @Joaqertxranger.

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Iris Recommends: “Spiders” by the Editors

I have bad days of all sorts at work.

Bad days when “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” is everything but a joke.

Bad days when all I want to do is curse loudly, and to add insult to injury, I have to spend hours being polite on the phone.

Bad days when my patience is a ticking time bomb, and composing resignation letters in my head is the only thing that keeps me from writing real ones.

What becomes of all these bad days? They blend into one another, cancelled by all the good that happens in between, until they stop mattering altogether. And then there are the Very Bad Days: the ones that strike like a summer storm on a quiet day at the beach, the ones I still remember years after the fact.

A Very Bad Day has nothing to do with being hit by more deadlines than I can handle, sacrificing lunch breaks to meetings, or having to suffer through a client’s power trip. A Very Bad Day is when the Fraud Police comes knocking, knowing I’ll open the door and let it announce my list of crimes: warming up to the idea I’ve earned my spot, making mistakes no amount of wits or skill could save me from, forgetting I’m only good to let myself and everyone else down.

I don’t have all the words, or enough of the right ones, to describe what hearing my own voice play my catalogue of failures in a loop feels like, but the Editors’ “Spiders” most definitely does. Like many of the tracks that precede it in An End Has A Start, it takes the hurt, confusion and betrayal I keep dishing out to myself, and sings them out loud, in the face of rationality, in the face of the voice of experience and its indifferentthis too shall pass”.

There’s spiders in your room
But there always will be
There’s people to be fooled
And there always has been

Hold out your hand
Hold out your hand, or we’ll carry you
Hold out your hand
Hold out your hand; come back to me

With your back to the wall
You’ve got one place to fall
Sometimes it’s all
Better on your own

Played as loud as practicable through my headphones — I work in an open plan office, where sound leakage causes more ripples than a brooding face — “Spiders” is like hearing a loved one’s voice say I see you, I understand, I’m hanging in there with you. Or perhaps it’s the voice of the part of me that loves me in spite of everything, that will always put up a fight. It takes a whole album to summon it, and by the time I do, I’m almost ready to crawl out of the black hole.

(Song recommendation by Federica S.)

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 9

song log entry 19 from playlist-in-verse: “space girl accidentally spills soda into the Milky Way and makes a cream soda float”
by Dynas Johnson

About the author:
Dynas Johnson is an English major at Temple University, and has poems in Sooth Swarm Journal, Ghost Proposal,Rogue Agent, and others. When she is not writing, she is probably listening to lo-fi playlists, reading My Hero Academia, or wandering Philadelphia. You can find her on Instagram: @dynasaur0, on tumblr: https://shuidinosaurs.tumblr.com, and at https://dynasjohnson.wixsite.com/dynasaur0.

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 8

Stranger Tomorrow by Rosa Boshier

To read this piece, click on the album cover below.

About the author:
Rosa Boshier is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work can be found or forthcoming in The Washington Post, VICE, The Rumpus, Joyland Magazine, LitHub, The Offing, Necessary Fiction, and Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. She teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and is finishing a novel on latinidad and London punk. Find her retweeting @RosaBoshier.

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Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, Track 7

God Is Noise by Kelsi Long

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Kelsi Long is an MFA candidate in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She serves as the associate poetry editor for Mud Season Review, the online literary magazine of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared in Crab Fat Magazine. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she now lives in Montpelier, Vermont. Find her on Twitter: @tweetsbykelsi.

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K Recommends: “Lonely Weekends” by Wanda Jackson

A bouncy, upbeat ode to love gone wrong, Wanda Jackson’s awesomely feisty vocal just kicked me in my sads. I tapped a toe or ten. Seriously, this should be required listening for breakups, breakdowns, and breakthroughs.

This lively bop takes us through heartbreak and our ability to forge ahead. Even though “lonely weekends” are on the horizon, we can get through the week then see how lonely the weekend is without a suitor. Chances are you won’t feel so lonely with this on your playlist! Certainly we have to get through stuff to see the silver, but even in her reflection as a potentially jilted lover, Wanda Jackson’s infectious little growls insist that we don’t have to long for someone to come back to us… “[we’ll] make it all right!!!” The emotional rescue in this song is ourselves. We may be knocked down by jerks or the crap of life but we can make the best of anything.

“Said you’d be good to me… our love ain’t never gonna die… you’d be true… you didn’t even try!” I love the punch of those lines; how even though she wavers a bit to a sigh, she ends on a “LOOK OUT!” that is less dread of being alone and more of a positive outlook to keep going.

Having a song like this to refer to when I feel isolated, I am reminded of how I fought hard for a life that may not be as it was before… overloaded with social demands and constant interaction with someone… anyone… all day and night. It’s okay to enjoy your own company or go out alone and not exist in the context of someone else. Relationships of all sorts are wonderful! But codependent, weighty relationships where you lose yourself or cling to the small positives in the midst of turmoil just to “be with” someone aren’t healthy. In this song exists the possibility of a clean slate to reset and do your thing before deciding where your true intentions fit.

I’m not wearing heart-shaped, rose-colored glasses again!

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

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Emery Recommends: “Miss Misanthrope” by Jealous of the Birds

Recently I gave notice at the job I’ve had for over two years.

When I finished my master’s program in 2017, I knew I couldn’t go on to a PhD right away, but I was sure I’d be working on campus in some sort of administrative/student support role. So the silence (and one awkward video interview) that followed the many, many, many applications I submitted was brutal.

I finally looked elsewhere; soon I found work with a startup. I enjoyed the ease, the creative freedom, the growth. The company evolved and eventually I became the sole employee. Several months ago we ditched the office and went fully remote.

Working from home sounds like the dream, doesn’t it? My dogs and cat love having me around for belly rubs and snacks. I can stay in pajamas all day if I want. Scheduling doctor’s appointments presents no problem. I should be content, right?

That’s what I’ve been trying to convince myself of for a long time.

There’s a lot I could say about my general dissatisfaction/disappointment/state of ennui, but the isolation of my remote job is one thing I’ve found a song for.

“Miss Misanthrope” by Jealous of the Birds somehow manages to put my loneliness to music in perfect form.

The song is beautiful, and beautifully sad, and there are lines that just get to me, like:

She said I care too much these days
About my place in this ball of yarn
There’s not a lot that I can boast
I water plants and make french toast

I’ve grown tired of the reclusiveness of my job. (The dogs and cat provide fine company, sure, but they’re not great conversationalists.) Isolation and burnout have spilled over into other parts of my life, sapping my creative energy, rendering me lethargic and disconnected. While there are many reasons I’ve decided to work elsewhere, one thing I’ve learned is that I do need human connection.

I get the sense that’s what this song is about, too. Despite the misanthropy and the solitude, the song ends by reaching out. And when she sings, “It makes me smile to know you’re alright,” I always smile, too.

(Song recommendation by Emery Ross)

 

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