K Recommends: “East Side Story” by Bob Seger & The Last Heard

In the spirit of two previous recommendations I wrote in honor of DJ friends Matt and Scott who passed away, I end a sad but important trilogy. This write-up is for my dear friend and mentor, Tim “Pop” Hervey.

As with the others, Tim Pop was one of my inspirations and a big help when I was an online DJ. He did a few shows (mostly punk, glam, and heavy rock), added a country show, and had an indie-inspired show with his wife, Beth Amber.

These Michigan sweethearts gave me insight and support. They were two of a few in the DJ community I got to meet in person. We were fast friends with no lull in conversation in our real-life meeting. One of the best nights, it ended with me and Beth dancing in the Meijer frozen food aisles.

I was lucky to interact with so many musically-minded people online and in-real-life. Our group of DJs had a kinship based not just in music, but humor, big hearts, the occasional meltdown, and patience. Most of my technical woes during shows or my nudge towards hearing something new-to-me were facilitated by Tim’s kindness.

On the mic during his shows, his stories of Detroit-area music were endless. He was a fan of many and had a strong reputation as a musician; someone who valued knowing his community’s scene. Tim would randomly turn his mostly rock and punk radio shows into dance parties with Prince tracks. No matter the show or station, the role or relationships he had, Tim Pop lived.

Tim passed away on October 13, 2014, after an unexpected illness. He died exactly 1 year after our DJ friend, David Scott “Drazzle” Rasile.

Tim shared this song with me after I told him I didn’t care much for Michigan’s own Bob Seger. Tim found a song to get me to love an artist I assumed I couldn’t stand. His is a friendship I miss on so many levels.

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Hannah Recommends: “Out of Order” by Highasakite

The winding road that leads to my parents’ house is lined with trees, so to me, going home has always meant going to the forest. As much as I might enjoy the fantasy of living in a big city, I don’t think I could ever do it — so I try to take advantage of the benefits of living in a less urban area. For me, that means looking behind my house at the thick stretch of forest. I’m a morning person, and on the weekends I like to get up as early as I can, enjoying every last moment of my free days. I walk outside and the air is crisp and cool, and the sunlight is a pale, pale gold and the world around me is soft and still and calm.

I take a breath and something fills my lungs along with the morning air. These moments of early calm feel special, thick with some unnameable importance. I don’t know why it matters, but I can feel that it does.

And that’s the best way to describe why I love “Out of Order”so much. I get that same punch of feeling — it’s serene but at the same time it’s almost momentous, full of something like promise. The song is beautiful — I can listen to it on repeat and still want to hear it again, just one last time, just to stick the chord and cadence of it in my memory. It’s warm and haunting in a delightful, shivery way, and it gives me the same feeling that those early mornings do. Like a long night’s fog slowly dissipating. Like the first curling steam, rich and fragrant, from a cup of coffee. Like a soft-knit sweater wrapped loose and cozy across my shoulders. I listen to it and I’m filled with a heady thrum: the soft, percussive pulse of the drums, and the tender ache of Ingrid Håvik’s voice.

I hope it will give you some of that same feeling.

(Song recommendation by Hannah Madonna)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, B-Sides

On “Days Like This” by Van Morrison by Madeleine Corley

About the Author:
Madeleine Corley writes mainly poetry, although she’s been delighting in longer forms as of late. She currently lives in Dublin, Ireland, and serves as Poetry Editor for Barren Magazine. When she’s not singing to herself in any socially acceptable location, she is poetizing nature and fathoming words like ‘pupil.’ Her work has appeared in DARK MARROW, Moonchild Magazine, and Anti-Heroin Chic. She loves her roommate’s dog.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, B-Sides

Skinnamarink: Grandpa Bernie’s Villanelle by Gail Bello

About the Author:

Gail Bello is a playwright and poet from Waltham Massachusetts. Her work has been published in The Sandy River ReviewRipple Feminist Zine, Collective Unrest,Turnpike Magazine, Bonnie’s Crew, Sad Girl Review, Tiny Flames Press, Philosophical Idiot, Vamp Cat and Pussy Magic. She is thrilled and honored to be published in Memoir Mixtapes. Follow her on Twitter @AquajadeGail and her blog https://thaumaturgedramaturge.wordpress.com

Lindsy Recommends “All I Want Is You” By Miguel (Featuring J. Cole)

The first time I experienced heartbreak, I leaned on music for immediate comfort. I was unbearably sad, and could not fathom feeling anything else. Turning to gut-wrenching songs about heartbreak was the only thing I knew how to do for months. Until, one day, an upbeat breakup song on the radio made me feel like I had taken a shot of pure serotonin.

I told myself: “This is it! My sadness is over!”

If you have ever had your heart broken, you know that is simply a lie.

Breakup songs tend to fall on opposite ends of a spectrum of emotional extremes: the solemn heartbreak ballad that you cry along to on one end (ex: Julien Baker’s “Something”) , and the empowered single-hood anthem on the other (ex: Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”). While deep in the throes of heartbreak, it is well within the realm of possibility that we can simultaneously identify with both. Songs that exist somewhere in the middle and reach beyond the binary of happy vs. sad are harder to come by.

It takes a little more effort to explore some of the more complex emotions that fall in the middle. Desperation, regret and lust are not quite as easy to identify. It is easier to have a clear cut understanding of how we feel. The more nebulous and complicated feelings, though? That is harder to navigate.

Miguel and J. Cole may have put this track out nearly a decade ago, but it remains evergreen because it does fall somewhere in the middle. The track openly admits to and names regret, lust, desperation, uncertainty, and the myriad ways in which one attempts and fails to move past heartbreak. This exploration and openness creates a uniquely vulnerable space for a listener to sit with discomfort.

This track exists just beneath the surface of anything that immediately sticks out to us as something worth exploring. It is not the rallying cry of your new best life or a companion to your wallowing, but it shines as an authentic exploration of something realistic, human, and complicated.

“All I Want Is You” is authentic without spectacle. It is not polarizing or demanding; it sits comfortably in its declarations of emotional vulnerability. It swims in the unknown and invites you to float along. Sometimes, we all need the reminder that you can only run so far, so fast, and away from so many things.

Take a listen, and try your hand at letting yourself feel. This is what it means to be human.

(Song recommendation by Lindsy Goldberg)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, B-Sides

Together // Alone by Federica Silvi

About the Author:
Federica grew up all over the place, but mostly in Italy; she now lives in London, where she works a 9-5 and scribbles eternally unfinished drafts on the Central Line at peak times. She has collaborated with an Italian online literary magazine as writer and editor, received a Pushcart nomination for one of her stories in English, and published work on Salomé, Dear Damsels, Memoir Mixtapes and more. Find her on Twitter as @edgwareviabank (reading suggestions, cat pictures and cake recipes always welcome).

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.9, B-Sides

If Not For You by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

About the Author:
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of the full-length poetry collection Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, the poetry chapbook So Many Flowers, So Little Time from Red Mare Press, Between the Spine published with Picture Show Press and La Belle Ajar, inspired by Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel, will be published by CLASH Books in 2020.
His poetry has been featured in Cultural Weekly, Frontier Poetry,  Yes, Poetry, 24Hr Neon Magazine, Red Wolf Editions, poeticdiversity, The Wild Word, The Fem, Pussy Magic Press, Tiferet Journal, Rigorous, Palette Poetry, Rogue Agent Journal, Tin Lunchbox Review, Redshift, Anti-Heroin Chic, Pasadena City College’s Inscape Magazine, Neon Mariposa Magazine, The Yellow Chair Review and Lunch Ticket’s Special Issue: Celebrating 20 Years of
Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing.

Adrian is an LA Poet with a BA from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is also a graduate of the MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. You can connect with Adrian on his website: http://www.adrianernestocepeda.com/

K Recommends: “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” by Ian Dury

You can take any one of my eccentricities and I will find a way to connect it to “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” by Ian Dury. The album came out in the year I was born: 1977. It is the first LP I remember hearing. I committed those saucy punk-funk tunes to my memory.

This song is a strut, an anthem to things I had no idea about, and a testament to how well the young mind absorbs. Hearing it at age 6 and seeking out the “New Boots and Panties!!” full-length every time I visited my dad’s record collection felt like it was okay to enjoy something weird. My friends and their parents weren’t listening to this!

The redness of my anxious face was usually my indicator as to whether or not I felt like something was appropriate. Sex scene in a movie I watched with my mom? No need for her to cover my eyes as I would run from the couch and return to the age-appropriate solace of my bedroom with its Slinky and Rainbow Brite doll. I always felt cool having young parents who offered an “in” for me musically. Circa 1983 I was filling my ears with King Crimson, Diana Ross, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Harry Belafonte, Cat Stevens, and Genesis. I loved radio and early MTV.

To this day I have no idea how my dad got into Ian Dury. When I’d work in a record store years later, I’d covet much of anything on the Stiff label. I consider it an honor to have encountered this song and the entire record early on. When I started collecting vinyl in the early 2000s, this album was one of the first I included in my crates.

There are many fun songs on this release; clearly over my head lyrically when I discovered it. This track is a favorite and reminds me of innocent times when I’d catch a hint of something taboo.

This song is very good, indeed.

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Andrew Recommends: “Chapter & Verse (Ione’s Song)” by Hiss Golden Messenger

Photo by Graham Tolbert.

My daughter observes that I don’t laugh enough. Sometimes she poses it as a question: “Why don’t you laugh?” Sometimes, as a wish: “I wish you would laugh more.” I recognize now that she uses this phrase to remind me I’m edging toward too quiet, too distant. But it haunts me as part of her definition of who I am.

When Hiss Golden Messenger released Lateness of Dancers in 2014, the album cemented my devotion as fan. I returned to the earlier Hiss albums and imbibed the music. I thought I had gone deep with my listening in the years since, but as is often the case, place and time and circumstance possess a powerful alchemy that can alter one’s connection to a song.

* * *

Mid-January. Early afternoon. I’m alone in my university office. Snow covers the grass on the quad below. Heavy, gray clouds darken the sky and ice encases the bare tree branches scratching at my office window. I’m listless and longing for some between-semester direction, and I’ve had too much time to get in my own head. Staring at the frozen world outside is all I can manage to do.

The second side of Lateness of Dancers spins on my bookshelf turntable. Quiet and meditative, driven by acoustic guitar and piano, “Chapter & Verse (Ione’s Song)” begins to play. M.C. Taylor’s voice comes through a bit worn, reaching, and burdened. I’ve listened to the song dozens of times, so it requires no effort to mumble out the words, my breath laying the lightest fog over the window pane before me.

Part hymn, part lament — the song pulls me along in its slow drift and lyrical contradictions. But my gaze is unchanged, expressionless, until nearly halfway through the track when Taylor sings, “Oh, Ione, yeah your daddy’s just as dark as can be….” I feel gutted, feel sucked out into the frigid, dark air. And the extended pause in the lyrical line leaves me hanging, exposed, until Taylor comes back, tenderly, with, “But I can be your little rainbow too.” In the window, my half-reflection gazes back and I recognize myself.

The guitar strumming grows harder, and the song plays out its final minutes of recorded life repeating, “It’s a long time.” I lift the needle and slip on my winter gear, lock up my office. I’ll be at the top of the school steps when my daughter comes out of her 4th-grade class. I’ll find a way to laugh in this dark season as we walk home because I’ve got that capability inside me, even if I sometimes forget.

***

In the right moment, a couple of lines in a song can save us from ourselves for even part of a day. There’s a revelatory effect in encountering your own image set apart and illuminated in a work of art. We’re not always good at seeing and acknowledging our dichotomous nature. Sometimes we need a darker song to bring us to a lighter place, to remind us who we can be again.

(Song recommendation by Andrew Jones)