The Way that Kindness Died: An Updated “American Pie” by Gavin Lakin
The man there said the music wouldn’t play.
Eleven years old, in the sweat and smog of the San Fernando Valley, I learned about the day the music died. Actually, it was my understanding from listening to 93 KHJ that rock music was alive and well. James Taylor was singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” Tapestry, Carole King’s living room album brilliantly produced by Lou Adler was changing the world. With cinnamon bun sugar sticking to our acne-filled faces, as we played triangle-shaped paper football at the lunch tables, Don McLean’s epic lyrical tale resounded over the school’s speakers. Meaning flew over my head like the daily seagulls that swarmed in for scraps. Understanding its many verses wasn’t necessarily the point (or even possible); “American Pie” captured something about my country, about being human, about innocence lost. I may have been a kid, but I was able to innately feel he was speaking for us all.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 29”
Elegy for Chris Cornell by Justin Karcher
When I wake up in the garden
All the flowers are screaming
And the sun has a giant hole in it
Chris Cornell is dead
I gouge my eyes out
And give them to the sun
To use as catheters
So it stops dripping everywhere
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 28”
Your Long Arms by Marcus Civin
I convinced my parents to spring for the bus to San Francisco. I said, “It’s hard.” I said, “But it’s good.” I said, “At least I know I’m not ready for college.”
A roommate fresh from Peace Corps falls in love with an Italian lawyer. Leaving for his family olive farm, she says: “I’m bad at goodbye,” shoves at me two shoe boxes stuffed with cassettes. One is orange. One is unadorned brown cardboard.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtape Vol.1 / Track 27”
The Hardest Part by Ryan Peckinpaugh
Growing up in the 90s, I had to listen to some shitty music. At the time I didn’t necessarily think the music was so bad, but then again, hindsight. Recently, I found a box of CDs in my childhood bedroom. Among them included Creed’s “Human Clay,” Nickleback’s “Silver Side Up,” Lifehouse’s “No Name Face,” “NOW 6,” and a CD called “Everything You Want” by a band called Vertical Horizon (yes, I actually spent money on this). Needless to say, they all went back in the box.
When I was a kid this was the music readily available to me. I enjoyed the pop of Third Eye Blind, the cheese of Smashmouth, and the incessant catchiness of the Goo Goo Dolls. Even today, when browsing a random 90s Pandora channel, this music still induces fits of nostalgia. But it doesn’t mean it was good.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 26”
On “Grounded” by Pavement by Joseph S. Pete
As a young enlisted soldier at Fort Lewis, Washington, I had an evening routine when training permitted. I would head to the chow hall to dine on a bland nursing home-like meal of rubber chicken, starchy mashed potatoes, and a mushy vegetable, usually one with a lot of butter and marginal nutritional benefits like green beans or corn. It was institutional feeding for cannon fodder instructed to tie a dog tag into your boot laces so they could identify your corpse. After filling up on the overcooked cafeteria fare at the dining facility at the end of a long day, I’d hit the pull-up bars just outside the barracks before heading off to the gym.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 25”
On “Breakout” by Swing Out Sister by Alexis-Rueal
Give me that wide, gliding voice.
You’ve got to find a way
Star to wish on
Say what you want to say
Prayer for escape
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 24”
On “Dreamer” by Tiny Vipers by Jon Johnson
Here comes one of those “back in my day” stories. Where’s my prune juice?
If you look at Menifee, CA today, it is trying to look like nearby Temecula, which in turn is trying desperately to convince everyone it belongs in Orange County. I’m sure the pattern continues ad infinitum. But I remember – and here is our key phrase – back in my day, Menifee was little more than an annoying growth lumped from Sun City’s bald, liver-spotted head.
There was a certain culture in that time. It was seeing someone from your school at the old Target and not saying a word to them (though sharing stiff, knowledgeable glances). It was spending Sundays in some daze at a huge church, where everyone masks their uncertainty in the safety of numbers.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 23”
Love in the Time of Cirrhosis: How Son Volt’s “Windfall” Crushed One Love and Sparked Another by Nick Hartman
Son Volt’s “Windfall” revolutionized my taste in music.
That wasn’t easy in 1995. Nihilism and grunge ruled the day. From Generation X’s perspective, everyone and everything was fucked. But somewhere between the omnipresent drone of Nirvana, clove cigarettes, and pocket Camus readers, a total stranger introduced me to a genre of music that would become my personal soundtrack.
Unfortunately, I wanted to punch this guy in the face.
I had my reasons.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 22”
The Coldest Winter by Naomi Loud
January 13th, 2009
I woke up on a bench, holding my purse tight to my chest, and my backpack between my legs. At least I had my pillow from home to rest my head upon. It was freezing in the Heathrow airport. I kept my winter jacket zipped up and wrapped my scarf around my face as I slept. I opened my eyes and looked at the time. I cringed, realizing I was only on hour three of a fourteen-hour layover heading to Suvarnabhumi airport, Thailand.
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 21”
Careless Whisper by Ingrid Calderon
<<<<I know you’re not a fool>>>>
I knew it when I saw your wild hair,
your red dress,
your huge smile and chiclet teeth,
your red lips…
“the end will be beautiful”, you giggled with young enthusiasm–
Continue reading “Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 21”