[Welcome to the latest mixtape from the minds of Matty & Myself — an ode, a call, to spring. Listen. Close your eyes. Enjoy “LONG COLD WINTER”.]
Well Kevin, as discussed, I feel like total garbage.
I am tired. I am irritable. I am unproductive. I am — to be precise — downright unhappy. Negative trains of thought that would normally sidetrack me for but a moment are waylaying me for days at a time. It’s this damn Winter. And the darkness. It’s happened to me before around this time of year, but never like this. I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to step outside into the sunshine. I see pictures of myself from Summers past, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and my mind reels. Who is that person? Why isn’t he freezing to death? Is he okay? And why does he wear those darkly tinted glasses?
This is more than just Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
This is Depressive Emotional Sadness Predating the Onset of Nature’s Dawn - Equinoctial Negativity Transference(DESPONDENT).
The nightlight I’d left on inside the birdhouse in my soul has been flickering for weeks and I fear that, without some help, it may go out altogether.
I don’t want to hear sad songs, Kevin. I want a pep in my step. I want to hear hand-claps and creaky porch swings. I want iced tea and lemonade. There’s actually a part of me that misses the gawdawful Red Sox right now. (I told you, this is serious.)
And so, a proposal: In anticipation of March 21st — I say you and I get down to some for-serious mix making. An Ode to Spring.
This first one might not be super-peppy and it’s not at all jolly. You won’t hear any of the aforementioned hand claps and the tone of it is most certainly dark. There’s something about it though that feels like it belongs at the beginning of this mix. Maybe it’s that I’m trying to give a final nod to that long cold winter. Or maybe it’s because it stirs in me that feeling of running through a brick wall. That’s probably it. This song feels to me like running steadily towards (and then through) a cold brick wall.
It’s Headlong Into the Abyss by We Are Augustines.
[Matty & Myself are pleased to present you with yet another Pen Pal Mix, this one being the fourth edition of our “Songs You Are About To Love” series. Enjoy. — Kluv]
This thing that we’re doing here Kevin — this making of mixtapes. I feel that we owe it to ourselves to step back a moment and contextualize exactly what this is.
In a nutshell, we are experiencing the evolution of a creative outlet that had been inconceivable to any generation before ours. The thought of selecting songs from multiple records and assembling a record of your own, while not any great achievement of technology or art, is certainly unique to the last 30 years. We are taking the mixtape from its birth, to its infancy and so on and so forth, forever. I’m sure that you are as thankful as I that our children don’t have to grow up in a world without mixtapes. Wikipedia links to an article where essayist Geoffrey O’Brien is quoted as calling the mixtape the, “…most widely practiced American art form.”
Read that again.
I remember how I felt the first time I made myself a mixtape. The power of it. The control. I remember how I felt the first time someone else made me a mixtape. It was a message. A letter. A poem. It personalized songs in a way that I’d never felt before.
I remember how I felt the first time I made a mixtape for someone. The song selection. The progression. The weight carried by position — kick off, side one finale, etc. The cover art. All of it. Your song, and your song, and your song, and your song — now made mine by context. Within this group, I’m connecting to your music in a way not intended or expected.
I remember bucking against the introduction of burned CDs. I felt that not having to select 60/90/120 minutes was a cop out. I bristled at the idea of how any schnook could make sure that all the songs they wanted could fit inside of a CD, but it takes an artist — a craftsman — to juggle the playlist in such a way that side one ends only moments before that tape turns from black to clear and your boombox flips to the other side. Fast-forwarding to the end was not a task I’d ever wish on my listener.
And then the digital age. All bets are off and all bets are on. The .mp3 was the Industrial Revolution for mixtape. That step through the looking glass.
You and I may have even carved our own little niche with the Pen Pal Mix. We decided, as I’m quite sure others had before us — I have no delusions of our being pioneers on this front — to use the creation of mixtape as something that kept us in touch. That’s a step I think… We’re not just the listening to a mixtape — we socialize through the creating of mixes.
Whatever, I just thought it worth saying that I still — even twenty five years and multiple mediums removed from that first mix I made myself — I’m still having a ball with the mixtape. I’m looking forward to see what happens to them next. So far, they’ve managed to hold my attention for their entire existence.
“Mixtape.” Right click, Add to dictionary. Stop correcting me Microsoft. “Mixtape” is a word, it’s not going anywhere. Get with the program Mr. Gates.
So here we find ourselves again — embarking on another installment of Songs You’re About to Love. Another Pen Pal Mix.
I hope this gets to you.
“I Hope This Gets to You” The Daylights
Sound the horns: my monthly music mixtape hiatus has come to an end. After cranking them out for twelve straight turns of the calendar, I took the latter portion of 2012 off. But Daddy’s back — and heeding the urge to mix mix mix away. So, without further ado, I bring you another season of ye olde Monthly Mixtapes — starting with Jansuwarry:
Ho ho ho. I’ve been absent for quite some time (updating a blog when you’re stuck in the 1860’s is a sizable challenge), but I thought it only sporting that I post a Holiday Mixtape for anyone who might enjoy it. Pair it with last year’s “Holidaze” mix, and you’ve got a couple hours of seasonal goodness.
Feliz Navidad, Amigos.
With a little under two weeks until (finally!) the premiere of COPPER, I decided to throw together a little Spotify mixtape in honor of our impending debut. Music was a constant companion as I wrote on the show — whether it was some of my usual favorites or whether it was something to put me in more of a “Copper-like” mood (fun fact: those tunes included Luke Kelly/Ronnie Drew/The Dubliners, The Chieftains, a lot of old Irish singers I can’t recall, and a surprising amount of Chris Thile [especially the Goat Rodeo project]).
This mix is something different: a collection of tunes following the themes of cops, criminals, or whatever shenanigans people of their ilk end up getting involved in. It kicks off with a tune from The Clash (this poster was on the wall of my office — fun fact #2) that was used brilliantly in our season-ending wrap video/gag reel for the cast and crew (fun fact #3). From there, we go all over the map:
1. “Police & Thieves” - The Clash
2. “Police Truck” - Dead Kennedys
3. “Sound of Da Police” - KRS-One
4. “Inside Looking Out” - The Animals
5. “The Perfect Crime #2” - The Decemberists
6. “Last Caress” - Misfits
7. “I Fought The Law” - Bobby Fuller Four
8. “Cocaine Blues” - Johnny Cash
9. “53rd & 3rd” - The Ramones
10. “Fuck Tha Police” - N.W.A.
11. “Watching The Detectives” - Elvis Costello
12. “New York City Cops” - The Strokes
13. “Scene of the Crime” - Amazing Royal Crowns
14. “Jailbird” - M. Ward
15. “Cops And Robbers” - Bo Diddley
16. “Hey Joe” - Jimi Hendrix
17. “Children’s Story” - Slick Rick
18. “Gun Street Girl” - Tom Waits
19. “State Trooper” - Bruce Springsteen
20. “Whiskey In The Jar” - The Pogues/Dubliners
Twenty tracks, culled from a list of over fifty (fun fact #4: the last tune cut from this mix, a/k/a ‘Song 21’, was “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle). Listen, share, please enjoy, and feel free to let me know what tracks I SHOULD have included in the comments.
Lastly, let’s not forget the most important part: COPPER premieres on Sunday, August 19th at 10pm — only on BBC America.
August, already? Not in my heart, goddamnit. In this heart, it’s still July — that sweltery, scalding month where we roast and shrivel under the light of day, then steam in our own prespiration come nighttime. If you feel the same — if you, too, are unable to loosen your grip on the freedoms that go hand-in-hand with Summertime, then perhaps you need a soundtrack to boost your convictions.
For the twelfth time in the past year, I present you with a monthly mix: twenty hand-picked selections (two of which were suggested by pals [and cultural tastemakers] Stevie C. and Buddy Chris) to keep you in the mood. If you will.
A very happy Friday to you, one and all. Your long week of toiling away in your cubicle (metaphorical or otherwise) will soon be at an end. To reward you, Matty and I have spent the last few weeks crafting a new collaborative mix — designed especially for all you hard workin’ folk out there. I’ll leave it to my co-pilot to properly explain the ins-and-outs of Paycheck Rock, but if you’re the sort of individual who skips right to the ending without reading the chapters in-between (i.e., our liner notes), here is the complete track listing:
For the rest of you: those of you who enjoy savoring all the courses leading up to dessert — click the link below below to start the playlist, and then read on to follow our thread as we crafted this sonofabitch.
I have a friend from college, great guy, you would love him. He really is a world class chap. He’s one of these hippy guys, sure — but, you know, he does it the right way. He’s got the beard and shit, but he smells great too. First rate mind on this dude — heady thinker. He’s the analytical type but without all the stuffiness. He’s real big on feelings. Emotions. You know? Beyond all that though, he’s much more. He’s the type you could stick in a high class party, holding his own with debutantes and yacht-clubbers and shit, but he can also get down in the dirty parts of this world and scrap in it, knee deep. He’s fearless. If you listen carefully to his voice when he speaks directly to you, I swear you can hear him crying — but he’d never let you see it. It’s maddeningly beautiful.
On top of that, he’s got pipes to spare too. Always in and out of the next big thing. So I tend take his word as law, music-wise. He’s a walk the walk dude, right — not just a talk the talker.
So this next mixtape is originally his idea, but I’ve been on board since he first brought it up to me a hundred years ago. Here it is: He maintains, and I agree, that there’s this universal thing about Friday afternoons. In my life, I’ve found myself in a pretty wide spectrum of vocations/avocations. I’ve worked in large groups, small groups and on my own. I’ve worked with my hands. I’ve worked at a desk. I’ve worked on a stage and behind one. I’ve built houses. One summer I cooked french fries, another summer I cooked books. The one constant, through all of that, has been Friday afternoon. The feeling of it. Money in your account. Some time away from all of this. How the anticipation of doing anything that you want for TWO WHOLE DAYS is always better than the sum of action within those 48 hours — and all of that anticipation simmers right up until yabba-dabba-do time.
That anticipation starts, for me — in earnest — once I wake up Friday morning. (In truth the seed is always planted at the close of business on Wednesday, which is the time Liz and I have decided is the earliest that we can legally start saying to each other that it’s almost the weekend.) From the start of Friday though, I feel different. My whole outlook is different. There are times when I find myself at my desk early Friday morning and humming or whistling a happy tune — this has never, not once, happened on a Tuesday. I roll with things. I am agreeable. Tolerant, even. I cross things off lists. I back-burner things that are better left for that asshole who sits at my desk wearing my clothes come Monday. All of that builds and builds until that moment that I’m bursting through the door at quitting time.
The kid, the hippy guy from above, he dubbed the soundtrack for that moment as Paycheck Rock, and that moniker has always stuck with me. There was never any specific criteria associated with what makes a song Paycheck Rock, save this: It’s a song that makes you feel like you’re driving down the road, away from work on a Friday afternoon, with your head hanging out the window and your paycheck extended out as high as you can hold it, flapping in the wind.
Two whole fucking days, indeed.
I’ve thought a bit about this mix. I worried for a moment that it might cover a lot of the same territory we tread with out The Happy Songs mix… but as I went through a potential list of tracks for this one I found it to be a very different list indeed. Paycheck Rock, for me anyway, has more of a drive to it. A running headlong towards the weekend that didn’t exist with the more content-to-linger Happy Songs. I think that, unlike recent mixes where we’re presenting songs that the other might not yet be aware of, this mix might be more for songs that we already know, but maybe just never have identified as Paycheck Rock. (This aspect of the mix is a bit daunting when you realize that our only mix failures have come from just such beginnings.) Whatever. If this doesn’t work, we can always blame Kid Dynamite. Damn hippy.
Long story long, I think we should try making a mix of Paycheck Rock songs. You, still working at entertaining people on television, might prefer to call it Wrap Music — I can get behind that too.
You kids today… and your wrap music.
Don’t know what we should call it yet. But I think it should start with Travelin’ Band by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It seems to have the right amount of reckless rollicking that these songs all seem to need. (In truth, I really wanted to kick this of with John Lennon’s Rip It Up/Ready Teddy medley from his Rock & Roll album, but his catalog is (of course) not available on Spotify. Friggin’ Yoko.) Whatevs, Creedence brings it.