So I’m clearly posting here more often. Playin’ it fast and loose with the topics and practically flooding the internet with garbage. This post aims to be absolutely no different. I’m sitting here cleaning up the ole cavernous den of loneliness (my apartment) and I’ve got my itunes playing on random. And it’s one of those times when all the songs that come up are all the songs I kind of hate. So here I am in front of the computer (instead of making breakfast-I’m-thinking-eggs-and-toast) skipping every track.
Man I have some boring ass shit. The problem is that I’m so open to new experiences (please tell me you got the sarcastic tone) that I’ve got basically a mountain of really boring mild awfulness in my library. So I came across a track from an ex which inspired the title of this post. But first a digression:
When I got tossed to the curb 4 years ago by the ex-who-lasted-for-six-years I of course went on a voyage of self discovery and misery that consisted of me holed up in my studio apartment in Bushwick sipping whisky and desparately trying to figure out just what the kids were listening to these days. I discovered of course a world of free tracks being posted all over the music blog world, and a chunk of websites that would aggregate those into an online player for you to suffer through. I’m thinking of Hype Machine, but there were tons of those suckers back then (okok, there were tons of startups trying to figure out legal ways to stream us copyrighted music, and also hype machine).
So I stumbled on a few podcasts that provided a free song every day. Specifically some by KEXP, and some from this thing called indiefeed. And what’s awesome about podcasts is you get access to all the past issues back to a certain point…so I went to town and hit the jackpot. But this was when Band of Horses, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, etc, etc, were just getting noticed so there were plenty of incrediballz songs to snag. But now I’m even mildly embarrassed to list those specific finds as “finds,” they’re so overplayed these days. And new shit now is so fucking formulaic I almost can’t stand it immediately. Like the first half of a track like this:
is great but by the end I’m rolling my eyes and sighing in anticipation of their triumphant appearance on SNL (why the fuck am I so obsessed with SNL these days?).
Ok, stage set for how I know I’m an asshole. In those past four years I’ve had some flings with some really aces dames (let’s all work together to diversify the slang we use, ok?). And a few of them even made regular mixtapes (cds with mp3s on them) for me. Now it wasn’t like they decided to take up making mixes just because I was such a swell guy. These girls, namely “Red” and “Kiddo” let’s call them, were very into music and making mixes. So that was my excuse for not even really listening to the mixes they gave me. Let’s zero in on Red’s gifts to me for example, but assume that what I say also applies to Kiddo (she was 23! HIGH FIVE!).
So it went like this: I got a mix, I set it next to my computer. In a week or two, I ripped the songs to my compy. Around this point I’d hit play, and wash some dishes or something productive while it played. Eventually I notice the music has stopped so I go back to my podcasts and hit play. The end. Red would ask me, did you like the mix I gave you, you listened to it right? To which I could truthfully reply, Of course I did! There was some good stuff on there, thanks!
Inevitably these relationships ended and I hit the musical dry spell we’re still kind of suffering through (although there are signs it’s getting better..summer save us). Also I got an iphone and needed to put some shit on it. So I went back to the mixes. Holy shit. There were messages on them! I mean bona fide, I made you a meaningful mixtape and this is the 90s messages. Months were going by between us and I was operating on business as usual mode and Red was operating on “message received by him and ignored on purpose” mode. Example: “Shut up and Kiss me” by Pony Up!, or “My life is starting over again” by Daniel Johnston near the end of our relationship run. Another good one is “Straight to Hell Boy” by the Clash. All this SIGNIFICANCE that I was missing. But not only that, I was nodding my head and going “Oh yeah totally good mix,” like an idiot. Like an asshole.
So here’s my advice to future me (I would never presume to assume that my 2 readers are anywhere near as egocentric and clueless as I am): when someone gives you a mix, fucking PAY ATTENTION to what’s on it. Sit and actually LISTEN to the words in the songs.
HOLY SHIT a great example just came through my speakers; here’s a snippet of the kinds of lyrics I think you’d be wise to catch before it’s too late to not look like a dick:
“Tell me how would it feel with an open heart?
You cruise around and play the field with your gropin’ heart.
Break it down to the beat and it’s brokenhearted
And I’d love to see you with an open heart” – Pardon Me by the Blow
Sighs sighs, the shame never ends. Also read the song TITLES. I mean for real. It’s important. That mixtape may seem like a cliche throwaway chunk of mildly good music to suck into your giant and pointless music library, but it’s not. It’s a love note. It’s a friend note. It’s a break-up note. It means something.
If upon listening and paying attention you find that it really is just a random assortment of catchy tunes they thought you’d enjoy (that’s always my approach to mixes, fyi), then no harm done. And you did the right thing, so pat yourself on the back. One more day you weren’t a total asshole, congrats.