Only One Person Sends Me Mix Tapes

So, my old friend, Elias is putting together a zine of commentaries on mix tapes. One time, Elias put together a zine and I submitted an article about how I had nearly drown myself attempting to masturbate with the bathtub faucet. I think I later wrote about it here. Oh, I did! And, while I don’t think that post’s as funny as what I wrote for Elias, it does recount the story of my Grandma’s Papist conspiracy regarding Catholic boys and sex.

Ha, this blog used to be so good.

Anyway, so the second part of the current submission is to submit commentary on a mix tape you’ve been given. But the only person who ever sends me mix tapes is Elias and I lost them all in the flood. So, I’m kind of stymied on that. I am contemplating writing commentary on the songs on those mix tapes that I then incorporated into my own musical library–you know what I mean? The songs that became not just songs on a mix tape but songs I like independently.

Here’s a snippet of one of them.

Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” I don’t know how old I was when Elias sent me this song on tape, but it was on the same tape as Howlin’ Wolf doing “Sittin’ On Top of the World” which is worth every penny you might pay for it just for the way that he says “I had to take Christmas in my overalls” and it sounds like “overhauls” and Muddy Waters singing “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

I know I’d certainly heard Blues music before, but I can’t say I really heard what the bid deal was until those three songs. The thing that kills me about “Killing Floor” is that the drive in the song, the real urgency, is expressed by the drums (which you’d expect) and the piano. The motherfucking piano.

In a song filled with exquisite and talented guitarists.

It takes, I think, real confidence in your own talent and that of your band to trust the pianist. In any popular music of the 20th century anyway. Sure, if you only have piano accompaniment, that’s one thing. Or if you play the piano, Jerry Lee Lewis, that’s another thing (let us note and then never speak of this bizarro duet with Kid Rock). But I was and remain blown away by how Howlin’ Wolf’s songs so expertly use the piano as a vibrant ensemble instrument, one with great rhythm capabilities.

Anyway, I feel like I remember playing the tape in my big gold Caprice Classic, which might have made me still in high school. And I felt like I was hearing some great mystery that had been, until then, hidden from me.

But there it was coming through my speakers, cracking my whole world wide open.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m excited about participating.

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6 thoughts on “Only One Person Sends Me Mix Tapes

  1. Lafayette Leake.

    You couldn’t have been listening to that tape in high school cause I didn’t meet you til you were in college. You were J.’s cool older friend. She was in high school and you were in college and boy did she think you were cool.

    Sad to know that my tapes were yet another thing taken out by the flood. I could send you new ones, but it’s goina be awkward if too many contributors use tapes I made. Somebody else should volunteer to make you a tape, or a “curated playlist” or whatever the cool kids are doing now.

    Still, if you have anything that still plays cassettes (in the car maybe?), I can send you one I made for you for Christmas 5 or 6 years ago and never sent. It’s pretty good actually. I have a terrible habit of making/getting something for someone and then not giving it to them. Take that Bo Diddly rant for instance. My house is full of undelivered Christmas presents even older than that one. All wrapped up, I don’t even remember what they are. I’m sure it’s the sign of some really gross psychological problem.

    By the way, the article you mention is probably the most popular thing that ever appeared in my stupid little zine. (I’m not slamming it. The “stupid little” is affectionate.) The sentence “You may drown before you orgasm” is printed indelibly inside my brain.

  2. Hmm, well, maybe I’ll see if NM wants to make me a “curated playlist.” She is always finding interesting things for me to listen to.

    Ha, I’m tickled to know that article was so popular! I feel like that was a preliminary effort at blogging, before I even knew what blogging was.

    I always forget that you and J. are younger than me. It’s weird. But I aspire to be even half as cool as she is.

  3. Oh, I would be delighted to make you a curated* playlist. In this iPod-loving world in which we’re living in, I haven’t made a mix-tape or anything like one for anybody in about 10 years or so. Just give me a day or two to come up with a theme.

    *Not in the sense of my writing little placards to go up on the wall, though. As I understand it, that’s what you’ll be doing once you hear it.

  4. Yes! That’s what makes me so excited about it. It’s not just putting together a playlist and talking about it for Elias’s audience (though I’m excited about that), but I’m really interested in the idea of talking about music I know was deliberately put together for me by someone I like. That seems really intimate and fun to me.

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