The craziest thing I’ve noticed about these mixes versus the ones I’m making nowadays is the number of songs. I put out my Best of… CDs and typically walk away with at least 40 songs between the two discs. Clearly it was because I was recording these older mixes to tape – yes, tape! – whereas nowadays I can track a mix for CD, thus giving me two 80-minute canvasses to paint on, if you will, as opposed to two 60-minute sides of a 120-minute cassette. Confused? Both “volumes” of The Rise of Music in Western Civilization, for instance, was encapsulated on a single 120-minute TDK cassette. Ah, the old days.
The other element I noticed – something that still turns up on my mixes nowadays, incidentally – is the fact that my “loud” isn’t always so loud, and my “soft” isn’t always so soft. Rise was a sister-project to The Fall of Music in Western Civilization, with Rise being the “loud” and/or “fast” of the two compilations. Looking now, though, I realize that songs like, say, Silver Jews’ “The Wild Kindness” or Pavement’s “Father to a Sister of a Thought” aren’t really loud or fast. That’s always been the way with me, though. I mean, I think it’s too hard to quantify things as one thing or the other. Everything’s not so black and white.
For instance, take Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, my favorite record of all time. Yes, there is a mixture of upbeat, down-tempo, and even carnival music. The record’s all over the place. Yet at its core, there is a single mood – there is a single focus. Jeff Mangum is singing his guts out about Anne Frank and World War II. Would I call this a “depressing” record because of its subject matter? Certainly not. I mean, just because it deals with some heartbreaking issues does not make the record depressing. Rather, I would argue that it is, in the end, hopeful.
Consider, for instance, these lyrics from the record’s final track, “Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2”:
In my dreams you’re alive and you’re crying
As your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet
Rings of flowers around your eyes and I’ll love you
For the rest of your life
Here Mangum’s addressing Anne Frank directly, as he claimed in interviews he was haunted – literally – by her ghost after purchasing The Diary of Anne Frank in a book store and reading it relentlessly. There is both an unrequited longing and want in these lyrics, as well as a letting go, as if Mangum’s pain eases, and hers as well.
Good lord, how in the hell did I get so far off topic? The mind is as crazy as it is intricate. I think Dave Coulier said that.
The Rise of Music cover.
The Rise of Music inside art.
The Rise of Music in Western Civilization (Vol. 1):
1. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Calvin”
2. Pavement – “Father to a Sister to a Thought”
3. Frank Black and the Catholics – “Western Star”
4. The Dismemberment Plan – “What Do You Want Me to Say”
5. Guided By Voices – “Much Better Mr. Buckles”
6. Quasi – “I Give Up”
7. The Minders – “Joey’s Pez”
8. Fable Factory – “Eyesight The Cyclone”
9. Kleenex Girl Wonder – “Two Places at Once”
10. Beulah – “Ballad of the Lonely Argonaut”
11. The Halo Benders – “Bury Me”
12. Modest Mouse – “Breakthrough”
13. Tobin Sprout – “Little Bit of Dread”
14. Chris Mills – “Sawtooth”
15. Silver Jews – “The Wild Kindness”
The Rise of Music in Western Civilization (Vol. 2):
1. Fugazi – “Combination Lock”
2. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “High Gear”
3. PW Long and Reelfoot – “Signifyin’ Honkey”
4. Frank Black & the Catholics – “Solid Gold”
5. 764-Hero – “Stained Glass”
6. Quasi – “Ghost Dreaming”
7. Sparklehorse – “Pig”
8. Pavement – “Billie”
9. Archers of Loaf – “Telepathic Traffic”
10. Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland, 1945”
11. The Multiple Cat – “For Bernard”
12. Guided by Voices – “Picture Me Big Time”
13. The Dismemberment Plan – “Back and Forth”
This, too, came out of my time in Chicago, as evidenced mainly by the Chris Mills and PW Long selections. I distinctly recall buying PW Long’s Push Me Again in a record store in Chicago that wasn’t Reckless Records, which is odd considering my regular pilgrimages to that place. I can’t for the life of me recall the name of the shop in which I bought Push Me Again, but I do remember buying it on an overcast day after breakfast. Weird.
Well, that’s it for now. Until next time, have at it, you vultures!