Mixtape Time Capsules: Driving Mix, c. 1992

A mix-tape, whatever its intended purpose, is also always a time capsule. A record of a person, a place, a set of feelings, a time that felt like forever, and then wasn’t.

Last week I opened a box and a little piece of the ’90s fell out: the first driving mix-tape I ever made. There’s no date on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the spring of 1992, since that is approximately when I would have gotten my license. Fun trivia fact: I learned to drive on the Beltway. In a Chevette.

Anyway it is a hilarious cultural trainwreck and I kind of love it, not least because a mix that starts with Dwight Yoakam, dips heavily into, among other things, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Elvis Costello in the middle, and ends with Ashokan Farewell probably does still sum me up as a person reasonably well.

Also, I have a terrible pop music problem and every time I listen to Five Seconds of Summer’s She Looks So Perfect I start laughing when they get to I got a mix tape straight out of ’94 because, dudes, I was there, I remember, and most of that, so not romantic.

Warning: may cause cultural whiplash.

Side I

Dwight Yoakam, I Sang Dixie – NICE OPENING SALVO, Seventeen. What, had you listened to Guitars, Cadillacs and Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose too many times?

Dwight Yoakam - I Sang Dixie

Bruce Springsteen, Human Touch – Clearly I started making this mix when I was in a bad mood. Let’s face it, that was probably just my default mode, because: seventeen.
Bruce Springsteen - Human Touch

Elvis Costello, Veronica – This is what I mean by “not romantic”: a New Wave pop song about Alzheimers!
Veronica - Elvis Costello 1989 New Wave Pop Hit

Def Leppard, Pour Some Sugar On Me – I got to hear this live a couple of summers ago, and you know what: those riffs have aged like fine, fine wine. They belled out over the sea at Jones Beach and I rose and swayed gently, grinning like an idiot and doing my best not to air drum.
DEF LEPPARD - "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (Official Music Video)

Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, Science Fiction Double Feature Picture Show – I was a sheltered suburban child and I am at a loss to explain how I even knew about this movie. P.S. Thank you, whoever introduced me to the dark side.
Rocky Horror Picture Show Science Fiction/Double Feature

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Kings Road – Tom Petty was my first show (in 1989) and in many ways my first fandom, which I was in pretty much alone, because I had no-one to discuss him with in the ’90s, because my friends were more into Robert Smith. He just put out another record this year – Hypnotic Eye – and you know what it is BANGIN’ and he puts bands 3/4ths his age to shame. I also had mixes that were just Tom Petty songs, drawn from all of his records c. 1992, which I also used as driving mixes. That was what we had to do in the dark ages before iPod shuffle, y’all. Trivia about this song: There’s a street in Los Angeles called “Kings Road” and every time I crossed at that corner this song started playing in my head.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Kings Road

John Mellencamp, Again Tonight – I appear to be feeling better! Yay!
John Mellencamp - Again Tonight

Blondie, The Tide is High – Ah yes, here we are, the Songs For Dumb Boys section: part 1. Dear Seventeen: It wasn’t worth it, but I appreciate your determination anyway.
Elvis Costello, Miss MacBeth – This is actually a demo version, not the one from the record, because that I couldn’t find that one. But you get the general idea. It’s missing some of the depth and punch and all y’all should go and buy Spike so you can properly appreciate this song about the ways becoming an old maid can twist a person. It’s one of those tunes that falls into the “sometimes you read good stories, other times, the book reads you” category. Then, this was a cautionary tale; now, it still is, I guess, but I feel a certain amount of sympathy for Miss MacBeth and her daily love songs and corrosive rage.
BoDeans, Good Things – This one kind of lightens the mood, and kind of . . . doesn’t. Mostly I love that the person who uploaded this video went with 4+ minutes of dash cam somewhere broad, green and flat, because this is a driving mix, after all.
BoDeans Good Things

BoDeans, Paradise – I am not sure why I went all Two for Tuesday on BoDeans here, other than I really loved all of the songs Black and White and couldn’t choose just one.
BoDeans - "Paradise" - 11/4/11 - Radio Woodstock 100.1

Jimmy Buffett, Great Filling Station Hold-Up – Songs for Getting The Fuck Out Of Here, part 1: this is a silly song about dumb criminals, but also reflected my burning desire to graduate from high school and get out of town.
Jimmy Buffett-The Great Filling Station Holdup


Side II

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Thing About You – Songs For Dumb Boys, part 2a. I’m still not much for mystery, not going to lie.

Tom Petty- A Thing About You (Live)

Bon Jovi, Bad Medicine – You might be a lite-country-playing grown-up now, Jon Bon Jovi, but I remember when you had big riffs and ridiculous hair and acid washed jeans, and I loved you best. More or less. I suppose it would be more accurate to say I loved you best in a four way tie with Axl Rose, James Hetfield, and Tommy Lee.
Bon Jovi - Bad Medicine

Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, Over At The Frankenstein Place – In this case the light in the darkness was the possibility of college, where I might meet other weirdos like me. (Spoiler alert: I did.)
Rocky Horror Picture Show - Over At The Frankenstein Place

Elvis Costello, This TownThis Town is a very satisfying thing to hiss under your breath while driving back from the grocery store, is all I can say.
This Town by Elvis Costello

J. Geils Band, Centrefold – The family of a deceased alumna gave my high school a jukebox for the cafeteria, because she had loved music, and we used it to play this song every single day for a solid year. I think they took it away not long thereafter.
J. Geils Band - Centerfold

John Mellencamp, Crazy Ones Songs for Dumb Boys, part 2b. They weren’t actually crazy, it just felt that way, at the time.
Richard Marx, Angelia – Any ’90s mix that does not include at least one Richard Marx song is historically inaccurate because between this one and Right Here Waiting he was everywhere.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, You and I Will Meet Again – I know exactly which boy this was in reference to, and, listening to the song again, I realized: we did. Almost twenty years later, almost exactly as the lyrics said: in a far-off place (Penn Station), I recognized his face. We stopped to chat for a minute, and then he vanished back into the commuting crowd.
You And I Will Meet Again - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Tesla, Lodi – Tesla – I saw them live recently (kind of) too, and, you guys, it was awesome. This is more on the theme of How The Hell Do I Get Out Of This Town?
Tesla - Lodi [Live]

The Forester Sisters, Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes – One of the mysteries of old tapes: where did I get these songs from? Most of them I know I bought the tape. This one I really have no idea. I can’t imagine it was still on the radio, so I must have. Also, this is a whole lot of wishful thinking. Someday, Seventeen, someday. I promise.
Forester Sisters Mamas Never Seen Those Eyes

Alice Cooper, I’m Your Gun – Holy awkward transitions, Batman! I am baffled that I didn’t select Poison or House of Fire, here, but, oh well. The ways of Seventeen are cloudy and mysterious, I suppose.
Alice Cooper - I'm Your Gun (from Alice Cooper: Trashes The World)

Gerardo, Rico Suave – I actually bought his tape; it was pretty good. But this was the song that was inescapable. Did you know: Gerardo is at least partially responsible for Enrique Iglesias being signed to Interscope! Apparently he’s a youth pastor now.
GERARDO - Rico Suave HD

Ken Burns’ The Civil War soundtrack, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Ashokan Farewell – Again: good lord, THAT is a transition. I don’t think I ever watched the mini-series, I just listened to the soundtrack. A lot. Ashokan Farewell also ended up on the graduation mixes I made.
Folk Alley Sessions: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band, "Ashokan Farewell"

2012: A Year In Pictures: Dec. 2011- March 2012

A series of highlights, as well as a chronological accounting.

At the beginning: shows I went to after I had completed last year’s year-end roundup but before the end of the year.

Naked Fiction, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 30, 2011
we are the Last Men On Earth, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, Dec. 30, 2011
Pollux, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, Dec. 30, 2011
Wounded Lion, Brick & Mortar, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 31, 2011
White Fence, Brick & Mortar, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 31, 2011
Fresh & Onlys, Brick & Mortar, San Francisco, Dec. 31, 2011
Thee Oh Sees, Brick & Mortar, San Francisco, Dec. 31, 2011
And now, 2012, starting my first show of the year at the Lakeside Lounge:
Mud, Blood & Beer, Lakeside Lounge, NY, NY, January 5, 2012
Crown Jewel Defense, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 4, 2012
Foxy Shazam, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 4, 2012
Justin Hawkins, The Darkness, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 4, 2012
The Darkness, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 4, 2012
Built By Stereo, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 17, 2012
TESLA, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, February 17, 2012
Iridesense, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, March 10, 2012
Saw Doctors, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, March 10, 2012

Postcards from the Pit: TESLA / Built By Stereo, Irving Plaza, 2/17/12

IMG_5237TESLA, on the 25th Anniversary of the Five Man Acoustical Jam.

 I waited 25 years for this show, and it was worth every minute. The experience was all the sweeter because I made new friends in the line, and they saved me a spot on the rail. So not only did I get to see a band I never thought I’d be able to see live, but I got to be up close and personal with them while I was at it. Best Valentine’s Day present I bought for myself ever!

Built By Stereo opened the show. They rocked as hard as they possibly could without falling off their chairs. I was especially impressed with their drummer, who brought some real power and pizzazz to their set. Here are some pictures of them:

IMG_5124The left half of Built by Stereo: Brandon Hood (bass) and Daniel Espinoza (vocals, guitar).


IMG_5121And the right half, with part of the left: Daniel Espinoza again, and also Derek Diesen (drums) and Tony Ricker (guitar).

And then it was time for TESLA. In the early ’90s they got lumped in with other “hair metal” bands largely, I suspect, because they had long hair. (And because early on they toured with Poison, Def Leppard and David Lee Roth.) But they really aren’t hair metal. They sit at the intersection of Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead – both of whom they covered at this show – and they have a much bluesier, jammier sound.

I got into them somewhere around the original release of Five Man Acoustical Jam (1990), and, while missed seeing them when they toured on that record, their covers of Lodi (CCR) and Signs (Five Man Electrical Band) were on a whole bunch of my high school mixtapes. They didn’t play Lodi at this show, but they did do a rousing rendition of Signs as the final song of the evening.

Before that they played a mixture of old and new material, including Hang Tough , Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out), 2nd Street, Better Off Without You and, of course, Love Song. The cover songs were Comin’ Atcha Live/Truckin’, which is a combination of TESLA and the Grateful Dead; Thank You by Led Zepplin; and I Love You, by the Climax Blues Band.

IMG_5150Jeff Keith; his trademark rasp is still intact.


IMG_5145Brian Wheat, sitting on his bad-ass acoustic perch.


IMG_5136The bad-ass acoustic perch, sans Brian Wheat. My corner of the rail totally wanted one of those for our offices.


IMG_5159Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon


IMG_5178Dave Rude, who they found on MySpace, after original guitarist Tommy Skeoch left the band. True story!


IMG_5194Frank Hannon wearing an electric guitar while playing an acoustic that was mounted on a stand. He switched off between them during the song.


IMG_5198Troy Luccketta, in one of my all-time favorite drummer pictures.


Brian Wheat and one of the several basses he had with him.


IMG_5213A whole-band shot. Brian Wheat is at the keyboard and hidden behind his Wall of Basses, but he’s in there!


IMG_5248Dave Rude and Brian Wheat