Turn the Future On, Pt. 3

Our Electric Destiny/A space is made by telephone

Year: 1995
Original Format: cassette

For the most part, the music on these old tapes still sounds really good to me. But probably not as good as it did back then, when I still had those young-person high-frequency receptors. I wonder if this is why over the years I’ve tended to gravitate more toward bass-heavy music. That probably isn’t what A Tribe Called Quest meant by “The Low End Theory,” but it’s a low-end theory, anyway.

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Turn the Future On, Pt. 2

Words of Advice/The sun in the morning & the moon at night

Year: 1994
Original Format: cassette

This dates from that weird period right after Kurt Cobain killed himself. I was surprised at how hard it hit me; I liked Nirvana, I had their albums, but they were not a special favorite. In retrospect, this was probably the closest thing my generation had to a Kennedy assassination; I think all of us remember where we were when we heard the news — though as befits our nature, probably vaguely and incorrectly. I remember wandering around the house on Woodruff Ave. wondering what Kurt’s last moments must have been like.

The suicide was not a surprise, exactly; he had tried once before, and even written a song called “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” But it was still hard to fathom that someone my own age (Kurt was eight months older), who seemingly had everything a person could want in life, would pull his own plug.

Around the same time I had bought the Rykodisc reissue of Young Americans, which was the first time I’d heard a lot of those songs. I was particularly struck by “Win,” the words of which seemed eerily apropos, especially

Someone like you should not be allowed to start any fires

and

Somebody lied, I say it’s hip to be alive.

I always imagined that if Kurt had heard this song at the right time he would have taken the shotgun out of his mouth. It probably isn’t so; the man had problems, and they were bound to catch up with him sooner or later. But I always like to imagine a happy ending.

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Turn the Future On, Pt. 1

Words of Advice: Nothing could be something

Year: 1994
Original Format: cassette

1994 was a good year for music (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain; Teenager of the Year; Stoned and Dethroned; Mellow Gold; etc. etc.), and coincided with my discovery of some great older stuff and first tentative dabbling in hip-hop. The result was a two-cassette magnum opus that is still my favorite of all the mixtapes.

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The Map Is Not the Territory, Side A

One Chance Out Between Two Worlds

Year: 1992
Original Format: cassette

For a long time this didn’t really have a name, which is why the title is scribbled on the spine of the cover art in pen. It’s an odd assortment of moods, styles, and running obsessions, and at times wears on my nerves a little. But it has its moments.

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The Road of Excess, Side B

The aphorism “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” is oft-quoted and much-loved —including by me, obviously — but almost always taken out of context. When William Blake wrote it he attributed it to Satan, and so it should be taken with a certain amount of irony. The road of excess can lead to the palace of wisdom, sure; but it can also lead to the morgue or prison. In practice it should always be paired with another aphorism: “Your mileage may vary.”

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The Road of Excess, Side A

Year: 1993
Original Format: cassette

This mix was made to be listened to on your car stereo, and it still works fairly well for that purpose. I road-tested it on a recent trip to Wells, NV and definitely drove a little faster than I would have otherwise (though still close to the speed limit, which in Nevada is now 80, about as fast as I care to drive anyway). Under the title the tape cover says “Play Extremely Loud,” which is probably not a bad idea.

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Children of the Night, Side B

wings stuck on liquid bones

Year: 1992
Original Format: cassette

This blog is now 1 year old, having launched last Halloween with Fear of a Black Cat. Of all the goofy little projects I do this is probably the most pure fun, and also the least-viewed, with four regular readers that I know of. Hi, Bob. Hi, Christian. Hi, Jim. Hi, Sam. Happy Halloween!

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Children of the Night, Side A

undead undead undead

Year: 1992
Original Format: cassette

28 years ago tonight, Halloween Eve 1992, I was driving around leaving copies of this tape on my friends’ doorsteps. Now all I have to do is click this here Publish button, and whoosh, out it goes to the world at large. Is that better? Well, it’s easier, anyway.

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