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.

Playlist:

Ezekiel 25:17 Samuel L. Jackson
Nothing screams “1994” more than “Ezekiel 25:17.”

Shoot, Don’t Talk Al Mulock & Eli Wallach
“Tuco’s line ‘When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk!’ was actually improvised by Eli Wallach, which apparently caused the whole crew to burst out laughing. Eli was a little perplexed because he thought that what he said was actually pretty sensible.” —IMDB

Deep Cover Dr. Dre
This theme music, which plays over the opening credits, is frustratingly not on the soundtrack album. So I had to capture it from the videotape, which means that it has now gone from VHS to cassette to mp3. Still sounds pretty good though.

Right Place, Wrong Time Dr. John
Emerson, Lake and Palmer appropriated the phrase “brain salad surgery” for their 1973 prog-rock wankfest of the same name. They should have been keelhauled for that, but sometimes justice is not served.

Wrongplace Del the Funkyhomosapien
I was today years old, as they say, when I heard the song this was sampled from — a 1978 track by B.T. Express. I just found the Del CD and sure enough, it lists the sample in the liner notes, but back in them days we had no YouTube or Spotify so a lot slipped through the cracks.

Find Her Finer Frank Zappa
I have mixed feelings about this one — though it’s a groovy tune and generally fits the theme of words of advice for young people, musically it’s a bit of a non-sequitur. Also the vinyl skips. And it’s fairly sexist. But Zappa had died relatively recently (December 1993) and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So Help Me God Bongwater
A Cancer on the Presidency John Dean/Richard Nixon
Our Hopes for the Future Richard Nixon
“Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party, Nixon previously served as the 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961, having risen to national prominence as a representative and senator from California. After five years in the White House that saw the conclusion to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, détente with the Soviet Union and China, and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, he became the only president to resign from the office, following the Watergate scandal.” —Wikipedia

The Doctor Is Unhappy The Firesign Theatre
Another snippet from I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus.

We Are the Pigs Suede
Suede never really made it in the U.S. (where they had to be called “The London Suede” because there was already a Suede), but in the UK they were A Big Deal. The record company spent a ton of money on this video, which I doubt many people ever saw, as it was 1994, not 1983.

All Your Jeans Were Too Tight American Music Club
There was a lot of good stuff on the album this was from, an AIDS-benefit compilation called No Alternative. The Goo Goo Dolls were also on there, but everybody makes mistakes.

No Aloha The Breeders
“i just discovered this song the other day, which happened to be the same day that a local rock promoter i made out with and was still mildly infatuated with deleted me as his friend on myspace, abrubtly. so i associate it with fantasy,and then in reality meaning nothing to people.” —“zzz666,” comment on Songfacts.com

No Expectations Rolling Stones
If memory serves, I first heard this song in the muddle-headed but stylish miniseries Wild Palms. Probably ought to rewatch it one of these days; it is not available for streaming, but I have the VHS tapes somewhere. Another project for the next rainy season — which could start any day now.

All Apologies Nirvana
“According to comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who opened for Nirvana at some shows during the band’s In Utero tour, Cobain had wanted to make a music video for ‘All Apologies’ that involved him being drunk at a party. Goldthwait suggested that Cobain perform the song dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald, singing into the camera while putting his rifle together in the Texas School Book Depository from which he assassinated American president John F. Kennedy. Cobain told Goldthwait that MTV didn’t allow guns in music videos, so Goldthwait suggested he use a pie instead of a gun, with Novoselic or Grohl playing Kennedy and being hit by the pie in the back of their head. Cobain liked the idea, but no official music video for the song was ever made.” —Wikipedia

Take Him for All in All John Candy
John Candy had died about a month before Kurt (not voluntarily in his case), and I was watching an SCTV retrospective where he gave a speech in the character of an Orson Welles–ish filmmaker looking back at his thwarted career and disappointing life. The way his words dovetail with “All Apologies” seemed pretty spooky and to be honest still do.

Win David Bowie
The best part of seeing the “David Bowie Is” exhibit in Brooklyn a couple years back was sneaking a photo of David’s handwritten lyrics for this song.

Out of the Blue Roxy Music
“The tape phasing used on the intro probably came from one of our producer Chris Thomas’s experiments with The Beatles.” —Phil Manzanera

Fa-Fa-Fa-Fine Julian Cope
“Fa’afafine are people who identify themselves as having a third-gender or non-binary role in Samoa, American Samoa and the Samoan diaspora. A recognized gender identity/gender role in traditional Samoan society, and an integral part of Samoan culture, fa’afafine are assigned male at birth, and explicitly embody both masculine and feminine gender traits in a way unique to Polynesia. Their behaviour typically ranges from extravagantly feminine to conventionally masculine.” —Wikipedia

Baby You’re a Rich Man The Beatles
“That’s a combination of two separate pieces, Paul’s and mine, put together and forced into one song. One half was all mine. ‘How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people, now that you know who you are, da da da da.’ Then Paul comes in with ‘Baby, you’re a rich man,’ which was a lick he had around.” —John Lennon

I Wonder What the Future Holds? Derek Tompkins
This sound bite comes appears at the very end of Bauhaus’s album The Sky’s Gone Out, and all these years I had never known its provenance. But thanks to the Post-Punk Monk and Julian Cope’s Head Heritage site (synchronicity alert), I now know that it is a speech from Bertold Brecht’s Baal recited by Bauhaus producer Derek Tompkins. According to drummer Kevin Haskins, “It was apparently a spoken piece on a record from his childhood, which at the time of recording [The Sky’s Gone Out], he could not get out of his head. So to exorcise it, he felt it might work to go and record it to tape.” I wonder if it worked? And why a child would have been listening to a record of Baal is a question unto itself, but that’s all the time we have for now.

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