Camie Heller’s Eternal Mixtape

There is no recognizable order to this list whatsoever.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

The twelve top singers of the school… something I wanted to be a part of since making it to MSHS. The show choir, or Choraliers as it is called was the top of the performing arts in my high school. If you made that group by trying out in your Freshman year, you were considered arts wing royalty. In the end of my Freshman year, there were only four spots available to this group, two spots for boys, and two for girls. There were a lot of hopefuls, so many that instead of the normal singing try out, they were adding a dance portion as well. This did not bode well for me. In drama, dance had never been my strong suit. The dances that I had to perform for drama took me hours to figure out, mostly due to the fact that I had never taken a dance class in my life, and simply couldn’t be told how to dance. I needed to see it so I could copy. Luckily, we were told to do exactly that, copy a music video. I decided that Thriller would be quite fun, but different, since most of my peers were planning on performing as Brittany Spears, or some other popular pop bimbo of the time. I spent all of my spare time working on this dance sequence, making sure that I covered as much detail as possible. I wasn’t disappointed, I was first pick after the list went up.

I Got Lost In His Arms – Annie Get Your Gun

The name of this song could tend to make this story a bit creepy, but it is completely innocent and actually a moment that I would never want to give away.
I was having a really rough year. My aunt and uncle were going to get married, and the original plan was for the kids in the family to be the wedding party. They won a wedding in Hawaii, so that plan went away, but they were going to have a party for us anyways. While this does not seem like a bad moment of anyones life, the situation thickens. Two of my cousins who I used to see all the time were going to be in the wedding party. They had left recently, with their mother who put my uncle through a nasty divorce. They would come over during the weekends and stuff, but that had even stopped because my uncle was dying of cancer, and it was getting bad. Knowing I wanted to take advantage of getting to see my cousins, I had asked my drama director if I could go to this party. It was falling during a dress rehearsal in hell week, but considering I was an extra, that meant nothing in the full long run, I thought maybe she would let me go. Not only was I shot down, I was shot down with a hell of a rant that reverberated into the classroom wing of my school. So, in tears I run to the stage crew director. He knew a lot of what was going on within my family, and the hard time I was having with everything. I cried to him, and we plotted a rebellion. We were on stage during the same time in the show for a scene. We were to be getting into place behind the sheer curtain (sheer if lighted from The thrill of rebellion (if we were ever caught at this, there would be some serious hell to pay) and the thrill of getting caught helped put a smile on my face, and the dress rehearsal went off without a problem. We then became superstitious… we performed that slow dance every performance afterwards, including the actual ones the next week. (and were caught, the last night… where we got the evil eye, but laughed it off.)

MMMBop – Hanson

Every pre-teen has a band that they become obsessed with, and Hanson was my boy-band. I remember the first time hearing the song, and my best friend at the time saying “Listen to this bunch of girls.” I of course, later that night, found out from another friend that they were not girls, but teenage boys. (Teenage boys to my pre-teen eyes were very attractive). Well the obsession grew, and grew, and grew to the point of my entire bedroom walls being covered with their faces. I also had a huge stand up of them from a record store, which thinking back on it now was extremely, extremely creepy. Hanson was the reason I took drum lessons during that summer. My friends and I wanted to form a band. It was pointless though, my friends at the time had no musical talent, and in all reality I had no time for drum lessons, (between sports, and scouts, and everything else) even though they were free from a neighbor. Hanson was my first concert (nose bleed seats!) they were the first band I completely fangirled, and hearing this song now and then still gives me a bit of a smile.

Your Little Hoodrat Friend – The Hold Steady

This is not only the song that introduced me to my favorite band, it is also a song that started a friendship that I truly cherish now. My friend Alex was in town, and had a show at Bucknell University in PA. Alex had invited along half of Draco and the Malfoys (Brian) to play the show with him. A friend of mine (Rory) brought two of her friends and all six of us were going to share a hotel room for the night. Since I only knew two people, I was a bit shy when we finally all got to the hotel room, but the shyness didn’t last long. We rushed to dinner, where small chat happened and everyone who didn’t know each other broke the ice. We got to the venue for sound check where I helped both boys with cables and instruments (what I usually do at shows of theirs, besides taking lots of pictures). Alex sound checked quickly, and then it was Brian’s turn. He messed around with some Malfoys songs for a bit and for his full song.. he started playing this song. I was enthralled. After he was done playing I went up to him and asked who originally made that song. He explained about the Hold Steady, and said he would send me the song via email. We all had our laptops at the venue (we were there so early, and the campus had free wireless). Instead of sending me the song, he sent me the whole album Separation Sunday. I was content knowing what was in my inbox, so for the rest of the night we talked music. What types he was into, what types I was into. This lead to guitar discussion because I brought my newly acquired acoustic along for the trip (I SUCKED SO BAD, but he helped me learn my first three chords) I didn’t listen to the whole album until the drive home, and I became instantly HOOKED! I went out and bought the first three albums that same weekend (Boys and Girls In America had come out that past summer, this went down in the middle of winter). What was really interesting was that the email where Brian sent me the song became more like a conversation. I would write him questions about music, guitar, or wizard rock. We became friends quickly. The best part about this story is not the fact that he was the one who introduced me to this band… we have since had some funny moments because of the mutual like of The Hold Steady. We had both gone to different Hold Steady shows of the same tour, we texted each other throughout the shows we attended. Later that month, there was a wrock show in NYC. We showed up to that show in the same Hold Steady hoody that we both bought… completely not planned (which was quite a laugh). I also got to cover Hoodrat with him and his brother at a house party show in Rhode Island. We are possibly going to the same Hold Steady show this April in New Haven.. kind of pulls this story completely full circle!

Looking For Trouble – The Remus Lupins

First things first…. every wrock fan remembers the first time they heard their first wizard rock song. I am not a typical wizard rock fan. Most of the fans who got into wrock the time I did heard Harry and the Potters as their first band… I heard The Remus Lupins first. I was in my dorm… and was bored. I decided to put campus radio on. There was some random DJ on (it was super early in the morning) and they were playing random stuff off of MySpace (yeah.. MySpace… before it became a burning ring of hell). I don’t remember the intro to this song, but I vaguely remember the mention of Harry Potter. I listen in and I was intrigued. I turned off the campus radio, and booked it to The Remus Lupins myspace. I listened to the song, and then looked at the friends… and found the amazing world of Wizard Rock (I then became obsessed).

To continue this story, Alex (The Remus Lupins – yeah at the time he was a one man band with a photographer… the plural band name was a joke. He now has a full band behind him) was playing a show in Philadelphia. It was at a place called the Spazz House, near St. Joe’s University. He was set to play at like 7pm. I was thinking this was a type of club/coffee joint, but when I pulled up it was a residential house. I thought I had gotten the address wrong, but right after I pulled up, Alex pulled up with his friend/roadie/photographer Brandon. I had never met Alex before, and was extremely nervous (First wizard rock show… I was guilty of fangirldom GASP!) So I slowly walked up. I was wearing a hp shirt, so he walked up to me like I knew what was going on, which I didn’t. The house was deserted… no one was there. We sat outside of the house on the porch, until two girls showed up. The two girls owned the house. They said that nothing was going to go down until around 9pm and that there were two/three bands before Alex was to play. So we decided to chill out on the porch. I met Alex, we listened to his iPod, Brandon searched for a wireless signal, and we got some apple juice from some store called Bill’s Market. The girls who owned the house started being complete jerks and almost set their own porch on fire. Alex thought they were trying to be funny and just messing around, but I could tell that they were being complete asses. I stood up for Alex (without actually knowing him all that well) and tada, the start of our friendship. Alex finally went on the stage (which was in a dingy basement, empty kegs were the only seating) around 11pm. He played a 5 song set, asking me which songs of his I wanted him to play. Not having his cd yet.. I asked for only one… Looking For Trouble, and sang the bah bahs for him when he played that song last. (he tells this story so much better than I do).

Follow the Yellow Brick Road – The Wizard of Oz

When I was little, my parents had a bright yellow carpet that covered the living room, dining room, and went all the way up to the upstairs hallway. I believe it was the original carpet of the house from when my grandparents owned it. I was all of 4, and I was obsessed with The Wizard of OZ. At that age, many cheapy stores have crappy cheap shoes that little girls can wear. I found the ruby slipper kind, and insisted that I have them. I would frolic around my house with the shoes on, pretending to be Dorthy singing Follow the Yellow Brick Road over and over and over again until one day one of the shoes broke. At this time of my life, I believed that my dad could fix anything (He was a carpenter… so my 4 year old mind believed he could fix anything) and brought my shoes to him to fix. He took them out to the shop, and used some glue and a clamp.. and got my shoes to work again for a bit (like a day) until I broke the shoe again. Unknown to me at the time, after the first series of shoe breaks.. he asked my mom where the shoes came from, and then went out to the store and bought the rest of them. Every time I broke a ruby slipper, my dad would take me out to the shop.. put on a show of “fixing” the shoe, and he would grab a new shoe from his stash. Oh what parents do to make their children believe.

The Weapon – Harry and the Potters

Every scene has an anthem. The anthem in Wizard Rock is Harry and the Potters – The Weapon. During their longest summer tours (So summer 2006, and summer 2007) Harry and the Potters would finish off their shows with The Weapon. At their live shows, the boys start this song at their instruments (Paul on his red Gibson SG and Joe on the keys and if they have a drummer (whoever that may be, whether Brad from the Malfoys or someone else) on the drums) About halfway through the song they ditch their instruments (the drums go to backing track – Brad usually takes a quick break here) and Paul and Joe (or Harry year 7 and Harry year 4 respectively) jump into the crowd with their mics and rock out with the crowd. At some point or another, the drummer returns, and Paul jumps back up on stage. He grabs another guitar, a yellow Gibson Explorer with an orange lighting bolt painted on it. He finishes the song with an epic jump high into the air. (This song live cannot be explained with text.. it has to be experienced). This song has become an anthem of sorts. The Potters don’t even have to be at a wrock event… large conferences usually end with another wizard rock band covering this song if the Potters cannot supply the song themselves. It usually involves a lot of hugging (usually a large group hug involving everyone in the room – those are the best!), or it is just a massive sing along. This song is what every wrock fan wants to see at a wizard rock show. This song is the experience that everyone wants to have. I hear this song and realize the amount of fun I have had at these shows. I remember when I saw the Potters, Malfoys, and Matt perform three nights in a row in two different states, and this song finished every night. I remember the sleep over where we all (the group listed above) came up with countless Hedwig is Dead jokes, and then the next morning called Melissa (a NY Times best selling author) and told them all to her. It was the summer of 2007, everyone thought it was all going to end and come crashing down… but it hasn’t.

Screening Process – Lauren Fairweather

The full story behind this song is extremely complicated and emotional and I will not go into it because while I was somewhat involved… the song has nothing to do with me. My feelings towards this song are what I am going to write about.
My friend, Lauren, has a way with words. She has the uncanny ability to be able to put words to music and basically say everything that you have ever felt in a situation and completely capture it. Lauren wrote this song during a hard time in her life, and I am not going to go into it because in all reality, the song basically covers it. This song also explains something that I have always done. I have a “Screening Process” so to say. I hide, I put up a front, and it takes a little while to fully get to know the real me. With certain people this doesn’t last long, and with other people it can take years for me to truly show myself. I have trust issues, and I feel this song really kind of explains some situations. Again, without Lauren’s skill of putting words to song, I wouldn’t have a song to explain this part of me, and I am grateful for her talents.

High Hopes – Harry Kalas

It was the song of a season, and a song of remembrance. Harry Kalas, beloved voice of the Philadelphia Phillies sung this song for the fans one day. After his death, after every home win, the fans would wait for the recording of this song to be played so they could sing along. In my household it was sung, as a family after every win. It was the hopes for a repeat, as well as a high remembrance to a beloved person of the franchise. Will High Hopes continue to be played this season after home game wins? Who knows, but I do know if it is, Philadelphia fans will continue to smile in remembrance of a city icon.

The Sign – Ace of Base

This was the song of summer during my childhood. Summer officially started when my friend Ryan’s pool was opened for the year. Every weekday (and some weekends, but those were usually for sports) we would go swimming at his house from 10am till dark (and on some special occasions, after dark). My mom would donate a box of ice pops at the beginning of the season (and whenever the supply ran out), and lunches would be switched between the group’s parents at various times. We would have a mix tape (or as we got older, a mix cd) for every year, but one constant song, “The Sign” was always present. It was necessary, it was tradition. We would sing it at the top of our lungs throughout the summer. I still smile every time I hear the song. Its a reminder of more innocent times.

See You Again – Miley Cyrus

The song of the 2008 softball season. Every softball team in the NJAC (the NJ NCAA div 3 conference) has a mix cd for each season. Usually these mix cd’s are completely random and have no relation whatsoever (due to every team being completely different). There was a common thread in the 2008 season, and it was Miley Cyrus’s See You Again. At the beginning of the spring season (so… like January) this song was one of the most popular songs on the radio, so hearing it now and again on mix cd’s was never an issue. Quickly, as the season progressed, the song became very old. It was overplayed on the radio, and EVERYONE had it on their mix cd. There was no escaping the song. Even when I hear it now, there is a cringe.

Lovegame – Lady Gaga

This is a song that will forever be highly awkward, just because of the story. We were playing an away game at Ramapo College. During the warm up time, Lady GaGa’s Lovegame came on the their warm up cd. We were stretching with our coaches sitting right in front of us. For our warm up cd, our coach required everything to be family friendly and appropriate. We have a lot of young girls come to our games to watch and learn, so our music is not just for us, it is for everyone in attendance that day. When this song came on we were all shocked at the inappropriateness of it and everyone was embarrassed. Awkward doesn’t even come close to the amount of emotions going on at that time. That song is perfectly acceptable at the club, or at a party (and in that atmosphere, I have no problem with the song, I like it. It’s creative.) but it was completely unnecessary on the softball field that day, especially with 8 year olds in front of you watching.

Transparent – The Moaning Myrtles

This is the song that fully explains what wizard rock did for me. Wizard rock is not just a niche music genre (well it is, but hear me out). To a lot of people it was a place to make friends as well as a place to break out of their shell. Before I entered this niche of music, I was never one to make friends easily. I was a floater, I was active in a lot of different places, but I never truly fit in anywhere or with anyone. When I found the wizard rock scene I made great friends quickly, and truly found who I was through the community. I was myself here. This song basically puts my experience into music, as well as the experience of many others (of course including the two girls who wrote the song, Lauren and Nina!)

A Conversation with my Demons – The Whomping Willows

The album that this song comes from was not a wizard rock album in my opinion. While it was under the artist’s wizard rock name, this album was an album about the person behind the music, not the character (or in Matt’s case… the tree) that he portrayed in his music. (You see in wizard rock, the band name usually tells you what to expect, With Harry and the Potters, you have two guys dressed as Harry Potter, singing songs from Harry’s point of view, same with Draco and the Malfoys… the Whomping Willows.. sing songs from the tree’s perspective – quite humorous.) Going into listening to this album I knew he had some really bad times in his past, and heck I had some really bad times in my past as well. When I first heard this album I instantly loved it. It was humorous at parts, but at other times, such as this song, it was straight from Matt’s soul. This was him getting rid of his demons, this was him coming completely clean and fully starting over. The first time I heard this song I cried. I cried for Matt, as well as for myself. Hearing your friends face their past, and for them to put it out there in public is a freeing experience. I sometimes even now listen to this song, not out of sadness, but to help me keep my head up. If Matt can face his demons in front of the world, I should be able to as well. It keeps me in check.

What’s Left of the Flag – Flogging Molly

On my college softball team, every senior gets to have at least one song on the mix cd that does not go to vote by the rest of the team. I tend to like pretty much whatever everyone else chooses for our mix cd (we only play 60 seconds of each song… that way we get to have a lot more songs, and a lot more variety). My senior year came up and I had a few songs I would like on the cd, again, most of them were already picked by other girls, so I knew that they would be put on. The only song that was not chosen for the cd by other girls was What’s Left of the Flag. The girl putting together the cd started to listen to the song in front of me. The song starts out a bit slower, and then changes tempo quickly. She started to argue that this was not a song that could pump anyone up, or a song that anyone would like. I told her to wait a minute. When the song switched tempo, her jaw sort of dropped and she started to like it. Later, she mentioned that a lot of my songs were chosen by other people and that I would have a song on the cd. I looked at her and just said “I want What’s Left of the Flag” on the cd, senior choice.” It was the 7th song on the cd, and it quickly became a team favorite.

If You Were Gay / The Internet is for Porn – Avenue Q

Senior year of high school field hockey. We were going to have a rare night practice under the lights because we were going to have a rare night game under the lights in a few days. While the team was in the parking lot waiting for the coaches to arrive, a fellow senior started playing music out of her car. All of a sudden she proclaims: “You all have to listen to these songs, they are very funny. They are from a musical that my Uncle is in, it’s called Avenue Q. It might go to Broadway soon!” So of course, we all crowd around the car. The first song she plays was If You Were Gay. The girl’s uncle was Johnny Tartaglia (who voiced the puppets of Rod and Princeton (male lead) in the original cast of the show). We were all laughing so hard by the time this song was over. Right after the first song, she put on The Internet is for Porn in which caused even more laughter. The coaches still did not turn up, so she continued playing random songs from the cd. I eventually got to go up to NYC and see this show on Broadway, fully enjoying the show even more because of how my discovery of the show occurred.

Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – Bruce Springsteen

I missed the epic Hold Steady show in Brooklyn where the venue pumped this over the house system and the party ensued. While I did hear about this amazing occurrence, as well as seen various videos of the event on youtube. Being there would have been an amazing story to have in my mixtape list, but alas it is not to be. Why then, do I have it? This song has been strangely present in one way or another during some interesting times recently. I was teaching my brother how to parallel park (which basically determines pass or fail on the NJ test… if you fail parallel parking, test is over), and his ah ha moment happened when this song came on the classic rock station. I was listening to my ipod and this song came on when I got the news that I had passed my praxis (my teaching certification test). I was visiting a friend at TCNJ in the Rat (a restaurant/bar on campus) and hearing some interesting team news (cannot explain fully to you guys.. team stuff) when this song came on the jukebox. The most recent occurrence of this song playing at a weird time was when I was talking to a friend about how this song was played at the show in Brooklyn. I had just finished that line of conversation when again, the song came blasting out of the bar’s jukebox. I don’t know why this song seems to be following me. Maybe I was supposed to be at that show in Brooklyn, and this is the universes way of making it up, or it’s just a complete coincidence that a lot of good things (or random, however you see it) seem to happen when this song is playing, I don’ t mind though, it is my favorite song, from my favorite Bruce album!

Belle – Beauty and the Beast

Everyone has their favorite movie when they were a kid. One (well in my generation) where you watched the movie so much that you wore out the VHS. My movie was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. While my favorite song from this show is not even in the movie (it is in the play – Human Again) I am using Belle for my story, because there actually is something there. I did not know the origins of the story when I was little, I just liked Beauty and the Beast because Belle had brown hair (LIKE ME) and when the movie came out, I was the target audience. Now I fully understand the story, I understand the origins of the story, and I know what Disney did to it to make it marketable (like most of their adaptations of fairy tales.) While taking French in high school we had the option of watching this movie, but not in English, we had to watch it in French (since the DVD gave us the option). In high school, I fell in love with this movie again, and the love was instant. Belle is chosen as the song for this story because when I first watched the movie in French (around 3rd/4th year…) for the first time, it was the first song that I completely understood the French language in. It may have been because I knew the songs so well in English, or it may have just been the timing of watching that movie, and my AHA moment in the class, but I will always remember finally being able to know what was going on during a French language movie that did not have subtitles.

My Dad is Rich – Draco and the Malfoys

I have seen Draco and the Malfoys perform a large number of times. At first, before the first song was sung, I found it quite funny that everything they did was a complete parody to Harry and the Potters. I also found it funny that you couldn’t find two guys that looked less like the character of Draco Malfoy (Harry and the Potters look like Harry Potter). The first song of Draco and the Malfoys I ever remember hearing live is My Dad is Rich. It is a delightful song about how the Malfoys have money, and Harry’s parents are dead. While the two performing look nothing like Draco Malfoy, they get his character to a T through their lyrics. They pack that punch of ‘evil’ just enough to make it believable. It also helps that the boys are also in character the entire show, taking jabs at the Potter’s, and whatever other character they decide on mocking at the time (usually Harry, or Weasleys). This song is probably the second most popular DatM song… with the first being their cover/filk of 99 Red Balloons – 99 Death Eaters. This was the first song of theirs to make me laugh out loud… In fact I believe that I sprayed a room with water the first time I heard this song. They got it just right, the right amount of maliciousness mixed with the right amount of humor.

Defying Gravity – Wicked

This song is one huge fuck you, and that is why I completely relate to it. In high school I was never one to fit in anywhere. I floated around yes, and was accepted places, but I never found where I FIT. I saw this play in the middle of high school, and yet the message never fully clicked until after I had graduated. Elphaba (or the wicked witch of the west) gives up everything that she ever wanted, to do what was right. When I finally realized the implications of this song, I knew it was a plea for everyone to do what they believe in. I finally got this message in college. I stopped caring what people thought of me, I started being myself, and I have ended up happier than I would have if I did the exact opposite.

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

This is a song that was also overplayed on many softball mix cd’s throughout the years I played in the NJAC, but the overplaying is not the story here, the story is how much Coack K hated the song. Coach K was an assistant coach on the team, and she would normally be the one who warmed us up in the batting cages before the game. We of course had this song on our mix cd (luckily it was only 60 seconds of the song) and the first time it was played, Coach K started to complain. We thought it was funny. We then started to notice that whoever was in the cage when this song came on the mix cd, was going to be challenged a lot. For the rest of that season, I tried to be in the batting cage during this 60 second period. The song angered her so much, she hated it so much, that she would pitch to beat us. It was some of the best practice ever! One practice that season when we were playing the cd (because we desperately needed music) she screamed for us to turn it off. So, of course, what do we do the next three years, put this song on the mix cd – I wasn’t the only one who figured out that there was more of a challenge when this song was playing. (the next three years she just sort of rolled her eyes at us over this song. She knew it was there just for us to be annoying.)

Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd

It was my freshman year in college, middle of the spring semester actually. It was starting to get warm outside, and the campus was becoming lively again. One night, my roommate’s best friend comes to our dorm, and she is really upset. There was a kid missing on her floor, no one had seen him since the night before, and campus police were searching the entire floor for information. We talked and we all decided that it really was just an overreaction, but little did we know the chaos that was about to ensue. The missing kid was John Fiocco Jr, and if you were paying attention to the national news at this time in spring 2006, you know the story of how he was missing, there was a huge search. Blood was then found in the trash chute of his dorm, and then near the trash bins. John was later found in a landfill in Pennsylvania, and to this day the who, what, and why of this tragedy has never been discovered. That next morning, all three of us (My roommate’s friend never go the call that she could return to her dorm, so she slept over) were awoken by a campus police officer banging on our door. The police were asking everyone who lived in the towers (Travers and Wolfe. I lived in Travers with my roommate, and her friend (as well as John) lived in the connected tower of Wolfe (my roommate’s friend and John actually lived on the same floor)) where they were the night that John disappeared, if we knew John, and a whole bunch of other questions. If this wasn’t enough, security throughout campus was increased, which meant that it was nearly impossible to get around campus without feeling like you were in a different world. Later that week, the news vans showed up, and you were being attacked walking into your dorm, going to eat, walking to class. The media was horrible. Soon the campus made the media stay in a parking lot away from any academic buildings and residence halls. It was close to some huge tests and students were starting to get annoyed. We needed to blow off some steam. I was writing some huge freshman paper for a class we have to take freshman year, and my roommate was busy with a project for her Russian class. We were fried from being harassed by the media for living in the adjacent dorm of the kid who was missing, and the rumors flying around campus didn’t help either. We needed a release. My roommate had her iPod on and Free Bird came on. We both looked at each other, she cranked the music up, and we went out into the hallway and danced. We danced for the entire song. A few of our floor mates heard the music, and saw what we were doing and joined us. It wasn’t about the song, it was about needing a release.

Colors of the Wind – Disney’s Pocahontas

Being Greek and Italian means I tan easily. When I was younger, saying that I tanned easily was a complete understatement, I tanned in 30 seconds in the sun, and for the entire summer I was always, always very dark skinned (I actually have to try now.) It was the summer that Disney released Pocahontas, and of course I was out playing the entire summer. That summer I had gained the lovely privileged of being allowed anywhere in the area that we live, not just around the block, but anywhere in the area. This freedom was great, a lot more kids to play with, and with new kids to play with, new parents to interact with as well. One of the parents immediately identified me as looking like Pocahontas, and the name stuck. That entire summer I was either called that or the reference came up some way or another.

End of an Era – Oliver Boyd and the Rememberalls

In the winter of 2006, most Harry Potter fans thought that it wasn’t going to be until 2008 when we would receive the final installment of the Harry Potter series. We were all theorizing this and that. Christmas came, and the huge announcement was made. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be released on July 21st 2008. We were shocked, it had taken longer than that for the 6th installment to come out, and waiting for the 5th book was a nightmare. Flash forward to the end of spring beginning of summer. There was a song, End of an Era by Oliver Boyd and the Rememberalls (one man band). It became the song of the summer. It was a semi-sad song, one about how the series was coming to an end, but how we would not forget our friends we had made because of the series. This song made me think, what is going to happen to the fandom as the series comes to an end. Yes we would have the movies (but they usually just caused aggravation to the book fans), and yes we would still have the internet (where most of fandom occurred) but we would not have the anticipation of the next book to keep the interest. The wizard rock portion of the fandom insisted that they would continue to pay shows as long as their was a fan demand for the shows to be played. This statement has proven to be true, it is 3 years after the final installment has come out, and the wizard rock portion of fandom has pretty much remained constant. Bands are still writing new music (they are taking a lot more liberties, but still, new music is new music) bands are still playing shows, and fans are still attending those shows. This song just hit a chord that year. It is now a song that makes me smile, where that summer, it made me contemplate what may/could have been.

Tick Tock – Stevie Ray Vaughan

This was a constant song of my childhood and will always be remind me of my father. One summer my father decided to put a sound system in the back porch so there could be music for gardening, swimming, and general entertainment. My dad listens to a lot of blues and one album he had was Stevie Ray Vaughn. Tick Tock People came on and my little brothers fell in love with it. Soon every time we were outside with dad, the song had to be played. Until the song was played, my brothers would chant TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK until our father relented and finally put the song over the speakers. I remember one time well, where we were all gathered in the porch doing something (what it was is insignificant.) We all danced around and sang along to the song. I got to dance with my dad, and even dance with my brothers (we were all little). While it is something small, it is something significant that I will always cherish.

Most People are DJs – The Hold Steady

It was your favorite song of theirs ( I say was, because I really don’t know if it currently is your favorite song of theirs anymore.) I remember the dinner we went to at the crepe place before the show. How it was kinda awkward. I associated that place with friends (I still do, most of my meals there have been large parties of friends), but that night it was just the two of us and the lights were low, and I think it was more ‘date’ like than we both wanted. When we got to TLA you confessed the one song you wanted to hear was DJs. I wanted to hear “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” (which, seriously… I should have known that it was going to be played.) We were up front and there was a lot of violent pushing and shoving going on. You stood behind me, taking the brunt of the violence, whether or not you meant to do this or not, I remember how protective of me you were that night. I don’t remember if it was the end of the set, or during the encore but when the first chords of this song came on, you were so happy. I remember the look on your face, and your whoop of appreciation. (I remember now.. it was during the encore, because the next song was Killer Parties, and there was a stage invasion. You helped me up to the stage when I was too scared to go on the stage myself, you boosted me up, while Franz pulled me by the arm.) I think of you every time I hear this song now… “a thousand kids will fall in love in all these clubs tonight.” Well it wasn’t that night when it happened, but somehow, someway, I fell for you. While I know you probably don’t feel the same, it’s out in the open now, and I have to say that it’s a bit freeing to finally say it.

John Nagle’s Eternal Mixtape

“The Best Mixtape I Have”

George Harrison: “I Got My Mind Set On You”

My parents got MTV and a VCR around the same time. When my dad saw a video he liked, he taped it. “I Got My Mind Set on You” was the first video on the tape, and the first music video I ever saw. I didn’t know anything about song structure, or lyrics, or even that George Harrison was a Beatle, I just liked the way his vocals melded with the kick drum.

Fine Young Cannibals: “She Drives Me Crazy”

“She Drives Me Crazy” also begins with a pounding kick drum, but Dave Cox’s guitar was what hooked me. I can hear the riff in my head to this day. If you listen hard enough, you can hear “fallen logo,” whatever that means. I went through three copies of The Raw and the Uncooked before my third copy mysteriously disappeared. I guess someone was tired of hearing Roland Gift’s falsetto 3,000 times a day.

The Beatles: “She Loves You”

The Beatles are so ubiquitous in our house that it’s a miracle I can still listen to them.
When music nerds name their favorite Beatles song, they usually try to go as obscure as possible. Screw that. Abbey Road is my favorite album, 1965-1966 is my favorite period, but “She Loves You” is the best thing the Beatles ever did. Every time I hear McCartney hit the final “be glad,” I wonder what it’s like to feel that kind of joy.

Smashing Pumpkins: “Today”

Travis Brown was as cool as a kid could be in the third grade. Travis had a much older sister, so he had unlimited access to popular culture. When his sister discovered The Smashing Pumpkins, he became obsessed with them. He even wrote a story about them in Storybook Weaver. I can’t remember the plot, but it probably involved Billy Corgan riding around in a van solving mysteries. I think he wore a kerchief. I wanted to be cool like Travis, so I took my allowance to Waxie Maxie’s and spent the astronomical sum of $12.99 for a Siamese Dream cassette. It was the first album I bought with my own money.

Green Day: “When I Come Around”

I was the only suburban kid in the United States that didn’t own a copy of Dookie. My mom’s best friend told her that it was the worst thing she had ever heard, so I was told that it would never enter the house. Oddly enough, she had no problems with NWA’s 1988 opus, Straight Outta Compton. Figure that one out.

No Doubt: “Sunday Morning,” Hootie and the Blowfish: “Time,” Bush: “Greedy Fly”

These records started thousands of collections, including mine. We all began by listening to the radio and copying our friends. Then you either continue on the main road, or travel down the rocky road of music geekdom.

Guns n’ Roses: “It’s So Easy”

My family belongs to an exclusive country club. At the end of the summer, they have a back to school cookout. I was always forced to attend. During one of these cookouts, I was playing catch with a group of kids. The ringleader decided that he wanted to play football in the volleyball pit, which is covered in sand. I asked if we could play somewhere else, since my wheelchair can’t go in sand. He flatly refused, and the kids left me there. As I was going back to our table, the DJ played Dave Matthews’ “Ants Marching.” I remember thinking, “I am going to find the exact opposite of this.”

When I went to the record store the next day, I found a little record called Appetite for Destruction. The cover was a crucifix with five skulls on it. The dudes on the back were drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. The one in the corner was wearing leather pants and had a look on his face that said “If you fuck with me, I will beat the shit out of you.”

I took it home, and Axl Rose became my first musical confidant. He was saying everything I wanted to say, but couldn’t. My favorite track on Appetite for Destruction is “It’s So Easy,” because of this line: “I see you standing there/you think you’re so cool/why don’t you just FUCK OFF!”

Those kids couldn’t fuck with me anymore. I had Axl, Slash, Duff and Izzy on my side.

Poison: “Talk Dirty to Me”

Poison is the most significant band of my teenage years. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes, but put yourself in my Chuck Taylors for a second. Imagine you are in a body cast for two months. After you get the cast taken off, you have to spend three weeks in the hospital for rehab. After you get out of the hospital, you have to go to a special school so you can get physical therapy every day. The teacher hates you for no apparent reason. You have no confidence in yourself whatsoever. Then you hear a song about the most glorious, sinful, carnal, inappropriate, un-Catholic sex in the world, sung by the coolest guy you have ever seen. Instead of telling you to go away, he invites you to join the party. You’d take him up on it, right?

Limp Bizkit: “Hot Dog”

If you are a white male born between the years 1984 to 1987, you have a Limp Bizkit record in your collection. You may listen to Grizzly Bear now, but you once gave it all for the nookie.

I spent many lunch periods discussing the pure awesomeness of Limp Bizkit with my esteemed associates, Jeremy and Steve. Fred Durst was like, so cool man. We eagerly awaited the release of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, which was going to be the Sgt. Pepper of our generation. Brother Fred was going to reveal some deep truths. Finally, after months of anticipation, the big day arrived. My mom took me down to Waves music and I proudly gave my allowance to the clerk. He rolled his eyes as he rang me up, but what did he know?

I raced home, put the sacred disc in my Sony boombox and shut the door. One day, I was going to tell my grandchildren about this moment. My ears were greeted with this:

What? That was weird. Why is Fred breaking the fourth wall? What does he have against Trent Reznor? Does he really need to say “fuck” 45 times?
I listened to the album five times in a row and came to a conclusion.

“This album sucks.”

My inner critic had arrived.

The Replacements: “Unsatisfied”

I discovered Let it Be without any recommendation from Spin or Rolling Stone. I found it in a Best Buy one day, and was impressed that they had the balls to steal a title from The Beatles. I was the perfect age. Paul Westerberg became my second musical confidant. If Axl Rose said the things I couldn’t say, Westerberg was articulating the way I felt. I was sixteen, stuck in the suburbs wondering when life would begin. Paul didn’t have the answers to my questions, but he let me vent.

Pretty Boy Floyd: “Wild Angels”

All music geeks have asked themselves this question: If you could make any album in the world, what would it be? Most people would say Blonde on Blonde, Sgt. Pepper or OK Computer. Not me. If I could make any album in the world, it would be Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz.

Poison was my gateway drug to hair metal. By my senior year in high school, I listened to them all; Skid Row, Motley Crue, LA Guns, Ratt, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P., Danger Danger, Faster Pussycat, Stryper, Whitesnake, Dokken, I could go on for days. If a band had big hair and obscenely tight pants, I bought their record no questions asked. By 2003, the critical opinion of hair metal had slightly shifted. It still sucked, but you could like it ironically. In the spirit of irony, Spin ran a cover story about the Sunset Strip. At the end of the story, the author singled out Pretty Boy Floyd as the band that killed hair metal.

Wow. That was a pretty strong statement. I had to hear that record. I mean, they killed an entire genre. The album was long out of print, so it took me about six months to track down a copy of Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz. It was worth the wait.

Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz is not the record that killed hair metal. If it had been handled properly, it would have saved it. PBF are not great musicians or talented lyricists, but they captured the sheer joy of rock n’ roll. They never aspire to be anything more than the most over the top glam band in the world. When Steve “Sex” Summers talks about running away to Hollywood and rocking all night long (like he never could), he means it. I played this record for a friend recently, and he put it best. “This is the sound of hair metal clawing its way back.” Indeed.

Butch Walker: “Mixtape/”Best Thing You Never Had”

“Mixtape” and “Best Thing You Never Had” are forever linked in my mind. One represents the awkward joy of telling someone how you feel, while the other is the pain of unrequited love.

I had discovered Butch Walker in my freshman year of college. I bought his first solo album, Left of Self Centered, on a whim. I liked him a lot, but Letters changed my life.

Throughout high school, I was in love with a girl. We sat next to each other in history class, and eventually became friends. She would argue with her boyfriend and then come crying to me. I would tell her how beautiful she was and how he didn’t deserve her, yadda yadda yadda. This went on for almost three years.

The week Letters came out, we had a huge fight. I don’t remember what it was about, but we stopped talking. “Best Thing You Never Had” summed up our relationship in four minutes and 30 seconds. I spent a lot of time riding around Towson playing that record over and over again. Butch tried to tell me it would be OK, but I didn’t believe him.

In the fall of 2005, I met a girl named Monica. She complimented my Nine Inch Nails patch. We went out to dinner, watched John Cusack movies, and went to wrestling. It was a mutual thing rather than a one-sided therapy session. After a couple months, I had to tell her how I felt and I chose Butch Walker’s words; “You gave me the best mixtape I have. Even the sad songs ain’t so sad. I just wish there was so much more than that, about me and you.” She cried.

Although it didn’t work out romantically between us, Monica is one of my best friends.

Butch was right.

Bob Dylan: “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”

I bought my first copy of Blonde on Blonde because it was on sale. I thought I had finally sold out. After years of decrying the rock critics who pretentiously worshipped Dylan, Sonic Youth and Pavement, I had crossed the line. I was treating it like the musical equivalent of Schindler’s List; nobody wants to see that film, but you have to. I think you can guess what happened. It’s Blonde on Blonde.

I like Pavement and Sonic Youth now too. My fourteen year old-self wants to kick my ass.

The Rolling Stones: “Sister Morphine”

Like every other person with Baby Boomer parents, I was exposed to The Rolling Stones at an early age. The first album I ever heard was Steel Wheels. Steel Wheels is a decent album, but it’s a latter day Stones album. The Stones were not really a band in 1988, but a corporation. My mom told me that she wasn’t allowed to listen to the Rolling Stones, because they were bad boys. I looked at the pleasantly wrinkled face of Mick Jagger and wondered what was so threatening.

I didn’t find out until many years later. I bought Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet and Let it Bleed. When I heard Sticky Fingers in its entirety for the first time, I understood. The Rolling Stones were not always elder statesmen who performed “Satisfaction” to stadiums of yuppies. Sticky Fingers shows a weary band mired in drug addiction. Jagger’s voice is so weary that you feel like you have done heroin with him.

David Bowie: “Lady Stardust”

I’ve always been fascinated with David Bowie, because I’m fascinated with the idea of personal transformation. How did a kid with an ordinary name become a bisexual space alien sent to save Earth? Bowie has something that not many people have anymore; complete and total mystique. When people talk about David Bowie, they usually talk about his recurring motifs, but he’s also one of the most underrated singers of the rock era. “Life on Mars?” is the best known, but “Lady Stardust” is my favorite vocal showcase of his. He lets his vocals soar without overdoing the pyrotechnics. “Lady Stardust” is a masterpiece of grandeur and restraint.

Elvis Presley: “Unchained Melody”

The King has entered the Eternal Mixtape. I spent way too long debating which Elvis song to include here. I almost went with “Suspicious Minds,” which is his masterpiece and my favorite Elvis song. Then I switched to “Jailhouse Rock,” which was the first Elvis song I ever heard. Then I decided to go really obscure and pick something like “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame,” or “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road.” I even considered my two least favorite Elvis songs, “No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car” and “Who Needs Money?” so I could argue for his greatness.

I went with the song that revived my love for Elvis, and turned him into my favorite artist of all time.

I went through a brief but intense Elvis phase as a kid. When I grew out of it, I started to subscribe to the theory that Elvis was flat out racist and plain (motherfuck him and John Wayne). I had no grounds for believing this theory, other than what I read in music magazines. Then Rolling Stone pointed me to this video of Elvis singing “Unchained Melody” during his final concert.

He’s fat, bloated, and dripping with sweat, but he summons the notes from the depths of his soul. When he hits the first few high notes, the suit, the fat and the bloat melt away. He is the King again. I think I have something in my eye.

Bruce Springsteen: “No Surrender” (live, acoustic)

On his blockbuster album Born in the USA, “No Surrender” is a fun song. On this version, recorded during the Born in the USA tour, The Boss strips it down to the bare essentials. It’s just his guitar and his words. He sums it up so succinctly: “Here’s one for friendship.” Bruce’s best songs are about friendship and loyalty, and this one is my favorite.

Cheap Trick: “Clock Strikes Ten”

“I’m not going to cry this time,” I thought, as I prepared to see Cheap Trick for the
third time. “They are just a band. I see bands almost every week. It’s only Cheap Trick.”

My resolution lasted about 30 seconds.

I can’t really explain why Cheap Trick makes me so happy, but they do. They are my vision of a perfect rock band. They have the matinee idols, but they also have two nerds. Rick Nielsen’s guitar riffs are really heavy, but are offset by killer harmonies. The choruses are big, but the lyrics are complicated. Christ, I sound like a Pitchfork writer. I think it can be summed up in one sentence: “ON THE DRUMS, MR. BUN E. CARLOS!” If that doesn’t get you, nothing will.

Radiohead: “Black Star”

My first exposure to Radiohead was in the ninth grade. My best friend, Steve, had a crush on a girl who liked them. He went out and bought Kid A, which was their newest release at the time. He listened to it for about three weeks and then went back to Disturbed. I inherited Steve’s copy of Kid A, and I didn’t get it either. So because I was fourteen, I decided that I didn’t like Radiohead, even though I’d never heard anything else.

By my sophomore year of college, I was more enlightened. I was listening to everything, from The Smiths to John Coltrane. Since I was giving everything else a chance, it was time to reevaluate Radiohead. But where to begin?
I went to the record store that weekend and bought The Bends, because I knew “Fake Plastic Trees.” When I finished the album, I understood Radiohead. Why did I respond to The Bends, but not Kid A, which is their masterpiece?

It’s quite simple; The Bends is an arena rock record. The songs had riffs, choruses, bridges and hooks. The conventional structures were twisted with avant guard flourishes; a tape loop here, distortion there. It’s easy to get sucked in. From there you get OK Computer and then go into Kid A.

Once I had a firm foundation in Radiohead’s music, I understood Kid A. My experience with Radiohead taught me that a gateway is everything. If you are looking to get into an established band and get the wrong record, it can influence your opinion for years to come. If only I’d heard The Bends first.

The Gaslight Anthem: “High Lonesome”

As an acclaimed music journalist, I have to listen to a lot of music. Once in a while, I encounter something that reminds me why I started writing about music in the first place. “High Lonesome” is one of them.

Ramones: “Cretin Hop”

Finally, “Cretin Hop” has been on every mixtape I’ve made since I was seventeen. Why break tradition?

This tape only scratches the surface of my musical life. Here are some songs that missed the cut.

Skid Row: Monkey Business
Warrant: Heaven
Metallica: One
Pantera: Revolution Is My Name
Marvelous 3: Beautiful
Prince & The Revolution: When You Were Mine
Elvis Costello: Hand in Hand
Joe Jackson: Happy Loving Couples
The Smiths: I Know It’s Over
Thin Lizzy: Romeo and the Lonely Girl
The Faces: Flying
Notorious BIG: Big Poppa
The Hold Steady: Constructive Summer
The Clash: Brand New Cadillac
Iron Maiden: Aces High
The Ronettes: Be My Baby

The Eternal Mixtape Project

This is a project that I have been working on intermittently for years. Now, it’s something I want to put in action.

It’s called The Eternal Mixtape Project.

From when I was in elementary school up until the eighth grade, I didn’t have much use for music. However, when I got “Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix,” when I was thirteen, my world completely changed.

I turn twenty-five this year. I feel that’s a good time to take stock of what’s happened in my life as I hit the quarter century mark. Why not look back on it with the songs that shaped me?

So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to assemble a list of every song that’s meant any significance in my life thus far.

I want you to do it too.

Send it to us. Let’s hear your story. That’s the only catch. There needs to be a substantial story (at least a paragraph long) attached to each song that you must write along with it.

They’re due Saturday, March 20 Wednesday, March 31 by 12:00 AM CST. Sign up by placing a comment below, and when you’re done, e-mail the list to They’ll all be listed on the site, and a prize will be awarded to the person who best exemplifies the idea of the project.

One more thing. There’s no song limit. It will be as long as it needs to be. Your life can’t be dictated by just a number. It’s all about the experiences you have.