Okay, mixtape time
If I knew how to do this and I wasn't using my roomate's computer, maybe I'd put this on a podcast. But, here it goes
1 - Hank Williams - "Lost Highway" - I don't know much about Hank Williams, but obviously he was a big deal. This song sounds is full of these Hawaain dobro noises and it's actually real relaxing but the lyrics are all ominous and full of regret: "I was just a lad/ nearly 22/ neither good nor bad/ just a kid like you/ and now I'm lost/ too late to pray/ Lord, I paid the cost/ on the lost highway." Not just cause he compares life to a highway, but this really is great night driving music.
2 - Goodie Mob - "Dirty South" - If the Hank songs sounds a little scary, then this one is more like horrifying. It's not really the stuff they're saying as much as it is this dusty old bassline. C-Lo doesn't rap, he just squeals out "aw, yeah, the dirty south" and it's perfect.
3 - Mobb Deep - "Survival of the Fittest" - This came out in 95 or 96, and I really wish I knew about these Outkast and Goodie Mob and these dudes and all the other grimy New York shit that was coming out then. Maybe I wouldn't have thought Marilyn Manson was such a badass. Anyway, this here is another aired-out scary piece of music that doesn't celebrate at all that Lost Highway feeling that Hank was singing about, although it also doesn't moan about it. It doesn't question anything, it just rolls with it.
4 - Clipse - "Trill" - I think this is one of the catchiest songs on Hell Hath No Fury, which I guess isn't saying too much, but it's good. It's got that same emotionless detachment Mobb Deep does, but at least on this song they're having more fun with it. "Bankroll on overload/ I eenie meenie miney mo them hoes/ I'm so trill" That kind of stuff. Up to now all the songs sound contained, like there's more emotion down there than what whoever is willing to put on wax, but this here has a bit more abandon to it, just cause I think the beat is a lot more immediate. It ends with these firecracker noises which lead right into...
5 - The Clash - "I'm so Bored with the U.S.A." - I can't pick up half of the words Joe Strummer actually sings, but something about "yankee... always on the TV/ cause killers in America/ work 7 days a week. This is actually a great jukebox song, which I think is the best praise you could ever put on any kind of rock. It's got all this jangly momentum and slurred lyricism.
6 - The Pogues - "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" - I love Spagghetti westerns, however you spell it, and this is totally a soundtrack to a movie. I don't know why nobody ever made this into a movie, cause the music is basically the most important thing. It's got the whistling melody, the overblown epic breakdown, like when you would look into the killer's eyes and see a tragic emptiness, it's got this military precision drummer boy thing and all that, it's instrumental - this song is almost perfect.
7 - Johnny Cash - "The Devil's Right Hand" - I think this is originally a Steve Earle song. It's in the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. Anyway, Johnny Cash has Red Hot Chilli Peppers dude playing guitar for him, but it turns out pretty good. Song's story is about a guy buying a pistol despite his mothers protesting and then wishing he'd heeded her advice. A lot like "Don't Bring Your Guns to Town," although now that I think about it, that song's probably a lot better.
8 - Biggie - "Machine Gun Funk" - Nice little fade from the guitar in the last song into this one's bass. He says "I'm doing rhymes now/ fuck the crimes now/ come on the Ave, I'm real hard to find now/ cause I'm knee deep in the beats" but he also basically says fuck the cops, I'll shoot them. So it's like he knows he's got one foot in his grave even though he's made a better life for himself. I dunno, this song is actually really sad in hindsight but it's got a million of the lines you get stuck in your head for days and sing with your friends you barely know.
9 - Bob Marley - "Talking Blues" - I love the blues, but I'm not a purist or anything, so I don't know but I think this counts as a blues song. It has this sound of totally focused clarity, and it comes through in this transcendant bridge when he says "I'm gonna stare in the sun/ let the rain shine in my eyes/ I'm gonna take/ just one step more." He's talking about bombing a church and revolution after that, but it's not a mad song, it's more about progress than confrontation.
10 - Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is" - This is just basically a classic love song that makes you feel like a better person just for listening to it. I can't explain the warm feeling this song brings about, but it's no joke.
11 - Ghostface - "Save Me Dear" - This song is not like the Otis song, not by a long shot, but it's fun and it's got these cool soul samples, even if he does rapping about how you should beg girls to get their name tattooed on them. If this mix had a linear type of story, I guess this would be the point at which someone you like starts creeping you out even though you still like them. Or something.
12 - Blur - "Tender" - I lived in England for a year when I was 18, and I had this job that gave me an apartment and like 60 pounds a week, which I spent most of on beer cause I could go to any bar for the first time. I had a great time and I used to lay in bed listening to music and not caring if it kept me up cause I only worked 2 days a week, and this is one of the songs that stuck with me. It has this little riff that keeps coming in and out over or under this choir and all this echoey singing and an unobtrusive bass and drum stomp. It's almost 8 minutes long but there's no wasted time.
13 - Willie Nelson - "Hands on the Wheel" - I'm not a huge Willie fan, but I love concept albums, and so I end up liking Red Headed Stranger. This has stuff about finding yourself in another person's eyes and all that, and it's very melodramatic. I was actually thinking about taking this off an earlier version of this list, except one day when I was driving around in Baltimore, knowing that I was about to move back to New York and it had this line about "hands on the wheel/ of something that's real/ and I feel like I'm going home," which I guess is pretty melodramatic way to look at a city you're not from, but fuck it. I'm keeping this song. It's a very soft acoustic country song.
14 - Outkast - "The Train" - I wrote a tiny bit about this song a few weeks ago, so I'm gonna be brief about here. It's got this little ragtime sounding sample and Big Boi raps all nostalgically about the beginning of his career, and then these old horns come in which are very catchy. I would like this whole thing to be slowed down a bit, but whatever.
15 - the Rolling Stones - "Moonlight Mile" - I always thought this was a song about driving down some quiet old highway at night while you think about laying your head down. Then a friend of mine died down in Louisiana and I went down for the funeral, and a couple days later the night before I went back up to Maryland I'm driving a few of us back to Mississippi from New Orleans real late at night and the other kid who was awake said "this is the song I want played at my funeral." As far as this mix goes, I like bringing up the road analogy again much further along and having it being about the trip rather than some desolated destination. This was originally gonna be the last song but I extended the mix to fit it on a 90 minute tape.
16 - The Evens - "shelter two" - I saw the Evens without ever hearing their music, although listening to Minor Threat in 9th grade changed my life. It's very understated and almost distant, which I guess a lot of this mix is. The chorus is "it's all downhill from here." I think it's good cause for me that has a double meaning, like where you can say things are going downhill because things are getting worse, or you can be riding your bike up this steep hill and busting your ass and getting tired, but then you round over that crest of the hill, and suddenly you're relaxing, even resting, and everything is moving by more quickly. You've even got a breeze to cool youself down.
17 - the Game - "Old English" - Far and away my favorite song on the new album. I love the Game for having the stones to rap so sad, like somethimes it really sounds like he's gonna cry. I acually get chills every time when he talks about how he steals his brother's glock and then that night his brother got shot and Game says "I got high for three years off that chronic from the dock." and when he's talking about "20 funerals before the age of 19."
18 - Merle Haggard - "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)" - This after the Game song is pretty much a perfect transition, I don't mind saying. Haggard catalogues all these memories of helplessness and poverty in his family, and then sings "No amount of money could buy from me/ the memories that I have of them/ no amount of money could pay me/ to go back and live through it again."
19 - UGK - "Diamonds and Wood" - Ridin' Dirty is a very cohesive album so it feels a bit weird to be talking about just one song on it, but it grabs me on this when C says "see drugs and plastic thugs aint gonna change the hood/ I'm smoking stuff and poppin the trunk to make me feel good."
20 - Nas and Jay-Z - "Black Republicans" - I like epic orchestral beats, so I would listen to this on instrumental. These guys have both dropped off, but they can both still rap their asses off when they want to. I guess what this song, and definately the whole mix is getting at is the way the same things that propel you can also drown you, and the same traits or qualities that get you through one situation will drive you into another but that not necessarily being a bad thing.