Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My College of Santa Fe Tribute Mixtape

So, some background: I went to college at the College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was there from 1993-1997. I have extremely fond memories of my college experience, even though a great many of them are tinged with remnants of regret (I have been on a path for a long time towards learning how not to regret...I would argue that all the missteps in my life more than likely led me to all the good things I have now. And I have some really good things in my life at this point). Why a tribute mixtape to my alma mater at this time? Because my college is in danger of shutting down, completely. CSF is in such financial trouble that if the New Mexcio state legislature doesn't approve a bill to purchase the institution, it will go under. This semester will be the LAST ONE. So I wanted to put something out there that somehow paid respect to the place where I spent four extremely formative years. It's a 4-sided mix, with a side for each year of school. I also only put songs on it that I associate with an experience that occurred on campus; in other words, since I'll always be able to go back and visit Santa Fe itself, no songs that remind me of various locales in the city were allowed in. So here's the track listing:

Side 1 (Freshman Year)


ONE LONG PAIR OF EYES-ROBYN HITCHCOCK
WHIP IT-DEVO
SYNCRHONICITY II-THE POLICE
WALK DON'T RUN-CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO
REBA-PHISH
JIG-SAW PUZZLE-THE ROLLING STONES
BESAME MUCHO-THE BEATLES
SATELLITE-ELVIS COSTELLO
WHERE KNOCK IS OPEN WIDE-HIS NAME IS ALIVE
LOSER-BECK

Side 2 (Sophomore Year)


I CAN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT-WEEN
BLUE DRESS-DEPECHE MODE
SATAN GAVE ME A TACO-BECK
MILES RUNS THE VOODOO DOWN-MILES DAVIS
LET'S MAKE THE WATER TURN BLACK-FRANK ZAPPA
NO ONE KNOWS MY PLAN-THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN-ELVIS COSTELLO
SIGN O' THE TIMES-PRINCE
LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE IT-R.E.M.

Side 3 (Junior Year)


PROFESSOR NUTBUTTER'S HOUSE OF TREATS-PRIMUS
BELL BOTTOM BLUES-DEREK & THE DOMINOES
FREEDOM ROCK-FRANK BLACK
BEGINNING OF THE HEARTBREAK/DON'T DON'T-PETER GORDON
THE INFERNAL DANCE OF KING KASCHEI-IGOR STRAVINSKY
DESERT SEARCH FOR TECHNO ALLAH-MR. BUNGLE
WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY-FRANK ZAPPA

Side 4 (Senior Year)

RE-GYPTIAN STRUT-FRANK ZAPPA
UNSUPERVISED, I HIT MY HEAD-MONO PUFF
DINOSAUR-KING CRIMSON
LORD ONLY KNOWS-BECK
BEST IMITATION OF MYSELF-BEN FOLDS FIVE
MOST OF THE TIME-BOB DYLAN
IT'S TRICKY-RUN-D.M.C.
ELLA GURU-CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
BORN SLIPPY-UNDERWORLD
FAKE PLASTIC TREES-RADIOHEAD

Freshman Year:
ONE LONG PAIR OF EYES: I could start a lot of mixtapes with this song. It was a really significant song for me for a number of years. The first week I was in Santa Fe was orientation week for freshmen. No classes, just orientation events and hanging out. I hung out with almost no one that week that I stayed friends with. There was a girl named Jennifer that I spent a lot of time with that week, and subjected her to a number of forced listening of songs in my dorm room. This was one of them.

WHIP IT: Later that week (or the next week maybe) was the first student government-sponsored dance party thing. I went and got funky. The DJ was pretty 80's-focused, and I remember this song being played. I also remember feeling like all the girls in the room that I'd want to date appeared to somehow already be dating people. WTF?

SYNCRHONICITY II: There was a tiny little used record shop around the corner from campus freshman year, so tiny it was just a room in the back of a used book shop. He always had some good stuff, though. I decided I wanted to start buying vinyl again, even though I didn't have a functioning turntable at the time. Syncrhonicity by The Police was one of my first few purchases. I wound up using the turntables in the basement of the library to listen to it.

WALK DON'T RUN: The California Guitar Trio came and did a workshop and concert for the music department that year. They were one of the few performers whose CD and concert were equally good. I remember hearing them play this at the show in the Weckesser Studio Theatre.

REBA: I had a big paper due at the end of first semester in my "Act of Listening" class where I was supposed to analyze 20 minutes or so of music from every angle possible. I chose "Reba" by Phish and "Jig-Saw Puzzle" by the Rolling Stones. I played those songs over and over and over again...drove my roommate crazy.

JIG-SAW PUZZLE: See "Reba".

BESAME MUCHO: My friend Tom was a pretty big Beatles bootleg collector. For Christmas that year, he was kind enough to make me some compilations of some of the most notable material he had accumulated. After I listened to this track with him, we would periodically and randomly say "Cha Cha BOOM!" to each other.

SATELLITE: I was in a long distance relationship with a girl for a good chunk of freshman year (for clarity's sake, I will tell you that the relationship solidified AFTER that first dance I mentioned earlier, so I was not scoping out other women while claiming devotion to my long distance girlfriend). Our relationship ended in February after she sent me a break-up letter. I remember, for some reason, that this song was what I needed to hear after reading that letter. I strapped on my walkman, threw this in, and proceeded to walk across campus to the record store just beyond the edge of campus. It really was just right.

WHERE KNOCK IS OPEN WIDE: My friend Brian Williams introduced me to His Name Is Alive, and Brian also chose to learn this song for his voice lessons that he took second semester. He then asked me if I would accompany him on guitar when he performed it at music forum.

LOSER: This song was everywhere by the time school was starting to end. I remember listening to it in my dorm room, and I remember watching the video on MTV in the lounge.

Sophomore Year:
I CAN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT: Ween released their Chocolate & Cheese album at the beginning of my sophomore year--it came out the same day as Monster by R.E.M. I played this record, and this song, constantly, and put it on, like, three different mixtapes I made that fall. It simply was an essential song for me at the time.

BLUE DRESS: I put this one on one of those fall of '94 mixtapes, too, and I distinctly remember sitting in my dorm room making that very tape, late at night, after my new girlfriend had gone to bed. The tumultuous path of the next 4 years of my life had begun.

SATAN GAVE ME A TACO: My memory of this song isn't of listening to it, but of singing it, LOUDLY, as I came of the stairs of the dorm one day after class. My friend Eric was in his room down the hall, and I could hear him start laughing as I completed the line "opened up a taco stand just to smell the smell".

MILES RUNS THE VOODOO DOWN: I was not quite able to put these songs in the exact sequential order of the memories I associate them with...I remember listening to this song in the basement of the library, taking a break from attempting to flirt with one of the students who worked there (this was all before I started dating the girl mentioned in the "Blue Dress" entry). I figured if I listened to something lengthy, I would be able to occupy myself long enough for my nerves to calm down a bit.

LET'S MAKE THE WATER TURN BLACK: This song and the album it came from (We're Only In It For the Money) signified the beginning of my Zappa obsession. I played this album in my dorm room so many times.

NO ONE KNOWS MY PLAN: I started to assemble a much better stereo system around the middle of my sophomore year, and brought some components back to school with me after Christmas break. I told my friend Phil to come by my room and listen, and this is the song I used to demonstrate the stereo.

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN: Another library song. I remember listening to it as I walked out of the library after having checked email (that was the first year that we had email, 1994-1995).

SIGN O' THE TIMES: I could make a college soundtrack mixtape that consists of mostly Frank Zappa and Prince songs. That being said, I put the intro to this one on my answering machine for part of sophomore year. I remember my teacher Kevin calling and leaving a message that said something like, "It's good to hear that groove this early in the morning."

LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE IT: Again the sequencing gets screwy, but I put this on a mixtape for my friend Renee's roommate at the beginning of the year (we traded). I can't remember her name, but I remember Brian (who was dating Renee) heard the tape in their room and commented on what a great song this was.

Junior Year:
PROFESSOR NUTBUTTER'S HOUSE OF TREATS: I listened to this album a couple of times the day that I moved into the dorm junior year. Things were awkward with the aforementioned girlfriend after having been apart for the summer. The tumultuous path was about to get really tumultuous.

BELL BOTTOM BLUES: Said girlfriend hadn't actually broken up with me, but it felt like she had. I put this on a mixtape with some other songs of misery and listened to them constantly for weeks. I remember being in one of the larger music classrooms waiting for class to start with this in my headphones.

FREEDOM ROCK: I had kept my summer job at Mervyn's as first semester started. I had to be there at 6:30 am on Fridays. I recall driving along the row of dorms on campus in my car listening to this, about to exit on to the street and go to work.

BEGINNING OF THE HEARTBREAK/DON'T DON'T: This was written and recorded by one of my professors, almost 20 years before he came to teach at CSF. He played this recording of it in forum class as a quasi-introduction to his musical past. I latched on to this one...It is well worth checking out if you like late 70's/early 80's quasi club dance stuff. The title pretty much summed up the entire year romantically for me as well.

THE INFERNAL DANCE OF KING KASCHEI: This is from The Firebird Suite, which I did a paper on that year. I also used the melody from this for a 3/4 time conducting exercise in conducting class.

DESERT SEARCH FOR TECHNO ALLAH: No record better exemplifies the scrambled, twisted state of my emotions in the spring of 1996 better than Disco Volante by Mr. Bungle. I brought this track into my Music & Computers class because I was intrigued by the mix of electronic and organic elements.

WATERMELON IN EASTER HAY: By the time junior year ended, I was spent emotionally. I bought the Joe's Garage album about a week before school ended, and spent the better part of two days putting it on in my free moments until I got all the way through. I was about to go to the music department awards party, and I heard this for the first time in my room, windows open, lovely Santa Fe spring air pouring in. Up until then, I had never been so torn up emotionally and yet been so thrilled with the weather (pssh). This song can be emotionally devastating, but it can also be incredibly uplifting. It would prove to be both for me over time.

Senior Year:
RE-GYPTIAN STRUT: This is Phil and me, in my room again. I had just bought this CD, and he was there with me for the maiden voyage. He seemed almost as blown away as me.

UNSUPERVISED, I HIT MY HEAD: This is Eric and me, also in my room (it should be noted that I lived in the same dorm room for all four years of college, so when I say "my room", I really mean "MY room". They should have named it after me). It was one of the last times that we shared music with each other before my dumb ass chose my now on-again girlfriend over his friendship. Granted, it shouldn't have come to that, but this is one of the things that I am trying to learn how to NOT regret. The "Now I'm left handed" line was Eric's favorite.

DINOSAUR: I listened to King Crimson's Thrak a LOT first semester, in various locales around campus; the music building, out and about walking, my car in the parking lot, etc.

LORD ONLY KNOWS: The first week I was back at school, there was a barbecue on the quad and I played an acoustic set. Odelay had just come out a few months before. Ben Callan, who was running sound, asked if there was any particular song I wanted played over the P.A. right before my set, and I chose this one.

BEST IMITATION OF MYSELF: I had a dream where I was in a band performing this song at forum class, and that my friend Christina was singing it. I then attempted to learn how to play it on the piano (the crappy little upright in the student union building) so we could all perform it together, but to no avail.

MOST OF THE TIME: Hoo...it occurs to me now that this was a sophomore year song that somehow wound up in the senior year pile. That's okay. I remember hearing it in my teacher Kevin's studio, while he was giving me composition lessons. He was using it as a good songwriting example. Boy was he right.

IT'S TRICKY: My friend Jared aka Lord Chain and I rocked this in forum class with a few other guys from the music department backing us up. It was the first time I rapped publicly...I think we all know it wasn't the last.

ELLA GURU: My Music & Aesthetics class I took my senior year was one of my favorite courses throughout all of college. One of the lectures covered people like Zappa and Beefheart...I distinctly remember listening to the first four tracks from Trout Mask Replica in class and feeling so much cooler than everyone else because I already OWNED that record.

BORN SLIPPY: The last two tracks on this mixtape, to me, are very much bookends to my senior year of college. This one is another flashback to the beginning of the year, when I felt so optimistic and excited about whatever was to come, whether it be musically, socially, romantically, etc. If you've seen "Trainspotting" (that soundtrack was how I acquired this song), you know that this song plays over the last scene, after the heroin deal goes through and Renton makes off with all the money, presumably to start his life over and do all the things he's always wanted to do. The feeling I had during that sequence of the film was how the entire first month of senior year felt...There were a lot of moments during that month that I just couldn't wait to get back to my room and listen to songs like this.

FAKE PLASTIC TREES: By the end, though, I felt kind of lost. My senior concert had been a success, and it did lead to getting my first job (in the music industry no less), but I grew to hate that job, and felt completely trapped in the relationship I was in. The kind of hopeless melancholy that this song conveys so effectively slowly became my entire world. At the same time, I don't think I ever completely lost hope, the same way that I feel like this song doesn't.

I didn't really mean to end that on a downer...I feel like that is truly where college ended, though. Like I said before, I wouldn't trade my CSF experience for anything. The thought that the school simply won't be there anymore greatly saddens me. Let this mixtape be a testament to the fact that CSF changed and shaped lives, namely mine.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Really cool post. For me, scents and images take me to flashes from my past. Music does that for you, and you write about it well.

Chip, Sarah, Quinn & Will said...

SATELLITE:
Glad you clarified about ooglin' the Whip It babes. And hey, give me some credit! I did go on the marry the guy who caused the break-up letter! (Nine years ago yesterday, in fact)

I do like the song Satellite, too. ;) And I do like the list. I remember how much you liked California Guitar Trio, and am glad you remember how much you liked them too.