So, this is about a mix-tape from my first boyfriend. Found Magazine is doing a special about mix tapes from first loves. Here's what I wrote:
This mix-tape sounds like falling in love. Before I fell in love, particularly my early twenties, the world was harsh and prickly. Who the fuck was I, and what the fuck was I doing? I didn’t know who liked me, let alone anyone who loved me. I wasn’t comfortable with myself. I didn’t have a soft spot to land. The experience of my first love was the first time I felt whole, loved and unselfconscious. This tape sounds like head-over-heels feels like.
Falling in love is never the same after the first time. You don’t know what it’s like to loose someone you love. You don’t know how bad the first heartbreak hurts, so you don’t hold anything back. Your heart is completely vulnerable and ready to be smashed into a thousand pieces. This mix-tape sounds like not knowing what heartbreak feels like.
All the songs on the tape are soft (except LL Cool J.’s “I Need a Beat”—I have no idea where that came from) and sound womb-like with bongos, chorus voices, minor chords, delay, acoustic strums, and tender synthesizers. I love how the eighties era stuff like, Billy Idol’s “Catch my Fall” and Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” transform the hollow pop genre into soulful tear-jerking love songs. Follow those gems up with the Carpenters “Close to You” and you have a panty-dropping combo.
These songs tell a leap-without-looking love story. This tape is phenomenal because the boy who made the tape was a goofy drummer guy who worked in my community college bookstore stocking shelves. He wasn’t emo at all. He was rough, buff, smoked weed, drank beer and had lots of bad homemade tattoos on his arms. It was 1998 in Olympia, Washington and I was a little Oly girl with dyed black bubble bob and mod gear head to toe. We were an odd pair for sure, but we loved each other. He followed me to New York from Olympia. In fact, I think he made the tape right before I moved to NY to solidify our relationship, which is why he included “Coney Island Steeplechase” by the Velvet Underground. If there’s one lyric on the whole tape that represented our relationship it’s from that song, “Like sister and brother who cling to each other when they find out their parents are mad.” In other words, we were terribly codependent. We spent a hellish year together in NY being each other’s baby blanket. Eventually it all caught up with us and culminating with me getting committed to the loony bin.
We both moved back to Washington in 2000 and stayed together on and off prolonging the inevitable break up. Two years later our epic relationship ended horribly. In 2003 he ran off to Georgia with an 18 year old VW bus drivin’ hippy college student. I never saw him again.
I hope he sees this and remembers what it felt like to be young and in love. I hope he remembers all the good times and all the rad music we shared—and what it meant to us.
Lay Lady Lay—Bob Dylan
This is the first Bob Dylan song I really loved. I like how he sounds like Kermit singing into a wishing well. I never really felt like I was the beautiful woman in the song until heard “I long to see you in the morning light. I long to reach for you in the night.”
Look at Me—John Lennon
I was already a massive Yoko/Lennon fan. I thought he wrote the most amazing love songs for her. They are so raw and naked as they were on the album cover. We both didn’t really know who we were. So the question “Who am I? Who are we, my love?” We really wanted to find out together.
My Mummy’s Dead—John Lennon
My first boyfriend’s mom gave him up for adoption. He was crushed about it. He found in me a trustworthy sounding board to tell his darkest and deepest sadness.
Never My Love—The Association
You know how you forget how mental you were past in relationships? Well, I’m sure I was saying shit like, “How do I know if you really love me? How do I know you won’t abandon me?” This was his reassurance to me.
Never Going Back Again—Fleetwood Mac
“She broke down and let me in, made me see where I’ve been”. I wasn’t very nice to him in the beginning. In fact, was a raging bitch. This is what I wrote about him in my journal: “What a moron. I just dumped him and he’s too drunk to get it. What a waste of breath. OGRE. MUTANT.” I was a hard nut to crack. I let him into my world despite being terribly jaded. Being jaded and cynical was very popular in the nineties.
Catch My Fall—Billy Idol
The thing about “falling in love” is you think the other person can catch you. “If I should stumble, catch my fall” was a romantic thought that we could rescue each other. This was before I learned, in relationships, one should really tow their own line instead of expecting someone else to save them from themselves.
Human Nature—Michael Jackson
I was basically a robot before I met my first boyfriend. I was cold, unaffectionate and analytical. I was also a twenty-one year old virgin. I was just beginning to understand animal attraction.
Pretty Young Thing PYT—Michael Jackson
I fucking love this song. One day I’ll look back and think, “Yeah, I was a PYT”.
Close to You—Carpenters
Karen Carpenter was awesome. I don’t give a crap if these songs were used in sandwich bag commercials in the seventies. For some reason the transition from “PYT” to “Close to You” solidifies the whole mix-tape for me. It has nothing to do with lyrics but the sound, the groove, the feel of being dreamy/other worldly.
Let Me Roll it to You—Paul McCartney
Good song for being a John rip-off. I mean, John was the one doing the primal scream stuff, the simple distorted guitar riffs, chorus and organ.
Over the Hills—Led Zeppelin
My ex-boyfriend was a huge Led Zep fan. I wasn’t so much. It’s like all drummers automatically have to love Zep because of John Bonham.
I fell in love with Psychedelic Furs like every red blooded American girl, from the Pretty in Pink Soundtrack—duh. I don’t think I’d know anything about bands I love today if it wasn’t for them. This song rivals the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”.
Ashes to Ashes—David Bowie
If you lived in Olympia in the nineties you couldn’t make a mix-tape without Bowie on it. It would be, like, impossible. In fact, I put David Bowie's Scary Monsters on to loose my virginity to.
Union City Blues--Blondie
Everybody knows Chris Stein and Debbie Harry wrote amazing love songs to each other. But whats really weird about this song is that it was more of a dreamy love between my best friend, Sophia and I shared. We had a whole other mix-tape language we had together and this was an important song.
Accidents Never Happen--Blondie
In retrospect, my first boyfriend was perfect for me. We were clumsy and silly. I don't think it's an accident we met and fell in love. It was one of the most important experiences of my life.
Finger Print File--The Rolling Stones
The thing about the Rolling Stones is they are a staple. You know how the USDA feeds beef and cheese to the masses? The Stones are basically a sophisticated aphrodisiac to young hipsters and peripheral kin.