Flashback Fives: First Cuts

Along with our letters, we also publish “Flashback Fives”—a list of five moments when each writer fell in love with a song, album, artist, genre, et al. This list was submitted by Daniel from Columbia, PA.


The Allman Brothers Band
Brothers & Sisters
“Wasted Words”

I owe this introduction, and a mound of thanks, to my parents. Best lyrics have ambiguity that can be applied to multiple subjects. Amorphous, brilliant, priceless.

“Weekday soap-box speciality, you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout now,
By the way, this song’s for you, sincerely, me.”


The Stray Cats
Rant N’ Rave
“Rebels Rule”

This was on one of my first cassette mixes. Dialed through FM, adjusted an antenna before that to receive it. Heart-warming, familiar rumble at the beginning for me.

“You look like something that the cat dragged in,
Yeah well you look something off an assembly line”


Cap’n Jazz
Analphabetapolothology
“Little League”

Sometimes friends turn you onto some wonderful things. Word play is a fascinating thing that delightfully rings my ears. I was scribbling lyrics on walls and tables when I first heard this.

“We live in quick flips, slips, tips, and taps,
To snap us outta these statue traps”


Ryan Adams
Gold
“New York, New York”

Every once and again things have a way of playing out in a timely fashion. At their most misunderstood—bittersweet and better when reflected upon. Rolling with punches, wounds, hard places. Music.

“Had myself a lover who was finer than gold,
But I’ve broken up and busted up since”


Lord Huron
Lonesome Dreams
“Ends Of The Earth”

Standing in heat, thinking about anxiety, things big and small. An air can blow over you so comforting, you slip away. I found serenity, a place in the shade, kicked my feet up.

“Out there’s a land that time don’t command,
Wanna be the first to arrive”

Life has a way of marking people and having its way with them. These opening tracks, music, lyrics, experiences, make me love everything more. Cheers to all involved.

Flashback Fives: Born to Love Music

Along with our letters, we will also publish “Flashback Fives”—a list of five moments when each writer fell in love with a song, album, artist, genre, et al. This is the first, submitted by Christine from New York, NY.

One. There are so many theories about playing music to a baby in the womb. Will the baby hear it? Appreciate it? Recognize it later? Based on personal experience, the answer is yes. My parents played Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors repeatedly while my mom was pregnant. After I was born, the album became lullaby music—southern rocking me right to sleep. When my parents taught me how to use the turntable, guess what I played? That album is forever like a warm blanket to me. It feels like home. I was born to love it.

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The people responsible for my condition.

Two. Message boards and chat rooms. Can’t say what specifically prompted me to partake when I was 15. Boredom and the loneliness of living in a small rural town. I sought and found a few of my ilk, including Joe. Joe was a few years older than me, lived in another state, went to art school and loved punk rock. I devised a plan to meet him in person, succeeded and was smitten. We drove a couple hours a few times each year to meet. Not much could sideline me from putting the moves on him, but the opening riff of Lifetime’s “Rodeo Clown” stopped me in my tracks. Its perfect mix of energy and heartbreak is a 4-second summary of what could loosely be called our relationship. I initially played it feverishly to relive the soaring emotions of being with Joe. Next, on repeat to mend my broken heart. Finally, years passed and I was able to appreciate it and the rest of Hello Bastards free from emotional chains. Writing about this situation 20 years later, I am ironically reminded of Lily Taylor’s infamous ex in the film Say Anything…. Does everyone have a Joe?

Lifetime: Rodeo Clown

Three. The idea of Sleater-Kinney captured me from the outset. Women vocalizing their frustrations by writing and playing raw, bitter music about the challenges of friendships, relationships, work and life. I discussed and shared Call the Doctor with friends; disseminated it via mixed tapes and tape recorded copies. As an equally frustrated outsider, it was my duty to embrace it. Dig Me Out was released a year later. Aimlessly driving around in my car on a rainy afternoon, I thought “Now’s my chance let it sink in.” I drove and drove until the album ended, struck by how much they’d advanced as songwriters in such a short time. The music was less raw, still bitter and incredibly melodic. Of all their albums, it’s the one I discussed and disseminated the least. I held it close and feel equally as protective about it today. That’s how I know it was love.

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Two pieces of evidence: A devoted young fan, I wore a Sleater-Kinney shirt in my drivers license photo. You can’t see the graphics so you’ll have to believe me. More recently, I digitized my music collection and could not part with my beloved Dig Me Out CD.

Four. Growing up, I was infrequently exposed to what I considered real jazz. The jazz you read about in history books. Jazz that influenced the great writers, artists and musicians. When I moved to New York 10 years ago, I met someone who knew enough about it to give me a crash course. The moment he played Mingus Ah Um, everything clicked. It was a gateway drug, a green light, to explore the seemingly infinite world occupied by musicians like Miles Davis, Gil Evans, John Coltrane, Jimmy Giuffre. They say being a parent is the world’s biggest club. Understanding and appreciating jazz is the best one.

Charles Mingus: Better Git It In Your Soul

Five. Driving from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree, listening to the album Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son by Damien Jurado. That album, the desert road, the mountains, the brown and dusty blue, are forever etched in my mind as one of the most glorious and free moments of recent memory.

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Damien Jurado: Silver Timothy