Mixtape Memories – Volume 12

After more than two years of searching, I finally found a box of mixtapes in my parents’ garage. These are mixtapes my dad made me as a kid, and they were my gateway into music. So I’ve been listening to them in the cassette deck of my Honda, and each week I’ll go through and share my opinions on the songs and my memories from the time I received them as gifts. I’ll try not to get too emotional.

Kip Unbreakable
Presented Christmas 2001

1. The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”
2. Train – “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)”
3. U2 – “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”
4. Everclear – “Wonderful”
5. Len – “Steal My Sunshine”
6. Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
7. Edwin McCain – “I’ll Be”
8. Hanson – “Weird”
9. Vertical Horizon – “Everything You Want”
10. Incubus – “Drive”
11. Eve 6 – “Here’s to the Night”
12. Aerosmith – “Jaded”
13. Creed – “With Arms Wide Open”

1. Frankie Machine – “Sell Me”
2. Goldfinger – “Counting the Days”
3. Green Day – “Basket Case”
4. 3 Doors Down – “Kryptonite”
5. T. Rex – “20th Century Boy”
6. Foo Fighters – “Breakout”
7. Weezer – “Hash Pipe”
8. Nickelback – “How You Remind Me”
9. Bush – “The People That We Love”
10. P.O.D. – “Alive”
11. Lifehouse – “Hanging by a Moment”
12. Nine Days – “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”
13. Dexter Freebish – “Leaving Town”
14. Guster – “Fa Fa (Never Be the Same Again)”
15. American Hi-Fi – “Flavor of the Weak”
16. Del Amitri – “Roll to Me”

As Boyz II Men once sang, “we’ve come to the end of the road.” This was the final tape my dad ever made for me, and it’s not hard for me to see why. By 2001, I was already fully invested in listening to music at all hours of the day. I was starting to use my allowance for CDs instead of action figures and basketball cards. Vertical Horizon’s Everything You Want (represented here) was the first album I bought with my own money. I no longer needed a curator in the way I once did. But based on some of the less-than-stellar songs on here, maybe a curator wasn’t such a bad idea. With 2015 eyes, the songs on Side One released in the ’90s hold up much better than the ones from 2000 and 2001. The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” remains one of the ’90s signature alt-rock songs, and its legal battle with the Rolling Stones gives it an added sense of anger. No other song (on this side at least) has that angst. It’s all rather wimpy, which is an accurate reflection of most of my teenage life. “Sad bastard music” as identified in High Fidelity was more up my alley, which is why you’ll find sap like “Wonderful,” “I’ll Be” and “Weird.” By this time I had shifted from Top 40 to “alternative rock,” the most nebulously defined genre of all time. I didn’t see why I couldn’t be an Incubus and a Creed fan, even though those fans’ Venn diagram never meets.

Irony was not an emotion I felt as a kid, and often don’t as an adult. Yes, I liked Nickelback and P.O.D. at the time, and don’t feel any regret over that. Everyone my age liked them, no matter how embarrassing they may seem today. They both are punchlines today, but their music holds up somewhat. There was awful music before and awful music after, but these songs in particular aren’t that bad. Unlike the Macarena or Cotton Eye Joe, there’s nothing on Side Two that makes me want to cringe or hide my face in shame. Once again, the pre-2000 tracks on here are far superior. Green Day’s “Basket Case” is one of those songs that pretty much anyone who hears it today will be able to sing along for a good majority of it. But T. Rex blows everyone here out of the water. I wasn’t really exposed to glam much aside from this and one rare occasion when my dad took my sister and me to school and made us listen to David Bowie’s Station to Station, which hooked us mainly because we had already loved “Golden Years” from A Knight’s Tale. I want to make a special commendation to Dexter Freebish, an Austin band that never got the respect or attention it deserved. “Leaving Town” was an exceptional bit of alt-rock mopiness that should have taken it to the stratosphere, alongside another band (that somehow did not make this tape) Josh Joplin Group. The good ones don’t always make it. At least Guster enjoyed a somewhat lengthy career. And yes, this tape ends with “Roll to Me,” again, but that’s not how I’m choosing to remember it.

Best Track on Side One: The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”
Best Track on Side Two: T. Rex – “20th Century Boy”

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