Let’s drop the big one….

I saw LOTS of live music in the 1980’s in Portland. I was living a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle. I didn’t get much sleep, and when I did it was fitful. I listened to lots of music, and much of that was on TV watching MTV and then either that pioneering station or VH1, but I never went more than a couple of weeks without seeing live music.

When we moved to Floriduh in 1989 I made a mix tape of single cuts from almost every band that we had seen during the 6+years in PDX, in as close to chronological order as I could remember enjoying each artist’s music. Probably 8 or 10 national acts that we saw did not make the tape.

It was a 120 minute cassette. It took awhile for me to map out the playlist. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wouldn’t be able to get a song from everyone we had seen during the Portland years on the tape, even if I only picked the shortest song by each and every artist no matter how I felt about the particular cut.

“Cut” was accurate. The only tunes that went on the tape were ones that I had on vinyl. That wasn’t restrictive, except in a very few cases.

For example, we saw Adam Ant at the Civic. It was a fun night, but I’ve never owned any of his music. The only song of his that I can name is “Goody Two Shoes.” It wouldn’t have made the 120-minute tape, even if I’d had the album, i.e. every act I saw was not worthy of my tape of concert memories.

Some people who I saw had already stopped releasing vinyl. Thinking about that, i.e. an attempt by the record companies to ditch vinyl, still makes me cranky. But I have to admit that most days I just load up my 5-cd changer and let it play. Firing up the turntable makes me have to flip the record over, or change the record, every 20 or so minutes. Sometimes I’m lazy. Fire me.

So if I didn’t have an artist on vinyl, often because they hadn’t released any, nothing they sang made my “PDX Concerts” mix tape. So there was no Robert Cray, who I saw at small clubs in Corvallis, Eugene and Portland. Sometimes he was with, and sometimes he was without, Curtis Salgado and vice verse. Fun times.

One restriction in pulling together the play list was song length, e.g. I had to struggle with what Dylan tune to include. My two favorites of his, the ones that i’ve had on repeat the most, are “Jokerman” and “It’s alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)” but both those songs are knocking on, or longer than, 7 minutes.

So I went with “Subterranean homesick blues,” a classic at two minutes and twenty-one seconds on vinyl. “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…” Love the line, but gotta say that the way some of the winds are blowing in 2016 is pretty frightening…
I still have lots of cassettes, and occasionally I do fire up the deck when I want to hear the original version of a song that is playing in my head and it’s one that I only have on cassette. (Another confession: in this circumstance, what I usually do is just google the tune and check out renditions on youtube. The cassette deck gets less use than the turntable…i still love the sounds that vinyl makes.)

I no longer have the mixtape that I pulled together in 1989. Last time I remember seeing it was in early 2011. The last time I played it would have been the summer of 2010. It was one of several tapes that I played on a boom box in the garage when I had occasion to spend time washing and detailing one of our cars.

I left FL in mid-2011, when the long downward trend of our marriage imploded. When she and I moved to Orygun in 1976 everything we had went cross country in our two VW bug caravan. When I left Floriduh, I went minimalist. Everything I moved back to MO came in my Corolla or was mailed using the USPS….both of those moving experiences are stories for another day.

I didn’t ditch any vinyl or CDs when I packed up in Tampa, but lots of cassettes were jettisoned. Especially any that had a “memory” component, including this particular mix tape.
I’m not sure how accurately I could recreate the playlist of my old 120-minute “PDX Concerts” tape. I’d blame any discrepancies in an attempt to pull together an accurate list on: (1) age; (2) having listened to too much music (i.e. a confusion factor…but can you really listen to too much music??), and; (3) diminished capacity. 😉

I do know that the first song in the tape was one by my favorite singer-songwriter and from the first concert I saw in Portland. At three minutes and seventeen seconds, I opened the mixtape with “Doctor my eyes,” one of his shortest songs. “..People go just where they will, I never noticed them until I got this feeling that it’s later than it seems….”

The last show we saw in Portland, after my transfer to Sarasota was approved but before we moved, was in a small club with a name that escapes me. The place held 800 or so. That night we saw Randy Newman with about a thousand other people. Everybody in the place was sweating. It was an awesome night.

I listened to him right after lunch today. I probably hadn’t played anything by him in 6 weeks. When I heard the song that made the cut, it literally had my head spinning. Thinking about that night in Portland, thinking about making that particular mixtape, thinking about things i’d read earlier today via my Facebook news feeds. Randy Newman also got my wheels turning….

I picked a song of his for the mixtape that had been one of my favorites since it was released, and it just happened to come in at two minutes on the nose when he recorded it on “Sail away,” so it fit the criteria for the tape perfectly.

I’m sure Randy Newman wouldn’t let any candidate use the song at a rally. Some of the folks running probably wouldn’t even realize that “Political Science” is satire. Sadly, many of the people voting for some of them this primary season not only wouldn’t realize the satire, they’d encourage a president to do what the song says.

The American Taliban is frightening.


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