Thursday, May 8, 2008

Drinking to be Melancholy

On the drive home tonight, XM '70s on 7 played "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor followed by "Changes in Latitude" by Jimmy Buffett, and that sent me back in time a bit...

In college, circa 1989, I made a tape called "Drinking to be Melancholy". Side A was Jimmy Buffett's
Songs You Know by Heart, side B was James Taylor's Greatest Hits. In my mind at least, a ridiculously appropriate pairing of albums. What's most intriguing about the tape, though, is the fact that I was firmly entrenched in my punk phase at the time -- Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, The The, Front 242, Joy Division, Jane's Addiction, the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb... you get the picture. So it's strange that I would even go there musically at that point in my life.

I had actually never heard a Jimmy Buffett song prior to that year. I was dating a girl who was pretty "All-American" compared to me with my purple hair, multiple earrings, black lipstick and eyeliner (think Bender's "Wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?" line in
Breakfast Club to frame the relationship properly). She had the CD, and the music grew on me enough that I made the aforementioned tape. At one point that year my dad picked me up to drive me home from college (possibly spring break), and I played the "Drinking to be Melancholy" tape on the drive -- and I remember being surprised that he knew the music, let alone liked it!

James Taylor is an artist where I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I consciously heard his music: a charter bus on the way back to Northeast Ohio from Bloomington, Indiana in August 1987. My friend Francis and I were the most unlikely delegates on our way back from
NAJAC (the National Junior Achievement Conference) that summer. I honestly have no idea why we were selected and don't believe I got anything of value out of it. There were competitions or something, though Francis and I certainly never prepared in advance for any of that or took it seriously, and I frankly don't recall what the competition was about. I remember a big auditorium we often gathered in on the Indiana University campus, where the conference was held, and that's about it. Anyway, Francis had JT's Greatest Hits on cassette, and I borrowed it during the bus ride home and never managed to return it.

I think it's time to head over to iTunes and set up a playlist...


Anonymous said...

Flashback city :)
For me, Buffett's Greatest Hits will always bring to mind playing rummy on the floor of the Chapman Hall dorm room.
"I - don't - know (p-chew-p-chew-pchew)," etc.

Mr. Utley.

AB said...

Oh, man. I'd totally forgotten about that! How much time did we waste playing rummy and listening to Buffett?! Good times, buddy.

"He don' know, mon!"