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Entry date: 12-11-2022 - Musical memories don't fade (or do they?) - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Yesterday my buddies and I started the day out with a little trip down memory lane by sharing YouTube videos of songs from our collective past. It reminded me that I haven’t shared a playlist for quite some time and also of many, many moments that I cherish. Music is a catalyst, and it is glue. It binds and drives and bellows.

Brian reminded me of how I would often be the only one awake when we lived together, and I would start playing music to get myself ready to go to class. I was playing at going to Phoenix College and not doing a very good job of pulling it off, but I did make it to class occasionally. Often thanks to the late, great Tim L.

For a while there, it was the Damned that were my morning soundtrack. Dayglo Abortions, too, and the Circle Jerks. Sometimes all of them. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be a DJ or maybe I did and I’m not remembering it now. When I lived in Berkeley, I met a girl who was a DJ on KUSF, and I wanted her job so badly…but not enough to put up with her craziness. She even offered me the chance to come in and do her show with her one time, but I chickened out. Mostly because she was kind of scary.

But we shared a lot of music, back in the day, and our playlist was a good one. It wasn’t as deep or as varied as we all appreciate now, but it was full of songs that could pick you up when life was getting the upper hand. And we liked it loud.

Looking back, there were varying degrees of loud among our merry little tribe. Some of us liked it so loud that you couldn’t have a conversation without yelling. That wasn’t my taste, but I did want to feel the music. I suppose part of me like exacting revenge in the mornings when I was the only one up. I would make a pot of coffee, take a few bong rips, and try to psyche myself up for the cold shower.

As I think I mentioned, we didn’t always pay our gas bill.

Sometimes this ritual would devolve into the others waking up and sharing some coffee and weed. This often meant that I wasn’t making it to class that day. My first “report card” from Phoenix College was not one to write home about, that’s for sure. It was pretty darn bad.

But the music was good. In addition to the previously mentioned bands, we were also listening to Bauhaus, Doors, Butthole Surfers, and eventually, Fugazi. When Fugazi came along, all bets were off for a while. They took us by storm and 13 Songs was constantly playing.

The Cramps and Subhumans were in the mix, too. Dead Kennedys were a staple for going skateboarding, which some of us partook in, and the Toy Dolls were always around, too. Supercharged, sped up, rock and roll was like a currency for us. When you don’t have any money, music will open a few doors, for sure.

It seems like music was always playing. Just before Fugazi took over, Jane’s Addiction captured our hearts, now that I think about it. This came up in our chat yesterday, too. Who was the first person to bring us Jane’s? Was it Cassie or Andy (Drew)? I think it was Andy and he shared it at the Polka Dot pad.

Jane’s was not something I dug a whole lot at first. I thought they sounded like The Three O’Clock on heroin. I suppose this is still a compliment, but at the time, I wanted to hear things like “Sex and Violence” by the Exploited off their Horror Epics album. I remember being pretty fond of the Generic Flipper record then, too. I wanted my music to be heavier and blunt, but eventually I got sucked into loving Jane’s towards the fall of 1988, if not sooner.

These records were played and played and played. We dove headfirst into them, and in turn, they grew roots in us. We can fall back into a comfort zone when they are around and be reminded of why we love them, and each other, with a single drop of a needle.

It baffles me that some people don’t have this connection to music. How could you not? It is such a gift in this world. It’s the only real magic I know.

I wonder sometimes if there will ever be a point where some of these songs don’t do it for me anymore. Will I turn on the Damned’s Machine Gun Etiquette record and feel nothing some day? There have been records, for example, that meant a whole lot to me at one point that don’t do a whole lot for me right now, but I hold out hope that they will inspire me again.

The other night, Rhondi and I were talking about all of the physical media we have. DVDs and CDs that are lining shelves that we never use. I listen to CDs, still, because I have a CD player in my car and a janky connection to my phone, but in her car and in any future car we buy, streaming will be the way to go. I kind of hate the idea of getting rid of the CDs, but what good are they?

At this point, they are memories taking up space. 95% of them mean something to me, though. I tell myself I love the comfort of having them there, but deep down, I know it is a lie. It’s not real love. Real love is the conversation my brothers and I had yesterday morning, sharing songs with each other that remind us of why we are who we are and why we are connected forever.

Even if we never listen to “Waiting Room” by Fugazi again in each other’s company, nothing will ever replace how that song helped us cement our friendship.

See you tomorrow.

Great stuff.


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