it was the spring of 1994 when I was first introduced to music outside the mainstream. music that my naive mind never would’ve come across. music that opened up many avenues of discovery during my freshman year of college. music that prompted purchases of small press ‘zines and countless CDs that I no longer listen to. One such band was Shudder to Think, a DC band that recorded on Dischord Records in the late 80s and early 90s. I’m not even sure what song of theirs it was that I heard first, on a skillfully crafted and random mixtape given to me by a fellow denizen of Dharma Coffee House. I do recall that there was one line in this song that stuck out…
And i’m putting you to sleep, like toast on a shelf.
Who writes stuff like that? What on god’s green earth does it mean? Like toast on a shelf. I keep picturing someone with a wall-mounted shelf, displaying slices of wheat, golden brown and crispy yet gathering dust.
There were other gems on this tape, which I am apparently now going to have to go home and dig out. I still drive a car with a tapedeck, after all. Is this an art that’s completely lost, making mixtapes? Can you get the same satisfaction from a carefully crafted playlist? I’m curious how this all works these days. If it weren’t for this one tape, I never would’ve discovered bands like Sebadoh, Pavement, Unrest…music that really shaped a segment of my life even if I don’t listen to it anymore…it opened my ears to dissonant sounds and chord progressions that enabled me to later appreciate bands like The Dismemberment Plan and Statehood. Noise begets noise, or the ability to comprehend how noise can be music.
I think I should go home, pull my Napa 100 cassette case out from under the bed and see what I come across. I’m taking a solo road trip in September, I could use a throwback soundtrack for the scenery.