Track 10: Hip-hop Head

Hip-hop Head

Tyrell Baker

 

Music has been as much a part of my life as breathing: the voices of my own mother, grandmother, and women of the church; Parliament Funkadelic on my dad’s record player; Boogie Monsters and Lords of the Underground; Onyx and Flatliners; Pebo, Luther, Whitney and Anita. Aaliyah, Jill, Gerald, and Frankie. Music speaks to the melanin in my skin. It drives the functions of my brain stem. Rhythms catch my ears from down the block. I freeze until I can identify the melody. Music sends chills through my bones, motivates me to run a little farther, or work a little longer. I can’t live without it.

Between the thump of the bass and skeet of the treble, you can find me. (more…)

Track 9: Give Em Enough Rope

Give Em Enough Rope

Robin James

 

I started running in college. I was a resolutely un-athletic nerd in high school. But when I stopped marching and joined band staff, I needed some physical activity in my life…,preferably physical activity that allowed me to have that same embodied connection to music that playing in the marching band did. So, running it was. But what music to run to? Well, I started out with early punk records. Duh, music by angry 19 year olds on tons of speed is gonna be great for running, I thought. And I was right: The Clash’s “White Riot” and the Dead Kennedys “MTV Get Off The Air” come in around 190bpm, which is fast. I copied my Clash, Sex Pistols, and Dead Kennedys CDs onto tape–this is pre shock-free Discman–and took them with me on my runs around Oxford, Ohio.

Of those albums (most of which I bought at the now-closed Oxford record shop, Looney T-Bird’s), my favorite was The Clash’s second album, Give Em Enough Rope. (I know, I know, it’s supposedly overproduced and not punk and whatever…don’t @ me with trite rockist banalities about this album.) I still run to the album, and it evokes specific places for me, places I lived and studied and, above all, ran. And it doesn’t just evoke images, but gestures and ways of being a body in a place. (more…)

Track 8: The Past Was Close Behind

The Past Was Close Behind

Joe Fruscione

 

We’d turned 30 just a few months apart, but I’d never given the album much thought until we were the same age. Blood on the Tracks found me in an eventful, moody, and transitional year, and Bob Dylan now mattered to me. A lot happened in 2005, including—most significantly—earning my doctorate in English and dealing with the end of a seven-year relationship. In mid-April, I was single again after a sudden but necessary breakup. Then, in early August, I was “Dr. Joseph Fruscione” and preparing for my first semester as a professor, who wasn’t also writing a dissertation.

That summer, a cousin sent me some burned CDs from artists I’d always meant to get into, among them Yo La Tengo, Wilco, and Dylan. Blood on the Tracks was the first Dylan album I’d listened to in full. I was hooked from the beginning. Earlier that year—not long after the breakup—my friend Meg told me to just keep on keepin’ on. Her dad had always said it to her, so she passed it along to help me. When I first heard Dylan sing, She had to sell everything she owned and froze up inside / And when finally the bottom fell out I became withdrawn. / The only thing I knew how to do / was to keep on keepin’ on / like a bird that flew, late in “Tangled Up in Blue,” I paused, remembered what Meg had said, and smiled. (more…)

Track 7: Something Good

Something Good

Monique Kluczykowski

 

These days when I listen to the radio, I mostly leave my dial on NPR—I like in-depth news, interviews with authors, some light jazz, or Chopin. But every once in awhile, I tune in to a classic rock station and almost without fail, I hear those magical beginning chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” And just like that, I am transported back to the late 1970s, back to my high school years in the southwest end of Louisville, Kentucky.

As a military kid, I’d lived all around Europe and the U.S., so my dad’s retirement in Valley Station was just another in a long series of moves. But unlike Department of Defense schools on military bases, my new school was filled with civilians who’d never known the challenges of changing schools, and/or countries, every year. It was tough to be the new kid amongst those who had been together since kindergarten, even tougher to be the slightly chubby girl with no aptitude for cheerleading or sports. (more…)

Track 6: Perfect Day

Perfect Day

Matthew Cheney

 

That moment: album — book — car ride.

How long ago now? Twenty-five years? Something like that.

It was (roughly) sometime between 1988 and 1991, which means sometime between when I was (roughly) 12 years old and 16 years old. Most likely 1989 or 1990. Most likely 14 or 15 years old.

Interstate 93 North between Boston, Massachusetts and Plymouth, New Hampshire.

Blue Toyota Tercel wagon, my mother driving.

Mass market paperback of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner tie-in edition).

Black Sony Walkman cassette player.

Soul Mining by The The. (more…)