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…)

Track 5: The Only Time Sufjan Stevens Pissed Me Off

The Only Time Sufjan Stevens Pissed Me Off and How I Learned to Enjoy My Rabbit

S. Amanda Clevinger

 

I have a 12-year-old bunny named Persey, short for Persephone, queen of the underworld and harbinger of Springtime. I have been listening to a musician for 12 years named Sufjan, which means “comes with a sword.” Persey and Sufjan have a lot in common: they’re both rabbits (Persey, literally; Sufjan, Chinese zodiac-ly); they both have black hair and long eyelashes; they’ve both spent quite a bit of time in Oregon; they’ve both been on NPR; they’re the two people who I would save during an apocalyptic event. I love them both very much, I would even go as far to say I cherish their existences. Persey and Sufjan make me happy.

As for me, let’s do some free association. What do people say about me, Amanda, “worthy of love”? A lot of people say I’m funny. About the same number of people eventually ask me if I’m depressed or bipolar. Yes, I am funny and bipolar, the winning combination that leads to morbidness, strange looks, long nights that turn into long days, many essays and/or tears, and eventually suicide. (I laughed as I typed that … in trying to be funny, I just said something true.) (more…)

Track 4: Where does America begin?

Where does America begin?

M.C. Mallet

 

“Where are you from?”

“I was born in Germany.”

“Wow. What’s it like there? Do you speak German?”

“I don’t remember it; we left when I was about two.”

 

“Where are you from?”

“Kansas.”

“They have Black people in Kansas?”

I am a Black man, a U.S. citizen by birth, though born in Europe, whose first words (according to family legend) were in German. I am the child of a Black American Southerner and  an Afro-Panamanian immigrant  and native Spanish speaker with roots in Jamaica and St. Lucia. I was reared in the Roman Catholic church, not the Black church. The first 13 years of my life were spent in motion—Germany, California, Utah, Kansas, Colorado, Panama—living on Army bases with Army families similarly transient and ethnically/culturally mixed. At the beginning of my teenage years, I fell into what we conventionally call “America.” Kansas, to be specific. The middle of the middle. Landlocked. Predominantly white. Population about 35,000. A small town in general terms, but a city in that region of the country. (more…)

Track 3: Tuesday is Gone

Tuesday is Gone

Douglas Thompson

 

When I was twelve, my father took me to an electronic blowout sale in an abandoned department store less than five minutes from our house. The Panasonic single component system held everything a young boy could want: turntable with precision needle technology, radio with AM and FM, equalizer, and stop-my-heart-cold two cassettes players with dual-function recording. If that wasn’t enough for this wannabe rock star, the system came with three-foot high cabinet speakers.

As an only child, I would spend hours in my room listening to music—memorizing all the lyrics to albums or songs on the radio. Top 40 was mostly my game since my parents frowned on the “rock” station. Before I came into possession of that component system, I also came under the influence of my two older cousins, who entered our lives and house as their parents’ marriage deteriorated. Our home became  a designated safe zone and the boys moved freely into and just as easily out. Their imprint, however, stayed with me, especially an introduction to Southern rock.

The younger cousin, two years older than me, became a constant companion in the summers. We listened to the radio and copied lyrics on yellow notebook paper. We imagined starting a rock band, even though neither one of us knew how to play a guitar or drums. Singers, we decided, got the most girls, so we would be singers. (more…)