Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"The Best of Music That Doesn't Suck"

So I'm on the phone with my mother for my birthday, and she tells me she's sending something for Jen, but won't tell me what it is. Big mystery. This was last week, and having forgotten about it, I'm up at the shop (that my brother in law works at) getting my brakes changed, and Jen's coming, to get her oil changed. She has the package - inside is a tape.

"The Best of Music That Doesn't Suck by Nathan Law, c. 11/1996". So you may be asking yourself, who is this "Nathan Law" fella? Well, he's me. I got mad at my father over some stupid shit, and my mom remembers I wanted to change my name. I vaguely remember that, but the real reason for the "Nathan Law" persona was a pseudonym, a pen name, under which to write. I really had no good reason to use a pen name, but my favorite author at the time, Dean Koontz, had about a dozen of them, so I was thinking I'd need one. And it does sound cool.

As for "Music That Doesn't Suck", it was a series of mix tapes I was making, of the best stuff on the radio and my mom's tape collection. I started these when I got my first dual-cassette recorder, and continued on after I got a CD/tape player, eventually went to copying from both CD and tapes. I made at least 22 of them, maybe a couple more but I'm not sure. There were a couple spinoffs, too, such as this, and a couple "Metal That Doesn't Suck" and maybe one or two others.

So I wrote down the songs as they played on the tape, and I have most of these songs. The others, I will get. I'm assembling the mix on my computer, using digital sources - obviously sounding a thousand times better. So here's a rundown of the tracklist and some comments on the songs.

1. Metallica - Outlaw Torn
I do not remember this song, the last song from their album Load, ever being a favorite of mine. It's a good song, sure, but I can't see where my head was putting this song first. Plus it's long - almost 10 minutes - and I've never been a big fan of putting long songs at the beginning. That's one major beef I have with Green Day's "American Idiot" album.

2. Van Halen - Not Enough
Now I do remember loving Van Hagar's "Not Enough". It's got some beautiful lyrics, just a real good song. Probably my favorite on their "Balance" album.

3. Smashing Pumpkins - 1979
I still love 1979. It's cool because it's my birth year, and it's just a good song.

4. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
Yep, I loved this song when I was a kid. I knew something was off about Boy George but couldn't really put my finger on it, but it didn't bother me, with the music. This is the only song I really cared for by them, and every now and then I still like to hear it.

5. Petra - Last Days
There's a long story behind me and Petra, I'll post about it sometime. Let's just say this song holds a special place in my heart as being about those who leave Christianity.

6. Ozzy Osbourne - S.I.N.
When I heard this, I had no idea what it was. Oh, there's no mistaking the Ozzman's voice. But I remember when I was a huge Ozzy fan - I had all his CDs - and I could not remember this one. I had to Google the lyrics. Now I remember. This was from the "No More Tears" album, and for a while it was my favorite song by his. I completely forgot about it!

7. Jimi Hendrix - Purple Haze
When I was a kid, I asked my mother if Jimi Hendrix was gay. She asked why I thought that. I said, well in Purple Haze he says "scuse me while I kiss this guy"! Yeah... turns out he really says "scuse me while I kiss the sky", but you can see where I thought this. I never was a big fan of Jimi, but he's impressive in his own way, and this has always been my favorite of his songs.

8. Ministry - New World Order
Ah, I remember when I liked Ministry. Dark, dark times. For the kind of metal they played, they were actually pretty good, but I can't see myself really enjoying it nowadays. (On another note, I'm surprised I didn't pick "Scarecrow" from their same album, it's always been my favorite.) And that ends Side A - remember, it's from a tape.
9. Van Halen - Dreams
I was mortified when I heard they used this song in the Power Rangers movie. I still am. Van Hagar's most inspirational rock song, almost makes you wanna go out and do something, to kick some serious ass in the way only a Van Hagar 90s ballad could.

10. Ludwig von Beethoven - Fur Elise
I used to be a much bigger fan of Beethoven than I am now, but I've always appreciated his music, mostly the 5th and 9th symphonies, but this shortest of his symphonies is about the length of a normal song, as opposed to a whole album. Short, sweet, and perfect for a modern mix tape.

11. Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet/Butterfly Wings
Oh, I remember having this idiot friend who thought the 80s hair band Ratt did this song. Why? Because of the line "Despite all my rage I'm still just a RAT in a cage". *Facepalm* I don't think Ratt ever claimed to be actual rodents... stupid, stupid, stupid. I didn't know who Smashing Pumpkins were at the time, and he was a big Ratt fan, so I fell for it. Idiot... Yeah, J.G. if you ever read this, you were an idiot... but drop me an email sometime.

12. Metallica - Hero of the Day
Now I do remember this being a favorite from Load. Once I began to accept that Metallica had gone from heavy metal to moody rock (back then, grunge/alternative), I really started digging this song. This song really represents the maturity that Metallica had grown into. It's too bad Reload wasn't up to par with Load, and they went off the deep end with St. Anger, because even though they took a step in another direction for Load, they did alright for themselves.

13. Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears
Probably my favorite Ozzy song - I still dig it, but I haven't listened to the No More Tears album in so long. I'll be remedying that in the next couple weeks, however.

14. Jimi Hendrix - Third Stone from the Sun
How in the blue hell did I pick this out? Some things will forever be a mystery. The name doesn't mean anything to me. It's an instrumental, mostly, with some spoken verses. Googling one line told me what it was. I have this as well, but I don't remember ever liking it, as a favorite.

15. Anthrax - Be All, End All
Another one I had to Google the lyrics to to find out what it was. I vaguely remember liking this song, though overall I was never a big Anthrax fan beyond "I'm the Man".

Overall it's not a bad mix, but it's a long way from good, and it shows me just how far I've come with mixes. First of all, using so many artists twice on the same volume is bad. It shows you couldn't find enough good artists/bands to include, or your music is very limited, and that's what this mix represents. It has a few songs where a better song from the same artist/band, perhaps even album, could have been chosen. It's got a long song kicking it off. However it does take me back some, kind of helps me remember those days. Which is an amazing coincidence that an old friend from those days contacted me last night. Speaking of which, I've just received another email from him, so I'm off to check that.

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