As embarrassing as it is to say, I didn’t know about you or Robert Mapplethorpe before reading this book. However, after finishing your memoir I understood why you were both so influential to the art and music world and I also understood more about the importance of unconditional love and creating your own family.
One of the passages in your story that stuck out to me the most was when Robert was photographing you for the picture that would become the Horses album cover and the chapter finished with, “When I look at it now, I never see me. I see us.” It was wonderfully poignant and resonated with me deeply, given my current position as a college student, on my own for the first time. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning into adulthood has been finding those people who support and love me enough to go from being complete strangers to members of my ever-growing family, but I am pleased to say that I am making tremendous progress.
Throughout the past two years at school I’ve gone on countless adventures with my friends and the pictures from those journeys are plastered all over my bedroom walls, but when I look at them I don’t just see the scenery or myself. Those pictures are like a journal of my life and they capture thousands of moments in a single shot. Every time I look at them I’m reminded of all the opportunities I’ve had and the experiences I’ve shared with other people and I know that without that time I’ve spent with those other people, the pictures would be significantly less special.
Your memoir reminded me of the fact that life is meant to be shared. Your successes and failures, your happiness and sadness, your love and heartbreak – they’re all meant to be experienced with someone special to you, whether they are in your life for decades or only a few brief years. So thank you for sharing your beautiful life and wisdom, the lessons of which I will be sure to carry on with me, even after closing the book.
I live in Cortez, CO. I hate country music. This doesn’t work well and to make matters worse, I work in a hardware store. You better believe that every redneck coming in to fulfill their lumber needs expects to hear the same awful country hits with every last visit. This is getting bad. I work twenty hours per week and during that time, I have to help customers, which is also terrible, while listening to this garbage. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Every day, the guns and knives we have for sale look more appealing in regards to taking my own life while I stock shelves mindlessly, while listening to the same crappy country singers go on about their wives leaving them, and their dogs dying, and their Bud Light running empty, and their truck breaking down, and all those crazy country girls who cause them so much grief. My work life seriously can’t get more repetitive. Whatever can I do to make the work days more tolerable?
Well, that is rough. First of all, I’d probably suggest staying away from the guns and knives and whatever else might be identified later by the police during their suicide/homicide investigation. That’s step one. Step two would be to find yourself some new, more bearable music that might make the drudgery go by a tiny bit faster and give these rednecks a new outlook on “country.”
A few years ago during the Christmas season I worked as a waitress and every goddamn day I had to listen to the same godawful songs, except every disc jockey in the country was infatuated with the “revamping” fad and all the holiday classics were done by pop stars. The only thing worse than serving asshole customers and standing on my feet for hours on end was having to do it all whilst hearing Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” six times a day. I wanted to die. Seriously. But then I decided I would counter the attack of pop-vomit with anti-Christmas songs and Blink 182’s “Won’t Be Home For Christmas” became my antidote.
That may seem irrelevant, but my solution to your hardware store blues isn’t to take the country out of your day, but “revamp” it by adding a punk flair. One classic country song every redneck, cowboy, and PBR-drinking hillbilly will know is John Denver’s “Country Roads” but what they probably won’t know is the cover done by Me First And The Gimme Gimmes (stupid band name, yes). With this song you can still pass it off as being a country favorite and your customers – despite their initial confusion – will still know all the words!
In fact, I also just recently discovered that there’s an entire sub-genre of punk called Cowpunk that gets a lot of its origins from old country and blues, so that might be worth giving a listen to.
For a more subtle way to inject a little livelihood into your workday, you could try using Hugo’s cover of “99 Problems.” The song is bluegrassy enough that customers won’t bat an eyelash unless they actually listen to the lyrics, then they might notice the fact that Jay-Z has entered upon their sacred turf – if they even know who Jay-Z is.
Finally, you could always try going for one of my personal favorites: “Country Death Song” by Violent Femmes – basically the founders of the folk punk subgenre. This song has everything: a twangy, country sound, sad lyrics, and a fittingly ironic title. Not only does the sound work for your job, but you can spend your time enjoying the progressive insanity of the lyrics as the singer talks about murdering his own child and being so haunted by it that he ultimately commits suicide. Now that’s a good country song.
So instead of shooting yourself with a 12 gauge, go out there and find some alternative country music and bask in the sweet sound of satire!
We’ve all had the experience of sharing that one intensely meaningful/powerful song with friends or family, who simply nod and grin politely. They don’t get it. How does music affect you overall? What songs/genres/artists evoke particular emotions in you? Recall a particular song that meant something powerful to you. Did you share it with someone? Did they get?
I went on an impromptu trip to the desert over this Spring Break with my friend Lara. We met up, packed our bags, bought food, and ran off in my car, running away from all of our problems, and five hours later ended up in the Grand Canyon. It was an insanely hectic, fun, and cathartic trip, but one of my favorite moments was when we first entered the Grand Canyon and I played one of my favorite songs, “Home” by Will Hanson. The song was featured in the 2012 film version of On The Road and Lara and I had been talking about Jack Kerouac all day as we flew through the desert on a quest to abandon responsibility. The song was beautiful and fitting but it was most prominent for me once we had parked next to a closed gate, and walked out to the desolately empty edge of the canyon, hearing nothing but the incredibly loud silence that filled the carved rock. I could hear the song in my head and the words of Jack Kerouac resonating in my mind. “So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it.” And with just the two of us standing there, I recited the words that were stuck in my head and Lara’s face broke out into a huge smile because we both felt the perfection.
One of my most adored films is the 2006 version of “Marie Antoinette,” directed by Sofia Coppola. Let’s be honest here, this movie is essentially irresistible to every feminine creature on planet Earth. The gorgeous costumes, breathtaking sets, beautiful acting, and amazing screenplay are all elements of what make this film fantastic, but it is the soundtrack that truly solidifies the story’s message and prevents it from becoming yet another classical, pianoforte-riddled historical drama.
The high-energy, New Wave, dance-inspired synth soundtrack provides the context for Marie Antoinette’s struggle as a mere teenager thrust into the world of politics and ruling a world power. With artists such as New Order, Bow Wow Wow, and Siouxie and the Banshees, Coppola displays a unique talent for breaking the mold of typical 18th Century biographical film and urges the viewer to see Marie not as a flippant and ignorant queen, but as a charming and relatable teen.
A scene which perfectly exemplifies the seamless blend between the culture of late 1700’s France and the New Wave music craze of the 1980’s – popularly characterized by the moody and rebellious audience it captivated – is the Masquerade Ball. Marie, played by Kristen Dunst, sneaks out for a night of dancing, gambling, and drinking with the youthful and beautiful elite of Paris. In an interesting combination and artful style of blending, the song “Hong Kong Garden” by Siouxie and the Banshees begins with a demure, classical instrumental cover and then crashes into a burst of high energy with a whirlwind of to-die-for dresses.
The juxtaposition of relatively modern music and completely classical visual are surprisingly pleasing and succeed in highlighting the fact that Marie Antoinette was just like every other teenager throughout history: fun-seeking, love-crazy, and gloriously unburdened by the anvil weight of responsibility.
While 20 Questions seems to be a game that has degenerated into a pseudo-tool for half-assed dating apps, it’s still honestly quite a fun and interesting way to actually get to know someone. When the questions are more captivating than “what’s your favorite color/position?” you can actually begin to establish some connections between yourself and a stranger, particularly through music.
Right off the bat I discovered that Dashell and myself had plenty of (embarrassing) things in common. Not only that, but I also found a few new songs to add to my playlists and rediscovered my love for a plethora of old, long-forgotten songs.
What was your first favorite band?
As with any adolescent, the struggles of the white, male, 30 year old really resonated with me and I saw them during their Projekt Revolution Tour in 2008. Not gonna lie, I was recently driving with my friend, Jason, and we randomly decided to play the song “Bleed It Out,” which I hadn’t heard in years, and I remembered every single word. Took me right back to being 13 years old watching their angsty music videos on the ol’ family computer.
A memorable song played at a school dance?
“Sirens” by Angels And Airwaves
Clearly Dashell’s school dances played way better music than mine ever did. Which might also explain why I only went to a total of two.
Song that reminds you of a crush or an ex?
“Hold On Till May” by Pierce The Veil
I had never heard this song before, so I went to listen to it and woooah boy, I understand why it was chosen for this question. It’s got a nostalgic summer feeling to it, tinged with heaps of regret; I think a got a little sad over a summer fling that never even happened.
What was your first concert?
Blink 182/Weezer/Taking Back Sunday
Have not seen Blink or Weezer, but I did have the fortune of seeing Taking Back Sunday at the aforementioned Projekt Revolution. I distinctly remember being way too excited about the fact that the singer, Adam Lazzara, threw the microphone and caught it just like he did in the “MakeDamnSure” music video.
What was your most recent concert?
Um…In This Moment
I Googled pictures of them. I’m going to assume the front-woman has a lot of energy.
The best pity party song?
“Blackout” by Senses Fail
Again, had to look it up. I think guy’s pity parties are probably different from girl’s. This song seems like something you could break a lot of expensive things to, whereas most of my girlish pity parties just involve plenty of crying and eating.
I f you could make out with one band member who would it be?
Um…that chick from Lights
Apparently her name is Valerie Poxleitner. If you’re gonna have a shot at making out with her, knowing her name will most likely be beneficial. You’re welcome.
What album would you use at the soundtrack to a movie?
I like to imagine this film to be about a disenchanted punker living in L.A. who revolts against the government in some big uprising, the plot going back and forth between his quirky, clandestine punk romance and his anti-political aspirations. That, or a zombie movie.
What instrument would you most like to play?
The Cloud Atlas Sextet is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of being able to play the piano. And then Onset by Giles Lamb. Piano is probably the most romantic, least douchey instrument I can think of – guitars are so overrated. People will always try to play off a few chords on the guitar as a romantic gesture but you know no one is going to serenade you on the piano unless they know their shit.
Would you rather be able to sing or play an instrument?
Portability at its finest. I mean, clearly singing is the best option.
What’s your most embarrassing guilty pleasure song?
“Mandi” by Barry Manilow
I listen to Copacabanna a lot if it makes you feel any better. I was in the car with my brother once (we listen to awful music together) and I was dancing way too emphatically to this song, and well, it resulted in me bashing my entire arm into the window with the people in the car next to us laughing uncontrollably. Not a proud moment.
If you were in a movie, what would be your murder/death song?
“MO” by From First To Last
I kind of meant a song to die to, but I’m thinking this is more of a song to kill other people to, unless you were thinking of having the most dramatic, badass death scene in the history of film.
What band would you most want to meet?
“Rowdy” would be the best word to describe my mental image of that meeting.
If you could resurrect any band/band member who would it be?
*the simultaneous dying gasps of a million self-proclaimed 90’s girls*
What’s your most embarrassing musical moment?
Trying to sing while playing guitar to my ex
I’ve never had the misfortune of trying to serenade someone but I can only imagine the cringe-worthy pain of the memory. Sometimes I’ll be walking around and suddenly remember the time my friend and I were driving, singing the song “Clarity,” which has particularly high notes, then my speakers cut out and it literally sounded like my voice had fallen down the stairs. I usually stop walking and just want to curl up in the fetal position to die.
What band can you not stand at all?
Black Veil Brides
Oh my god no, just no. I listened to a minute of one song and couldn’t take it any longer. Is the person on the album cover a man? Is it a woman? Why are they trying to look like the dumpster baby of a one-night stand between Mötley Crüe and KISS? Who knows. I am embarrassed to have that band in my search history.
Who are your three favorite bands?
Blink 182, From First To Last, Senses Fail
Blink 182 is just undeniably enjoyable, haven’t heard much of the other two but I listened to a few songs like “Emily,” “Buried A Lie,” and “Bite to Break Skin” and I could get behind the ones that I heard. Also, I like the fact that in the recommend artists section of Spotify the band Aiden shows up because I had a huge thing for them back in the day. Still kind of do.
Fuck, marry, kill?
That chick from Lights, that chick from Lights, Justin Bieber
Blink 182, From First To Last with Sonny Moore or Matt Goode, not their new singer, and Senses Fail
Wow, I feel like I’m in the Da Vinci Code because I just solved two mysteries at once. Sonny Moore is Skrillex (most likely well-known information to the rest of the world, clearly news to me) and he’s the pinnacle picture of “emo hair” that I remember seeing in Google search results when I was 13. Everything in the world makes sense now.
Best sex song ever?
Um…any Chef song from South Park?
Seems reasonable. (This song is WILDLY inappropriate but EXTREMELY fitting.If that funky bass line doesn’t make you want to get down, I don’t know what will.)
Valentine’s Day is coming up and while no, I don’t have anyone that’s captured my heart (aside from my cat, Tyler) that doesn’t mean I can’t be in love. I am in love with terrible jokes, 80’s-esque synth-pop songs, and most recently, Ryan Gosling after watching him curb stomp a man to death. It doesn’t sound romantic at all, but love isn’t always shiny and perfect; sometimes it’s the bloodstains on your white scorpion jacket. Love is about accepting someone for who they are, especially if they’re a talented, handsome stunt car driver who’s willing to kill for love.
Inspired by the soundtrack for Drive, these five melodic, musing, mystical songs will make you feel as though you’re sitting in your 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle, staring out your window into the night, thinking about a special someone with a faint smile on your face you’re not even aware of.
Chromatics: Kill For Love
If you’ve seen Drive, or even read my introduction, you’ll know why this song is essential to the Ryan Gosling Experience. But moving away from the murderous aspect, the singer’s breathy, dreamy voice abstractly comes across as oscillating hues of purple and pink, perfectly exhibited in the music video, and it’s exactly what I think of when I have a crush.
Futurecop!: Into Your Heart
This slow, heartfelt song is exactly what you would awkwardly listen to while meekly making eye contact with your crush during a middle school dance. But not Ryan Gosling. Ryan Gosling would look so deeply into your soul you wouldn’t even know who you were anymore. The second the drums kick in in this song is the second you feel your heart stop, because there’s the realization that you’re falling hard.
Anoraak: Nightdrive With You (Fear Of Tigers Remix)
As soon as that staring contest is over, you’re going on a night drive through the city, maybe along the coast, who knows? The point is that it’s summer, it’s warm enough that you can roll down the windows and drive along the highway smelling the sweet, warm nighttime air and occasionally you might glance over at the person in the other seat and you both feel your cheeks get a little red. “I guess it’s love what I’m feeling.” Yeah, you’re damn right it is.
A Flock Of Seagulls: Space Age Love Song
“I saw your eyes, and it made me smile for little while. I was falling in love.” A classic song that perfectly encapsulates the whirlwind feeling of realizing that your affections are reciprocated. It’s the song you dance around in your room to after the first time you kiss your crush, your face immovably fixed in a big stupid grin. Well, maybe not for Ryan Gosling. He’d probably just lay on the hood of his car, parked under the stars, with this song softly playing out of the speakers.
Desire: Under Your Spell
This feels like cheating a little bit since the song was actually in the film, but honestly this is just one of the best night driving songs ever. It’s the slow kind of zoning out song, where it’s 2 a.m. and your eyes are on the road but your mind is focused on someone somewhere else. The sound of the mallrats asking, “do you think this feeling can last forever,” resonates with the butterflies in your stomach and as you continue driving on into the early morning you smile and turn up the volume. You are officially entranced.
When I was sixteen years old and living in Ireland I watched a lot of BBC. One of my favorite shows that I came across during that time was Being Human; a quirky, sometimes painfully British (they drank excessive amounts of tea), yet wonderfully compelling series about a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire that all live together in a flat.
Yes, it sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, and yes, it was somewhat cheesy, but this show was the most endearing variety of awkward. The earnestness with which these characters desired normalcy somehow resonated with my feeling of displacement in a foreign country, but it was actually one of the guest characters that impacted me the most, despite the fact that he was only in two episodes.
The ghost of the flat, Annie, meets another ghost by the name of Gilbert. An elitist, melancholic, and sassy man of the undead who could’ve been a member of The Smiths, Gilbert had died during the mid-1980’s and was entirely preserved as an encapsulation of the New Wave era which he emanated from every ounce of his nonexistent being. In one scene Gilbert deems the idea of fun as a “bourgeois concept” unless it’s “Gilbert fun,” which he excitedly describes as “collecting every Echo And The Bunnymen Japanese import.” Riveting.
While I loved the character for his sarcastic nature, I was also compelled by his very specific interest in music and I began to listen to more and more New Wave bands. The gloomy, yet still dance-worthy sound was alluring to me and brooding bands such as The Cure, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, and New Order became fast favorites.
I actually saw New Order when I was seventeen at a festival in Dublin called Forbidden Fruit. I was ecstatic because they happened to play my favorite song, Ceremony.
However, I still feel an involuntary gagging reaction whenever I see hipster youths wearing t-shirts displaying the iconic Joy Division album, Unknown Pleasures. Love Will Tear Us Apart was a perfectly okay song and Ian Curtis hanging himself was not some romantic act to glorify, okay?
Aside from the stupid romanticization of suicide that was perpetuated in many of the songs of the New Wave era, I still find the music to be incredibly pervasive, particularly now that synth-oriented music is coming back into popularity. The real point though, is that if I hadn’t been curious enough to find out what the hell Bunnymen meant, I might never have found all the wonderful, angst-filled music of my later teenage years.
So thank you, Gilbert, for introducing me to Gilbert Fun, because now I have an amazing soundtrack to listen to when reading existentialist literature, or contemplating unrequited love, or simply dancing around my room at midnight.
As per usual, I was late. Taryn had already been waiting for me for fifteen minutes and as I found her sitting in the student union I apologized for taking forever. My cat had puked everywhere. Thank you, Tyler.
We decided to jump straight into the interview and she read out her list of songs to me as I tried to keep up with my fumbling, yet somehow effective, two-finger typing method. She nonchalantly told me the title of her first song, “She Talks To Angels,” but her initial sentence was definitely surprising.
T: “My dad committed suicide when I was fourteen and this was his favorite song, which I didn’t find out until he passed away. I wasn’t close with my dad; he had a lot of mental diseases and he was an alcoholic. After my dad passed, my brother got the song name tattooed on his rib, but changed the title to ‘he talks to angels’. The content of it is very much about a different soul, a damaged soul. And how a damaged soul can be beautiful. And that’s how I think of my dad. My brother and I actually have it tattooed on the same rib. We’re connected in that way and share the experience of our father’s loss and out father’s love through that song. It also has a very lonely sound to it, which reminds me a lot of how my dad lived his life. It’s just a perfect fit of the emotions and experience that I had with my dad, so it just fits in that aspect. So it’s beautiful but tremendously sad.”
A: “What year were you in in school when it happened?”
T: “I was a freshman in high school. This Saturday it’ll be the 5th anniversary.”
A: “Did you live with your dad?”
T: “No, he lived like 4 ½ hours away.”
A: “Did that influence your decision to move to Colorado?”
T: “I definitely didn’t want to go to any schools in North Dakota, and I knew I wanted to get out of Minnesota. But Colorado has been great.”
We talked about the difference between Colorado and Minnesota weather for a bit and I was educated that the former experienced what Taryn referred to as a “pussy winter.” Compared to Minnesota, yes, but as to the severity of winter in Colorado, we agreed to disagree.
Deciding to lighten the mood, we moved away from The Black Crowes and on to Hawaiian artist, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s cover of the American classic, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
T: “Mainly I love this song because when I was ten my mom discovered a little music projector that you could wind up and when it played the song it also had a rainbow that lit up. I connect it with my dad and I want that song to be played at my wedding. I want to walk down the aisle with my mom on my left and my brother on my right. It’s a way to live life, to always be dreaming, to always live somewhere over the rainbow, I guess. It keeps me in touch with my childhood. Adulthood can be magical, just like childhood.”
A: “So do you love The Wizard of Oz?”
T: “No, I hate that movie. I actually never liked it. I always hated that other kids were scared of the green witch. I always thought it was unintelligent, like, she’s not real. Grow up. And I always thought that the cowardly lion was adorable.”
Despite her feelings towards the whimsical film – very specifically her hatred of the Munchkins – Taryn is a self-proclaimed Disney lover and very clearly of the dreamer variety as I discovered later through her various song choices.
We segued from discussing our childhoods to the universally morbidly embarrassing years of early adolescence and a band that we were both very unfortunately familiar with. As with most tweens and teens of the mid-2000’s we had felt the angst-riddled lyrics of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus resonate with our souls.
T: “Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was all of my middle school pretty much. That was the one and only sort of punk band – I don’t know – rock band, that I was ever into. I heard the song somewhere, in a music video or something, and the video was like an anime. It was for final destiny.”
A: “Final Fantasy?”
T: “Yeah, I think that’s it. I remember being really attracted to the guy character.”
A: “Wait, which one? There are a lot of them. It’s Final Fantasy…”
T: “He had blonde hair, I think.”
A: “Is it Cloud?”
T: “Yes! It’s that one.” [shows me the video]
A: “Yeah, he’s hot. Haha, wow. That whole music video is just clips from the movie, ‘Advent Children.”
T: “I remember watching that video and thinking “is this what porn is like?”
A: “Was that your sexual awakening?”
T: “No, that was Sean Connery as James Bond.”
Cue a very long tangent discussing various attractive celebrities from our childhoods. Needless to say, Orlando Bloom’s name came up more than once. This, unsurprisingly, moved very quickly into more current crushes and I found out that the “lumber-sexual” faction is alive and thriving as evidenced by Taryn’s keen interest in Jon Bellion. Apparently undercut hairstyles, intense facial hair, and rippling bodies covered with tattoos are the “it” thing right now. But I’m not complaining.
T: “Jon Bellion is my god. He is the most beautiful man in the world and a musical genius and he has tattoos and looks like a teddy bear.”
A: “Oh wow, he looks like a mountain man.”
T: “No, but look. And he’s only 22.”
A: “Wait, wait, wait, he’s our age?
T: “Yeah, he’s perfectly in grasp of the tearin’ it up power. Just in a nutshell he’s beautiful and I want it. I want it in my ears all the time. His music. And in my soul, of course. But basically the song, Wonder Years is about how when you’re a child –he has a niece- when you’re a child the bullshit is for the birds. One of the lines is about how people are fighting wars for a paycheck but “my niece is blowing bubbles in the yard”. It’s about how adulthood is real and even though it’s so close, it’s so far away. Ugly is gonna be around, but I can still blow bubbles in my soul and be happy and innocent and optimistic about the world. Every time I listen to it, it teaches me something about how I want to live my life.”
I have to say, when I first listened to the song after seeing about a million pictures of Jon Bellion, it was definitely not what I was expecting. I think my eyes and ears experienced cognitive dissonance.
At this point in the interview many mentions of Chinese food had been made and hunger was beginning to make music take a backseat to starvation. We decided to quickly wrap up the list, finishing it out with “Don’t Wait” by Mapei.
T: “This is basically a song about friendship. Technically it’s a song about a romantic relationship and love, but it connects with me through friendship and how important it is to me. Friendships are relationships in your life that are important and crucial. One of the lines is, “I respect you with my all”, and I think to have a true friendship you need to respect each other with your all. I think of my best friend Payton and how we stay connected through respect and love and friendship and all that true friendship should be.”
We discussed old friends for a few minutes but as my stomach began to eat itself audibly we decided to conclude our musical journey. And it was, in fact, a journey. In just an hour and a half I learned more about Taryn than I had in a whole semester of sitting next to her three days a week. We had surprisingly similar opinions and life experiences, which, when you really think about it, isn’t that surprising at all. Tragedies occur in everyone’s lives, as do wonderful moments, and being able to find these connections is what brings people together. And it just so happens that one of the easiest ways to get to know someone and create that resonance, whether it be with a person you already know or a musician that you will most likely never meet, is through music.