Someday All Of This Will Be a Memory (2022)

  1. A month or so ago on a shelf in my office I ran across an old mix CD someone had made for me. It had been a while since I'd received a physical mix CD, and I wasn't sure who had made it. There was no track list: presumably it had been lost. It read "Back to School 2008 Mix for Ander."
  2. I still do have a CD player in my car that I use a lot. Even in this age of the convenience of streaming so-called everything, I listen to my CDs quite a bit because it turns out the promise of everything is false and always has been: lots of what I want to listen to isn't on the streaming service I subscribe to, and much of it isn't available anywhere at all. Like good luck trying to find the original version of Jens Lekman's fantastic "Black Cab," which still streams nowhere for reasons unclear to me, or the Gear Daddies' cover of "The Tide Is High," which appeared only on the Color of Her Eyes CD single in 1991 and exists nowhere online. Or it did exist nowhere online, anyway. Since that song was in the 2022 March Faxness tournament of covers that I coordinate, I had to rip it from my CD and post it on youtube. It's a great song—not the best cover ever, sure, but a fun one, which describes the Gear Daddies very well.
  3. In the process of doing this I realized I'd never repurchased that CD single after nearly all my CDs were stolen from me when I was 22.
  4. At the time this was a real blow, and in some ways I'm still not over it, more than 20 years later. Having so much of what I had spent so much energy accumulating and tracking down and buying or borrowing, and having come to believe that all of this obscure music constituted my self—having had that just ripped away by a thief, I felt empty, a card catalog pointing to a library empty of books. I remembered all the CDs I had, but they were gone. Did I have them or did I not? Did memory count?
  5. I still felt like I had those CDs. I thought of some of them often, and some of them almost not at all, like that Gear Daddies CD single, but then I'd remember they had been stolen, and all my memories pointed to an empty space. Or a nearly empty one: the memory was there but the objects were not.
  6. Somehow I got a decent amount of insurance money in compensation to my claim: $3750, which sounds like a lot, but as you would guess, it wasn't nearly enough even to to repurchase those CDs, and that was even if it was possible to find many of them, which it was not, not without great effort.
  7. This reminded me of losing a whole story from my first story collection to a computer failure. It was the last story I'd written for the book, and then my computer froze and stayed frozen, and when I had to reboot the machine, it had vanished. There were no partial drafts I could work from. All I had now was the memory of having written the story and the knowledge that it was lost.
  8. In that case, I ended up rewriting it from memory.
  9. It is unknowable how closely the rewritten version got to the lost one.
  10. Around a tenth of the CDs I had stolen from me, like my vanished story, were so obscure that they were available exactly nowhere.
  11. At the time my dad was puzzled about the intensity of my feelings about losing all these CDs. Our house always had music in it, growing up: my dad played clarinet in high school and still had his old clarinet. My brother got into guitar for a couple years. We had albums that I remember listening to on sunny Sunday afternoons in the farmhouse where my mother died. The radio was often on. We had a silver boombox that I remember using to hopefully tape songs off of the Top 40 Countdown, waiting for the moment where I thought the DJ was going to play it. This was one of the first moments where I felt able to capture a diaphanous thing, a song on the radio, and keep it for myself. I'd later buy and also sometimes shoplift albums and tapes and then CDs—a lot of CDs. A great deal of my adolescence was composed of hunting and gathering music, trading it with friends, listening to it with friends.
  12. My dad listened to music in the car sometimes, but almost never in the house, or not intentionally. Music would be on the radio, but he didn't have all that many albums of his own. Being made of music was something that he clearly didn't understand.
  13. I'm not sure my dad has ever felt that intensely about any collection of his own the way that I did about those CDs.
  14. I was able to hunt down a few of those hard-to-find CDs, but not the real obscure stuff, like the Tori Amos Australian CD singles which were the only place I could find my favorites of her B-sides. I had a lot of that kind of obscure CD single then: I had hunted for those for a long time and found them, often after extreme effort.
  15. This was the genius of the CD single, that it was where you shoveled on a bunch of weird material for the fans.
  16. As any collector knows, the hunt for the thing is emotional, and offers pleasure disproportionate to the actual object itself. But from that point forward, the object was tied to memory.
  17. I mean that I clearly hadn't bothered to repurchase the Gear Daddies CD single. I hadn't thought of it in years. So in order to rip it for March Faxness I had to track it down and buy it again, which wasn't particularly difficult thanks to the Internet. So I did find it, and rip it, and upload it on youtube, where you can find it, at least until it gets DMCAed. So for a while, anyway, this song is once again available.
  18. I put the Back to School 2008 mix CD in the car and cued it up.
  19. With no tracklist and no phone to look at, I didn't know what the first song was. It took me a few minutes to recognize it was a cover of the Strokes' "Someday" by a female singer, seemingly recorded in someone's basement, with a bunch of laughter and good natured chatter over the recording.
  20. Still, it was good, and Athena was all of a sudden really into it. She asked: What is this, dad?
  21. I didn't know. It took me a minute to recognize that this was a feeling I hadn't had for a while.
  22. Not only that, I couldn't find anything listed on the database of covers of "Someday" over at, which, while not comprehensive, is usually good enough. Shazam/Siri couldn't place it, either, since it did not seem to have been commercially released anywhere. And I didn't recognize the voice well enough to place the singer. It had a goaty quality, familiar but not overly so. It sounded a little like Shakira but it clearly wasn't a song she would have ever covered, and had a much more twee vibe to it.
  23. The music was being played on some kind of toy guitar.
  24. That's so CUTE, the singer said.
  25. It was.

  26. This was a mystery I liked.
  27. For most of my life I'd made, given, and received many mix CDs and tapes. If you're of my generation (X), you will probably find this to be a familiar practice. This was how one discovered stuff, before the Apple Music Discovery playlists, and winsome acoustic covers soundtracking trailers for hip movies, or Stranger Things.
  28. This kind of listening and recommending was rhizomal, connecting node to node, one at a time, Walkman to Discman, one set of ears and mind to another, and inevitably you'd approach the mix inflected by the relationship you had with the person who made it.
  29. I have many strong memories of songs and bands connected closely to the person who put them on a mix CD or tape for me to the point where I can't hear a song like Concrete Blonde's "Tomorrow Wendy" without immediately clicking through to Erin Salzer, a friend from high school (admittedly a friend I had definitely caught some feelings for, due in no small part to her killer musical taste). I remember listening to the goodbye mix CD she'd made me on the occasion of my being kicked out of high school a couple months before graduation for computer crime reasons I've written about elsewhere. It was a sad ride back up to Upper Michigan, and a sad mix CD she'd made me, one that I listened to pretty much on repeat for the ten hour drive. We would stay friends for another year or two, but that was it. I don't know where she is now, if she is in fact anywhere.
  30. My wife Megan and I have made a practice of making mix CDs, usually twice a year, on the occasions of summer and Christmas, for most of our twenty-year marriage, at least since I was able to afford a CD burner circa 2004. We made these CDs for friends and for ourselves. We'd mail a few, give the rest to people we knew, and put copies in our cars, and then eventually into our CD cases.
  31. These burned CDs are an imperfect technology: they don't last super long, so a CD burned in 2008 may or may not be fully playable now.
  32. We made them partly to share the music we were listening to then with friends and get our friends hype about the stuff we were hype about, but they are even more useful as an archive of what we were listening to that year, and going back to them has been a pleasure.
  33. Because I was always the one who burned the CDs I would almost always stick a song or two on there at the last minute because we had an extra ten minutes or so of space on the CD. Most of these whim songs are not songs that I remember well, if at all. But others are songs I'd totally forgotten about, like for instance Ravens and Chimes and how much I liked their song "General Lafayette! You Are Not Alone," or Bishop Allen, or Gramercy Riffs, who I guess never recorded more than that one album This Is Heartbreak, which I totally loved, in 2010, and man, I loved that album so much then, and how did I never follow them past that one album? (Asking this question, I looked it up, and they released another one, Desire Lines, in 2014, which I just listened to; it's pretty good, but definitely lacks the magic of the first one—or maybe it's me that's missing that magic? It's impossible to disambiguate who I was then from what I was listening to then; we're permanently entangled) Or fucking Voxtrot? Whatever happened to them? They were so great!—or or or or or or. It's not quite an infinity of ors but it's a long list.
  34. We'd also given these CDs to our friend circle, both local and including a few folks from afar who also made and listened to mix CDs. They'd often burn and send CDs back too, so I have a bunch of old mixes on my shelves from them too.
  35. Over the last couple years many of our friends gave up their CD players. New cars stopped coming with them. Not everyone still drove their 2003 Subarus.
    1. Megan's 2014 Maxima came with a 6-disc CD changer, which we found hilarious but useful. We started stocking that changer with our deep catalog of stuff we hadn't listened to in a long time.
    2. This was great until the CD changer got the discs stuck in it and I had to get a new CD player for the car, which was a little more expensive than you'd think. After they removed the old one, I had to remove the CDs from its inanimate corpse manually. I did get them all out without damaging them, but the changer itself was toast.
  36. The writing was on the wall, so we started distributing a youtube playlist and an apple music playlist and a set of downloadable mp3s for those who no longer even have CD players. We gave CDs to those few who still had them.
  37. I mean, I get it, the CD was always kind of a wack technology, without the tactility and warmth and social capability and visual pop of vinyl, so I wasn't surprised to hear that last year in America vinyl sales exceeded CD sales for the first time in decades.
  38. Should we still even make the physical mix CDs, we wondered? Maybe we should just start making playlists?
  39. But that seemed sad. Talk about disposability.
  40. Plus we made a couple playslists and of course some songs weren't available anywhere streaming, so that felt crappy.
  41. I wondered: Do I even really like the technology of the CD, especially the burned CD, where by looking at the laser-etched bottom you could tell roughly how much data was on that CD? All that meaning manifested as a shadow on the plastic.
  42. I guess I do like the CD.
  43. Listening to this old mix CD reminded me how much I like the imperfect object and how much the practice of making and listening to mix CDs can mean, even that feeling of encountering something new—and blind, in this case.
  44. It took some listening, some googling of lyrics, and some judicious Siri/Shazamming, but I identified most of the songs on the mix CD. I texted a couple friends who seemed the most likely
  45. to have made the CD. One said no: also he hated Elbow. No way did he put "Grounds for Divorce" on this CD. I'm not sure I knew why he, or anyone else for that matter, would conjure up actual hate for Elbow?
  46. "Grounds for Divorce" is a good song. That may have to go on our 20th anniversary mix CD we're making to celebrate the occasion.
  47. Obviously we're making a mix!
  48. My friend Chris said, yeah, that was his handwriting.
  49. I sent him a couple of the songs that I couldn't figure out, starting with the cover of "Someday."
  50. Though it took him a while and "some digging", Chris eventually figured out who sang that Strokes cover: Basia Bulat, whom he said he was listening to a lot at the time.
  51. I can't find that version of "Someday" anywhere, though I found a few other live renditions.
  52. So one mystery is solved, and another begins.
  53. Now Athena's into Basia Bulat.
  54. We put one of her songs on our 2022 Summer mix
  55. Looking up Voxtrot on bandcamp while writing this essay I realized that Voxtrot had reunited only a month before! Fuck yeah Voxtrot!

Download the mp3s/m4as if you want here.



08: this is the literal Chipmunks, you know, of the 80s cartoon fame, their album just played at half-speed, which is an amazing find, if you haven't heard it already. You can find the whole thing on youtube or Bandcamp, which I highly recommend checking out. It's the post-punk/goth band you never knew you needed.