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"It was me, looking back at me!"

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From The Beachwood Reporter, which I just discovered, a sweet song list from a 1991 mix tape, made by then-13-year-old writer Michael Brett. Brett makes himself sound like a pinup for Pathetic Geek Stories ("The year before, two eighth-graders threw me in the dumpster, and the principal yelled at me because my clothes were too filthy for class"), and is thoroughly lovable. Samples:

You're Crazy (Guns N' Roses, from Appetite for Destruction)
I ripped off Columbia House for the first time at 10 and started my music collection. I peeled the wrapper off this cassette with my teeth when it finally arrived. I played this cassette so much over the next three years, the mechanism snapped. I grew up with six sisters, and other girls were not my forte. I wanted to run down 95th Street singing this song at every woman I met, shouting them down. I had some misogyny issues to resolve.
The Warmth of the Sun (The Beach Boys, from Endless Summer)
My sisters listened to crappy music. Phil Collins. Huey Lewis and the News. The Outfield. But they owned a ton of Beach Boys--records, 8-tracks, cassettes--nearly everything. This was my blues. Get cut from the team? Listen to Brian Wilson. Not get a girl to skate with you? Listen to Brian Wilson. Friends ditch you? Listen to Brian Wilson. Guy always knew what to say and empathized with you like crazy. The opening harmony of this song is a straight out music taste scythe for me to this day. Either you get goose bumps, or you just don't get it.
Alison (Elvis Costello, from My Aim Is True)
First, the cover. It was me, looking back at me! Then this song. Almost Chuck Berry wedded to the Beach Boys. I could have sworn Elvis ripped it out of my heart's teletype. And my sisters loved him, so I knew he eventually got the girl. Elvis still gives me that faith.

4th of July, Asbury Park (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, from Live/1975-85)
If you are a Brett, you wear Chuck Taylors and have a complete devotion to Bruce. I don't remember life before him, because to me it didn't exist. 1978, he was already the Boss. Bruce was sui generis, all eventual music I held dear to this day derives from him. And this song, well, it was nothing but electric. It's West Side Story mated to S.E. Hinton. I hung on every recycled word of it, because new to me then didn't matter. When you're 13, everything is new and most of it absolutely sucks. You want warm blankets. Bruce is still mine.

I'd love to see a scan of the tape-case insert (which my friend Darren reminds me is called a J-card) to see Brett's handwriting, and maybe even some Led Zep iconography.

Image above borrowed from this lament about the unromantic nature of mix CDs: "So, music technology industry, go screw yourself. I blame it solely on you. My amazing then-boyfriend slipped up and fell prey to your evil futuristic ways. While the future is pretty cool and all, it's significantly less amorous. I've never seen someone look sexy in something that is silver, shiny and round. But put that same person in a little black number with holes cut out for the nipples and you've got something."

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