The 24th Birthday State of Mind Tapes
March 16, 1987
David Sylvian – “Gone To Earth” (Virgin)
Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill” (EMI)
The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (Polydor)
Joe Jackson – “The Verdict” (A&M)
Prince – “Sometimes it Snows in April” (Paisley Park)
Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Ballet Mécanique” (School/Midi)
Supertramp – “The Logical Song” (A&M)
Simply Red – “Holding Back the Years” (Elektra)
David Sylvian – “The Healing Place” (Virgin)
The Style Council – “Blue Café” (Polydor)
Robbie Nevil – “C’est La Vie” (EMI Manhattan)
The Style Council – “(When You) Call Me” (Polydor)
Boz Scaggs – “Hard Times” (Columbia)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Tokyo Storm Warning” (Columbia)
Japan – “Oil On Canvas” (Virgin)
David Sylvian – “Nostalgia” (Virgin)
Jimmy Buffett – “Wonder Why We Ever Go Home” (live) (ABC)
Koji Ueno – “Adagietto” (¥EN)
Epo – “Harmony” (Dear Heart/Midi)
David Sylvian – “Upon This Earth” (Virgin)
Ike & Tina Turner – “Nutbush City Limits” (United Artists)
Rachel Sweet – “B-A-B-Y” (Stiff/Epic)
Rachel Sweet – “Who Does Lisa Like?” (Stiff/Epic)
Mick Karn – “Buoy” (featuring David Sylvian) (Virgin)
John Lennon – “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” (Apple)
John Lennon – “Mind Games” (Apple)
John Lennon – “#9 Dream” (Apple)
Elton John – “Roy Rogers” (MCA)
Thomas Dolby – “Weightless” (EMI)
Plastics – “Diamond Head” (Island)
Joe Jackson – “You Can’t Get What You Want (Til You Know What You Want)” (A&M)
Nick Heyward – “Whistle Down the Wind” (Arista)
Elvis Costello – “Hoover Factory” (Columbia)
Wynton Marsalis – “Melancholia” (Coumbia)
Culture Club – “Time (Clock of the Heart)” (Virgin/Epic)
The Style Council – “It Didn’t Matter” (Polydor)
Sade – “Punch Drunk” (Epic)
Supertramp – “Just Another Nervous Wreck” (A&M)
Warren Zevon – “Ain’t That Pretty At All” (Asylum)
Japan – “Sometimes I Feel So Low” (Hansa)
The Art of Noise – “Love” (ZTT)
David Sylvian – “Silver Moon” (Virgin)
David Sylvian – “Where the Railroad Meets the Sea” (Virgin)
Here it is, March 1987, and I’m smack dab in the middle of my heavy existentialist phase. I’m keenly aware of the impermanence of life, and the realization that the mixtapes I make this day will be the only things that remain of this day weighs heavily upon me.
The primary goal of the State of Mind tapes was to capture the essence of, well, my state of mind at the time they were made. The happy bits, the miserable bits—it all had to be included.
The job that was going to rescue me from all this introspection was still nearly three months away, so I was pretty full of mixed emotions.
For starters, there was plenty on my mind—unemployment, the uncertainty of what would come next, the strange state of the relationship with my girlfriend at the time. These things all had me sad and/or worried, and sometimes a bit nostalgic for even the turbulent emotions that characterized a good part of my high school years.
The A side of cassette number one captures the melancholy of the time pretty well, with the B side capturing some of the ragged edges. Given the way my stint in Tokyo would turn out, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the tenor of the Elvis Costello song, all strung-out tension and neon glare.
The second tape mined similar territory, but stepped a bit farther back into my past (mostly on the A side) before wandering back into the present. Perhaps the Warren Zevon track summed up things best: “I’d rather feel bad than not feel anything at all”. Although, really, I would have preferred not feeling so bad.
As a document of the 1980s, these two tapes were pretty atypical. I seriously doubt that many Americans my age had David Sylvian or Japanese pop music in their record collections. And I’m sure that even fewer bothered to incorporate sound bites from movies and TV shows into the mixtapes that they made. Without digging out the tapes and hooking up my last cassette deck, I couldn’t tell you what sound bites I used (though I’m sure there was at least one quote from Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence).
I still have most of these songs in one form or another. But I also still have these tapes, which still stand as the definitive document of that day, despite the fact that I haven’t listened to them in years. And that’s the one thing that has held true—that these tapes are the only things (besides myself, though I have changed quite a bit in the meantime) remaining from that particular day in my life. Funny how that works…
(June 15, 2012)