The Serpico Mixes: The Relationship Advice Disc

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)


Mix #25

Theme: The Relationship Advice Disc

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Jesse’s Girl by Rick Springfield- Treat this as an opportunity. You can’t have Jesse’s girl, exactly, but you now know what qualities you would like in a romantic partner so seek out people who seem to have those qualities.

If you feel as though you can’t be around Jesse and his girlfriend without feeling bad, maybe just ask your friend to hang out without her for a little while until you can better manage your feelings.

As for the song…- Cheese, undoubtedly, but the kind of cheese that nostalgia and time has rendered critic proof.

I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man by Prince- It sounds like you’ve already realized the answer to your question. She’s not ready for a new relationship yet and you deserve someone who can appreciate you in the here and now. Might she be ready someday? Sure. But who’s to say when that will be? If you’re paths ever cross when you are both ready, great, but until then, why not see who else is out there and in the mood to love and be loved?

As for the song…- This is not Prince at the height of his sexy powers, but it’s a fun, thin offering. And the guitar work is damn impressive if a bit too much.

At about 3:49, for some reason, the song makes such a sound change that it begins to sound like a completely different tune, a little slower, a bit more downcast, perhaps. It goes without vocals until about 15 seconds left when we are treated to a Prince scream. I can’t say I like or understand the choice here, but musically, it is undeniably strong.

Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) by The Temptations- First off, cut yourself some slack. There’s nothing wrong with having hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A rich fantasy life can be a tremendous gift. That said, as I’m sure you are aware, it can also be something you lose yourself to. That is not as good and might cost you opportunities to make connections with people in real life. Those relationships will be sloppier and harder than your fantasy ones, but ultimately far more rewarding. If this woman has caught your eye and seems like someone you might like to see more/be closer to, why not stop watching her out the window and approach her one day? Be respectful, be kind, and honestly express that you’ve noticed and would  love to take her out sometime. She might say no, it is true, but she might also say yes. Imagine how great that would be!

As for the song…- I knew the chorus but not really the song. I like the chorus quite a bit, I like the verses less. Overall though, the great chorus beats the less than great verses.

Harder Now That It’s Over by Ryan Adams- Time heals all wounds is a cliché and no one hates clichés as much as those in pain. That said, it is a cliché that is often accurate. You’re in pain now and understandably so. That’s ok. It is normal and natural to feel sad or angry after the end of a relationship. Let yourself feel it without judgment. In the same way a broken bone will hurt as it heals, so does your (metaphorical) heart. It is just knitting itself back together. It’s uncomfortable and takes longer than you’d like, but you need to go through it to be over it.

As for the song…- Love the song. Just love it. Heartbreaking and hopeful, all at once.

Easier Said Than Done by Essex- You’re right, sharing your feelings is easier said than done. But you are also right when you say if you don’t tell him how you feel he may never know. You can’t expect him to just realize it

If your shyness is as intense as you say, lower yourself into confessing your feelings. Start by just waving and saying hi when you see him. When you see how easy that is, try asking him how he is doing in passing. As that starts to feel more comfortable, try to talk to him longer and about more varied things. Slowly but surely you’ll “train” yourself to realize you can talk to him and do it without disaster striking. By then, telling him you like him will be a walk in the park.

As for the song…- Brutal. I found the vocals so annoying I could not engage the rest of the song at all. Ugh.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) by Hall & Oates- To speak frankly, this relationship sounds unhealthy and it sounds like you know it, too. The question now is do you want to change the tone of things or do you feel it would be better to walk away? Only one who can answer that question is you. If it is the former, begin to set boundaries, let your partner know why and how their actions made you feel this was necessary, and propose couples therapy. If it is the latter, today is as good a day as any to say goodbye.

As for the song…- This is an earworm, to be sure, but I don’t really like it. It is a song very much of its time.

Blame Game by Kanye West- As long as you two are content to look for how to blame one another for things and call each other names, this situation will remain untenable. You have to make a choice to change the tone and seriously explore whether or not you are a good fit for each other. From the sounds of it, your sex life is intense, but that does not mean it is satisfying nor can it paper over all the problems your relationship is experiencing.

I know you’ve claimed you’d rather fight with your partner than be with someone else, but I’d urge you to really look inside yourself and see if that is true. If there is a chance someone else can make you happy without calling you derogatory names and assigning you blame rather than trying to problem solve with you, isn’t that a healthier choice that will make you happier?

As for the song…- You know how I feel about Kanye West by now. Genius. Can do almost no wrong. And so on and such of. Hell, even that Chris Rock monologue at the end somehow works even though it is basically a skit and skits on rap albums are nearly universally terribly.

Tower of Strength by Gene McDaniels- You know what you need to do for yourself, now you just need to do it. I understand your feeling that you need to be strong to do it, but I think you are overestimating how much the moment will demand of you. Remove that mystique from the situation, stop talking yourself into it being an impossible mountain to climb.

Also, regardless of how good or bad the relationship is now, it is never ok to delight in the tears of others. Be the bigger person, end the relationship, and walk away. No need to gloat.

As for the song…- I love that the lead singer experiments with his tone throughout the song, letting himself go comically angry and so obviously fake-ly crying with stops in-between. The chorus is a great bit of nostalgia for me too, so the song benefits from that as well.

MoneyGrabber by Fitz & The Tantrums- You seem less like you are seeking advice and more like you are just bragging about how you dumped someone. I hope things are going well for you now, but that you were far more respectful when you broke up with your ex. No need to call someone a money grabber or a whore, I should think.

As for the song…- Is it wrong to call this fun? Fine, I can live with being wrong. Go Fitz and the Tantrums! Keep making the fun throwback music!

He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) by The Crystals- While I don’t recommend cheating on your significant other, I am far more concerned about the domestic abuse and your apparent acceptance of said abuse you discuss here. I urge you to seek in person therapy and get away from this person. Even if this was an isolated incident, your reaction to it is not healthy for you. We often conflate attention with love and that seems to be what you’ve done here, with particularly painful results.

If you truly want to save the relationship, couples therapy is an option you could explore. Before then though, do find your own individual therapist and begin to work through this event immediately

As for the song…- I do like the contrast between lyrical content and vocal and musical tone here. It’s subversive and that often reveals a new side to something. That said, musically it is not my favorite song and my opinion of it suffers as a result.

Good Graces by Johnathan Rice- It sounds like you are the right track here. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing to give and receive but it is also a very hard thing. Keep with it, know setbacks will come so accept then and move on, and, hopefully, in time, the forgiveness will set deep enough in that neither of you will actively need to ponder it at all.

As for the song…- I like the song well enough, I suppose. There’s not much about it that make it stick out to me beyond the way Rice says “good” in phrases like “good graces” and “good gracious.”

Speaking of Happiness by Gloria Lynne- Ending a relationship can be hard and there is certainly some residual feelings, both positive and negative, that are left in the wake. These can sometimes include a desire to return to the “way things were” and thus take back the break-up, if you will. There’s no reason in and of itself this is inappropriate, but I do urge you to identify with the relationship ended the first time around and how, if at all, these concerns can be addressed prior to restarting  the relationship in full.

As for the song…- A song from an earlier era that I was just not feeling here.

The Bad In Each Other by Feist- While I’d hesitate to encourage you to label yourself or your partner as “bad” or “the worst” I do think a lot of what you are saying has truth to it. You are both good on your own but something about your relationship to one another is causing some mutual acts of destruction, self and otherwise.

If you’re seeking “permission” to break ties, you have it. We don’t end up with everyone we date and not every nice guy and nice lady work together. Best to recognize now that your relationship does neither of you any favors and go your separate ways.

As for the song…- So I liked the song, but I’m having a difficult time figuring out why. Feist does strike an Aimee Mann sort of vibe here and that is definitely the kind of thing that works for me, but overall, I honestly find the whole thing a bit sleepy. And yet…I liked it. Recommended, even if I can’t exactly say why.

Don’cha Go ‘Way Mad by Frank Sinatra- You cheated, you got caught. People make mistakes, but you don’t see to think you made one here. If you want your partner back, you’re going to need to be a bit more apologetic than, “Don’t go away mad.” And insulting her cousin, even if said cousin was the proverbial “other woman” is probably not such a great call either.

As for the song…- A definite throwback and not typically my speed, but wow, that horn section. One must give it up for that kind of horn section.

Otherside of the Game by Erykah Badu- Leave or stay, the choice is yours. You know what he does so staying is a tacit approval of what his “occupation” gets you. Leaving is hard, as you pointed out, but there’s no indication here that it is impossible or dangerous to you. The short-term will certainly be uncomfortable for you if you leave, but you can make money on your own, find new romantic partners, and so on. If you choose to stay, you may have all you want but will you feel morally ok with your choice? Only you can answer that.

As for the song…- So damn long. And is she sad about this? Bored? There’s no feeling in this song. A slow groove is not enough. Also, so damn long.

She Plays Up to You by Clairy Brown & The Bangin Rackettes- You’ve done what you can. You warned your friend of what you think is this woman’s falseness. It is up to your friend now to do with that information what he wants. Be a friend and be available but stop pointing out all her faults. You’ve told him, now respectfully let him choose and be there for him if it goes as awry as you expect.

As for the song…- I knew this one before and I thought and continue to think it is a shame more people don’t know it. It’s bluesy, emotional, has a great set of backup singers, and does so much with such a simple music track. So incredibly listenable.

Five Minutes by Lil’ Mo- First, your friend seems to not know what year it was and her ramblings about aliens are…disconcerting. I urge you to get a proper full psychological screening for her. She may be in the midst of a delusional or psychotic episode.

As for your question, walk away. Walk away now. There are no winners in this kind of protracted conflict. Your boyfriend cheated with her. She turned him, possibly to have him all to herself. You fought with them both and dumped him. There’s no further reason to involve yourself in their new life. Their sordid affairs do not have to be your concern. Embrace the freedom of that and find more fulfilling interests.

As for the song…- Long. And like 2 different songs, not well stitched together. More Missy, less Mo would’ve been nice.

Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Stuck in His Hair by Sufjan Stevens- I…I’m at a loss. You sound very unhappy, I think, but I’m struggling to find a question in the midst of this. It sounds like you might be dealing with some very heavy losses, a wife and father who ended their lives and a lover who conned you and ran away. Give yourself time to heal, find a therapist who you can trust, and hopefully accept these events and begin to move on. You have my sincerest condolences.

As for the song…- Very Sufjan Stevens. If you’re me or like me and you enjoy Stevens, that’s great. All others will probably not find a reason to change their mind about him.

Jenny Don’t Be Hasty by Paolo Nutini- You don’t say how old Jenny is and I think that’s an important detail here. But before we get to that, allow me to give you this: no one 18 should get married. And don’t give me your “but my friend’s sister did and she and her husband are so etc etc blah blah.” A.) That’s anecdotal and b.) you have no idea what their marriage is really like. You want to be in a monogamous relationship at 18? Great. Seriously, I completely support that. Marriage is a whole other kettle of fish though and no one 18 should be embracing all the responsibilities that go with that institution.

Now back to Jenny. If she’s 19, yes, you’re right, 18 isn’t too young. Heck if she’s 25, 18 still might not be too young. But the fact is that, to her, it is too young. And her opinion, when it comes to who she’ll date, is all that matters. Don’t try to “convince” her otherwise. This isn’t a romantic comedy; in the real world those behaviors are lunacy, not sweet or cute. You don’t have to never see her again, but she told you how she feels about dating you. Let it go. If she’s reconsidering, she’ll let you know.

As for the song…- I had forgotten all about Paolo Nutini. This song makes me think I should remember and revisit him post-haste.