The Serpico Mixes: The Questions 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!)

So why am I upside down and red?

So why am I upside down and red?

Mix #31

Theme: Questions

Now, where is my face?

Now, where is my face?

“What The Fuck Did I Do?” from THE WIRE- Well, that sounds ominous.

How You Like Me Now? by The Heavy- Oh man. Oh. Man! Such a monstrous song! Oh man! Not a false note in it. Love it. LOVE it.

A: I like you quite a bit now.

Can I Live? by Black Rob- The simple piano track really showcases the lyrical content. It’s just a shame that those lyrics aren’t a bit more creative or risky. Instead, it’s a standard from the bottom to the top via hip hop (after crime) fable.

A: That’s not really for me to say, is it?

Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud? by Elliott Smith- This is an exceptionally light Smith song with very bright vocals. He’s almost Ben Foldsian here.

A: I think she would be Elliott. I think she’d be very proud of you.

How Soon is Now? by The Smiths- If you don’t think this song is the business, you are so wrong. The “waaraaaa” of the guitar, the “I am human and I need to be loooved…just like everybody else does” lyric. It’s all so damn good.

A: Right. About. N—actually, sorry, you missed it.

Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad? by Prince- I hesitate to say this, but I kind of don’t like the chorus. It’s just a bit too turned up. A bit too loud and bright and synthy. In the verses though, it’s quite nice.

A: Why? Because I can.

Do You Believe? by The Cardigans- Fuzzed out video game sounding music backs a bleak (although delivered in Nina Persson’s clean, almost naturally optimistic voice) thesis on the possible redemptive powers of love. That doesn’t sound like it would work, but my goodness does it.

A: Too much, The Cardigans…I believe too much.

Who Have I Become? by Best Coast- A very good rock song that tackles the ways in which we fall short of our own morals and self-concepts. Bethany Cosentino’s vocals do a great job of capturing that heavy feeling of being not the person you should be without drowning in it.

A: You’ve become who we all become eventually, our parents. I’m so sorry.

What My Age Again? By Blink-182- The Citizen Kane of Brat Rock? I think that’s fair to say.

A: According to Wikipedia, 42, 38, and 38. Your parents should know this though.

Where’s Your Head At? by Basement Jaxx- While this song is not my usual fare, I unabashedly fell in love with it the first time I heard it and then, once more, the first time I saw the video, which starred several disconcerting looking primates with a gift for using the ol’ wheels of steel. Propulsive, eclectic, and unafraid to be either, this song moves fast and tries so many things in its almost five minutes, it is impossible to become bored while listening to it.

A: Physically? On top of my neck. Emotionally, psychologically, spirituality? Stuck still in times of great personal struggle.

Do I Wait? by Ryan Adams- Adams going simple and pretty. It kind of hurts my heart, this song does. I mean that in a good way, to be clear. The song settles me in the world of it, envelops me in the emotional reality of it. It’s the kind of song I can literally feel around and in me.

A: I’d say yes, but only for about 15 minutes. That’s a fair shake.

Has Anyone Seen My Dog? by Grover and Monty- I’ve never had a dog when I was kid, but I imagined, given the “lost dog” trope in some many pieces of pop culture, that it was a nonstop odyssey into constant anxiety that, at any moment, the pet would disappear into thin air.

This is a kid’s song and one that doesn’t really have adult crossover appeal. That said, I do like two parts a lot. The first is when Grover gets defensive when the kid, Marty, in the song sings about how his dog was not foolish or fickle or mean. Grover reacts as though Marty was impugns the monster’s character. It is great.

The second is when Grover literally sings, “Are you sure you loved him?” to this heart broken kid implying, I assume, that if Marty really loved his dog, there’d be no reason for this song.

A: Oh. Oh kid…some questions are best left unanswered. Let this one go. This one goes deeper than you’re ready for.

What Have You Done for Me Lately? by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings- I have no idea why The Heavy’s modern throwback music just works better for me than Sharon Jones’s squad, but it does. This song just does nothing for me.

A: The dishes. Better question: what have you done for me lately? Ha. Not so assertive now, are you?

Guess Who’s Back? by Scarface- For the record, it takes Scarface a 1:45 to show up on his own track. I’m not entirely sure this is a bad thing.

A: The Terminator? I don’t know. Is this like a game or should I just know the answer.

How Come You Don’t Want Me? by Tegan & Sara- T&S are versatile as this Robyn-esque dance-y track

A: This ring on my finger means I find no one else attractive. Ever. That’s how it works. Not personal though, honest.

Why Can’t I Be You? by The Cure- How are Cure fans so sad and wrapped in black all the time when the band is making music this fun? And do I detect a bit of Boingo in its DNA, perhaps?

A: You don’t want to be me. The fact that you can’t should be a relief.

How Am I to Be? by The Watson Twins- This is the track on the mix that exists for me. I like it, but I don’t love it and I like it in a vague “yeah, that’s a nice song” kind of way.

A: You are to be…a ruler. Crush the resistance beneath your boot. Seize the power. It is as it was meant to be.

What’s It Gonna Be? by Busta Rhymes ft. Janet Jackson- Busta, playing against type again. I way prefer the Badu collab over this even if it uses what is my pick for the grossest/greatest sexual expression ever: “gonna make your body cream.”

A: It’s gonna be Shrimp Pizza and a bottle of Riesling. Your welcome.

How? by Badly Drawn Boy- Big, especially for a Badly Drawn Boy song, with nice big brass sounds and a good balance of up tempo and downcast attitude.

A: With a little luck, a whole lot of heart, and my vast intellect.

Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stones)? by Johnny Cash- Do you like Johnny Cash? This is a Johnny Cash song.

Ok, that’s simplistic. But, honestly, he’s pretty damn distinctive. If you haven’t made up your mind on him yet well, what exactly are you waiting for?

A: Remember what I said about the ring above? Yeah, it bans laying with people too. Super nice of you to offer though.

Why Did You Do It? by Stretch- A great 70’s strut song. Drop this on your iPod and walk the streets of your city feeling awesome.

A: For the fans. And possibly the nookie.