Category: Mixtape Memoirs

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Welcome to the “Mixtape Memoirs” project.  The story of me, told in small bites (or bytes, if you prefer).  An exploration of the soundtrack to those events and experiences that define who I am, who I was, and who I want to be. This is my audio-biography.

What is a “mixtape memoir”?  To answer that, first you have to ask yourself – what is a mixtape, really?  You wait by the radio for the perfect track – never knowing what was coming next.  The songs didn’t begin or end perfectly, instead they blended into each other in a unique way that would forever be your own. We’ve all heard the same songs – we’ve all lived in the same world.  But your “mixtape” – your collection of moments – tells the story of you in a way no one else can.

What is an audio-biography?  It’s the intersection of music and writing.  Music has always been present at the important junctures of my life.  A special song after that first prom.  A sad song on my phone after learning of the passing of a loved one.  The song I wrote as a wedding present for my wife.  Music has always provided the background to my aspirations and dreams – my successes and failures. There is no way I could tell the story of me with words without also using music. The songs I hear in my mind when flipping through those memories is the soundtrack of my life. That “mixtape” is me.

So, why take on this project?  Well, for one, I want to get back in the habit of writing – and like many people – I enjoy writing about the things I know.  One of the things I know best, for better or worse, is me.  After all, I’ve known me longer than I’ve known anyone else in my life.  I have all the inside scoop and behind the scenes details.  I know what I was really thinking when I lost control of my car going around that turn too fast when I was 16.  I know what I thought before, during, and after my first kiss.  I know how I felt the split-second I knew I was going to ask my wife to marry me.

I know each of these things and many, many more.  But – and here’s the really good part – most of YOU don’t know what I was thinking, what I was doing, or how things really happened.  Some of you may have been there for those events, but I’m betting your memories are just as spotty as mine.

Let’s be honest.  Most of us don’t really remember our youth.  What we remember is a montage of “the good old days”.  We remember things as the stories we tell our friends at weddings and birthday parties – not as they happened.  We remember things the way our parents recount them at family reunions and funerals.  We romanticize the good, minimize the bad, and skip over all the boring filler and commercial breaks in between.

If I’m being completely honest (and for just the moment, I am…) – my memory sucks.  I don’t remember things that happened last week, much less 30 years ago.  I’ve never had a great memory, and thousands of Diet Dr. Peppers over the years likely haven’t helped.   So why set out to write about things from so long ago that I will likely misremember, mess-up, or just flat out fabricate?

The answer is simple – because I can.  This is my story.  Not as it happened, but as I remember it.  Or, more accurately, as I choose to remember it.  Will these stories be 100% factual?  No.  Will they get all the people, places, and events correct?  No.  Will they always portray me in the best light – blameless and virtuous?  No.  Will they add a detail here and omit another there?  Yes.  Will they capture the essence of my memories and experiences?  Yes.  Will they be written from the heart?  Yes – absolutely.

Before we begin in earnest, what are the ground rules of this little project?

  1. The stories will come as often, or as infrequent as the come. Do I want to write every day and post every week?    Will I? No.  But I will be writing and I will be posting.

  2. The stories will all be “true fiction”. Rooted in the real world, but not limited by what I can remember or what actually happened.  Names may (or may not) be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty).

  3. If you want to correct the record on something I write about – send me an email. I can’t promise I’ll make a change, but I would love to hear from you.

  4. Every story will come back to a song.

Many memoirs have been written over the years.  Stories of lives far more interesting than my own.  Why would anyone care to go on this journey with me?  I’m not sure they will – that’s what we are here to find out.  I’ve been fortunate to have music frame the moments in my life that have meant the most to me.  I’ve told stories through songs of my own and used the lyrics of others to express my feelings when I couldn’t find them in my own voice.  I’ve known both the thrill and the terror of standing in front of a live audience.  I’ve seen the power of a song to both wound and heal.  I’ve felt the intimacy of singing just the right words to just the right person at just the right time.

Now I want to share those experiences, and many more, with each of you.  I don’t know if these are just the right words for just the right person – but I do know it’s just the right time.  I hope you can find a familiar echo in the songs I sing.  I hope you can learn something about me, and maybe even yourself.  I hope you enjoy the show.

 

Let’s begin with an oldie, but a goodie…

Track #1 – “Honestly” by Stryper

 

Mixtape Memoirs: Track #1 – “Honestly” by Stryper

Mixtape Memoirs: Track #1 – “Honestly” by Stryper

It was the spring of 1989.  I was standing in my high school gymnasium in front of hundreds of friends, family members, and perfect strangers.  I can still feel the hard, unyielding microphone in my hand.  I can feel the heat of the spotlights shining down on me – a heat that did nothing to dispel the cold knot of trepidation in my stomach.  I can feel the single bead of sweat that begins to run down my left temple as I look up and hear the first notes of “Honestly” begin to play over the PA.  I remember thinking – “This is awesome.”  Then, “Oh my God – what’s the first word of the song?”

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