In less than two weeks, I’ll be leaving Milwaukee (probably) for good. This summer will take me to Minneapolis, Oxford, LA, and a few places in between. After that, who knows. Of course, I still have ties to the university (I’ll be teaching some courses online, working for some faculty, and I, uh, have a dissertation to finish or whatever), and I will no doubt be back in short spurts for visits/work. But I will no longer be calling Milwaukee “home” in any capacity. Not that it has ever exactly felt like “home.” There were times it was close, to be sure, but I’ve never really gotten comfortable.
Anyway, this sort of transition calls for a soundtrack, no? This one - “Corrupted Lungs” - is, in some ways, a little more…down than I’d like. Some of the tracks could really make it read like I haven’t valued my time in Milwaukee, but, if you listen closely, you can see that’s really not the case. Milwaukee has been a growing experience, and - as with most growing experiences - it hasn’t always been easy.
As the opening line of the opening track puts it “I was cut open on the way down / reeling from the blow.” I’ve taken some blows here - personally, professionally, and, well…actually - and I’ve (hopefully) grown and responded accordingly. But, despite the blows, and as the first track continues, ”you were there on the other line / in between the tears and lightshow.” My life here has been marked, by and large, by incredible mentors and friends - people who have shown me how to recover from disappointment and heartbreak and people who have been there during and in between bouts of tears, confusion, and ugliness. Anyway, I’ve tried to capture a sense of individual struggle and personal reflection with tracks like “Lightshow,” “Youth,” and “Get Right.”
Of course, you don’t emerge from heartbreak and disappointment the same person. You grow (sometimes awkwardly, sometimes confidently) and you change, something I think “I Ain’t the Same” and “Where Not To Look For Freedom” punctuate.
Apropos of the “brew” city, both the bad and the good times involve some, well…chemical dependencies. I’ve nodded to this with GBV’s “How’s My Drinking?,” as well as with the title of the mix, culled from a lyric in “Youth” (a subtle nod to the smoking habit I picked up and have [mostly] kicked while living here).
And, to be sure, no mix inspired by a geographical transition can go without a few songs that reflect movement, broadly speaking. Sometimes, this is through a desire to physically leave (as in “Day Dreams”); other times, the movement you are looking for is internal, marked by a desire to change - to transition from one type of person to another (as in “Change the Sheets”). And, sometimes, a desire for movement reveals itself as a sort of ambiguous, unfocused energy, a drive to just fucking do something, which is the vibe I always get from “Tear It Up.”
Finally, this mix also reflects how absolutely obsessed I’ve been with Plants and Animals’ The End of That, and the mix proper is bookended by songs from that album. It seemed, given my current obsession, irresponsible to not close out this chapter of my life with “The End of That.”*
Anyway, if you want to download this mix, you can do so here.
Corrupted Lungs / Spring 2012
- “Lightshow” - Plants and Animals, from The End of That
- “I Ain’t the Same” - Alabama Shakes, from Boys & Girls
- “Where Not To Look For Freedom” - The Belle Brigade, from The Belle Brigade
- “Tear It Up” - Delta Spirit, from Delta Spirit
- “Day Dreams” - Midi Matilda, from the Red Light District EP
- “Change the Sheets” - Kathleen Edwards, from Voyageur
- “Youth” - Daughter, from The Wild Youth EP
- “Get Right” - Megafaun, from Megafaun
- “How’s My Drinking?” - Guided By Voices, from Isolation Drills
- “The End of That” - Plants and Animals, from The End of That
- “Tumbling Down” - Cockney Rebel, from The Psychomodo
*Oh, as with my last mix, there is a fun, throw-away bonus track. I can’t get out of any reflection on my time in Milwaukee without acknowledging Ekko Galaxie and the Rings of Saturn, the glam rock tribute band I had the privilege of fronting and playing with for nearly two years. I can honestly say that everything related to that band - the shows, the practices, the conversations, and informal, uh…”fan fiction” - was the most fun and rewarding non-academic aspect of my life here. I really do miss the shows and the people and the music (and the glitter, DUH). So, in honor of those times, I’ve included Cockney Rebel’s “Tumbling Down,” which we performed as the last song of the last set of the last show we played together. I’ve since retired my thigh-high, vinyl stripper boots, but here’s hoping that maybe, possibly, somehow, someday, we can have our own “funky reunion.”