Each day this week, Tools of Attraction will present a story from Cassettefrommyex.com, a celebration of lost loves and mixtapes from Jason Bitner, co-creator of Found Magazine. This month, Cassette From My Ex came out as a book — check it out here. Today’s entry comes from Damon Locks, lead singer and keyboardist of the Chicago-based band The Eternals.
I don’t have a lot of tapes from ex-girlfriends. I have always been a guy that passes around music, so I was more the giver than the getter of tapes. This tape is from my ex, Sue Anne. I am sure I was about 17 when we met and I was already very into music. As a teenager I was going to shows in Washington DC (Minor Threat, Scream, Void, etc) and knee deep in the UK late 70’s/early 80’s punk/post punk scene (The Clash, The Stranglers, The Ruts, etc).
"I’m Sticking With You"
In high school we were both in a magnet art program which was a hub of creative youngsters. Sue Anne was a quiet girl, an excellent artist. She regularly wore a stretched out v-neck sweater and her hair (natural color) was like spiked-out wings on the side and an overgrown devil lock in the front… very cute.
The early stages of our relationship had its share of tumult. We dated then broke up. Young hearts confuse easily. These things are still not easy to negotiate. I dated someone else. I moved away to college. That relationship ended. She dated other people. She came up to visit. We wrote letters sent in packages in unusual shapes and textures, littered with art. We always sent drawings rife with emotional subtext. The drawings were sometimes dark and mournful, sometime agitated and jagged. I think this is about when she made me a bunch of tapes.
We came from different backgrounds musically (I remember seeing Grateful Dead records in her early collection.. she will probably be mad I mentioned that). She was more comfortable with folk music than I was and was interested in early Jazz well before I. She and I had formed a great friendship. We had dated. It ended abruptly. There was still an attraction but guilt plagued me and she was attempting to move on. This was the climate when I received the tape presented here. Filled with Jazz, Big Band and Velvet Underground the tape captures nicely the juxtaposition of our music tastes and the strained magnetic attraction lingering just below the surface.
Songs like, “I’m Sticking With You” and “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)” were received like torturous love poems. “Sweet Sue, Just You”… I think the message there was obvious. “Honey Don’t You Love Me Anymore” & “I Want To Be Happy” seemed to echo the messages encoded in our drawings. The magic of Glenn Miller’s “Serenade In Blue” still haunts me to this day. The songs were hopeful yet miserable at the same time.
We eventually got back together. We spent around 7 years together. We grew musically and artistically. Our formative years were spent together. This tape illustrates without charcoal or paint, this time of confusion in our young lives. When listening back I can still hear the sadness and hopeful messages that made their indelible impact on my psyche.
– I’m Sticking With You
– Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree
– Under a Blanket of Blue
– At Last
– Serenade In Blue
– Anvil Chorus
– 5 O’Clock Whistle
– I Want to Be Happy
– Hobo You Can’t Ride this Train
– I Hate To Leave You Now
– You’ll Wish You’d Never Been Born
– When You’re Smiling
– St. James Infirmary
– (I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead) You Rascal You
– When It’s Sleeptime Down South
– Nobody’s Sweetheart
– Andy’s Chest
– She’s My Best Friend
– Lisa Says*
– I Can’t Stand It
– Sweet Sue, Just You
– I Wonder Who*
– Swing You Cats
– Laughin’ Louie
– He’s a Son of the South
– Some Sweet Day
– Basin Street Blues
– Honey Do
J.T. “Funny Papa” Smith:
– County Jail Blues
– Tell It To the Judge Part 2 **
* I didn’t mean to tape this song but too late cuz of my loser machine.
** (Excerpt because I can’t tape over and it’s 3:30 am sorry.) Judge sentenced her 30 days but that won’t make her cry she’ll come out & gamble & sell moonshine all her life.