December 3, 2007

She Meant You No Harm

I can't empathize with Len Barker's need for brevity in Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Not because I disagree with his insightful post, but because my version of the recording has already truncated itself.

Poor little battered cassette tape. Heavy usage in my parent's minivan, my friend Sarah's trusty Honder and numerous unforgiving, tape-chewing portable stereos has turned the Chili Pepper's alleged manifesto (though I would argue Mother's Milk is the superior work) from a 17-song album that is "just too damn long with too much filler" to an eleven song teaser. Maybe. On a good day.

Side one starts off strong. But midway through "If You Have to Ask" the tape warps and a few seconds of a backwards "My Lovely Man" bleeds through. Don't worry, the previous song returns the favor if one is lucky enough to get to "My Lovely Man" on side two. Towards the end of "Funky Monks" the tape just stops. And somehow creates an immovable force which makes it impossible to either forward or rewind the tape. You are stuck in time. Wait a bit. Let the cellophane cool. Then try again. Don't even think about rewinding all the way back to "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" at the start of side two. That ain't gonna happen.

Like the mysterious Bermuda triangle-like spot in "Funky Monks," I get sucked back into a very specific point in time while listening to this Rick Rubin production. One that's filled with long drives between Providence and Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and Ocean City, often late at night and ill-advised. In fact, most of my decisions then were ill-advised. Reckless. Indulgent. Preoccupied with sex (although unlike Kiedis, I wasn't getting any). It was a phase with far too much filler that probably lasted a little longer than it should have.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik was the perfect soundtrack.


LenBarker said...

That's a great post, polchic. I agree that Mother's Milk is the better album; "Knock Me Down" is a perfect track.

You draw an impressive analogy between your BSSM cassette and your life at the time. I brings to mind how some kids in recent years have bypassed iPods in favor of cassettes and old Walkmans; it seems like they're yearning for the same sort of immersive experiences in their tapes that you just don't get when you have thousands of songs readily at your disposal.

polchic said...

Thanks, Len!

While I love my mp3 player (no apple products allowed in this household), sometimes I feel about it like I do the internet, particularly blogs, and a lot of other things these days: there are just simply too many choices, too many decisions to be made before I can enjoy a listening/reading experience. Just give me a d*mn tape, let me stick it in and listen to it. I'll like it, or hate it, or learn to like it. I will give it time. I will be patient before I say my piece.

Sometimes I am shocked at how many (perfectly fine) songs I skip past in my mp3 player simply because I don't want to hear them right now, and I don't have to. I can follow my whim and skip and surf and browse and before you know it, I haven't listened to a complete song all morning.

I feel so...flippant.