My love, my latest CD mix for you is our origin story, told in 15 songs.
This thing called “we” is a space we first began to occupy on this night, ten years ago, at Lee’s Liquor Lounge. Multiple things converged in the perfect storm for this “we” to begin.
One of the very first photos of the once brand-new “we.”
Track 1: Big Joke, The Rhinestone Diplomats
Our friend and coworker, Aaron, and his band–The Rhinestone Diplomats, had to be playing at Lee’s on that particular November night. Our friend and co-worker, Justin, had to pick you up at Rod and Amy’s house and bring you to LLL, where I was busy dancing up a storm.
Track 2: Sparks, The Who
I had to sit down next to you on a table and feel the atomic energy moving between your skin and mine. Yeah, there were sparks.
Track 3: Cortez the Killer, Neil Young
The band played a fantastic cover of Cortez the Killer (did I request this, I wonder?) and I danced my ass off; you watched me from a bar stool.
Track 4: Tiny Dancer, Elton John
I remember approaching the bar after Cortez concluded. We may have hugged. Hold me closer, tiny dancer.
Track 5: Shelter From the Storm, Bob Dylan
Justin was ready to leave. “Come in,” she said. “I’ll give you shelter from the storm,” or at least a ride home in my little white Honda Civic.
Later, while loading up the bands’ equipment, Aaron may have averted his eyes when he saw a little white Honda in the parking lot with steamed up windows.
Track 6: Let’s Get it On, Marvin Gaye*
We barely made it up the stairs to your apartment.
*Okay, I cheated here. I couldn’t find anything other than Marvin lip synching this song, so I linked to Jack Black singing “Let’s Get it On” in one of my all-time favorite movies, High Fidelity. But my compilation CD for you uses Marvin’s version.
Track 7: This is the Last Time, The National
Lee’s happened on a Friday. By Sunday, you invited me out to brunch to tell me, “We’re not supposed to date. That was the last time.”
Track 8: Most of the Time, Bob Dylan
You didn’t miss me, most of the time. But I . . .
Track 9: I Burn for You, Sting
I burned for you; But I burned quietly. When you asked me at work how I was doing, I’d say, “I’m fine.” You’d tell me, “I’m fine too.”
Track10: Those Three Days, Lucinda Williams
So, knowing you were spending Christmas alone and my kids were with their dad, I invited you to coffee. Instead of meeting you at the coffee shop as you suggested, I recommended one near my house. “We’ll walk over together,” I said. We never found our way to the coffee shop and we shared our infamous “three days.”
But then, once again, you said “This is the last time.”
Track 11: Sideways, Citizen Cope
I said, “Fine. I’m fine” as you dated the girl you met at a New Year’s party. I made you the first in a long line of mixed CDs with a mixed purpose. You made me one in return. “Sideways” was on your playlist for me. I would wait patiently for you to realize what I already knew.
Track 12: Come Pick Me Up, Ryan Adams
When spring came, I grew less patient. When you were done with the girl from the New Year’s party and the woman from Dallas, I began suggesting outings. I took you to a Jackie Greene concert for your birthday. You kissed me in the parking lot, but would not invite me in at the end of the evening. I saw you hiding in the bushes, making sure I could get my car off the icy, steep hill outside your place.
I took care of your cat while you did a solo trip to Paris. After feeding your cat, I would stand in your closet and take in the smell of your perfectly spaced work shirts.
A few months later, I asked for your help picking out a new digital camera. We’re just single friends helping one another out, I told you. You picked me up in your beater Jeep with the top taken off to let the warm late spring air in. While driving to Best Buy, I told you it was like riding in a boat. That made you smile.
Track 13: Everything I do, Whiskeytown
Then I dated the young Buddhist poet. I got sick. You checked on me five times in one day when I was sick; you checked in on me when I was in the emergency room. The Buddhist Poet couldn’t drive. When I was getting better, he biked over the High Bridge with a tincture of yarrow that he grew in his garden. Not long after, I broke up with him because he wasn’t you. Your actions spoke louder than your words. Your actions told me you loved me.
Track 14: Let it Be, The Beattles
We went out for drinks with my best friend, Shari, when she visited from Montana in August. She told you, “Admit it. You love her.” And you did. You admitted it. You decided to give us a chance, in spite of work rules to the contrary.
We let it be and life let us be together, eventually.
Track 15: Ten Year Night, Lucy Kaplansky
Through the years, we’ve both put this song on many of our compilation CDs. And now, tonight, it really is our Ten Year Night. The night the “we” that is “us” all began, one decade ago. So happy to round a decade with you, my man.
About one year after Lee’s Liquor Lounge.