Feb 28, 2023, 05:57AM

Eight Days a Week

Reading between the lines of an old cassette tape playlist.

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Who could’ve predicted the outcome? Gun power replaces flower power. Free love turned into violence and murder. Now that we’re living in the future—from hippie to post-punk—introspection becomes an integral part of reviewing the 20th century. Music connects with us emotionally; our brains are hard-wired to what we listened to as young adults. In an ethereal dream, I’m collecting vital information for research while combing a rock ‘n’ roll beach during a full blood moon. On the tranquility seashore, Jimi Hendrix’s voice rises from inside a seashell, “You’ve got to dig everything and then get your own ideas.”

A revolution began in the previous century when young people left their homes in search of drugs, but not without some songs. Before shared music could be downloaded via Napster, iTunes, Spotify, and other streaming services, you gathered the tracks and made a cassette. For insertion inside transparent plastic cassette cases, each tape had a prized piece of personalized cover artwork designed with stickers and markers. You could divvy up your musical preferences among family, friends and lovers.

In New York City’s Madison Square Park under an oak tree, I’ve noticed a busker with a guitar who gives performances to a group of elementary school students. “Suppose you had a song for every day of the week” seems to be their overused catchphrase.The children appeared perplexed. I guess the kids didn’t find the concept intellectually stimulating. I did hear a few popular songs and felt inspired to look for an old cassette tape as soon as I left the park.

Monday: Many songs have been written about the “can’t trust that day” miserable day. But one in particular comes to mind: “Blue Monday 88” by New Order. The classic techno dance floor track has more mixes than a kitchen blender—the original version in 1983, then the popular ’88 Quincy Jones remix with a William Wegman dog music video, once again in 1998 and more since—it’s even been used as the soundtrack for a Volvo car commercial. How does it feel? Pure electric. The anthem that still plays in clubs everywhere sounds fresh. Pretty good for the bestselling 12-inch single of all time. Just how I should feel today.

Tuesday: A creation of Birmingham, England, the Mellotron has a dreamy sound. The Moody Blues, who hail from Birmingham as well, are well-known for the instrument’s use. A grandparents’ slow dancing on shag carpet favorite, “Tuesday Afternoon” is a symphonic theater piece—a journey into the threshold of a dream with smooth chords. A highlight on the masterpiece 1967 recording Days of Future Passed. The song’s often overshadowed by the hit “Nights in White Satin.” Bandmates Ray Thomas and Justin Hayward’s composing and harmony contributions resulted in intricate arrangements that transcended the highest levels of sophistication after a trippy meeting with Timothy Leary.

Wednesday: “When the sun was sankin’ low.” John Lee Hooker starts off the Wednesday night prayer gathering. The Mississippi Baptist sharecropper’s son who left home at 14 offers a little boogie help on “Wednesday Evening Blues.” Black men and women created the blues. In coffeehouses during the late-1950s, white Bohemians of the Sputnik era, also known as Beatniks, listened to the Delta sound. Moving into the 1960s, the blues developed, and more musicians began to borrow, a passion for the sound of misfortune grew. Hooker made cameos on the Stones’ Steel Wheels tour and performed “Boom Boom” in The Blues Brothers movie.

Thursday: The Boston band Morphine’s 1993 album Cure for Pain is a bludgeoning affair with its pounding two-stringed bass lines. The stick of dynamite in your ear was an alt-rock indie favorite on the college radio circuit. Deep-voiced lead singer and saxophonist Mark Sandman delivered a strong dose of their namesake painkiller on “Thursday.” Morphine performed incredible concerts in the 1990s. In July 1999, Sandman collapsed on stage and died from a heart attack while playing in Italy.

Friday: I’d reckon in 1966, working-class Australian youths in Sydney flinched with anxiety as they waited out the five-day drag. At Bondi Beach, they could hit the ocean waves while avoiding the sharks. Doing back flips on stage, 16-year-old Stevie Wright was the Oz lead singer for the Easybeats. Their hit “Friday on my Mind.” appeared on American radio in 1967. Bowie’s 1973 cover version snuck in a few profanities (listen closely to the closing chorus) on Pin-Ups. The Easybeats broke up after five years when Steve was only 21. Steven Carlton Wright, Australia’s first international pop star was born in Leeds, England, raised in Sydney and struggled with substance abuse. The band managed to survive world tours to become one of Australia’s quintessential bands.

Saturday: “10:15 on Saturday Night” with The Cure. The pilgrims came to worship at the shrine on a holy day of obligation: Irving Plaza’s 1997 Halloween Cure concert. As soon as the house lights went completely dark, the faithful went absolutely berserk.I was standing in the audience about 20 feet from centerstage; the room was engulfed in dense purple stage fog. Looking straightforward at the backlit stage, Robert Smith’s intense silhouette was completely visible, with strands of scarecrow spiked black hair sticking out. I wondered if he was wearing a wig.

Now, when I hear someone say, “One of the best Cure songs ever,” I hold back any snide comments since it’d be rude. The group has a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years. Yet, I still remember how instantly I became enamored with the sardonic opening guitar riff on “10:15 on Saturday Night” followed by the melancholy and lonesome lyrics about sitting in a kitchen sink watching a leaky faucet.

The Cure’s 1979 debut album Three Imaginary Boys is abrasive, yet self-soothing. So, when life’s forming clouds of misery, resort to any number of the tracks found here. Not to mention the minimalist album cover showing a lamp, refrigerator and a vacuum cleaner displayed against a pink background stands void of visual noise.

Sunday: Bless yourself, grab both your tits, and start crying. On “Everyday is Like Sunday” Morrissey in an epic manner, takes you by the arm and drags you into a beautiful pit of despair. How can lyrics like “Trudging slowly over wet sand” in a song about evading nuclear weapons not give someone goosebumps? The 1988 post-Smiths song continues by describing a small coastal town’s existence prior to Armageddon. Morrissey has an amazing ability to make a mundane existence seem enticing.

I ask myself, “How did we get here?” Despite being aware of crafty record label marketing tactics, had an addiction to post-punk idealization materialized? Or perhaps this was just a nostalgic trip; a synth-pop, navel-gazing journey back to Freur’s “Doot Doot.” There’s nothing thin about bands like Wire, Joy Division and the Velvet Underground.

Not made from scratch, a lifestyle developed and flourished. The glum-core subculture rose to the surface absorbing rock, metal, glam, industrial and garage sounds. Onetime thrashing like fresh-caught fish, sweat-soaked punk kids transformed themselves into the new “goth” cool, consisting of wearing all-black attire, pancake white, dark eye make-up and red lipstick. Much like artist Guy Peellaert’s Rock Dreams, witness a dead icon blitz of Dee Dee Ramone checking Bela Lugosi’s dead pockets searching for dope after a rumble with Link Wray. The crystal ball also revealed a choir of voices wearing gold crowns; a notorious line-up of vocals led by Siouxsie Sioux, PJ Harvey and Nico.

The sounds of the past now recorded history migrated to new formats. Some folks were terrified by those external goth subculture elements. They perceived it as inspiration for a trench coat-wearing despondent person in a school corridor on a mission to fulfill a death wish. And given that all’s not well, they may have a point. In these cold hard times searching for answers, I listen on some faraway beach. As the moon turns the tides, the tape ends.

  • Nice! First songs that comes to mind for me: Sunday Morning Comin Down - Cash Da Doo Ron Ron Tuesday's Gone - Lynyrd Wednesday Morning 3AM - S&G Thursday - Jim Croce Friday on My Mind - Easybeats Come Saturday Morning - Sandpipers The only one that was hard was Thursday, took a bit for that song to come back to me.

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  • I just asked my wife for her daily songs and she included "The Man I Love" and "Police on My Back" which is kind of cheating, because both include multiple days.

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