Favorite Albums: The Osmonds, ‘Crazy Horses’


Yeah, yeah, I can hear y’all from here: oh god, he’s finally run out of things to blog about.  But hear me out:  I’ve been obsessed over this wonderful 1972 gem since I was a little kid when I used to listen to my sisters’ old beat up copy.

Why the Osmonds, you say?  Well, for starters, this is most definitely not your Jackson 5 wannabe album with sugary confections like “One Bad Apple” or feel-good grooves like “Down by the Lazy River”.  This is the five brothers taking an unexpected and amazingly competent turn into rock territory.

We’re talking about taking a page from freakin’ LED ZEPPELIN, fer pete’s sake:

It doesn’t hold a candle to “The Immigrant Song”, sure, but you gotta admit it’s got a hell of a punch. Their longtime fans didn’t know what the heck to think of it, but radio stations loved it and got it major airplay.

A few tracks later we get a goofy Beatlesque riff that I’m surprised more ukulele-playing hipsters haven’t covered, with “Girl”.

There’s also the groovy MOR sound of “What Could It Be”, which could easily be a song by Badfinger or The Raspberries:

…and the fantastic “Crazy Horses”, which is just as bananas as it is badass.

And my favorite track from this LP, “Hey Mr Taxi”, which sounds like they were trying to record their own version of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, complete with all the noise, distortion and wailing guitars slowly going out of tune.

It’s does have their signature sugary pop as well, such as the swinging “Julie” and the ballad “That’s My Girl”.  There’s even a jamming groove dedicated to their home state, “Utah”.  There’s a nice comedic Looney Tunes touch at the end of the record with a twenty-one-second track called “Big Finish” that gives a teasing nod to their previous sound.

It’s definitely a trip to listen to.  While their previous album (Phase III, which had come out only nine months earlier) toyed a bit with rock, for the most part it stayed firmly in the pop category.  Their follow up after this one, their semi-religious concept album The Plan (released nine months after Crazy Horses) is even more of a head trip, with woozy blues, psychedelic joyrides and even the occasional horn-laden showstopper.  After that they’d return back to their safe haven of lite rock and MOR, and Donny and sister Marie would become a 70s television staple.

So yeah — I admit it.  Crazy Horses is a ridiculously fun album, and I still love it after all these years.

RIP Gord Downie

I remember hearing The Tragically Hip back in my senior year of college, when Fully Completely came out, just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I was the music director for our AM station, WECB, and I always tried to keep the selection eclectic and interesting. I’d heard of the band, having seen their previous three releases in the music bins (1987’s self-titled EP, 1989’s Up to Here and 1991’s Road Apples), but their third album was definitely their breakthrough, at least in Beantown. I loved that they were a mixture that defied description, other than they sounded really cool. I immediately put “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)” in rotation and “Fifty Mission Cap” as an extra play.

A year later, I’m living quite skint in the burbs of Allston and for a brief time my roommate and I have cable, and my then-girlfriend and I start watching Canada’s MuchMusic channel in earnest. It’s where I first hear great Canadian musicians like Moist, Barenaked Ladies, and Sloan in regular rotation instead of just occasionally. I stumble upon The Hip’s classic single “Grace, Too” (from 1995’s Day for Night) when I watch their video, greatly amused and fascinated by its lo-fi genius, using only video feedback, reflection, and a shirtless Gord to play off the boasting lyrics.  It becomes my favorite song of theirs.

A few years later and I’m back home in midwestern Massachusetts, trying to get my life and accounts back in order, and I’m listening to WRSI and WHMP, two Pioneer Valley stations that weren’t afraid to play the same eclectic music that I loved hearing back in my college days. I hear occasional plays of “Ahead by a Century” (from 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse) but alas, never get around to taping it off the radio.

By 1998 I’ve got a steady job at the record store and expanding my musical tastes with every new and intriguing release that comes in. So much the better if I can get a promo copy for it! The BMG rep hands me a copy of their 1998 album Phantom Power and I immediately fall in love with it, especially the lovely “Bobcaygeon”.

By the end of 2000 I’d be leaving that job, but not before getting another dose of the Hip with that year’s Music@Work album. I find myself amused once more, this time by the fitting title song:

…as well as one if the deeper cuts, “Freak Turbulence.”

In 2002, I’m writing my trilogy down in the basement on a nightly basis, and hitting up Newbury Comics on a weekly basis, and In Violet Light comes out, another excellent Hip album. Oddly enough it’s years before I actually see the hilarious video for my favorite song off it, “The Darkest One”.

I kind of lose track of the band in the mid-2000s due to multiple moves and personal events, but eventually I catch up and pick up the rest of their catalog. I sadly admit that I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I should, and I never got to see them live.

But The Tragically Hip has never really been a band that I wanted to overindulge in. I like the fact that I’ll throw on Live Between Us or Now for Plan A or even Yer Favourites and think…damn, this is one hell of a great band. I like being pleasantly surprised by just how fucking good a band like that can be.


Thanks Gord. You were one hell of a great songwriter and humanitarian.

When I left your house this morning,
It was a little after nine
It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves, one star at time

Recent Purchases, September Edition, Part I

September has long been the Big Release Month for music.  I remember back in my HMV days, the stock would grow exponentially and the back room would be filled with boxes of product just waiting to be checked in, priced up and put out on the floor.  Q4 always started a month early in that respect.  There was so much that came out this past month that I had to split this up into two posts!

LCD Soundsystem, American Dream, released 1 September. Again…was never a big fan of this group. But somehow this album just clicked with me in a big way, and I love it.

Mogwai, Every Country’s Sun, released 1 September. One of my favorite post-rock bands is back with yet another excellent platter of atmospheric sounds.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Punishment of Luxury, released 1 September. I’m finding this album a lot of fun. Yet another stellar album from the band.

Nothing But Thieves, Broken Machine, released 8 September. I’m really digging this one as well. This is a band that sounds commercially alt-pop, but they write some really lovely melodies.

Sparks, Hippopotamus, released 8 September. You can always expect something wildly creative and a bit off-kilter from the Mael brothers, and this album is one of their best in the last few years.

Tori Amos, Native Invader, released 8 September. Tori’s albums can be very hit or miss…you either love them or you think she’s gone off the deep end. I certainly do love this one.

Death from Above 1979, Outrage! Is Now, released 8 September. Another band I didn’t expect to get into. On the other hand, once again I find myself really liking guitar-and-drum duos!

Mutemath, Play Dead, released 8 September. I’m still trying to get over the fact that their amazing drummer Darren King quit the band just before this album came out, but that hasn’t changed my impression of this album in the least. Paul Meany can still write a hell of a great tune.

….More soon!

Hip Priest

So I’ve been listening to a lot of The Fall lately.  They’re a band that has a VERY long history, an extremely convoluted discography, only one original member (the wonderfully irascible and outspoken Mark E Smith), and one of the weirdest rock styles in all of post-punk.  But I find I love them anyway.

(I taught myself how to play this particular track back in ’88, I love the guitar work on it!)

Recent Music Purchases, March Edition

D’OH!  Forgot to do one of these last month, so here you go.  I’ll have April’s up in a few weeks.

This year is continuing to surprise and delight me with some absolutely solid albums.  A lot of new albums by old favorites, and numerous releases by bands I hadn’t heard of previously.  I’m looking forward to more of this!

Minus the Bear, Voids (released 3 March).  I’ve been hitting this one hard lately…they kind of remind me of Shearwater, with the odd melodies that somehow fit together perfectly.  LOVE this album.

Bush, Black and White Rainbows (released 10 March).  Glad to see them having a second life with a consistent run of excellent new albums.

The Creation, Action Painting (released 17 March).  A fascinating garage band from the UK, this one packages their single 60s album (We Are Paintermen) and the singles from the same era.  They were influential to a hell of a lot of UK musicians, from Jimmy Page to Paul Weller.  [And yes, the UK record label was named after them.]

Spoon, Hot Thoughts (released 17 March).  Probably my favorite Spoon album since Kill the Moonlight back in ’02.  It’s weird, heavy, and there’s a hell of a lot of funk going on as well.

Lloyd Cole, In New York (Collected Recordings 1988-1996) (released 17 March).  A lovely counterpoint to the box set he released for his Commotions work, this contains his first five albums plus an album of demos.  An exellent and underrated songwriter.

Depeche Mode, Spirit (released 17 March).  A return to the darker and more electronic DM.  I’d say this is on par with Ultra, with its heavier, angrier sound.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Damage and Joy (released 24 March).  Wait, this is 2017, not 1987, right?  Seriously, though…it’s a welcome return.  It sounds a lot like their mid-era sound, very similar to Honey’s Dead, but that’s definitely a good thing.

Jamiroquai, Automaton (released 31 March).  Jay Kay still has the funk, and he doesn’t skimp on it here.  I often find myself listening to this in the afternoon as a lift-me-up.

Wire, Silver/Lead (released 31 March).  What can I say?  I will buy anything and everything by this band.  They’ve never let me down once.

Songs from the Eden Cycle, Vol 4


I love listening to this mix. It was made in September 1998, when I was finishing up the original first draft of The Phoenix Effect.  I was in full-tilt mode on my writing habits by this time: write a few pages during the day, transcribe and revise it at home.  [I believe my comic collecting habit had gone full swing as well — driving halfway across the state on Wednesday afternoons to pick up my weekly list over in Hadley.  Not that that stopped me from working later that night anyway!]

There were a hell of a lot of great albums that came out in 1998, and many of them ended up on heavy rotation during these sessions.  [That’s another post entirely, maybe next week!]  Many of the tracks from those albums ended up on this mix.

Side A

  1. Massive Attack, “Teardrop”
    Every now and again, there’s a song that just blows you away upon first listen, and this is one of them for me.  I bought the import version of Mezzanine because I loved this track so much.  It doesn’t exactly fit in with any scenes or characters in particular, but Liz Fraser’s always-angelic vocals and the band’s sparse-yet-intense music fit the mood of my story perfectly.
  2. VAST, “Touched”
    The WEA rep handed this band’s promo cd to me and stated it would be right in my wheelhouse, and they weren’t wrong.  Not quite goth, not quite darkwave, not quite alternative, but somewhere in between.  Another mood piece I could use when I needed to write a scene full of bite.
  3. Mistle Thrush, “Shine Away”
    [Sorry for the quality…this is the only video of the song I could find.]  In a bit of serendipity, the lead singer of this band was good friends with my then-manager Tom, and he handed me their Silt album to check out.  It’s full of that heavy guitar-laden dreampop I love so much.
  4. Dishwalla, “Until I Wake Up”
    When their second album And You Think You Know What Life’s About dropped in August, I was all over it…it had their excellent songwriting of 1995’s Pet Your Friends but a much louder and heavier sound, and much darker lyrics.  This is my favorite track of theirs, and it fit the mood of frustration a lot of my characters were feeling.
  5. Primal Scream, “Higher Than the Sun”
    Their Screamadelica album remains one of my favorite albums of the 90s (really, you should own it if you don’t already).  I always loved the dreamlike trippiness of this track.  This was another track that influenced my idea of what it felt like for my characters to visit Trisanda: excitement and fascination…but also a little disorienting.
  6. Radiohead, “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”
    The Bends got a ton of play out of me even during the sessions for True Faith, because it’s that good of an album.  I liked how the track seemed to hint at community but was really more about trying to escape its stifling grip.  In a roundabout way this became another theme in the trilogy: trying to avoid the grip of outside influence.
  7. Hooverphonic, “Eden”
    Their Blue Wonder Power Milk was released the same day as the Dishwalla album and was another big favorite of mine; they’d moved past their synthetic-sounding first album and become more of an organic band here.  This track was one of the inspirations for my wanting to pair Alec and Akaina together; they knew they were different in so many ways, but their spiritual connection transcended that.
  8. Portishead, “Roads”
    I listened to Dummy quite a bit in the summer of 1995 when I was writing True Faith, and this track just stayed in my head for a long time afterwards.  By 1998 I was a big fan of triphop and catching up with all those bands that I’d missed the first time out; it’s a perfect subgenre for setting a mood.
  9. Information Society, “The Ridge”
    This track is a long way from their 1988 “What’s On Your Mind”, that’s for sure.  Essentially a Kurt Harland solo album under the InSoc banner, Don’t Be Afraid is a creepy darkwave affair with a bit of X-Files-ish conspiracy weirdness thrown in.  I used this track as a base for Denni and her trials in trying to balance being a goddess and being a teenage girl.

Side B

  1. Global Communication, “Epsilon Phase”
    I picked up both their 76:13 and Pentamerous Metamorphosis cds at the same time, after being blown away by that Pulusha track (see Vol 3).  Bonus points when I realized the latter was an ambient remix album of a Chapterhouse album!  This is a lovely transcendent track that fits in nicely with the spiritual side of the story.
  2. Portishead, “Half Day Closing”
    A track from 1997’s self-titled second album.  That record was a harder listen, though tracks like this fit in with the trippy headspace stuff I was trying to come up with.
  3. Tin Star, “Raincheck”
    The Thrill Kisser was a surprise favorite of mine (and another album where I grabbed the import before it was issued in the US).  It was a great mix of synth and guitar with quirky lyrics and music.  Another mood choice, this time for those scenes where the characters need to make unfortunate desicions.
  4. theaudience, “I Got the Wherewithal”
    You might know Sophie Ellis-Bextor for her solo dance hits in the UK, but this was her pre-solo band, and I absolutely adored their self-titled album.  It’s perky, snarky, and Very British.  I really wanted them to break in the US, but alas, they surfaced with exactly one American sampler EP before the whole Polygram/Uni shake-up ditched a crapton of good bands.
  5. U2, “Love Is Blindness”
    This was another track that I used for Alec and Akaina.  I hadn’t listened to Achtung Baby for a few years until I found a cheap cd copy at a used record store and it ended up on medium rotation for a year or so.
  6. Radiohead, “Fake Plastic Trees”
    Another single from The Bends.  Put here partly because I like the song, but I think I as also thinking about how what seems shiny and awesome on the surface is quite less so when one looks past all that.  It doesn’t show up so much in TPE or the trilogy, but it shows up in a future Mendaihu Universe story: the enlightenment of the Mendaihu and the Shenaihu may be worth celebrating years after the events in the trilogy…but there’s an ugly undercurrent that never quite went away.
  7. Hooverphonic, “2Wicky”
    I was a latecomer to Hooverphonic’s first album, but I knew this track from hearing it all over the place.  It’s a simple sci-fi sounding track that I thought would fit in with the rest of the mix.  I may have thought about a side story using this song, but I never really got anywhere with it.
  8. Rob Dougan, “Clubbed to Death [Kurayamino Variation]”
    Yes, that song from The Matrix.  I was completely sold on that film, because I’d always been frustrated by Hollywood’s inability to make an SF movie that wasn’t basically a horror or disaster movie with SF elements.  This was a true science fiction film, even if it was filled to the brim with all kinds of action film tropes; it had a story you had to think about and figure out as you were watching it.  It didn’t so much influence my own writing, as much as it confirmed that I was on the right path with my own story.  This, of course, was my favorite track from the film.

…And that concludes the original four-volume Songs from the Eden Cycle mix!  Hope you enjoyed it.  I made a few ‘sequel’ mixes during the trilogy writing years, but I’ll share those at a later time.  These four are the originals, the ones that I’d play on my tape deck in the car during the long commutes, the ones I’d listen to downstairs in the basement when writing.  I’ll still throw them on now and again; sometimes I’ll even have them on my mp3 player that I use when I go to the gym.

More Mendaihu Universe tunage coming soon!




Songs from the Eden Cycle, Vol 3


Volume 3 of the Eden Cycle mixtapes was put together in November of 1997, right in the midst of the fourth quarter at HMV.  I had a significant portion of The Phoenix Effect finished and a good handle on it all, so this mix was less about trying to figure out the characters as it was about trying to narrow down what kind of mood and setting I wanted.  I was quite aware that I was writing a story where the actions had big circumstances.  I understood that I didn’t want my characters to be acting in a void; whatever action took place, it was affecting more than the leads.  The rest of the city had to respond as well, even if it was passive.  The only way I could do this is to slowly but surely change the mood and the actions taking place within Bridgetown.

Volume 3, then, ended up being a study in trying to capture that idea; this time the mix wasn’t about the characters, but the setting itself.  Thus it’s darker and more introspective than the previous two.  The flow is a bit rough, and this was probably the mix I listened to least (unless I was listening to all four mixes chronologically), but there’s some excellent music on this one regardless.

Side A

  1. Rabbit in the Moon, “OBE”
    Originally a dance club hit back in 1994 (due in part to its brilliant use of sampling Tori Amos’ “Precious Things”), it got a second life as a track on the Urbal Beats Vol 1 techno compilation that came out in 1997.  This was probably the height of the 90s electronica wave, and provided me a bit of moody futurism.
  2. Shaï No Shaï, “Better with White”
    This was an obscure French band I’d discovered via one of our many cd promos and listened to this quite a bit in the back room.  This was also the height of the new age/Celtic folk boom (thank you, Riverdance), which gave me a lot of mystical background music for the more spiritual parts of my story.
  3. Mansun, “Wide Open Space”
    One of my coworkers handed me a copy of Attack of the Grey Lantern and I was completely hooked on the band.  Latter-era Britpop, when all the party sheen has worn off to reveal that darker edge.
  4. Whiskeytown, “Not Home Anymore”
    Ryan Adams’ band before he went solo, Whiskeytown was part of the wave of alt-country bands like Wilco.  I loved the creepiness of this song, the feeling of ghosts long departed.  This would be part of a theme with spiritual travel in the book (such as characters traveling to Trisanda).  Even though I had an idea of a soul’s transcendence from the body, I wanted a darker edge to it — there was always a reminder that things could go horribly wrong.
  5. Lauren Christy, “Breed (Coda)”
    A much slower, dirge-like version of her single that closes out the Breed album, this was another hint at that darker edge of spirit travel — the never-ending hunger to be connected to the body, no matter how far one wanted to transcend.  I’d use a variation of this as a major plot point in The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light.
  6. U2, “Please”
    Another dark song…this time a feeling of displacement, of being somewhere you don’t want to be.  The frustration of being aware of a situation you may not be able to handle alone.  This was a reminder to myself that it wasn’t just about the main characters.
  7. The Chemical Brothers, “Elektrobank”
    Dig Your Own Hole was crazy popular in 1997, and it’s no surprise, as it’s one hell of a great electronica album.  My favorite track off it was partly due to its excellent Spike Jonze video, but I also loved how twitchy this song is — the extant energy within a spirit barely contained, begging to be let out.  This theme was used a few times in TPE and once or twice in the trilogy, but I have more plans for it in future Mendaihu Universe stories!
  8. Cocteau Twins, “The Thinner the Air”
    One of my favorite CT album tracks, and one of their most dreamlike tracks.  Another song inspiring the state of the soul: at rest, but always aware.  I’d use that theme with Caren’s oft-spoken mantra throughout the trilogy, hra khera, hra mehra (to be here, to be at peace).
  9. Seal, “Crazy [Acoustic/Instrumental Mix]”
    One of my favorite tracks of the 90s, I chose this version as it flows better with the previous track…for me, it’s the moment when the already aware spirit finally chooses to take action.  This happens numerous times in TPE as well as in the trilogy; sometimes the characters are forced into action, other times its out of desperation, but each time it’s a pivotal moment.

Side B

  1. Jocelyn Pook, “Oppenheimer”
    One of my favorite promos from this time is a compilation called Invocation that features spiritual songs from all different cultures and genres.  This was my introduction to Jocelyn Pook, as well as the full speech from Robert Oppenheimer about the atomic bomb; many find ‘Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds’ is an ominous line, but I felt that ‘…I suppose we all thought that, one way or another’ really brings it home, chillingly, in terms of humanity taking responsibility for its actions.  The theme of responsibility became a very strong one in the trilogy.
  2. Forest for the Trees, “Dream”
    Time to lighten the mood just a bit.  This is the opposite of the previous track; this is celebrating what the responsible human spirit can do.  I always made it a point to balance the two within the trilogy as much as I could.  [And yes, I’m well aware that the main verse is stylistically incorrect.]
  3. The Verve, “Bittersweet Symphony [James Lavelle Remix]”
    This track was ubiquitous in 1997, and their biggest hit.  I loved this version, having found it as a b-side to one of their other singles.  Like the track before it, it’s a wish for the soul to reach out, to branch out, to move, even when all around is stasis.  (James Lavelle would pop up later in 1998 as the leader of one of my favorite bands, UNKLE.)
  4. Orbital, “The Box [Single Version]”
    Another excellent electronica single of the era, this particular track’s twitchiness and minor key works with my theme of balance: even though the soul wants to reach out, it also needs to be aware of what it’s reaching for and what the outcome will be.
  5. Dubstar, “Stars”
    Another promo I fell in love with, Goodbye is a lovely synthpop album with some damn fine songs on them.  This particular track resonated with me as feeling like the opening credits theme to a romantic anime series; I was still obsessed with anime then (it was still hard as hell to find through normal avenues) and the album was a good reminder of this story’s origins and how I wanted to portray it.
  6. Nine Inch Nails, “Hurt”
    Interestingly, The Downward Spiral is an album I listened to constantly in the mid-90s, but I find it a hard listen to now, given how raw it is emotionally. This track is a perfect ending song for the album, though, considering it’s a song of, well, maybe not redemption, but acceptance.  It’s dark as hell, but there’s hope at the end.
  7. Pulusha, “Isolation, Pt 1”
    Another track off the Invocation compilation, and the track that introduced me to Global Communication (whose member Mark Pritchard is behind this track).  This is an especially important track for me, as it inadvertently helped me figure out a plot line I’d been fighting for a long time: when a character’s soul departs a body, what takes its place if the person is still alive?  I’d been listening to this track when I finally figured out the answer: balance.  Even as all the characters were seeing their world as Mihari or Misuteru, they were refusing to see that, deep down, they were in fact both; it’s just that culture has forced people to chose one or the other as dominant and the other as weakness.  If one leaves, the other stays.  This realization broke down a hell of a huge wall for me and cleared the way for the rest of the novel and the trilogy.  In essence, this is when I came up with the cho-nyhndah theme.

Hope you enjoyed the mix!  Volume 4 will come up soon, and I think you’ll like that one…there’s a hell of a lot of great tracks on that one.







Songs from the Eden Cycle, Vol 2


This next mixtape was made a few months after Volume 1, when I had a little more of an idea of where I wanted to go with the story.  The songs on this mix, then, were not about trying to evoke a specific mood; this was more about trying to figure out who my characters were.

There was a reason for this: in my previous projects, the characters were always based on someone.  In the pre-1993 projects, they were usually inspired by certain traits of people I knew personally.  For True Faith, I’d based characters on certain actors that I could see playing that role.  For The Phoenix Effect, however, I wanted to do my homework.  These characters would be true creations and not cameos.

Side A

  1. George Harrison, “Isn’t It a Pity”
    I’d always loved this track of George’s, and that summer while listening to All Things Must Pass, I realized this encapsulated some of Alec Poe’s views of humanity: so much potential, yet falling so short, so often.  You don’t see it as much in the first two books of the trilogy, but it really comes to the fore in The Balance of Light.
  2. The Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight, Tonight”
    Their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album had been a big seller at HMV during the winter of 1996 and this track had gotten a lot of airplay everywhere.  [I particularly loved the Georges Méliès homage in the video, having studied A Trip to the Moon in college.]  In reference to my story, this kind of hinted at how the Mihari (aka the Mendaihu) would approach being spiritually awakened; excited and curious.
  3. Depeche Mode, “Home”
    Another song connected to Alec Poe; the song, like a lot of Depeche Mode’s love songs, is deeply emotional yet extremely self-conscious.  Poe has a hard time dealing with people sometimes, but his initial meeting with Akaina (even in TPE) changed all that.
  4. Beck, “The New Pollution”
    Back when the Mihari and Misuteru (aka the Mendaihu and Shenaihu) were awakened in AI bodies, this track fit pretty well as a simple yet effective ‘alone in a new world’ feel.
  5. Tori Amos, “Little Earthquakes”
    I’d been a passive Tori fan, but one day back in 1994 I’d heard a college station play this track, and I realized just how intensely beautiful the track was.  I’d initially thought about using this as character development for Akaina, but soon realized it fit Saone Lehanna’s character so much better.  A character who’d been changed against her will and had to deal with the consequences.
  6. U2, “Gone”
    This would be a song for a bunch of the characters who had to deal with those new changes they’d gone through.  This song in particular reminded me of those like Alec and Caren who had to come to terms with the fact that they were no longer exactly who they’d been just a short time ago.  While some would accept it, others like Saone and Caren were angry.
  7. Live, “White, Discussion”
    And there are those who refused to give in so easily.  This song inspired me to think of how to deal with the tension; conflict between the Mihari and Misuteru, conflict between the awakened and the unawakened.  Even conflict in how ‘pure’ some people had become in spirit.  The spiritual awakening of my story was not going to be a peaceful one.
  8. Delirium, “Silence [feat. Sarah McLachlan]”
    I’d gotten into a lot of new agey music around 1994-6, which partly influenced the worldbuilding of the Mendaihu Universe.  There were also a wave of chillout electronica bands at the time (like Delerium, Enigma, and so on) that helped set the mood for various characters’ spiritual mindsets.  Tracks like this one (which got a lot of airplay then) got me to think about how recently awakened characters would handle their situation.  How would they see the world and those around them?  How would they balance what they were sensing psychically versus using their other five senses?

Side B

  1. Sneaker Pimps, “Post-Modern Sleaze”
    Becoming X is another album on my platinum album playlist, especially for its gloomy triphop sound.  I didn’t use this track for any character in particular, but it did fit both Akaina’s and Saone’s situations.
  2. Republica, “Ready to Go [US Mix]”
    One of the first cds I bought from HMV when I started!  I liked the energy in this track; fast forward and unrelenting.  This was more a mindset of who I would see living in the McCleever and Waterfront Districts.  This is what I meant by the original opening of TPE, with Nehalé witnessing the unbridled, directionless energy that evening.
  3. Stabbing Westward, “What Do I Have to Do?”
    Their second album Wither Blister Burn & Peel got a lot of play during my post-Boston, pre-HMV era, when I was still trying to figure out what to write next.  This ended up being a good balance with the previous track; while the former is positive and uplifting, this one is negative and angry.  The spirits Nehalé felt that he was afraid of.
  4. Sarah Brightman, “Cape Horn/A Salty Dog”
    I knew this was a cover of a Procol Harum track about sailing, but Sarah Brightman’s classy, poppy version made me think of an anime I’d seen a few years previous (I’d forgotten the name) that had a wonderfully exciting (and a bit cheesy) sequence of a giant spaceship setting out towards the stars.  This brought to mind an image of the Meraladians making their way to Earth, and the Earthers making their way back to Trisanda eons later.
  5. The The, “Good Morning Beautiful”
    It was around this time that I realized that spiritual balance was an interesting theme worth investigating in my new universe.  Matt Johnson’s devastating warning about being a passive believer raised a hell of a lot of questions for me, questions that would become central to the Bridgetown trilogy.
  6. Elton John, “Believe”
    That same theme is brought up here, though in a much more positive way; the question here isn’t whether one wants to let belief take over; it’s now what it is that they’re letting take over.  In this case, it’s love and compassion.  That would be the Mihari/Mendaihu tenet from here on in.
  7. Soul Asylum, “Black Gold”
    This one is a holdover from the 1993 Vigil story.  The lyrics ‘this flat land used to be a town’ gave me the idea of setting a story in the far future; not just with sciencey gadgets and everything, but with the disintegration and disappearance of the old historical parts of the world.  I’d use this later with True Faith (with NewCanta as an enclosed circular city) and especially with the trilogy (with Bridgetown as a megacity and the idea of small towns becoming Wilderland outposts).
  8. Joy Askew, “Corrine”
    A sort of rewrite of “Dear Prudence” in a way, and a track that had popped up on a promo compilation I’d gotten from the record store.  I liked the idea of having a character who’d kept themselves shut up for a length of time — not out of mental instability but because they were afraid of what they’d become — and I later realized this is what Caren Johnson would be like.
  9. Phish, “Free”
    I’d known about Phish since my college years when my freshman year roommate played Lawn Boy incessantly, but it wasn’t until Billy Breathes that I finally got into them.  This is one of their rare tracks that ended up getting a lot of radio airplay, but it’s a great track nonetheless.  I used this to balance out the previous track; while the former was about hiding from oneself, this was about celebrating it.  This is what Caren so desperately wanted to be.


Hope you enjoyed this mixtape!  As you can tell, I was still trying to figure out not just the story but who was involved in it, and how they’d evolve.  The next volume is a bit similar in that regard, but the themes are a little more stable and less meandering.  By Volume 4 (my favorite of them), I knew exactly what I wanted.