Sometimes, a lot of times, when hearing an album for the first time something about it communicates to your brain. You think “I would love to do…while listening to….” or “this album is a perfect soundtrack for…” A prime example of this would be Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I’m sure there are a lot people out there that said upon hearing the chaos that greets you at the front door of “Speak to Me,” “Whoa, someday, I’m gonna level myself with cheap booze, pot, and maybe mushrooms while l listen to this.” Now, while most people believe it is/was the perfect soundtrack to nod off in a drug filled haze or hazes to it is obvious that the album was specifically made to be played over the the audio track of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
In thinking about my own connections to this idea there are multiple examples of when this has come into play in my life, but there is one specific instance that won’t let me write about the others. Crazy thing is that it wasn’t me that made the connection.
I was a teenage know-nothing that hung out in a smokey cafe that played nothing but loud and sometimes obnoxious music that just made sense. It was often hard to hear yourself think in that place, or breathe, but we went there because the music was loud, the coffee was strong, the food was fantastic, and it was off the yuppie grid. I don’t even think the word barista was in circulation yet. Anyway, this one particular evening I was sitting there with one of the staff, a friendly kid but a kid that always had a blank and dumb look on his face. I scribbled Kerouac or some other beatnik flavor of my teens into a pocket-sized pad while Frank fed his gullet with one hand and dragged off of his Export-A with the other. Meanwhile the speakers were just PUMPING something that I had never heard before. Screeching guitar, a screech-ier voice and HUGE but simple drumming. Speed began to pick up and the rapid snare hits were now accompanied by high pitched yelps. “Wooo, wooo, wooo, wooo, wooo.” I wasn’t even sure if I liked what I was hearing (yet) but this music was the utter definition of raucous. A powerhouse of sound.
As the album continued to play I would briefly lift my eyes up and look at Frank lazily bobbing his head while his feet stomped the fuck out of the floor. I couldn’t help but get into it as good as I could. I knew nothing of this band. This sound. It was fresh to me.
“Huh,” I said.
“Only Detroit could produce something like this. Shits maniacal”
“Yeah. I don’t know what it is but I kinda dig it.”
“Whenever I put this tape on, all I really wanna do is pull some kind of a heist. You know, break down a wall, grab whatever it is were taking, get back in the car and drive away as fast a the car will go. This tape is the perfect fucking music for some shit like that.”
At that point I was a little taken aback by what he said. A heist? What the hell is he talking about a heist? Maybe this kid is as goofy as he looks.
But. In this cloudy room that wreaked of stale smoke, onions and coffee it didn’t take more than mere seconds to realize that The White Stripes self-titled 1999 debut was just that. If I were ever to get involved in “some shit like that,” Frank was right. That would be the perfect fucking soundtrack.