I'd hoped to create a 4th of July compilation, not so much for distribution--although Typepad has doubled our bandwidth and file-size allotments--but as a way to put myself in some sort of mood to enjoy this holiday. Unfortunately, I've not had the time, waited too long, and now it's Sunday evening, the Braves are about to come on ESPN, and there's a mound of dirty clothes in the hallway, a mound that the wife tasked me with washing while she's at a friend's house watching Bridget Jones and drinking 16 oz. Miller Lites. Everyone knows that a mixtape or compilation is serious business and with such a chore interrupting me every 45 minutes there's no way I'll be able to concentrate enough to figure out just which songs should go in what order. So I'm writing this.
And not only do I have to wash clothes, but I also need to figure out what we're to do tomorrow night (tonight if I post this on Monday morning). This is where I thought the compilation would come in handy. Perhaps we could drive to one of the two dozen fireworks shows in this county, park the car, pop the comp in the player, and enjoy the conflagrations in our own manner, ignoring the fact that this show might be synchronized to Kenny Loggins rather than Wilco. But this would mean braving crowds, fighting traffic, getting home late, and on and on. Now that I don't have a compilation, is it worth the trouble?
There was a time when I loved the 4th. It really started the 1st 4th after the 1st Gulf War. If you'll remember, the nation was in the midst of one of its patriotic fervor and Whitney Houston's version of the National Anthem was playing out of every other car that drove by. My soon-to-be first wife and I decided we would do what comes natural to a couple of undergraduates: get high and watch some fireworks. We drove the car to the designated viewing area and parked between two of the most imposing four-wheel-drive trucks you've ever seen. Both of these trucks were blaring the local radio station's firework soundtrack, so if we had chosen, we could have rolled down the windows and enjoyed Lee Greenwood in stereo. For obvious and utilitarian reasons, we decided to keep the windows up, light up, and put the Beatles' White Album in the tape player. That's all it took.
My first wife and I didn't miss a 4th fireworks show after that,
until the last year of our marriage, often driving several hours to
check out one that we'd heard good things about. Although the setting
changed, we always made sure the White Album was with us. Back then
there was nothing more ethereal than hearing "Blackbirds singing in the
dead of night" as red, white, and maybe blue fireballs formed the shape
of something resembling a star.
I've seen only one fireworks show since. And I no longer own a copy of the White Album. Don't even know if I can listen to it anymore what with all of those good memories overshadowed by an ugly separation and divorce, as if Charlie Manson stole all the White Album's songs from me and I have no way of stealing them back. Still, there's something in me that wants to rekindle that love of the 4th. That's why I wanted to put a compilation together. But it never developed beyond the early planning stages.
So if I'm going to venture out tonight to whatever fireworks display, what album should I take? The first that comes to mind is Wilco's Being There. But I love that album anyway, have no need to attach a tradition to it. I could dip way back in the collection and pull out a Replacements or R.E.M. album, maybe revitalize the old passion I once had for those bands. Or I could just leave it to the radio or let Elaine choose or turn everything off and listen to the bombs bursting in air.
Or maybe I'll just grill my hamburgers and watch baseball and put it all off until next year. By then I should be able to put something together.