Just Say Uncle

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: We Used To Be Friends

This expansion of an earlier, unrelated piece was prepared for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). It remains in two of the book’s six current potential drafts.

An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!
THE DANDY WARHOLS: We Used To Be Friends

Written by Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Grant Nicholas, and Bjorn Thorsrud

Produced by Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Nick Rhodes

Single from the album Welcome To The Monkey House, Capitol Records, 2003

A long time ago
We used to be friends
But I haven’t thought of you lately at all

My awareness of the Dandy Warhols has always been peripheral at best. I have to admit my main interest in the group’s work comes through “We Used To Be Friends,” a Dandy Warhols track used as the theme song for the television series Veronica Mars.

I came to Veronica Mars years after its network TV run, binge-watching it obsessively on-line. It became one of my all-time favorite shows, its potent stew of teen alienation, betrayal, and pulp noir annexing my rapt attention and devotion. And its theme song cast me back to memories of bonds severed, trusts discarded, bridges burned, a long time ago.

Many years ago, I had a friend whom I’ll refer to here as Julie. If you’ve known me for a very long time, and you think you know who Julie really is, you’re probably wrong, unless you happen to be right. Julie’s true identity isn’t the point. 

Julie was one of my best friends. We had similar tastes in music, and generally had a good time around each other, times of camaraderie and youthful exuberance. Julie could be moody at times, subject to the familiar, warring emotions of depression and delight. In spite of that, I don’t recall Julie and I ever really having an argument or a fight, none that my consciousness can call forth all these decades later.

Until we did have a fight. And we came to a definite parting of the ways.

It happens, even among friends, even among best friends. Look at Lennon and McCartney. Hell, look at Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. There was regret on both sides, I think, but there was no chance of reconciliation. We said goodbye. There may have been tears–there were tears–and we have not seen each other since. Decades have passed. We will likely never see each other again, and likely never have any further communication. I don’t wish to discuss the details. Like the song says: we used to be friends, a long time ago.

We did speak one time after that. For the sake of closure, I called Julie on the phone one night. Julie had been drinking, and Julie was surprised to hear from me. It was a pleasant call nonetheless, or at least it was as pleasant as a farewell phone call can be. Closure. One side can’t undo, one side can’t forgive, and neither side can forget. We will never speak again. At this point, I don’t want to anymore.

I remember better times. I wrote this passage a long time ago, well before I’d heard or heard of the Dandy Warhols, inspired by my memories of Julie, and of a few other close friends who used to be integral parts of my life; I lost all of them along the way. It happens. It hurts, but it happens. These words I wrote linger in my memory: 

Sometimes in my dreams, we still talk to each other
Although in real life I know we’re done with one another
I don’t think I’d want you to return
I’d just feel better if I could learn
What became of you
Because I remember you

Maybe we’re not meant to get over the things that still haunt us, decades after it was too late to do anything about them. We bleed, we mend, we move on; the scar lingers. Guilt lingers. Regret lingers. But sometimes the glow of better times can linger, too.

Godspeed, Julie. I don’t think I’d want you to return. I wish you well, wherever you are. But I haven’t thought of you lately at all. That line’s a lie. One thing remains true, and the Dandy Warhols wrote a song about their version of it. Bring it on now sugar. Just remember me when. A long time ago, we used to be…

…you know.

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This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

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THE EVERLASTING FIRST: Quick Takes For E

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it’s the subsequent visits–the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time–that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

ECLIPSO

My sister’s boyfriend gave me all of his old comic books in the summer of 1970. Eclipso had been featured in DC’s House Of Secrets in the early ’60s; the character was a sort of Jeckyll and Hyde, as good-guy scientist Bruce Gordon transformed into the evil Eclipso whenever an eclipse occurred (an event I’m guessing is more commonplace in the DC universe than it is in our boring ol’ universe). Shortly after reading these early Eclipso adventures, I read a Batman giant devoted to the women in the Caped Crusader’s life; that giant included a few panels from The Brave And The Bold # 64, which told the tale of a spoiled hussy named Marcia Monroe. Ms. Monroe stole Batman’s heart, but then jilted him, and teamed with Eclipso in some evil attempt to do evil things. Evil! Decades later, a talented musician–also named Bruce Gordon–decided to embrace his evil namesake; Bruce called his rockin’ pop act Eclipso, and released a stunningly good pop record called Hero And Villain In One Man. DC’s legal representatives then demonstrated their superhuman lack of any sense of humor, so Bruce changed his nom du bop to Mr. Encrypto, and shortened his first album’s title to Hero And Villain.  Mr. Encrypto released a second album called Secret Identity Crisis, and Bruce told me this weekend he’s working on some new material right now. Whatever name he uses, Mr. Encrypto makes terrific records, so go buy ’em both: Mr. Encrytpo. Evil must not win!

EDDIE & THE HOT RODS

Another Phonograph Records Magazine discovery, though I believe I also read about them in Playboy. The 1976 Live At The Marquee EP was their initial jolt of rock ‘n’ roll greatness (with a smokin’ cover of Bob Seger‘s “Get Out Of Denver”), but I probably didn’t hear it, or the debut LP Teenage Depression, until much later. The Flashcubes covered “Get Out Of Denver” in their live shows–‘Cubes guitarist Paul Armstrong credited Eddie & the Hot Rods, but introduced it as “a song Bob Seger wrote ten years ago, when he was still cool”–so thatwas my intro. The ‘Cubes also covered an Eddie & the Hot Rods original called “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” and that was sufficient motivation to pick up the Hot Rods’ 45 of that incredible power pop tune. I soon added the Hot Rods’ second album, Life On The Line, to my collection as well. I love Eddie & the Hot Rods, but The Flashcubes’ version of “Do Anything You Wanna Do” is definitive.

ELLERY QUEEN

I was born in 1960, so I don’t know of a world without The Everly Brothers. That said, I don’t have any specific memories of the Everlys, either. We had the A Date With The Everly Brothers LP in the family record collection, with “Cathy’s Clown” and “Love Hurts,” but none of this made an impression on me in the ’60s. It would fall to TV ads for oldies records in the early ’70s to introduce me to “All I Have To Do Is Dream” well after the fact, but no matter; great pop music has no expiration date. I’m delighted that I had a chance to see an Everly Brothers performance at the New York State Fair many years later. My favorite Everlys track is “Gone, Gone, Gone,” but there is just so much great stuff in their catalog, including some wonderful records they were making in the ’80s. A world without The Everly Brothers? Not this world, not ever.

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