Top Five All Time Derby Mix Tape Moments.

May 9, 2008 at 5:56 am (dull real life stuff, Music Mixes)

I was going to post about what was so important/special/kick ass about Derby Mix Tapes, but couldn’t seem to wrap it all up in a reasonably coherent ramble. Instead, I’ll give you my five favorite all time Derby Mix Tape Moments:

5. “One Mint Julep”, which I think was on Bill & Lisa’s Derby AM mix back in 2003 or so. They had the good sense to pick the lesser-known version by The Clovers because it has the vocals on it (The Clovers had a hit with it, but if you hear the song now it is almost a certainty you hear Ray Charles wonderful instrumental version). That song came on just as we pulled into the place we were doing pre-Derby breakfast buffet, and it was absolutely perfect. I believe I was in the back of the rental van swigging Korbel right out of the bottle.

4. An perfectly buzzed Johnny Bourbon punching the (padded, thankfully) roof of a rental van after the Dylan show we went to in ’04 in perfect rhythm to the riff on Guided By Voices “Back To The Lake”. Whitey’s mixtape, I sort of think.

3. A salute and shout-out to horse-related but non Derby mixes. Belmont, 1996, and we’re driving out to see fireworks at the beach on Long Island while standing in the surf, and whoever’s mix we were listening to (Marc? Bill? Whitey?) comes up with Teenage Fanclub’s “God Knows It’s True”. A whole van full of people blasted out of their minds forgetting the disappointment of Silver Charm’s near-miss all singing at top volume “God knows it’s true but the devil knows it too” over and over. Bill was able to stay sober and sane enough to drive the van that day. Small miracle. Honorable mention here: Marc’s Saratoga drive mix in 2002 with Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel” on it; driving through the mountains of upstate New York at sunset with this playing before my first trip to The Spa…utterly perfect.

2. The first CD Dan/Marc mix I can remember, possibly from 2001? Whichever, it was a tour de force with trackside calls for Jerry Bailey interspersed with Radiohead’s “National Anthem” and The Clinic’s “Second Line”.

1. Dan’s mix–on a tape–from 1998. We listened to it on the way to visit Affirmed and Holy Bull at Jonabell Farm, and the whole mix was spectacular, from Simply Saucer’s “Bulletproof Nothing” segued into Tribe Called Quest’s “Excursions” to the use of The Bangtails on side 2. Weird superstition of mine born that afternoon: Tim was driving behind us in his Honda Accord, and during the Rolling Stones “It’s Only Rock And Roll”, a huge truck sideswiped Tim while we all watched in horror. Thankfully the car was only dented up a little, but it could’ve been much worse. Since then, whenever I hear that song in the car, I have to change the channel or skip to something else.

The best part of Dan’s mix was a part that we missed that afternoon. I guess we never got to the end of the tape, and that’s always a mix tape bummer, because there’s really no time to listen to them all again during the weekend–other mixes are scheduled and suchlike. So, that weekend I’m driving home on Sunday afternoon, back to St. Louis for the last month I’d live there (I’d accepted a management job and transfer to Chicago about 4 hours before I left for the Derby that weekend), getting really wistful and nostalgic about a Derby Weekend that was officially only a handful of hours in the past. The sun was starting to go down in front of me (sunglasses and eyeshades time, driving towards a setting sun on I-64), and I lost whatever radio station I was listening to…so I grabbed the first cassette I could find…which happened to be the remainder of Dan’s mix tape. Before too long we were at the end of it, and Dan had chosen to finish with Gram Parsons’ “Wild Horses”. I’ll just leave it at saying “perfect”, and not go too much further down that path for fear of getting even more mawkish and overly-sentimental than I already have here. But…yeah. You wanna know what song I want played at my funeral? “Wild Horses” works for me–make it Gram’s version, too.

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