Ghost Wiring

Your ghost is a light show at night...The river is watching you, at the drive in tonight...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Soundtrack of Our Lives…2003 “Sweet Little 16”

1: Pretty GirlsNeko Case: This one is special. In October I got to see the amazing Miss Neko Case. She had, within the span of a year, become almost like an idol to me and I was thrilled at the idea that I’d be seeing her live and in concert. It was at Schuba’s, one of my favorite venues. It’s small enough to be intimate, but big enough to get a good crowd once sold out. That night, Neko had decided that she didn’t feel like writing up a set list, so she took requests. Now, it must be stated that “Deep Red Bells” is my favorite song written by her, but I knew she’d play that one. So, I called out for “Pretty Girls! Pretty Girls!” in between the songs, my other favorite. It struck me as being about everything that’s wrong with the media and Hollywood. “But there’s millions to count you and keep you, and lovers who don’t understand. Don’t let them tell you you’re nothing, ‘cause you’ll change the world pretty girls.” Finally, at one point, Jon Rauhouse looked at me from his pedal steel guitar and said “Hey, what was that song you wanted to hear?” I realized at this point that his eyes AND Miss Neko’s were on me. I looked up at her and said, as politely as possible. “Neko, would you please play ‘Pretty Girls’?” “Ok,” she said. “But I might fuck it up. It’s been a while since we’ve played that one.” They played it, just for me, and she didn’t fuck it up, not even one word was out of place. Later that night, I got her into the photo booth and we hung out for about 10-15 minutes, just shooting the breeze, talking about our pants and the internet and that sort of thing. She made me feel like a real Pretty Girl.

2: I Feel Fine – The Beatles: “I’m so glad that she’s my little girl. She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world.” That summer, I learned that I was a very lucky girl. I was loved by people who would get to be very important to me within the year. Also, things at VC had gotten to be quite good. I was the little baby girl and I had people all over the world looking out for me. Little did I know that the people I admired so much, Jeff Tweedy and Sue Miller, had come to think of me as their “Little Baby Girl.” As soon as I found this out, I went around telling everyone. It was all far too exciting to keep to myself.

3: FavoriteNeko Case: I was the Favorite, and I knew it. I had a fan club, VC, an extended family, the Tweedy-Millers, the affections of my favorite rock stars, Kelly Hogan, Neko Case & Wilco, and an internship at Bloodshot Records. “But I know that I was your favorite, and I said ‘Amen’”. Within months of meeting Wilco, I had been brought into the family by none other than Ms. Susan Miller. She decided that I was her little baby girl, and I knew I was her Favorite. Kelly Hogan had noticed me singing with all of her songs the first time I saw her, and she had told me I was in the band, I knew I was her Favorite. Neko had played a song for me, and taken pictures with me, and told me I was to monitor her fansite (make sure the boys didn’t post any bad pictures of her), yes, I knew I was her Favorite. With Bloodshot…well, it was sort of the same, and sort of different. I met Rob Miller and Nan Warshaw while volunteering at Por Vida, a benefit for Alejandro Escovedo, who was in the hospital at the time. My dad had signed himself and me up to work the auction on the second day of the event. I was 16, but I could name a dozen of the artists on their label already. Nan told me that there were internships available, so that I’d get to work with them for as long as I liked, and get paid in CDs and other merch. We worked out the details and I had an interview and started work a couple weeks later. On Fridays, I’d hop on the bus after school and ride down to Bloodshot, where I’d work for a couple hours then be picked up by my dad. I worked harder than I ever have anywhere else. I’d complete a task in 15 minutes and ask for another. I studied harder than I ever did in school. I could name 90% of the artists off the top of my head, because I had fallen in love with them, and the catalog numbers of all of the albums I had listened to and sent out on a weekly basis. Was I their Favorite? Oh, you better believe it. “And I said Amen…”

4: Andy – Neko Case: “Andy, summer’s over. We’re one year older. Did you really think it’d be so fast?...It helped me through the spring just to dream of what it might become. Woke up to find it’d been here and gone.” Oh my…Andy… I had the biggest crush on him for most of high school. He was supposed to come with me to see Wilco at Summerfest. I thought for sure we’d have something together, but we never did. Or else, it came and left faster than either of us could have seen. Maybe I’ll get into that another time, but, although he was a big part of my life for the longest time, it doesn’t seem necessary to write about him right now. I guess the song really says it all.

5: Via Chicago – Wilco: This was the year of Via Chicago for me. Not only did Wilco open their set of my first show with this song, but it was also the year of the first Souper Sum It. We had friends fly in from across the country for this event. Over 30 people from the website were at my house. They all brought food and music and we talked and ate and laughed and ate and took pictures and ate. There was pudding and peeps and pomegranates and even mini pecan pies. This was, perhaps, one of the happiest weekends of my life. This was back when there were no cliques among us, no feuds, no rifts. We rode the Navy Pier Ferris wheel in our ball gowns. Wilco invited everyone, even those without passes, backstage. I had met many of them that weekend, others at Summerfest, and some at my first Jeff Tweedy show in January. This was when “I Believe in Tweedy’s Girl!” really meant something. When they finally discovered that I was real. I had never felt more believed in. I had been “Searching for a home, searching for a home, searching for a home, via Chicago” and I really felt that I had finally found it.

6: Sweet Little 16 Chuck Berry: I’m sure you’ve all heard this song before. If not, it’s a familiar story: Sweet Little 16 wants to dance and have fun. She collects autographs from her favorite teen idols. She calls her parents “Mommy” and “Daddy” but thinks she’s old enough to wear lipstick and high heels. In the end, poor Sweet Little 16 has to give up her fun and get down to work. In other words: her party’s over when school starts up again. This was me in a nutshell. I have posters and CD’s signed by my favorite stars. I danced like crazy during the summer. I was caught in the world between childhood and innocence and being the sweet one and being a part of a social group that consisted of people at least 5-10 years older than me, if not twice my age. School was the last thing I wanted to think about. And, to be honest, at the time, I thought I’d be like this forever.


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