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College mix tape: Upcoming Gonzaga reunion – now canceled because of COVID-19 – is a trip down music memory lane

My fellow Generation X’ers know what a mix tape is – and later a CD mix – and so did Natalie Portman’s sweet character Sam (you’re mean, Zach Braff) in 2004’s “Garden State.”

I would love to create a mix tape this very moment based on my music tastes while attending Gonzaga (and, for the record, my iPod just isn’t the same even though it sounds a lot better). The trip down music memory lane was prompted because my 25th class reunion here in Spokane is next month.

Well, it was going to be next month, but another event has fallen victim to COVID-19. Fingers crossed for 2022? While I’ll stop dieting and cancel the plastic surgery appointments – just kidding – I won’t stop listening to the songs and artists that got me through the early and mid-1990s.

So, let’s travel back in time when I wore Birkenstocks, khaki shorts and blue denim shirts just like every other Gonzaga student. And go, Zags!

10,000 Maniacs, “These Are Days”

I had such a big crush on Natalie Merchant – remember “Like the Weather”? – before I came out my sophomore year (she’s still awesome) – and this is the one song that I remember from my first year at Rebmann Hall. It was also used to promote a very-short-lived TV series about college students.

Duran Duran, “Ordinary World”

OK, this is truly the one song that encompasses my first few months at Gonzaga. Growing up is like way hard. And I had no idea that the band who sang favorites like “The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” could be so deep. Although I do love Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer” and remake of “Perfect Day,” as well.

Anything by R.E.M.

R.E.M. and frontman Michael Stipe were one of my favorite college artists who weren’t grunge, and there were so many great albums and songs: “Shiny Happy People” (because Stipe actually smiles in the video!), “Everybody Hurts,” “Texarkana” and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”


Haters will say Nirvana and frontman Kurt Cobain were overrated, but I strongly disagree. What started as an obsession with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” continued for many years, and I dug Brad Pitt’s grunge period when he looked like Cobain.

Nine Inch Nails

OK, I actually got into Trent “Head Like a Hole” Reznor while at Helena High School. So angry and loud. So, so angry, and I loved it. “Head like a hole, black as your soul, I’d rather die than give you control.” Yeesh. I still love it.

Pearl Jam

I’m fairly certain that nearly every student in my class at Gonzaga had Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” It certainly seemed like it while walking through campus, and every dorm room seemed to be blasting Eddie Vedder singing “Even Flow,” “Alive” and “Jeremy.”

The Smiths, Morrissey and Erasure

As previous mentioned, I came out my sophomore year, so it’s a given that I would love Erasure, the Smiths and Morrissey. “Always,” “Respect,” “Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day),” “Suedehead,” “Everyday Is Like Sunday” and “Tomorrow.” I would get to see both artists post-college while living in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The Ocean Blue

This is a super-random choice, but I was obsessed with the Ocean Blue’s “Ballerina Out of Control.” Why? I honestly have no idea. We like what we like, and I’ve always had a soft spot for dreamy pop.

The Sundays

Speaking of dreamy pop and dreamy vocals, it didn’t get better than Harriet Wheeler’s otherworldly vocals on the “Wild Horses” remake, “Here’s Where the Story Ends” and “Love.”

Mazzy Star, “Fade Into You”

I’ll end this music memory trip with the song that is playing at the end of a party, and everyone is feeling good, and, well …

Honorable mentions: Belly, Liz Phair, Sponge, Dramarama and the Lemonheads. I know that I’ve forgotten a lot of the music, but, y’know, 25 years is a very long time, and a mix tape would help.

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