42 TV Shows That Mean Something To Me On My 42nd Birthday

Here we go again.

For the eighth year in a row I’m publishing a special birthday blog post on my birthday.

In the past I’ve written about the best things I ever created, lessons I’ve learned about life, and memories of the house I grew up in, and more (you can read all the previous posts here).

For this year’s post I found myself thinking about all the time I’ve spent watching TV over the years (it’s a LOT) and which shows have stuck with me. But rather than just list my favorite shows (which seemed kind of boring), instead I focused on which shows are most memorable to me.

These aren’t necessarily my favorite shows and they’re certainly not all the best shows I’ve seen, but they all resonated with me, inspired me, influenced me, and are memorable to me for one reason or another.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the 42 TV Shows that mean something to me on my 42nd birthday…

1. Action

This Jay Mohr series didn’t last long, but I loved it. When it came out in 1999 I was barely two years into a fledgling entertainment industry career and I couldn’t get enough of this over-the-top look at the movie business which I later discovered turned out to be surprisingly accurate.

It was Entourage before Entourage…if Entourage was actually good.

2. Arrested Development

The entire series was basically an inside joke that just kept building on itself which is probably why it was never able to grow its ratings despite its brilliance. It also became the basis of a million inside jokes between me and my hermano.

3. The Bozo Show

When I was real young – too young to fully remember – I attended my first live TV show taping in Chicago and it was the Bozo show. I think I’ve blocked out the memory because apparently when I wasn’t picked to play the bucket game I got more than a little upset.

4. Cheers

The greatest sitcom of all time (probably). There wasn’t a Thursday night growing up that my family wasn’t tuned in to NBC and Cheers was the highlight of the night. It also wasn’t a bad way to learn comedy.

5. The Cosby Show

Speaking of Thursday nights on NBC, The Cosby Show was a big enough deal that all the kids in the neighborhood would stop playing sports early to go home and make sure they didn’t miss it. Of course, back then none of us had any idea Dr. Huxtable was also busy distributing his own “medicine” to ladies in his personal life.

6. Curb Your Enthusiasm

There are two things Curb Your Enthusiasm contributed to my life. First, it made me realize Larry David was the real genius behind Seinfeld.

Second, it inspired the team name (“Crazy Eye Killaz”) for my rec basketball team that eventually won the championship in a 6’2″ and under Asian basketball league (90% of our team wasn’t Asian by the way, but that’s another story for another day).

7. Dallas

I don’t know when I started watching Dallas, but it had to be when I was around five or six years old. It’s tough to say exactly what influence that had on me, but it probably made for some interesting conversations around the elementary school lunch table.

8. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

We can all hate on Guy Fieri as much as we want but the bottom line is this show is responsible for inspiring thousands of meals I’ve eaten over the years. When I don’t know what I’m hungry for, this show’s always there to remind me I’m hungry for something that’s as delicious as it is terrible for me.

Plus, the show tipped me off to what might be my favorite Mexican restaurant.

9. Dukes of Hazzard

Growing up in Chicago I had no idea what life was like in some place like Hazzard County, but it sure seemed like a fun place filled with cars that could jump over things, dumb cops, crazy uncles, and (most importantly) Daisy Duke.

Combined with Dallas, it formed the first must-see TV night of my life and the only time must-see TV for me involved CBS.

10. Family Guy

In 1998, my roommate worked for an agent who represented a lot of animators. One of them was an unknown guy named Seth MacFarlane who had created a 7-minute pilot for a show that featured a talking dog and evil genius baby.

He brought home a copy which was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen – I remember bringing it home at Thanksgiving and showing it to family members and telling them it was going to be huge. Turns out I was right.

11. Friday Night Lights

I never watched it when it was on network TV, despite hearing how great it was. Then, years later, I got laid off from a job, signed up for Netflix, and it became the first show I ever binged. Turned out to be a great choice – clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

12. Game of Thrones

I’m not sure if it’s my favorite show of all time or the greatest show of all time, but I’m 100% sure it’s the most impressive show of all time. It took me a season and half to get to the point where I had any clue what the hell was going on (sometimes I’m still not sure I do), but it’s absolutely blown me away ever since and there’s no show I look forward to returning more than Thrones.

13. G.I. Joe

My favorite cartoon as a kid – both to watch and to spawn action figures I could play with. Not sure why I loved it so much, but maybe it had something to do with guns that fired lasers, caused explosions, and somehow never actually killed anybody.

14. HBO Standup Specials/Bring The Pain

As a huge standup comedy fan I could just list all the HBO comedy specials, but instead I’ll highlight Chris Rock’s Bring The Pain, which is probably the best of the best. It was watching these specials that ultimately led me down a path to working in the comedy business.

15. Howard TV

There’s no single entertainer whose creations I’ve spent more time consuming than Howard Stern. I’ve been obsessed with his radio show for decades, and the various incarnations of that show that have surfaced on Channel 9 in New York, E!, and on demand have all been incredible.

16. In Living Color

Nothing makes me think of high school as much as this show. Besides being hilarious and a launchpad for an incredible collection of talent, as a huge hip hop fan back when that was unusual for a white kid, this show was one of the driving forces of hip hop culture’s takeover of the mainstream.

17. Jeopardy!

Anybody that thinks Jeopardy! is only for old people never saw me and my 20-something roommates competing against each other as we watched the show and ate cheap take-out chinese food every night.

18. The Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones Shows

If it was 1 pm on a weekday in 1994, here’s where you could find me: Sitting in a University of Maryland dorm room with friends eating a dining hall cheesesteak while watching the Jerry Springer show and the Jenny Jones show back to back.

It’s also worth nothing that meal was technically my “breakfast” since I had likely just woken up around noon to start my day.

19. Late Night with David Letterman

In his prime he was the best, he was a nightly watch for me, and was a huge influence on just about every comedian I’ve ever loved. No other late night host has come close.

20. Married with Children

I loved the show and remember how it (along with In Living Color) helped establish the FOX network.

But in a twist I never could have seen coming, the first house I lived in when I moved to Los Angeles was actually owned by the ex-wife of the show’s creator. So in some ways that show also paid for me to have an incredible entry into Los Angeles.

21. Masters of the Universe

I must have really liked this He-Man cartoon since my brother and I decided to name our pet cat after the female character on the show – Teela. Of course that was when we thought the cat was female (it wasn’t), but the name stuck so whatever.

22. MTV Video Music Awards

Growing up this was the most important awards show to me since I loved music so much and it was a LOT cooler than the Grammys.

I’d watch it, tape it, and watch it again and again. Never cared about who won since even then I realized that was meaningless, but I was in it for the performances and bizarre moments only the VMA’s could provide.

23. The Muppet Show

It was like an adult show for kids and there’s never been anything else like it. The theme song still puts a smile on my face every time I hear it and Statler and Waldorf have only gotten better with age.

24. New Year’s Rockin’ Eve

This has always been an awful show whether it was hosted by Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest.

However, it’s been on a TV just about wherever I was every New Year’s Eve for most of my life so I guess technically it’s provided the background to some memorable moments.

Plus, growing up, if this show was on it meant there was a spread of excellent food prepared by Mom nearby as well.

25. Northern Exposure

The best show nobody ever talks about. Northern Exposure somehow managed to work philosophy into a broadcast TV show and was the kind of thing that nowadays would be a Netflix show the world would obsess over.

Back then, it was a just a show that I obsessed over and made me think about things in new ways – you know, like the role of technology in our lives:

26. NFL Red Zone Channel

This is a broadcasting innovation that has changed every Fall Sunday of my life – no biggie.

27. The Office

Not the British version, which I’ve never really watched. I’m talking about the American version, which might be my favorite sitcom of all time.

I loved it when it was on, watched re-runs all the time, and am now in the process of re-watching it all with my wife who had never seen it (and has now also become obsessed with it). Long live Dunder Mifflin.

28. The Oscars

I watched it every year growing up and then spent most of the past six years of my life working on it. It’s safe to say no TV show has had a bigger impact on my life than this one.

29. Pardon The Interruption

The only ESPN talking head show that’s actually good and that I’ve ever actually taped to watch.

Plus, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have always been like a bit of Washington that I was able to take with me when I moved to California.

30. The Playboy Channel

In college I lived in a house with five guys who split the cable bill five ways. That meant the effective cost to each of us to add the Playboy Channel to our cable package was about $2 a month.

So, of course we did, and it aired on a loop on every TV in the house 24/7. Because…college.

31. Politically Incorrect

I always loved watching Bill Maher’s original ABC show, but when I moved to Los Angeles I discovered it was also a great show to attend live because it was entertaining and taped in real-time as opposed to sitcoms that are actually awful to watch live because they take forever.

It became the show I’d take everybody that visited me to go see.

32. Pump It Up

A syndicated show that aired late night on weekends, Pump It Up was hosted by Dee Barnes (most famous for allegedly getting punched by Dr. Dre) and featured hip hop music videos and interviews.

Nobody ever seems to have heard of it, but I loved it and it’s a big part of how I fell in love with hip hop.

33. Remote Control

Back before MTV knew what it was doing they put on a game show that featured Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and a bunch of assorted nonsense.

Plus, it was all about TV which in retrospect probably helped fuel my own TV obsession.

34. Saturday Night Live

The Oscars may be the show that’s had the most impact on my life since I’ve worked on it, but SNL has to be the show that’s influenced me the most without having actually worked on it.

Even as a kid I was obsessed with watching it – and reruns of it – over and over again. It taught me about comedy and the world, plus its sketches are the basis of an entire language of inside jokes I share with my brother and friends.

35. Seinfeld

It’s always on and it’s always worth watching – again. If you’re my age and don’t cite Seinfeld as a major influence on your life, you’re doing life wrong.

36. The Selection Sunday Show

For as long as I can remember, the March Madness brackets reveal show has been a great moment when anything seems possible (except for the couple years when my alma mater Maryland didn’t make the tournament in which case those Selection Sunday shows were REALLY depressing).

Plus, one year this show marked the beginning of a national championship run  for the Terps and another year it marked the beginning of me winning a bunch of cash in a huge NCAA tournament pool – which was kind of like my own personal national championship.

37. Sesame Street

Like most people my age, I watched it a lot growing up and probably underestimate how much it influenced the rest of my life.

38. Showtime at the Apollo

Another staple of my late night Saturday night viewing habits when I was in high school and college. This show had it all – Steve Harvey, a 13-year-old Lauryn Hill getting booed, the most ridiculous crowd on TV, and fun performances from some of my favorite musical acts at the time.

Plus, it had this Fugees performance.

39. The Simpsons

The longest running TV show in history has been there for me in every different phase of my life. In high school, it was there to teach people how to do the Bartman and inspire black Bart Simpson t-shirts, in college it was there to show how to create amazing ancillary characters and smart social commentary in a cartoon, and as an adult it’s been there to remind me some things can still be great even long after they’re taken for granted.

40. Voyagers

I’ve always been into time travel stories and that started with this short-lived NBC series that only ran from 1982-1983.

That means I was about 7-years-old when I was watching the main characters travel through history and ensure it unfolded the right way.

Based on this clip, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hold up but I remember thinking it was great at the time!

41. The Wire

I have a complicated history with this one. I watched the first season when it aired, didn’t love it and bailed. Turns out, I bailed right before it got amazing.

Years later, I went back and watched it (and loved it), and then for some reason bailed again at the beginning of the last season. So, it’s still a work in progress for me and one that I’ll finish…some day.

42. Yo! MTV Raps

Turns out there are a lot more MTV shows on this list than I would have thought when I started to write this (and The Real World didn’t even make the cut!). But Yo! MTV Raps definitely deserves a spot as I watched it constantly after school and think the world would be a better place if it still existed.

Plus, what better way to end this epic post than with a video featuring this clip from the last episode of the show.

 

My Strangest Concert Memories Have Nothing To Do With The Music

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I’ve gone to a lot of concerts over the years and seen some amazing shows.

But I’ve found the most memorable moments often have nothing to do with the musical magic happening on stage.

The good times are great, but the strange times make the best stories. Here are a few that have stuck with me…

Drinking Pepsi All Night Long

The first concert I ever saw was Lionel Richie (with opening act Tina Turner!) in 1984. As a 9-year-old aspiring break dancer myself at the time (in the suburban Jew category), I was excited to see what sweet backspins Lionel’s dancers would bust out on stage.

As an added bonus, I got the chance to go backstage before the show and meet Lionel because my uncle worked for Pepsi at the time and they sponsored the tour. I don’t remember much about meeting Lionel other than the photo I took with him which hung on the wall in my parents’ house for decades, but I do remember what was the highlight of the night for me – getting a free Pepsi.

That’s right, I got to meet Lionel Richie backstage at the height of his All Night Long-ness and the coolest thing about it to me was that there were unlimited free sodas backstage.

Peace, Love, and Hot Dogs

I went to Woodstock ’94 – that’s the muddy one, not the rapey one – thanks to free tickets I got from a friend. They weren’t exactly free – he was able to hook me up as long as I agreed to work at a festival food stand that was being run by Patch Adams (the real guy who inspired the awful Robin Williams movie) for a couple hours a day.

It was weird, but seemed like a sweet deal at the time and a free trip to an epic concert. It was, but thanks to torrential rain and terrible event organizers it also turned into an epic shit-show (pun sort-of intended).

That weekend is as close as I’ve ever been to a Lord of the Flies situation in my life (if Lord of the Flies had a Green Day soundtrack).

But as things on the grounds got more and more chaotic, I discovered my position as a hot dog vendor was suddenly one of an incredible power. I had access to food which, it turns out, is really important to people who have partied for days on end and can’t afford food because they spent all their hot dog money on the drugs that fueled their partying.

This situation made me feel like a Game of Thrones king who wields all the power (in this case, control of hot dog supply) while simultaneously realizing he could be killed at any moment by usurpers.

It was an odd experience to have play out in between sets by Aerosmith and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Please Don’t Kill Me Softly

I love hip hop and always tried to see whatever rap acts happened to come to campus when I was in college. I saw A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Run DMC among others – all of whom were incredible.

But the most memorable show had nothing to do with the actual concert. It had to do with a couple of my college friends who were from a slightly less diverse area of the country and who were slightly less familiar with rap music than I was. They wanted to go see a rap concert with me (sort of), but there was just one problem – they were terrified.

It turns out these upper middle class, white college students in the mid-1990s thought they were going to get killed (or shot, or robbed, or god knows what they were afraid of) if they went to a…wait for it…Fugees concert.

I thought that was crazy then and it still amazes me now. After all, the only thing you should be worried about when you go to see Lauryn Hill perform is if she’s going to show up and how many times she’ll thank Jesus if she does.

What Would You Say…To An Orgasm

In college, I went to a bunch of Dave Matthews Band concerts (as one does when one is a college student in the 1990s).

At one such concert, a group of friends and I wound up on the lawn of an outdoor theater and one of the girls in our group wound up in my arms as we sat on the grass field while the sun set and the band jammed.

We were a little intoxicated, but fully clothed and not romantically (or non-romantically) involved. I thought it was a nice moment, but apparently she thought it was a REALLY nice moment because she somehow had an orgasm as we watched DMB rattle on with one of their 8-minute violin solos.

Looking back on it, I can’t confirm whether or not she actually had a non-contact, non-nudity orgasm or not. But it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a girl would fake, because girls never do that…right?

Born To Run Gently

Decades after my first backstage concert appearance, I made another one – this time at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

But what stood out to me this time wasn’t the free beverages but rather what I saw when I had the chance to stand on the stage hours before the show began.

First, I noticed that the stage was padded and bouncy like a wrestling ring. Contrary to what it looks like when you see him perform, it turns out Springsteen is actually old. His stage is built to cushion his bad knees so he doesn’t hurt himself when he jumps around.

Second, I noticed there are TV monitors in the floor of the stage that show lyrics to all the songs for when in case he forgets them.

But ultimately, who cares because Springsteen is still amazing.

That’s Not The Chronic

I used to go to a big outdoor festival in San Diego each year and one year Snoop Dogg headlined the show. Halfway through Snoop’s set, one of my friends disappeared.

These things happen when you go to concerts, so nobody in our crew thought much of it. But as  the show ended and my friend still hadn’t surfaced, it started to seem weird.

Finally, he resurfaced and explained he had gone to use a Port-a-Potty (risky move) and met a group of random Latino guys who offered him up a joint (riskier move). Apparently, they had hung out and smoked it during Snoop’s set.

Seemed like an odd choice since this friend wasn’t a huge drug user, but whatever – Snoop does things to a man.

With the show now over, we all made our way to the train to go home and piled on to it with hundreds of other tired/wasted festival-goers. A couple minutes into the train ride, my friend got angry. Like, real angry. Like, PCP angry.

To this day I’ve never seen him like he was on that fateful train ride and while nobody’s quite sure what happened, we can only assume whatever weed he smoked with the random Latino guys by the Port-a-Potty at a concert festival while Snoop Dogg played might have been laced with a little something extra.

Live and learn I guess.

X Gonna Give It To You ‘Til You Make Him Stop

This last story comes from one of the more recent concerts I’ve attended. It was an old school hip hop show that featured a bunch of acts who were, let’s say, bigger several years ago than they are today.

The show’s closing act was DMX which, given his history, seemed like an optimistic bit of scheduling.

DMX has had some rough patches in his life so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but he came out and was amazing…for about two minutes.

Then, things got weird, bizarre, strange, and sad. He spun out of control ranting about god knows what to the point where they had to shut off the music and the mics because DMX wouldn’t wrap things up.

People were leaving and he was still on stage, with his mic turned off, just yelling crazy stuff at the crowd. They even tried to close the curtains on him and he just came back out from behind the curtain and kept going.

It wasn’t the best part of the concert, but it sure was the most memorable. And when it comes to concerts, isn’t that kind of the point?

 

A Review of My First College Mixtape

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In 1993, I was a college freshman who did what every music-loving student did in the archaic, non-streaming, pre-iTunes era – raided the CD collections of my dorm friends and spent hours manually recording songs I liked but didn’t own on to a series of mixtapes.

I recently found a bunch of those tapes and thanks to the magic of Spotify was able to recreate them as playlists to see how they’ve held up over the years.

The first mixtape I ever made in college was “creatively” titled College Park Rock (Go Terps!) and what follows is my present-day review of the songs I chose to put on that tape 23 years ago.

If you’d like to listen along while you read, I’ve included the full Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post.

And…we’re off!

The Joker by Steve Miller Band

I was probably the one millionth college kid to put this on a mixtape, but cliches are cliches for a reason. In this case, that reason is this is a great song that’s stood the test of time. It was a couple decades old when I first discovered it, it’s been a couple decades since then, and it still sounds good. And a solid opening track, even if it’s not the most inventive.

Grade: A-

No Rain by Blind Melon

Oh god, the bee girl song. I’m actually surprised this song made it on to a mixtape of mine because I vaguely remember hating it when it came out and became a big hit. I can only assume that this mix was made during a window where I was succeptible to peer music pressure, the song had just come out, and I assumed I “should” like and that it would grow on me. It didn’t, though ironically I probably like the song more now than I did back then.

Grade: C-

Mrs. Robinson by The Lemonheads

I’ve always loved cover songs so it probably makes sense that I went with this version of the Simon and Garfunkel original. In retrospect, there’s something very 90s-feeling about this song. I’m also pretty sure this song led me to go investigate the Lemonheads further and on closer inspection I decided I wasn’t a fan. Also, this song sounded better to me then than it does to me now.

Grade: C

Stand by R.E.M.

I haven’t heard this song in a LONG time. I’ve missed it. At the time, I probably liked this song as much for the fact that it was used as the theme song for the Chris Elliott sitcom Get a Life as I did for the song itself. To this day, it’s impossible to hear this song and not picture Elliott riding his bike. I should have hated everything about R.E.M. when I was in college except for the fact that they made really good music.

Grade: A

Higher Ground by Red Hot Chili Peppers

For those of you keeping stats, 40% of this mixtape so far has been cover songs. Although in this case, I’m not even sure I realized at the time that this was a cover of a Stevie Wonder classic. Regardless, the Peppers made it their own and I think it reflects pretty well on me that I was listening to this back in the day. So far, I’m encouraged by my taste on this mixtape.

Grade: A-

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

I didn’t really have a drug phase in college. I did, however, have a “hang out with lots of people who were knee deep in their drug phase” phase during college. Without a doubt, this song’s inclusion on this mixtape originated with that phase. I know it’s a classic song, but I’m not sure I’ve listened to it since that phase ended for me.

Grade: B-

Come Undone by Duran Duran

Remember that weird moment in the 90s when Duran Duran reappeared on the pop scene after vanishing for several years following their 80s glory years? Well, this was that moment and it turns out I was caught up in it.

Grade: C

R.O.C.K. In The USA by John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp is underrated. There, I said it. This Mellencamp song however, is not underrated. It’s not his best, but I refuse to be ashamed of its inclusion on this mixtape because I’m an American. (Still, it’s no Jack & Diane.)

Grade: C+

Love Walks In by Van Halen

Remember the era when Van Halen couldn’t decide what it loved more: synthesizers, power ballads, or Sammy Hagar? That’s when this is from. I won’t trash this song, but I will say it’s not currently in heavy rotation on my Spotify account. That said, I fully expect to hear it on an episode of The Goldbergs any day now.

Grade: C

Shout by Tears For Fears

It feels like there are a couple songs on this tape that I liked when I was a little kid and maybe put on this tape because they were nostalgic for me, even when I was only 18 years old? This song originally came out in 1985, seven years before this mixtape was made so it would fit squarely in that demo. Now it sounds kind of annoying – the thrill is gone.

Grade: C-

Rooster by Alice in Chains

The thing I remember about Alice in Chains was that the people in my life who liked them, REALLY liked them. Those people consisted mainly of a high school girlfriend and a redneck guy I’d meet a year after making this tape. For my part, I just thought they were talented enough to stand out from the rest of the grunge pack and still do.

Grade: A-

D’yer Maker by Led Zeppelin

It’s time to get the Led out! Or…listen to Zeppelin’s go reggae. I’m still not sure whether it’s cool to like this song or not, but I still do so I’m going to ride with it. Plus, it was the closing song on Side A of this mixtape and feels like a nice way to wind down before having to go to the trouble of actually flipping the tape.

Grade: B

Only The Good Die Young by Billy Joel

I don’t remember which of my friends I taped this song from, but I’d bet good money it was a New Yorker. At the time, I wasn’t a huge Billy Joel fan but that would come in the years that followed. At the time, this was probably my favorite Billy Joel song and while I don’t think it still holds that place in my heart, it’s definitely up there.

Grade: A

Cryin’ by Aerosmith.

Two words: Alicia Silverstone.

Grade: B for song, A+ for 1993’s Alicia Silverstone

Every Breath You Take by The Police

This mixtape was made four years before Puff Daddy would flip this song into I’ll Be Missing You to pay tribute to Biggie’s death so its inclusion was untainted at the time. It’s a classic song, but now it’s impossible to hear it and not think about Puffy’s weak rap skills over top of it. That knocks down its grade a bit.

Grade: B

Too Much Information by Duran Duran

Before finding this tape, I would have bet good money that no more than one total Duran Duran song ever made it on to a mixtape in the history of my mixtape making. I barely remember this song and since I only wrote song titles on each mixtape cover and not artists, I had to do some digging to even figure out what this was. Needless to say, this song hasn’t stuck with me over the years for good reason.

Grade: D

Down In A Hole by Alice in Chains

Listening to these songs reminds me that Alice in Chains was probably a lot better than I gave them credit for back in the day. It also makes me wonder what could have been had Layne Staley not died in 2002. Their music holds up.

Grade: A-

Sowing The Seeds Of Love by Tears for Fears

Turns out I’m not a Tears for Fears fan. This song sounds like something that would be on a soundtrack for a Cirque du Soleil show (and that’s not a compliment in case you weren’t sure).

Grade: C-

Rape Me by Nirvana

What I remember about Nirvana in the early 90s is that I liked Pearl Jam better. I know that’s not a popular stance, and Nirvana did a whole lot in a short period of time and the band was amazing and all that, but I still kinda think that if Eddie Vedder had killed himself and Kurt Cobain was the one around battling Ticketmaster into his 40s then the conventional wisdom might have been opposite. Regardless, this was (and still is) a pretty great song.

Grade: A-

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel

The transition from Rape Me to this song is about as abrupt a stylistic shift as you’ll find on one of my mixtapes and if nothing else I guess it speaks to how eclectic my tastes were even back when I was starting college. Or, it was getting toward the end of the tape and I needed some filler songs to round it out. Tough to say, but this song is still a bit of a guilty pleasure so I don’t regret it.

Grade: B

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Another classic freshman-in-college selection. There’s nothing groundbreaking about putting this song on a mixtape, but it is a rite of passage. If you didn’t put Stairway to Heaven on a mixtape early in your college experience I have to question what you were doing with your life.

Grade: A (Come on, it’s Stairway – I kinda have to do this.)

Ordinary World by Duran Duran

Seriously? I put THREE Duran Duran songs on this tape? I think I’ve blown my own mind. I can only assume I was kidnapped by a cabal of soccer moms for a couple weeks during freshman year and brainwashed.

Grade: C

Tell Her About It by Billy Joel

To close out the mixtape, Billy Joel makes his third appearance. But I don’t feel any of the aforementioned Duran-shame because I stand by Billy Joel. You may not like this song, but I bet it still leaves you feeling good and that’s a pretty nice way to end a tape. Even as an 18-year-old I realized that apparently.

Grade: B+

LISTEN TO THE FULL COLLEGE PARK ROCK PLAYLIST: