Songs for Dustmites by Steve Burns

This one is particularly for Leo. I think that this album comes the closest to being a spiritual bother to The Soft Bulletin. What’s the best thing to do when one is obsessed with super science and super pathos of the Flaming Lips’s landmark album? Go to them for advice and end up getting members of their band to play on your album while you record at their home studio.

Particular standouts: Troposhpere, Henry Krinkle’s Lament, and the title track song.

The Oregon Diary and Evanston Diary Projects


Oregon Diary Volume 01: Massage Mix cover

Oregon Diary Volume 01: Massage Mix

I had just started massage school in the fall of 2001. At our orientation they mentioned that the incident from a couple weeks prior really meant that everyone was stressed out and that we would be training to be the future healers the world needed.

I was just discovering Brian Eno and how mind blowing his solo albums were and I could not wait to combine them into a meditative album to set myself and my clients at ease. I ended up learning the timing of the songs on this album in my bones and knowing when I should flip a client and work on the backs of their legs, or when I should be getting to the neck part of the massage all based on the songs on this album.


1) Wind on Water – Brian Eno and Robert Fripp
2) Sparrowfall – Acoustek
3) Evening Star – Brian Eno and Robert Fripp
4) Through Hollow Lands – Brian Eno
5) Bringing Down the Light – Robert Fripp and David Sylvian
6) Wind on Wind – Brian Eno and Robert Fripp
7) An Ending (Ascent) – Brian Eno
8) Another Green World – Brian Eno
9) Becalmed – Brian Eno
10) Zawinul/Lava – Brian Eno
11) 1/1 – Brian Eno
12) Deep Blue Day – Brian Eno
13) Spider and I – Brian Eno
14) Taking Tiger Mountain – Brian Eno
15) New World – Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists

Oregon Diary Volume 02: Space Room's Purgatory

Oregon Diary Volume 02: Space Room’s Purgatory

I had also moved into my house back in late 2001. It was located in an area that Portlanders call “The Barmuda Triangle” due to there being a bunch of bars in a two-block radius. The Space Room, Sewickly’s, Water Trough, Bar of the Gods, and Tanker.

I was still learning not to fear alcohol and I was not helped by the fact that I would be woken by drunken people leaving the bar at 2:30 am. I would lie there, angry at having been woken and yet fearful of speaking up for myself and telling the drunkards to be quiet. I worried about reprisals. The scariest thing was that there would be a few fights during the summer. As I lay there in the dark I let those fears be the inspiration for this music mix, but the theme of the album was not fearfulness. It was about the maturation and learning to make my own opinions and express them. Funnily enough, I got a reprieve from the 2:30 am disturbances when I went through a breakup and decided to temporarily move myself out of my house.

Out of this exploration of my independence as an adult, I decided to take myself to Vancouver, Canada for my spring break from Massage School. I had been studying my butt off to cram in all the anatomy, physiology, and pathology courses necessary for passing the Oregon Massage license test, and I felt I deserved a nice reward.

My friend Loly from massage school found out I was going to Vancouver and asked to come along, but at the last minute changed her mind. It was a big step for me to go on my own on my vacation. I drove up in the 1988 Hyundai Accent with my tent and sleeping bag. I had a great time on the ferry, eating dim sum, walking in the Gas Town district at night, and finding some bootleg Studio Ghibli DVDs. I even did a bungee jump. 

I put on this mix a cover of the Talking Heads song This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody). My brother and older sister used to play Talking Heads in the house and for some reason that song grew to have these powerful associations with depression and sadness from that period of my life. For some reason, I became very interested in covers of that song and they started to peel back the association with isolation and loneliness and I discovered the beauty in that song. That song must have touched a lot of people because there are a lot of covers of that song out in the world. 


1) A Minor Place – “Bonnie Prince” Billy
2) Blue Thunder – Galaxy 500
3) The Plan – Low
4) Pink Moon- Nick Drake
5) This Must Be The Place – Shawn Colvin
6) Light Up My Room – Barenaked Ladies
7) Nothing But Flowers (live) – David Byrne
8) Angels – David Byrne
9) Chewing Gum – Ella Fitzgerald
10) Nothing Is Good Enough (instrumental) – Aimee Mann
11) O, Dana – Big Star
12) St. Elmo’s Fire – Stereolab
13) Jump Start – The Hangups
14) In Memory Of Elizabeth Cotton – fIREHOSE
15) Walking The Cow – fIREHOSE
16) Daughters – Greg Brown
17) All Apologies – Herbie Hancock
18) 23rd Psalm – Howard Goodall
19) Car Song – Woody Guthrie
20) The 15th – Mike Watt
21) Chinese Firedrill – Mike Watt
22) Sharkey’s Night – Laurie Anderson
23) Here Comes The Flood – Peter Gabriel
24) An Ending (Ascent) – Brian Eno

Spectreman vs The Flaming Lips

Oregon Diary Volume 03: Spectreman vs. The Flaming Lips

What can I say? Andy exposed me to two albums by The Flaming Lips: Clouds Taste Metallic and The Soft Bulletin. These two albums were mind blowing to me. I loved the dark, brooding melodies of Clouds Taste Metallic, and Soft Bulletin was incredibly playful with its imagery of super science run amok while the lush symphonics augmented the bombast. Just at that same time, Tadasu gave me a DVD that compiled all the opening and closing themes of tons of Japanese cartoons. They were like golden nostalgic nuggets that came bubbling up through my liminal spaces. It just seemed a natural fit to put the two sonic landscapes together, and I wanted to make a best-of mixtape for Scott. Thus, the third Oregon Diary was born.

The Japanese cartoons on that mix include Kagaku Ninja Tai: Gatchaman (Ninja Science Team: Gatchaman) which I had seen translated as Battle of the Planets. Then there is Spectreman. 

Thunderbirds 2086 was not a great show, but I really loved it as a kid. It didn’t have a lot of character development but it had fun space ships.

For some reason the discordant opening cords of The Ultraman show had similar uncomfortable associations similar to the Talking Heads song This Must Be The Place, but again, I reclaimed a love for the music and disassociated the sadness.

For some reason there was a similar transformation with Galaxy Express 999. It was a movie that used to play on TV every summer in Japan— almost like the way they would show Wizard of OZ every year in the U.S. Thought I could not understand the dialogue of the movie, I had absorbed the melancholia of the story of a boy who becomes orhpaned when his mother is mercilessly and casually hunted in front of his eyes.


1) Spectreman theme – American version
2) Spectreman theme – Japanese version
3) I Am The Space Simian Gori – Japanese Spectreman
4) The Spiderbite Song – The Flaming Lips
5) Gatchaman no Uta – Song of the Gatchaman
6) Gatchaman Fighter – Gatchaman show
7) Buggin’ – The Flaming Lips
8) Thunderbirds 2086 – Thunderbirds 2086 soundtrack
9) Waitin’ for a Superman – The Flaming Lips
10) American Ultraman Theme – Tsubaraya company
11) Urutoraman no Uta – Song of the Ultraman (Japanese)
12) Urutora Seben – Ultra 7
13) This Here Giraffe – The Flaming Lips
14) Speed Racer – Speed Racer soundtrack
15) Lightning Strikes the Postman – The Flaming Lips
16) Kaneda – Akira Soundtrack
17) Battle Against Clowns – Akira Soundtrack
18) Winds Over Neo-Tokyo – Akira Soundtrack
19) Brainville – The Flaming Lips
20) Voltron – Voltron soundtrack
21) Kim’s Watermelon Gun – The Flaming Lips
22) Zentraedi Theme – Macross Soundtrack
23) Christmas at the Zoo – The Flaming Lips
24) Garakushi Ekusopuresso Suri Nain – Galaxy Express 99
25) A Spoonful Weighs a Ton – The Flaming Lips
26) The Spark that Bled – The Flaming Lips
27) Doraemon – Doraemon Soundtrack
28) Booska – Booska Soundtrack
29) The Gash – The Flaming Lips
30) Race for the Prize – The Flaming Lips

Oregon Diaries Volume 04: Northern Skies

Oregon Diary Volume 04: Northern Skies

I love the novelette called Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang in which he postulates about first contact with an alien race and how their language imbues the main character with the ability to experience time non-linearly. I think that Nick Drake, Tom Waits, and Will Oldham are all artists who are able to do that musically to any audience member who truly listens with their heart.

There are some deep feelings at work in songs like I See a Darkness. I loved that with the crafting of this mixtape that I started to gain a feel for the emotional beats of a good mixtape. In the end, you should have taken a journey.


1) Northern Skies – Nick Drake
2) Strawberry Fields Forever – Beatles Anthology
3) Strawberry Fields Forever – Beatles
4) New Partner – Palace Music
5) The Emperor’s New Clothes – Sinéad O’Connor
6) Just Like Anyone – Aimee Mann
7) I See A Darkness – “Bonnie Prince” Billy
8) Say Yes – Elliott Smith
9) Temptation – Elvis Costello
10) Red Vines – Aimee Mann
11) Jeny & The Ess Dog – Stephen Malkmus
12) Big Dipper – Built to Spill
13) Kicker of Elves – Guided by Voices
14) Maybe Tomorrow – Jackson 5
15) How Am I Different – Aimee Mann
16) If You Love a Song (The Song Will Love You Back) – Hubcap
17) Motorcycle Ride – Bruce Haack & Esther Nelson
18) 1913 Massacre – Woody Guthrie
19) Shore Duty – Mike Watt
20) That Feel – Tom Waits
21) Lisa Says – Velvet Underground
22) Machu Picchu – David Byrne
23) If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out – Cat Stevens
24) Rocky World – Daniel Lanois
25) Love Theme – Until the End of the World
26) Possession – Elvis Costello

Oregon Diary Volume 05: Speeding Motorcycle

Oregon Diary Volume 05: Speeding Motorcycle

I fell in love with the band fIREHOSE at the beginning of my college career and one song that I always felt deep in my soul was Walking The Cow. I knew that it was a cover of a Daniel Johnston song, but had never heard the original. I had tried once to listen to the song off of Limewire several years prior and I felt something must have been wrong with the recording. The song sounded so different with childishly simple instrumentation while the singer sounded like a little boy.

It was years later that I started to appreciate the fact that art can run deeper than the surface level. Music in particular is interesting as a song has bones from which you can hang different skins to make unique interpretations. I went back and re-listened to the original Walking The Cow and was amazed to see that Mike Watt and the band fIREHOSE were able to see and play with the bones of Daniel Johnston’s original song.

Meanwhile, my obsession with The Flaming Lips was deepening. I somehow found that the band were running an FTP site and it was possible to download lots of demos and other song sketches. It felt like being an insider enjoying intimate communications with the band. In fact, I heard the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album through that FTP site months before it officially went on sale. But that’s a story for another diary. It was from the FTP site that I heard the cover of Ice Drummer and Satellite of You. 

Meanwhile, I was going through big changes emotionally. I had ended an 8-year relationship and temporarily ended up at Mikey’s house. I was continuing to rediscover my authentic self as an individual adult. Through massage school, I was gaining in confidence emotionally while at the same time becoming more in touch physically with my body. It was a very exciting time of personal development. I was starting to become interested in a new relationship, and the latter half of that album became a channel for expression of that hope.

It was fun trying to draw my 1972 Honda CB500 four motorcycle from memory while sitting at Mikey’s table. I had this hazy memory of hearing the song Speeding Motorcycle in a Target commercial years earlier, and I found out that it also was a cover of a Daniel Johnston song. My efforts to track down that song resulted in discovering a live performance by Yo La Tengo and Daniel Johnston that I ended up putting on this mix.

Similarly, looking for More Than This by Roxy Music ended up with me discovering a similarly named Matt Nathanson song, the lyrics of which seemed to be a confession of a person transitioning into an adult man. It had to go in ‘da mix. 

1) Walking the Cow – Daniel Johnston
2) Every Day I Write the Book – Elvis Costello
3) These Days – Nico
4) Rain (I Want a Divorce) – Ryuichi Sakamoto
5) Good Year for the Roses – Elvis Costello
6) If I Only Had a Brain – The Flaming Lips
7) Shine On You Crazy Diamond – The Flaming Lips
8) Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
9) More Than This – Robyn Hytchcock
10) Feeling Yourself Disintegrate – The Flaming Lips
11) Ice Drummer – The Flaming Lips
12) Dig For Fire – The Pixies
13) More Than This – Matt Nathanson
14) I Got A Feeling – Pearl Jam
15) Speeding Motorcycle – Yo La Tengo & Daniel Johnston
16) Gigantic – Pixies
17) Hello Sunshine – Arethra Franklin
18) Love is the Seventh Wave – Sting
19) All You Need is Love – Beatles
20) Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend
21) History Lesson – Minutemen
22) Satellite of You – The Flaming Lips
23) Love is Everything – Jane Siberry

Oregon Diary Volume 06: Time of No Reply

Oregon Diary Volume 06: Time of No Reply

This was a period of trying to cool my jets and not get so overworked about the idea of a new relationship. Fevered exploration of one’s newly reborn self is all well and good, but without perspective, one can fall into a solipsistic drain hole.

I kept returning to the well of Aimee Mann songs and finding deeper and deeper meaning in the songs that made up her Bachelor No. 1 album. Even though the song Jimmy Hoffa jokes doesn’t come from that album, that song can still move me to tears.

I don’t even know from where I discovered Tainai Kaiki II. That song is ancient and justified. I am so happy that I recently played it for Bahar and she also found it mesmerizing.


1) The Abandoned Hospital Ship – The Flaming Lips
2) The Unbreakable Chain – Daniel Lanois
3) Human – The Pretenders
4) That’s Just What You Are – Aimee Mann
5) Number Seven – fIREHOSE
6) Gatchaman no Uta – Gatchaman
7) Jimmy Hoffa Jokes – Aimee Mann
8) That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin
9) Suddenly Everything Has Changed – The Flaming Lips
10) Two Suns in the Sunset – Pink Floyd
11) Rider on the Wheel – Nick Drake
12) What is the Light – The Flaming Lips
13) Buck Naked – David Byrne
14) Talking in the Dark – Elvis Costello
15) Tainai Kaiki II – David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto
16) Under – Brian Eno
17) I’ll Wear it Proudly – Elvis Costello
18) Place to Be – Nick Drake
19) God’s Comic – Elvis Costello
20) Pictures of Me – Elliott Smith
21) Oh, Yoko! – John Lennon

Oregon Diary Volume 07: Mighty Little Man

Steve Burns had released a teaser for the song Mighty Little Man and I kept jamming to the short snippet, finding the song deliriously energetic. It could just had the power to get my blood pumping. All the time, I kept thinking of my nephew whose health was failing and I wanted an anthem to keep him fresh in my thoughts.

made one terrible error of judgment— one which I am continuing here. I had a classmate at massage school who threw a party. At that party, she sang a song she had written. I was so smitten by her talent, the beauty of her voice, and her bravery in being able to perform in front of us that I wanted to celebrate her by including her song on this mix. I can understand now that even a sincere gesture of appreciation can be misplaced and I think that I violated her trust. I was so naïve that I didn’t even know that I had made a mistake at the time. 

1) The Christians and the Pagans – Dar Williams
2) Sparkplug Minuet – Mothersbaugh Quartet
3) Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones
4) Buggin’ (KCRW 8/2/99) – The Flaming Lips
5) Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – The Langley Schools Music Project
6) Mighty Little Man – Steve Burns
7) Rachel Evans Tenenbaum- Mothersbaugh Quartet
8) When You Smile – The Flaming Lips
9) Hit Me Like You Did The First Time – The Flaming Lips
10) Pagoda’s Theme- Mothersbaugh Quartet
11) Be My Head – The Flaming Lips
12) Calling All Angels – Jane Siberry with K. D. Lang
13) Bring on the Dancing Horses – Echo and the Bunnyfriends
14) One of These Things First – Nick Drake
15) (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? – Elvis Costello
16) Chemical Wire – fIREHOSE
17) I Always Wanted to be a Tenenbaum- Mothersbaugh Quartet
18) Kangaroo – Big Star
19) False, False Fly – Jane Siberry
20) Space Oddity – The Langley Schools Music Project
21) Little Elda Mae – R. O.
22) Scrapping and Yelling- Mothersbaugh Quartet
23) Death’s Door – Depeche Mode
24) This Must be the Place (naive melody) – Talking Heads

Oregon Diary Volume 08: Voice From NY

Oregon Diary Volume 08: Voice From NY

I was given the opportunity to go to NY to accompany my older sister, her family, and my parents at a support conference for parents of Tay-Sachs and allied diseases. My mom was optimistic that maybe I would meet somebody new at the conference. I didn’t think that that was the best environment to try to meet someone new, and I thought that I only had interest in someone else back in Oregon, but lo and behold, I met a very nice woman at the conference.

We only chatted in a closed bar on the last day before I left, but it was a huge departure (and a boost in my confidence) to begin a new potential relationship. We traded emails and once I was back in Portland, we started writing each other all the time. I have a strong memory of sitting cross legged in Mikey’s backyard on Alberta Street and writing emails, taking breaks to practice A Quick One by The Who on guitar in the afternoon sun.

Meanwhile, I was introduced to the music of David Gray through Mikey and Thane’s music collection. I instantly fell in love with Gray’s deep, soulful singing. Mikey in particular shared with me his love for Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Little did I know that that song was a cover of a song by Soft Cell, which I am sure Mikey knew because of his love for English New Wave of the 1980’s. 

I think it was right around this time that The Flaming Lips uploaded the early copy of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I thought Fight Test was the funnest song— it just immediately exploded out the gates. That’s also where I heard Little Hands, a cover of a song by Alexander “Skip” Spence.

1) Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – David Gray
2) Baby, Let Me Follow You Down – Bob Dylan
3) Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
4) Shine – David Gray
5) Ohio River Boat Song – Palace Music
6) What Am I Doing Wrong? – David Gray
7) Pacific Standard Time – Pete Krebs
8) When You Smile – Orchestraville
9) Dig a Pony – The Beatles
10) Getting Better- The Beatles
11) Langue D’Amour – Laurie Anderson
12) Black Eyed Dog – Nick Drake
13) From the Morning – Nick Drake
14) Little Hands (Rough Mix) – The Flaming Lips
15) Felt Good to Burn – Hunch Retro
16) Talking Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues – Zapruder Red
17) The Abandoned Hospital Ship – The Affected
18) Fight Test – The Flaming Lips
19) Noodling Theme (Epic Sunset Mix #5) – The Flaming Lips
20) Spiderbite Song – Vending Machine

Oregon Diary Volume 09: Place of No Space

Oregon Diary Volume 09: Place of No Space

Just a quick note that I didn’t achieve that perfect Farrah Fawcett hair with hairspray but rather through the clever employment of two metallic green barrettes that Loly gave me. I thought that hairstyles should be more egalitarian and that people should be able to wear whatever clothes they want and not have gender roles narrowly assigned to them.

This mix is still dominated by how much I was loving the new David Gray songs that I was hearing. 

I was also introduced to the timeless beauty of the song The Promise by Tracie Chapman through a former partner of Mikey’s. 

I think at the same time, Loly was dropping a bunch of Magnetic Fields on me and my mind was being blown. 


1) When You Were My Baby – The Magnetic Fields
2) Do You Realize – The Flaming Lips
3) Big Me – The Foo Fighters
4) Where You Lead – Carole King
5) Two Hands – King Crimson
6) Alison (live) – Elvis Costello
7) Waiting Man – King Crimson
8) Man Out of Time – Elvis Costello
9) Ice Cream – Sarah McLachlan
10) The Promise- Tracy Chapman
11) The Life is the Red Wagon – Jane Siberry
12) Bound by the Beauty – Jane Siberry
13) Lay my Love – Brian Eno and John Cale
14) Falling in Love with the Wolfboy – The Magnetic Fields
15) Falling Free – David Gray
16) Human Hands – Elvis Costello
17) Thank You (live) – Led Zeppelin
18) I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
19) Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

Oregon Diary Volume 10: Angel of the Morning

Oregon Diary Volume 10: Angel of the Morning

I think that this mix was made especially for a weekend visit to the coast. I also could not get over the movie About a Boy. I was already in love with Nick Hornby’s books, and I think About a Boy is an amazing adaptation of a great novel.


1) Angel of the Morning- Pretenders
2) Another Year- K’s Choice
3) I Love N.Y.E.- Badly Drawn Boy
4) Silent Sigh- Badly Drawn Boy
5) Last Nite- The Strokes
6) A Minor Incident- Badly Drawn Boy
7) Take It Or Leave It- The Strokes
8) River, Sea, Ocean- Badly Drawn Boy
9) You Could Make a Killing- Aimee Mann
10) Something to Talk About- Badly Drawn Boy
11) When It Started- The Strokes
12) Donna and Blitzen- Badly Drawn Boy
13) Still Learning How to Crawl- Daniel Lanois
14) Sleeping in the Devil’s Bed- Daniel Lanois
15) Strawberry Fields Forever- The Beatles
16) It Must Be Love- Madness
17) Mystery of Love- David Gray
18) Matilda- Harry Belafonte
19) The Fairest of the Seasons- Nico
20) Blackbird- The Beatles
21) New World- Soul Asylum
22) Take My Hand- Toto

A picture of a woman and her dog with the words Oregon Diary Volume 10 ½ on it.

Oregon Diary Volume 10.5: Hounds of Love

I will admit that sometimes mistakes are made. I didn’t set out making the Oregon Diary mix CDs with a clear plan in mind; I Just set out to lay my musical heart out.

I realized that I wasn’t listening to enough women musicians and so I set out to rediscover my love of Kate Bush and Jane Siberry.

There were other singers that I had dismissed earlier that I thought that I should re-engage with. Tori Amos was someone that I had shrugged off in high school because I dismissed her as too dramatic. But re-listening to songs off of Little Earthquakes revealed incredible gems I never would have believed.

I also thought I would find the German lady who sang the song 99 Luft Balloons. I could remember the name Nena and so stumbled into the musical works of Nina Hagen. Not the same person! Nina Hagen is more like a Diamonda Galas type theatrical singer.

As a tongue-in-cheek reference, I put the song 99 Red Balloons on the mix.


1) Hounds of Love – Kate Bush
2) Maria – Jane Siberry
3) Happy Phanton – Tori Amos
4) Kenny – Egg Carton Zoo
5) Erfurt & Geara – Nina Hagen
6) The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist – Aimee Mann
7) Come On Eileen – Save Ferris
8) Angel of the Morning – Juice Newton
9) Busy – K’s Choice
10) Blue Eyed Devil – Low
11) Crazy – Patsy Cline
12) Wise Up – Aimee Mann
13) Sharkey’s Day – Laurie Anderson
14) Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush
15) Sci Fi Wasabi – Cibo Matto
16) New York, New York – Nina Hagen
17) 99 Red Balloons – Sugar Cubes
18) You Do Something to Me – Ella Fitzgerald
19) Everything Reminds Me of My Dog – Jane Siberry
20) Map of the World (Part I) – Jane Siberry