While assembling our fourth ‘Aural History’ mix (and second for the UK’s reliably dreamy AORDisco), we stumbled upon a quite-serious-yet-still-groovy song called “In Your Own Backyard” by Dion DiMucci (he of “Runaround Sue” fame) which rather specifically details his struggles with drinking and drugging and his subsequent sobriety. Lyrically, it was so much more specific than the rest of our selections that we considered eliminating it, but in the end, after much debate, decided instead to base the entire mix around it and thus AAOR was born.
As we often do after choosing a concept and a person/people as our ‘dedicatee,’ we reevaluated our playlist and only chose songs that seemed to fit that theme in terms of mood, feel, lyrics or title. We opened with some prescient words from Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W. and peppered it throughout with quotes from different notable people discussing their experiences with drugs and alcohol. Two of those were from Robin Williams, who always spoke more-than-honestly about his own struggles with substances, whether he was opining for when he still did them, or even what he happened to be on at that very moment. We pulled them from his most recent HBO stand-up special, although for my money his very first special from 1982, ‘An Evening With Robin Williams’ (on YouTube in its entirety), is one of my all-time favorite stand-up set and something the 12-year-old me had almost completely memorized.
In light of recent events and the ongoing national conversation about addiction and mental illness, we thought it might be a good time to revisit the mix, which treats the subject always respectfully and even occasionally playfully. My father, whose own struggle inspired the mix (and is pictured on the bottom right of our cover above), gave us an epic, rambling ‘share’ about his long-gone hard-partying days, awash in a literal and proverbial sea of narcotics. We obviously recommend listening to the whole thing (especially if you happen to find yourself on a boat…or in 1979) but if you’d like to find the RW quotes (disguised under heavy FX) the first shows up around the ten and a half minute mark over DeBarge’s “I Like It” . He then reappears at the tail end to give a closing coda to the mix.
If you need help with alcohol, drugs, or depression or know someone who does, you can find more information or a meeting anywhere in the world at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, or can speak with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Please get the help you need…there’s so much more music left to enjoy.