Grief Diary: 3 Songs For Male

A few months before Male died, he asked me to come up with three songs that always remind me of him.

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Music was as important to Male as it is to me and he was a huge fan of the mix tape. He made one for me when we started dating and many others over the course of the fifteen years we knew each other.

He liked themes. His latest project was to collect songs from his closest people to form a musical landscape of himself. As far as I know, he never finished it, but since I’m still waiting for his computer four months later, I’m not sure.

I never gave him my selections. It’s not that I forgot. I didn’t. I decided to take the project seriously. I have a massive music collection consisting of music from nearly all cultures and time periods of human history. I’m not overstating; I have some renditions of traditional songs that date back thousands of years, and music from cultures I know nothing about or that don’t even exist anymore. 45,733 songs, 121.5 days, 211.89 GB according to iTunes. That’s a lot of music to wade through for just three songs. I started making a list.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t listen to about 90% of my music. Every song in some way reminded me of Male, even if it had no direct correlation. I had to create a playlist of innocuous songs and even then, the occasional memory came flooding back.

When he died, I gave up on the project of finding three Male songs, but I still owe him that. Originally, he gave me the caveat that I wasn’t allowed to use any songs that he already used on a mixed tape, but since he’s gone now, I’m breaking that rule.

Today, I’m doing Male’s list. These are songs that will always and forever remind me of him.

I could pick any Toots & The Maytals song and it would fit. I wrote about another one before when I did the 25 day song challenge.

Male was the one who fostered my love of all things Ska and Rocksteady. While I was a teenager, listening to the most hardcore of hardcores, Male was a rude boy with his red 9-hole Doc Martens, braces, flight jacket, and pork pie hat, which I have:


I was too punk for words and thought anything that wasn’t hardcore was for sissies. It wasn’t until I grew up a little that I realized how dumb I was. Now, I love all kinds of music. Toots is my favorite in this genre and I owe it to Male. Pressure Drop was his favorite Toots song.

It is you
It is you, you
It is you

I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you

I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong
I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong

Male put this song on his Mountain Mix. That was a mix he made for when he realized that we should be together, right after this night happened. From that point on, we were together-together instead of half-assing it like we had been for ten years, though we still never really defined our “relationship.”

The Mountain Mix was made expressly for taking me to his favorite place in LA. Somewhere between the valley and the basin of Los Angeles, there’s an old installation that was once used to keep an eye out for Japanese bombers during World War II. Since then, it has been used exclusively by local kids as a place to hang out and get drunk. Every square inch of the lookout is now covered with graffiti.

The panoramic view from the top of the mountain is positively breathtaking. You can see all of Los Angeles from the ocean to the desert. On a clear day, you can see all the way to San Diego. Here’s just a fraction of the view of the valley side.


Some incredibly industrious and crazy individuals carted an old sofa up to the top of the mountain at some point, so Male and I curled up on it as the sun was setting and watched Los Angeles grow dark. We never went there again and now that he’s gone, the way to get there is gone, too.

Male told me 8 through 12 in particular were for me. I sometimes forget that I wasn’t the only one who was terrified of our relationship.

One is a gun with a dart for my sweetheart
Two only you can remove such an ache, so
Three, let me see what you’ve got
what you’re made of
what you’re not
Four is sore, just a ripped and bloody claw
Five is a punching fist that’s within me
Six little stitches thread through my heart
Seven shining reasons tearing us apart
Eight, lose your hate
it’s a game
come on love me it’s your fate
Nine cold crimes in the night
please, forgive me
Ten are the tears that are frozen on your face
Eleven, I know I’m not your favorite man
Twelve, I’ll take you like only I can
Dart for my sweetheart

For some reason, almost all of my friends in Los Angeles are bigger fans of Danny Elfman and Elvis Costello than regular people anywhere else in the world. I’m not quite sure why that is, but it is a fact.

Male was no real exception to the rule, but he wasn’t as big of a fan as some of our other friends. Still, you could pretty much count on one Elvis Costello song ending up on a mix tape.

This song was on a mix tape he made for me right before he moved away to go to law school. I didn’t realize then just how prophetic it would be. Every time I hear it, I cry. And now I sing it to him. Thank you for the days.

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that shines on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day believe me

Days I remember all my life
Days where you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
And then I knew that very soon you’d leave me

But it’s alright
Now I’m not frightened of this world believe me

I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark, it just brings sorrow, let it wait