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So, back in the fall of 1994, just after I moved to Chicago, my pal David made me a mix tape called "The Sounds of Today...And Yesterday." I listened to it all the time, mostly on my hour-long drive to Evanston to work the holiday season away at Chain Bookstore #2. This tape provided my first introduction to the Mountain Goats, Tsunami, Nick Drake, the Wedding Present and others, but my favorite song was the opener -- "Irony Engine" by Franklin Bruno. I think I put it in all its grainy vinyl-dubbed glory on every mix tape I made for people for the next several years.

But I could never track down an original version of this song. When David came to town to see the Extra Glenns (Bruno's band with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats), Mr. Bruno pointedly refused to play the song live. He also refused to play "Badger Song," but that's another whole rant.

Jim got me some other Franklin Bruno CDs when he learned of my undying love for this song, including a rare EP called "The Irony Engine" that for whatever reason does not actually contain the song (what's up with that, Bruno?). My original mix tape, now 8 years old, is in fairly shabby condition, and file-swapping had proved fruitless. I was afraid of losing the song forever, except on infinite repeat in my mind.

But last night, Jim gave me an early xmas present (we do this) -- a pristine vinyl copy of the long-out-of-print 7-inch Walt records compilation "I Like Walt," original (and perhaps only) home of "The Irony Engine." Unbeknownst to me, my beloved has spent the last two years tracking down this song and finally found it on eBay, being sold by a nice German guy (thank you, nice German guy!). That Jim! He is full of surprises! I love him so! Now I can listen to it whenever I want.

Because I love you, I give you The Irony Engine, by Franklin Bruno (2496k MP3 file).

Replies: 7 Confessions

Wow, now that's a present. No wonder you married him. Whatta pumpkin.

elavil @ 12/21/2002 01:07 PM CST


Ain't he just? I tell you, I am the luckiest gal ever.

amyc @ 12/21/2002 03:56 PM CST


Yes, very good judgment on both yr parts, I believe. Perhaps you two would bring yr good judgment to dinner in an Indian restaurant sometime after the 25th?

elavil @ 12/21/2002 04:04 PM CST


Oh, you can count on that! But, uh, could you be more specific?

(Also, you mentioned Lucy Grealy's book here a couple times -- did you hear that she died yesterday? NYTimes obit.)

amyc @ 12/21/2002 04:10 PM CST


Argh. Well, this will get my students' attention - all 110 of them read an excerpt from her book this year, and she touched us all.

elavil @ 12/21/2002 06:50 PM CST


I'm a very proud sister.
(not just because of this story, but just because Jim is generally an awesome person.)

the other amy @ 12/21/2002 08:28 PM CST


I'm surprised to hear that I 'pointedly refused' to play "The Irony Engine." It's one of the oldest songs I do still play, despite its obscurity. In fact, the Extra Glenns have done it a couple of times, with John singing. I'm glad you found it, in any case. Oh -- the title-song-not-on-the-record-thing is kind of an Elvis Costello device -- "Almost Blue" and "Imperial Bedroom" were album titles before songs with those names were released.

Franklin Bruno @ 11/29/2003 01:43 AM CST


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