This is kind of awkward, but here goes. I’ve decided to suspend One Week \ One Mix indefinitely. There are a lot of reasons for this, the biggest being —- I don’t have any more material. There aren’t any more contributors in the queue, and I really don’t have the time or patience to create mixes while begging other blogs, friends, family members, etc, to submit stuff. Shen gave me her write-ups and songs on Monday and I posted them, but that’s all I received from her. So I assume that’s pretty much the end.
I’m surprisingly okay with this. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the blog, trying to get the word out, editing posts, and I’ve really enjoyed the mixes people have made and the music I’ve discovered through the process. I hope some of you have, too. But I’ve never committed fully to making it what I wanted it to be. I could be out there trying to get more followers and re-blogs to generate submissions, but that kind of thing is time consuming and makes me feel like some kind of a troll that’s constantly begging for followers. I can’t stand that kind of thing and I don’t want to be that guy.
Please understand, this isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I could be a lot less lazy and try to do whatever I can to get people to contribute and submit, but I need to spend more time on writing projects, work and the important people in my life. This blog doesn’t take up that much of my time, but it takes up enough and if the end result is only going to be that much more work for me and little else, I’m afraid I’ll have to let it go.
For anyone who has supported this idea, who has liked one of our posts, who has commented or asked questions, who has re-blogged or tried to get the word out, and especially everyone who have submitted mixes —- thank you so much. Your mixes were fantastic and your submissions were greatly valued. We have 25 full mixes in the archive. That’s more than half a year of mixes. Not bad. I’ll take it, especially with ones so fun and diverse as what we received. That was the idea and I’m glad I got to run with it for a while.
If anyone has any interest in taking over the blog, let me know. I could turn over the password for the blog, the e-mail, the twitter account, etc. I’d like to see it live on, I’m just not sure I can do it myself right now.
Thanks, all. Enjoy this cover of Big Star’s Take Care by Yo Ya Tengo as the mix runs out of tape and the play button pops up for the last time.
The Royal Tenenbaums is my all time favorite movie. I honestly can not think of anyone I would like to be more than Margot Tenenbaum. This song comes from one of my favorite scenes from the movie. Everything about this movie is beautiful. I wish I could live in this world that Wes Anderson had created.
2). Crying — Roy Orbison
If you ever want to feel a movie, I mean feel the movie on you, in you, under your skin, watch Gummo. I have never felt dirty after watching a film until I saw Gummo. Harmony Korine has always be a favorite of mine, and this movie is my favorite of all of his works. I know a lot of people that could not watch 5 minutes into the film without wanting to turn it of. The very first time watching Gummo felt like an endurance trial. I was confused and upset. However, when I got to the end of the film, it all fell into place and I understood its meaning. I chose this song because this is song that is playing during the last scene. That very last moment where it all became clear for me.
3). Trouble — Cat Stevens
Harold and Maude will never cease to make me smile, and cry. This is definitely a sad song in this film, sad and powerful. I don’t want to give away the ending for anyone who has yet to see the film (go see it, really), so I will try my best not to. This is a wonderful film about love and loss.
Helloes! My name is Shen and I will be guiding you through this magical cinematical journey. This week I will be exploring some of my favorite movies through their soundtracks. I am a HUGE movie fan. I watch a lot of movies, I own a lot of movies and I love a lot of movies. Film is definitely a hobby of mine. Some other semi interesting facts about myself include: I am 25 years old. I have a cat (her name is Hannelore). My favorite color is grey. I have written and published a book (Life As A Dark Comedy). Grilled cheese is my favorite food and I really dig cartoons. There are many songs and movies that I was not able to find for this mix, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. :]
1). Spicks and Specks — The Bee Gees 2). Walking Down A Road — Split Enz 3). (I’m) Stranded — The Saints 4). Shivers — The Boys Next Door 5). Nothing’s Going to Happen — Tall Dwarfs 6). Pink Frost — The Chills 7). Overkill — Men At Work 8). From St. Kilda to Kings Cross — Paul Kelly 9). Throw Your Arms Around Me — Hunters & Collectors 10). Under the Milky Way — The Church 11). Never Tear Us Apart — INXS 12). Streets of Your Town — The Go-Betweens 13). Private Universe — Crowded House 14). Berlin Chair — You Am I 15). Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) — Custard 16). Into My Arms — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 17). Harpoon — Jebediah 18). The Music Next Door — The Lucksmiths 19). Inner City Pressure — Flight of the Conchords 20). In The Cloud — Sunrise Beach
19). Inner City Pressure — Flight of the Conchords
THE CITY IS EXPAAHHHNDING.
20). In The Cloud — Sunrise Beach
Sunrise Beach are among a host of new Australian bands writing music that’s less attached to an idea of region or locality, music with expanded international horizons. Essentially, Sunrise Beach make classic rock, but filtered through the post-millennial concept of freedom from genre. This new wave of Australian music is exciting evidence that “Down Under” no longer has to play little brother to the UK and USA, at the very least in our expectations of ourselves and the music we produce. In The Cloud is a great example of this kind of expansive music, with elements that are familiar (driving rock beat, insistent guitar), but at the same time not limited a specific sound - producing a freedom for the song by itself to just be a great rock song. (Disclaimer - I play in Sunrise Beach).
It’s hard to choose just one Nick Cave song from his excellent (greatest Australian musician?) and varied career, but I’m going to go with the song I discovered first, in my late teens. It’s not representative of the unholy rage he is known to be capable of summoning up on his early (and later) recordings, but as a single song, it’s almost perfect. Apparently it was written for PJ Harvey, and it certainly speaks with more conviction than any other love song I can think of. It never grows old, not as far as I can tell, and I can imagine one day in the distant future when it’s creator is long forgotten, the song being sung like a hymn, a prayer that love will triumph over doubt, and that faith in love is the only faith you need.
17). Harpoon — Jebediah
Jebediah’s debut “Slightly Oddway” was more excellent than the average Australian release at the time, and has since gone down as a bit of an Australian indie classic, with a singer who couldn’t really sing, but strong on hooks. This song is the most arresting on the album, a simple tale of heart break that speaks to the teenager in us all.
18). The Music Next Door — The Lucksmiths
The Lucksmiths are a sentimental favorite of mine, and to tell the truth there are many songs they’ve released that would be worthy to represent them on this mix, but this one has been chosen for it’s link to a past relationship of my own. The band formed in the nineties, and released increasingly sophisticated warm and literary acoustic pop (think a less acerbic Belle and Sebastian), culminating in career highlight Warmer Corners. Their lyrics tend to bask in the soft glow of afternoons gone by, usually with a melancholic edge, and a wry sense of humor. I listen to them for their clever wordplay, and equally clever bass lines. Unfortunately, after years of struggling in the business, the band threw in the towel a few years ago and headed back to their day jobs. This song is an almost too-painful mix of loss and fondness attached to a bright sunny pop song, heartbreak made real by way of mundane detail. If you’ve ever had a break-up, and like to get a bit sad, this song just may make you cry.
Neil Finn is the most consistently great songwriter over a more than thirty year career to have come from New Zealand, and while Australians like to claim Crowded House as their own, and two of it’s three members were Australian, Finn (who started his career in his brother’s band Split Enz) was undoubtedly the leader of the band, and wrote most of the songs. Most people will be aware of at least a couple of their hits, but this single is probably a little less known to international audiences, and has always been one of my favorites.
14). Berlin Chair — You Am I
Perhaps the only consistently essential Australian band of the nineties, You Am I is dominated by the charismatic Tim Rogers. Their music is honest but literate Australian rock. Berlin Chair, like many of their best songs, sounds influenced by American independent music, but is never overshadowed by it’s influence, holding true to it’s own roots and identity. This is the kind of music the Seattle scene should have been opening the way for, not the ridiculous post-grunge of Creed etc. You Am I could have been one of the biggest independent bands of the nineties if they had been born in another country. And perhaps their back-to-basics rock was a little too ahead of the game.
15). Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) — Custard
Custard were a Brisbane based indie band, and while they’re in no way essential, they’re a good example of the quirky and fashionably out-of-step music that was being made by many bands in Australia in the late 90s. Bands with odd/bad names and little chance or desire to hit the international big time, but hugely popular in their own country, bands like Spiderbait, Regurgitator, Jebediah (also on this mix), Frenzal Rhomb, Grinspoon, Superjesus, etc. Part of these bands’ success can be attributed to the national government-funded youth radio station Triple J, who championed home-grown independent alternative music and have done a lot (most positive, some negative) for the Australian music scene. This song was huge on the station when I was about 15 and listened to it constantly, so is therefore, for better or worse, inextricably attached to my youth.
The Church were an excellent Australian post-punk band, masters of atmosphere, and this is their greatest moment, a song that creates a mood completely and utterly it’s own. I was transfixed the first time I heard it as a teen, and while I may have heard it a few too many times since, it still resonates with it’s own strange glow. Some may know it from it’s inclusion on the soundtrack for Donnie Darko.
11). Never Tear Us Apart — INXS
Released the same year as Under The Milky Way, and also featured - more prominently - on the Donnie Darko soundtrack (Richard Kelly must have had some sort of affinity for Australian rock from 1988?), this is perhaps INXS’s crowning achievement. It crossed pop and rock borders, and stands up with any pop song released in the eighties.
12). Streets Of Your Town — The Go-Betweens
The Go-Betweens are one of the most widely respected bands to have come out of Australia in the eighties, and while Cattle And Cane is the song that was voted one of the best Australian songs ever, this song hits the spot for me, despite perhaps being their most commercial single (and most successful). Under the sunny melody the lyrics hint at a darkness lying close to the surface. Grant McLennan was listening to Under The Milkyway, which was released the same year, and came up with a chord progression of his own, which turned into this song. Fun fact: the cord progression was then sampled in the late 90’s for the pop hit “Just The Way You Are”…. by Italian dance production team “Milky”.
Everyone will have heard Down Under, but my personal favorite Men At Work song has been Overkill for a while now. Colin Hay was an unusual and charismatic singer, and I see the band as Australia’s answer to Talking Heads (perhaps at the more commercial-friendly end of the Talking Heads scale). They were accomplished musically, quirky, knew their way around a pop hook, and wrote intelligent and sometimes humorous lyrics that dealt with urban themes such as anxiety and paranoia, in their own quiet undramatic way uncovering the darker side of the human psyche.
8). From St Kilda To Kings Cross — Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly is a quintessentially Australian songwriter, writing about his country and it’s people, blessed with a gravelly voice that adds an authenticity to his stories. Think Bruce Springsteen, but with more Woody Guthrie thrown in and less Meatloaf. This is a song that has a special place for anyone who has driven the thirteen hours between St Kilda, Melbourne, and Kings Cross, Sydney, as I have done. He wrote songs better than this, but none that feel more completely Australian.
9). Throw Your Arms Around Me — Hunters & Collectors
Strange that a song of such intimacy should be such a publicly embraced anthem in Australia; a song about a real relationship with details so sensual it sometimes embarrasses by making you feel voyeuristic to be listening in on them. Mark Seymour is the older brother of bassist Nick Seymour from Crowded House (it’s a small population here after all), and was describing a relationship he was in at the time - and yet this is almost the Wonderwall for Australian Gen-X, invariably pulled out on an acoustic guitar at gatherings and parties, its unusual winding melody invariably flubbed, and yet you can rely on an eager chorus joining in to drown out the missed notes. And then, in that moment of communal bliss, you hear it right: the song has been transformed by it’s audience from one man’s personal feelings for a specific woman, to an affirmation of that most fundamental and universal principle, human interconnectedness above isolation.
Another sad story of Australian bands struggling to be embraced by their own country, and having to leave and make a name for themselves on foreign soil, The Boys Next Door were an early incarnation of The Birthday Party. Shivers came off their debut, Door, Door, a record of servicable post-punk, before their wild days as The Birthday Party had kicked in. This song however, stands out as something exceptional, coming in at the end of the album. It’s sung by Nick Cave, but was written by guitarist Roland S Howard, purportedly at the age of sixteen. The lyrics are meant to be sneering at teenage love, but Nick sang it straight, adding a wonderful extra layer of juxtaposition. It’s been covered by countless artists, and has stood up over time as a true Australian classic.
(The Birthday Party traveled to England and America, where their antagonistic noise and musical corruption had them reviled by audiences and press alike. In the end they made a name for themselves in Berlin. Both Roland and Nick appear in Wim Wenders cinematic ode to the city of Berlin, “Wings of Desire”.)
5). Nothing’s Going To Happen — Tall Dwarfs
Kiwis, despite their reputation for being boring, are often innovators ahead of the game. There were a couple of Kiwis trying to invent the airplane independently of and concurrently with the Wright brothers, and there’s quite strong evidence to say they even flew first. Women received voting rights in New Zealand before any other country in the world. On a smaller scale, Tall Dwarfs were pioneering in the DIY genre ahead of their time in the early eighties, and listening to this track, you can hear the beginnings of the lo-fi sound that would become popular in American indie in the nineties and onwards. You can also hear strong evidence of their influence on bands like Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel. And more than any of this, it’s a cracking indie pop tune.
6). Pink Frost — The Chills
The Chills are another New Zealand band associated with the Dunedin sound, and signed to the famous Flying Nun label. Once again, their low-key and jangly indie pop was ahead of it’s time, and highly influential to a host of 90’s and 00’s bands.
A little contentious, because the Gibb brothers were born in the UK, and made their careers over there also. However, they spent formative teenage years growing up in Queensland, and tried and struggled to make a career as musicians in Australia. Ironically, they made their decision to head back to England in the mid sixties after giving up on Australia, but while they were on the boat back to the UK, this song went to number one on the Australian charts. So they achieved their first number one as an Australian band, which merits it being placed on the list. As for the song itself, it’s a golden little nugget of pop, that displays early evidence of the boys talent for writing pure candy, and stands above much of the fairly generic pop Australia was otherwise producing at the time.
2). Walking Down A Road — Split Enz
This is a true lost classic, both the song, and the album it comes from. It was voted by a panel of New Zealanders from radio and music journalism as the best Kiwi album ever, and it’s most certainly deserved. Split Enz went on to become better known for their more average (occasionally very good) new wave and pop hits, but this, their debut, is grand and weird art rock. There’s a touch of prog and a touch of glam to these songs, and if I had to make comparisons for the modern listener, I would say Roxy Music’s early albums, or perhaps even a little bit of Sunset Rubdown, with the weird and wonderful mix of restless experimentation and relentless hooks. This was the only album Phil Judd made with the band (tensions between Phil and co-songwriter/vocalist Tim Finn ended in a fist fight and Phil walking out), and judging by the band’s more pedestrian releases after this album, he was an integral part of the album’s success. The album is like a trip through the subconscious, with heavy subjects like death, madness, abandonment, imagination, fantasy, and rage all covered, balanced out by some lighter love songs. Despite the heavy nature of some of the music, the band became bona fide stars in NZ (my parents were among the sold out crowds for this album’s tour).
(Phil Judd went on to form The Swingers, who had a hit with the infectious “Counting The Beat”. Tim’s younger brother Neil Finn joined Split Enz not long after - many of you may know of him as the leader of Crowded House.)
3). (I’m) Stranded — The Saints
The Saints were one of the few internationally recognised punk bands to come out of Australia. In some ways, Australia and New Zealand have been too affluent and socially stable to provide youth with the rage or dissatisfaction to make great protest music. Artistic individualism is usually expressed with polite quirkiness (especially in New Zealand), or not at all (especially in Australia). The Saints were snotty, and grimy, and dissatisfied, and their music holds up strong with the best British and American punk even today, especially this song, their undisputed classic.
Hello Tumblr, and beyond. I’ve always loved the concept of the mix, and have made many for friends and lovers (mostly lovers), usually following a strict and somewhat arbitrary set of rules, some of which I must admit were cribbed from High Fidelity. My basic attitude to making a mix for someone is that it should say something about your relationship with them, say something about what you know about them personally, give them something that will make them feel special, and most of all, introduce them to new music, by putting it in a context they can connect with.
The mix I’m going to present to you over the next week is going to follow an Australasian (only Australia and New Zealand in this instance) theme. It made perfect sense to me, since I was born in New Zealand, and split my time growing up between NZ and Australia. For the past 17 years (since I was 12) I have been a permanent resident of Australia, but still identify strongly with both countries equally. Australia and NZ have both made respectable and occasionally exceptional contributions to music history. I am sure there is much Australasian music many listeners from other continents are not familiar with (and equally, much that you are familiar with). I hope this mix achieves a balance for most listeners between the familiar and the unheard. This mix is in no way comprehensive, and leans towards guitar based pop/rock, because that is the music I am most familiar with, and also historically, in my opinion, the style Australian and NZ bands have excelled at. There are obviously many great bands and songs that have been left out, but I have chosen most bands/songs because I felt they transcended influence and global trends (something that’s been a problem for much of Aus/NZ’s output over the years), and had a strong identity of their own - perhaps even set trends! Tracks are sequenced in roughly chronological order, with importance given to the general flow of proceedings.
I am a musician myself, and play in a band that I hope can be a good career for me one day. I’ve taken the somewhat cheeky step of including one of my own band’s songs on the mix, but since all members (3 brothers) were born in NZ and live in Australia, I think we fit the theme adequately! We’re currently recording our debut EP. We’re called Sunrise Beach, and our song is last on the mix. If you want to hear more of our material, try our Soundcloud or Youtube. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy what’s to come!
This week, Anand is going to be creating a mix all about living in Australia and New Zealand. A New Zealand native himself, Anand now lives in Australia, so he has particular insight concerning this theme and I expect him to deliver quite the satisfying mix.
Anand’s tumblr can be found right here. He’s also in the band called Sunrise Beach. Sunrise Beach’s Soundcloud is here, and their YouTube page is right here. Check them out!
I’ve got one more week scheduled for next week —- and that’s it! All other weeks are wide open and free! I might take the reigns if nobody else is interested in making mixes, but I think I’d be only to do that for one or two weeks tops. If you’re interested in creating a mix for us, now is the time to do it! Hope to hear from you. E-mail me if you’d like to contribute.
1. Giving Up On Love — Slow Club 2. Still Life — The Horrors 3. Home — Gabrielle Aplin 4. Trout Heart Replica — Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra 5. Childhood — Beach House 6. Personal — Stars 7. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. — Sufjan Stevens 8. Breathe me — Sia 9. The Lonely — Christina Perri 10. Man or Muppet — Jason Segel and Wlater (from The Muppets) 11. Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop — Landon Pigg 12. I’ve Got This Friend — The Civil Wars 13. Bedroom Eyes — Dum Dum Girls 14. Ensemble — Coeur De Pirate 15. Something to Sing About — Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast 16. Mad World — Gary Jules 17. Skinny Love — Bon Iver 18. Scenic World (version) — Beirut 19. Lay Your Head On Down — Emme Packer 20. Transatlanticism — Death Cab For Cutie
I could get lost in this song. It always captures me, with the beauty it holds and the message it gives out. Sometimes yes, things get bad and days suck. But the world is truly a wonderful place. Sometimes you have to take a step back from the chaoticness and realize life truly is beautiful. That is definitely something that gets me right in the heart.
19). Lay Your Head Down-Emme Packer
Emme Packer is one of my favorite people on this entire earth. She’s a local musician from UT and an all-around great, talented person (I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her). This song, as well as the music video, definitely speaks to my heart. Packer expresses a beautiful portrait of a loved one and the relationship the narrator has with them. The couple is in love, knowing that they will spend the rest of their lives together and are in perfect bliss. The hopeless romantic in me yearns to find a relationship like this, one that will fill my heart.
20). Transatlanticism- Death Cab for Cutie
Every playlist creator always has a ‘key signature’- a certain style of song they always play, a particular flow, etc. For me, it’s this song. I’ve always loved that everyone can relate to this song. There is always someone out there that means the world to you, whether or not you two are still in contact. The distance, whether physical or emotional is too vast to cross and all you want, need“is them, so much closer”. No matter how hard you try, your heart will always yearn for that someone/something.
I’ve always found something very heart tugging with French music, whether it’s been a happy song or not. I love the upbeat tune of this song even though the meaning is completely opposite. For me this song just represents a relationship that’s falling apart, where you want to be in something lasting but it just isn’t working out. It’s best said in the song- “Car ensemble rime avec désordre”- ‘cause together we’re chaotic rhyme.
15). Something to Sing About- Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast
Personally, I think every TV show (or at least most) should have a musical themed episode. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More With Feeling” musical episode is definitely one of the best. If you haven’t seen the episode (especially the show) I recommend watching it right now. Sometimes I think it’s true that we all need something to sing about, to find the happy moment of life. However as much as we all want to stand out in the streets and perform the musical of life, it’s not possible. “Life’s not a song… just this, living.” The realization of that is something that (even if you don’t know it) breaks your heart
16). Mad World-Gary Jules
This is a song that often appears on my “sad” playlists- the ones I listen to on a rainy day, when I’m taking a nap, when I’m going to sleep. It’s a painstakingly beautiful song that speaks the truth. The happy dreams that are filled with butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows are great and always welcome, but it’s the dreams in which something horrible happens that often times make the biggest impact on us. It puts us in the mindset that life isn’t always bliss. Yes life is great and wonderful, but it does come with its share of heartbreaks.
17). Skinny Love-Bon Iver
I think this is the iconic “rips at your heart strings” song. Every time I listen to it my heart breaks as I think about previous and current relationships and how it is so similar. Everyone has been in this circumstance, where you’re in a situation that you know is over yet you just want to stay there for a little while longer. You mourn over how the situation has progressed and how you just wish it would just “last the year.” Also it’s hard to listen to this song and not want to cry.
10). Man or Muppet —Jason Segel & Walter (The Muppets)
If you haven’t seen The Muppet Movie you might not get all the references, but if you haven’t seen it why are you still sitting here and not watching it? This is one of my favorite songs off of the soundtrack (which is amazing by the way). Maybe you aren’t struggling with whether you’re a muppet or not but at some point your heart does struggle with “the question what’s the right way to go?”
11). Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop —Landon Pigg
This is the perfect song for the hopeless romantic in me. There’s something so sweet and beautiful about developing feelings for and falling in love with someone that you never knew. It also helps that Pigg has a voice as sweet cough syrup. - cute song for the hopeless romantic in me
12). I’ve Got A Friend — The Civil Wars
Part of me feels like this song is secretly about the John Paul White and Joy Williams, the members of the band. The two have this amazing chemistry that you can feel through their music, words, and presence. The fact that it does make me think about those friends I have that if we had never met “it’d be such a shame”.
13).Bedroom Eyes -- Dum Dum Girls
This is one of my all-time favorite songs. It strikes at my heart in the fact that I know that sometimes I miss someone so terribly and can’t help but realize that “there’s no hope for sleep if you’re not here.” It’s also got a great upbeat vibe that I can’t help but dance along to. (:
This song is based on the famous serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. Gacy was convicted of killing 33 people in the 1970s and also attended charitable events as Pogo the Clown (which later earned him the name The Killer Clown). Stevens paints an emotive portrait in this song not only explaining Gacy and the events but also listeners. “I’m really just like him”, Stevens sings hinting that everyone has secrets hidden inside their house, their lives. Even if you don’t know the background, your heart can’t help but rip at the seams.
8). Breathe Me- Sia
This song is breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreaking. It represents the state of emotional tiredness that everyone falls into at one point or another. Calling out for someone, anyone to help you in that time because you cannot handle it anymore. Getting to the point where the barriers you have built around your heart and mind come crashing down and you hope that no one is in the way of the destruction. Sia releases so much emotion and beauty in this track that each and every time I listen to it, I feel as if my heart was pulled out of my chest.
9). the lonely-Christina Perri
Today’s section ended up being the really heartbreaking part of the mix. For me though it’s important to have those songs that destroy you inside so you can go through experiences that will build it back easily. Perri’s freshmen album lovestrong, is one that is filled with so much passion and despair, it seemed as if every song on it could appear on this mix. I chose the lonely because it feels like the perfect song to listen to on those really sad nights when you need that“quiet lullaby” before you pick yourself back up.
4). Trout Heart Replica-Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra
Since this track was released last week, (which is off of Amanda Palmer’s newest album, Theatre is Evil) I have not been able to stop listening to it. It constantly plays in my life- on my way to school, doing my homework, going to bed. Every time I listen to it, it feels as if my heart is breaking along with Palmer’s. At the end every single time I honestly do believe that “hurting is the hardest part” and that I will be “asking for a smaller heart.”
I often think childhood is something that makes everyone a little sad, whether it was a positive experience or not. You miss the friends you once had, experiences you enjoyed, the places you lived. I think the great thing about this song is that the open ended lyrics leave a lot to personal interpretation. For me “the hardest thing of all, the heartbreak of our loss” really stands out because I think even now no matter how many years it’s been since you were a kid, your heart still breaks for that loss of innocence.
Stars is another band that tends to write heart aching songs. In all honesty this is probably the saddest song that I know. It’s centered around a personal ad that ends up going wrong and the individuals never meeting. Every time I listen to it I feel a twang of sadness. Not necessarily because the couple never met or the guy rejected the girl based off of her appearance but because the message resonates so strongly with me. I think when it comes down to it, everyone worries about meeting someone for the first time and that the person won’t like how you look. Even if looks aren’t a part of it your heart still worries that someone will dismiss with just a glance.
For me, upbeat songs tug at my heart strings a lot. Sometimes because they make my heart beat a bit faster and other times because they’re actually quite sad. I’ve always imagined that this would be the song on the soundtrack of life at the end of a horrible breakup. You’ve gone through a not so great experience, your heart is in pieces, and the last thing you want to do is love again. Yet you keep that upbeat tune because you know that no matter how many times you say it, you won’t really be giving up on love.
2). Still Life- The Horrors
Often times when I have a lazy day I’ll put on some melancholy music and just listen. Oftentimes, The Horrors will make it on that listen of music. The band has an 80’s synthesizer vibe which makes me long for a time I didn’t grow up in and thus tugs at my heart strings. Their album Skying (from which this track is from) is a quality one so give it a listen. If you are looking for a heart strings tugging album that is definitely one.
3). Home- Gabrielle Aplin
Everyone wants a place to call home, whether it is a physical location or not. Aplin definitely hones that in this song with some of her poignant lyrics- “home is where your heart is set in stone” and “as long as we’re together does it matter where we go?” The definition is of home is one that everyone struggles with in life, no matter their age or circumstance. For me at least, music is always some sort of home for me.
Hey everyone. (: Just a little background on me. (: I’m just your average college sophomore- trying to figure out what I want to do with my life (my mind changes every day it seems) and procrastinating like no one’s business. I’ve been a radio DJ in the past so I’m a huge fan of making mixes. If I’m not distracting myself from school with music I’m running a photography business (which I’ll put in a personal plug for here).
About two years ago around this time, I had heart surgery. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with hearts- anatomical, songs about hearts, etc. While I was trying to come up with the theme for this playlist I wanted to do something that encompassed my strange fascination. I decided to make my mix a compilation of songs that tugged at my heart strings. All for different reasons but to me they really do pull at my heart. They make me think about my life, where I’m going (which for us college attending, not even yet 20 year olds is a big topic) and even the little things like what songs I should listen to next to keep the mood going. My goal with this playlist is by the end you find that your heart strings have been pulled at a little too. (:
1). Man In Black — Johnny Cash 2). My Back Pages — Bob Dylan 3). Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 4). They Might Be Giants — They Might Be Giants 5). Clash City Rockers — The Clash 6). Formed A Band — Art Brut 7). History Lesson Part 2 — Minutemen 8). I Was Born A Unicorn — The Unicorns 9). Born on the Bayou — Creedence Clearwater Revival 10). Trailer Trash — Modest Mouse 11). Underground — Tom Waits 12). Jocko Homo — Devo 13). Ziggy Stardust — David Bowie 14). Gets Rich — The Dismemberment Plan 15). My Name Is — Eminem 16). Juicy — The Notorious B.I.G. 17). Through the Wire — Kanye West 18). My 1st Song — Jay-Z 19). Fetus — Nas
My 1st Song,” is the last song on what was supposed to be, but nobody actually thought would be, Jay’s last album. The other Hip-Hop origin stories on the playlist are introductions, opening salvos that try to show the world what the artist is made of. “My 1st Song” is a retrospective, spanning the whole of his career in two verses and a drawn out shout out to all those who helped Jay on his way to the top. The first verse mines the same familiar subject as “Juicy” and millions of other Hip-Hop tracks: he started out with nothing, started selling drugs, etc. The second verse is about the necessity of maintaining a high level of passion and intensity for your rhymes throughout your career. Did Jay-Z retire because he didn’t believe he was capable of keeping up his high standard? The world will never know, because he came out with the sub-standard KingdomCome two years later.
19). Fetus — Nas
“Fetus” wins the award for traveling the furthest back into the life of the artist. It begins with Nas’s conception and ends with his birth, as he raps from the perspective of an unborn fetus. “Fetus” is thrillingly realized, if self-aggrandizing, with fascinating, disturbing images of womb life and a window into his parents’ marriage. Most rappers would not be able to sustain the pre-birth gimmick for an entire song without making it seem overly-sentimental or cheesy. What makes “Fetus” such a great origin song is that Nas finds a way to use the gimmick to give the listener a deeper understanding of the man as an artist and as a person.
At once a master of internal rhyme and toilet humor, Eminem introduced himself to the American public with “My Name Is,” a song, I would venture to say, most males of a certain age memorized front to back. Everything that would define Shady’s most fertile period is here: mommy issues, drug addiction, cheesy sound effects, Dr. Dre and mean-spirited, but often clever, digs at celebrities. Glimpses of Marshall Mathers peek through the cartoon he projects (“I just found out my mom does more dope than I do”), but Eminem’s main goal was to poke fun at the establishment, piss off some squares and become a hero for troubled youth. Now that Eminem is recording tracks with Bruno fucking Mars, it’s hard to remember how shocking and intriguing he was when he burst onto the scene.
16). Juicy — The Notorious B.I.G.
The ultimate Hip-Hop origin song, and the forefather of thousands of subsequent “I made it” anthems. In the first verse, Biggie radiates his love for the music and marvels at the surrealistic idea of being paid huge money for rhyming. In other hands, all this bragging about ends could get obnoxious, but Biggie roots every line in the past, emphasizing the struggle he once faced before he broke into the rap game. Since we understand where Christopher Wallace comes from, we don’t begrudge him his success and we get why he chooses to live a life of extraordinary luxury. Besides all that, “Juicy” is filled to the brim with great lines (“birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirsty”; “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was flat broke shit I couldn’t picture this”) and a high-class beat, with a bouncy sing-along bassline. And it’s all good, baby baby.
17). Through the Wire — Kanye West
Though Kanye would go into greater detail about the start of his career in “Last Call,” “Through the Wire” was an early display of Kanye’s skill for spinning tales from his personal life into compelling tracks. Kanye’s car crash was a formative incident on his artistic persona, especially in his early days, which helped him seem grateful, not just for his opportunity to become a rap star but for his life. This is probably the only track where Kanye seems (gasp!) humble. There were songs on The College Dropout that were more radio ready (“Slow Jamz,” “All Falls Down”) but Kanye released “Through the Wire” as his first single, possibly because he felt it best represented him as an artist. —Dan
In which the immortal question “Are We Not Men?” is answered with a definitive “WE ARE DEVO!” Or more accurately, “yes, but we are very strange men.” This song is best understood in the context of the film “The Truth About De-Evolution,” which the band often featured before they played live in concert. Weird. Anyway, the song and video for “Jocko Homo” neatly summarize the worldview and ethos of Devo as a band, establishing them as mutants from the future, here to educate the world about De-Evolution, which seems to involve surgical masks and robotic dancing. “Jocko Homo” shows how a mythology can shape a band’s music and image and create a clear identity to stand out among the thousands of bands that start up each and everyday.
13). Ziggy Stardust — David Bowie
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character is probably the most famous instance of a musician creating his own alter ego, in this case, a super sexy, golden voiced guitar player from Mars who his bandmates plot to murder because they are jealous of all the sex he’s having. You can’t expect somebody who creates a persona for himself to be modest. “Ziggy Stardust” is appropriately one of the greatest straight up rock songs in Bowie’s formidable discography. Driven by Mick Ronson’s arena rock guitar riff and Bowie’s vocal ad-libs, Bowie posits himself as a space alien, fresh from conquering Mars, coming to Earth to entertain the masses.
14). The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich — The Dismemberment Plan
In what could be the fastest two and a half minutes in music history, Travis Morrison and company make friends with the mafia, invest in bioweapons and minerals and establish a network of satellites to coordinate a vast international operation. Oh, and “Joe got caught aboard a bout with seven tons of opium.” “Gets Rich” is a glorious goof, suggesting that the band members are merely taking a break from their lives as international criminal billionaires to put on a show for you. This creates a fake backstory, far more interesting than the band’s real status as heroes of the second wave of hardcore. So many memorable lines, too bad you can’t understand any of them. Here’s hoping Soundman Phil’s next Senate bid is more successful.
Isaac Brock’s lyrics are often enigmatic, leaving it up to the listener to piece together what he’s talking about. To me, “Trailer Trash” paints a picture of Brock’s chaotic upbringing in the Pacific Northwest (“eating snowflakes with plastic forks” in “trailers with no class”) and illustrates the struggle of pursuing your dreams in a depressed, hopeless community where no one believes you will succeed. “Trailer Trash” is about transcending your background and succeeding on your own, in Brock’s case by starting a transcendent band. The cathartic, whammy-bar-heavy guitar solo at the end convinces us that he’s left the past behind.
11). Underground — Tom Waits
On Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits abandoned his neo-beatnik barfly persona and embraced a stranger, richer and more unique sound. Instead of sounding like the piano player at last call, his music seemed to inhabit an entirely different realm from the rest of the world of music. “Underground,” the first track onSwordfishtrombones, is a perfect introduction to the new Tom Waits. “There’s a rumblin’ groan down below,” growls Tom Waits, “A place I’ve found, there’s a world going on underground.” It must have come as a shock to those fans that were used to Waits’ more singer-songwriterly tropes to hear about the world that’s awake when the rest of the world is asleep.
Here’s the song that inspired this playlist, a true origin story, which traces the band’s progress from playing in San Pedro through learning the art of punk rock from Joe Strummer, Richard Hell and John Doe to drinking and pogoing in Hollywood. All with D. Boon and Mike Watt playing the guitar. The genius of the song lies in its matter-of-fact nature. Their band really could be your life. All you need to do is find a good friend to hang out and make music with and don’t stop ‘til one of you dies. RIP D. Boon.
8). I Was Born a Unicorn — The Unicorns
Mixing the absurdist “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees”-vibe of “They Might Be Giants” with the “we’re normal guys” spirit of “History Lesson Part 2,” “I Was Born a Unicorn” is an energetic introduction to a weird-ass band. The Unicorns take their band name seriously, with references to Noah’s Ark and neighing sound effects. “I Was Born a Unicorn” is a perfect concert opener (or closer), with the triumphant final verse: “We’re The Unicorns!/We’re more than horses!/We’re the Unicorns and we’re people too!” I’ll take your word for it you crazy motherfuckers.
9). Born on the Bayou — Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Cameron Fogerty was born in Berkley, California. In case you don’t know your geography, that’s pretty fuckin’ far from the Bayou. But damn if he doesn’t make you believe he sprung from backwater Louisiana, chasing down hoodoos, whatever they are, every morning before wrestling some gators. Fogerty was inspired by Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters to create a swampy aesthetic that has been imitated, but never quite been replicated. Fogerty says that “Born on the Bayou” is about a “mythical childhood and a heat-filled time” set in a place that he never lived, but a place with an essence that Fogerty would embody during his time as the brains and voice behind CCR.
John Flansburgh admits that the band was aiming for a “Hey Hey, We’re the Monkees”-type theme song for the band on this one. Interestingly enough, the band’s theme song appears as the second-to-last track on the band’s third album. “They Might Be Giants” is a goofy, playful song with unconventional instrumentation, quirky lyrics and a catchy hook, which in a way does capture the ethos of the band’s oeuvre. “They Might Be Giants” provides a raison d’etre for the band’s existence: “we can’t be silent cause they might be giants and what are we gonna do unless they are?” It’s an unnatural amount of fun to sing along with the deep-voiced “BOY” in the chorus.
5). Clash City Rockers — The Clash
Like “They Might Be Giants,” “Clash City Rockers” is a mission statement for the band, as well as a superhero origin story. England’s working class needs a “little jump of electrical shockers,” so luckily here come the Clash to energize and mobilize the populace, giving them a purpose so they are not knocked out “sooner or later.” Joe Strummer sneers “I wanna move the town to the Clash City Rockers” and “burn down the suburbs with half-closed eyes” over Mick Jones’ “I Can’t Explain”-on-steroids guitar riff and The Clash have arrived. England was never the same.
6). Formed A Band — Art Brut
FORMED A BAND, WE FORMED A BAND! LOOK AT US WE FORMED A BAND! Eddie Argos’ lyrics demand to be typed in all caps. Argos pledges to be the band that writes the song “that makes Israel and Palestine get along,” and a song as “universal as happy birthday” that they’re gonna play “eight weeks in a row on Top of the Pops.” “Formed a Band” works as both an origin song and a parody of origin songs like “Clash City Rockers” or “We’re an American Band.”
Johnny Cash is perhaps the most badass artist in music history, what with his performances in prisons, songs about murder and drug use and most of all his predilection for dressing entirely in black. “Man in Black” reveals that he has a nobler motive for wearing black than looking cool. Cash wears black to be a walking symbol for the disenfranchised, the “poor and beaten down” and those who died “believin’ that the Lord was on their side.” “Man in Black” is an example of an artist revealing important aspects of his mythology through song. It’s an artistic mission statement for Cash. Cash will always stand up for the underdog and remind the haves about the misfortunes of the have-nots.
2). My Back Pages — Bob Dylan
Before we start: yes, I know the Byrds version is better, but considering the theme of this mix, the song is more powerful coming from the man himself. Few musicians have as effortlessly reinvented themselves as Robert Zimmerman. “My Back Pages” is the birth of the second incarnation of Bob Dylan, the version who turned away from protest songs and acoustic instruments and turned to personal topics and introspection. In the early 60s, Dylan was the voice of the rebellious younger generation, a hat that Dylan was willing to wear for a time, but “My Back Pages” shows that the righteous anger and moralism that fueled his protest period was fading (“’Rip down all I hate,’ I screamed/lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed/romantic facts of musketeers foundationed deep somehow”). The oft-repeated line “but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” betrays the possibility that being the voice of a generation exerted too much pressure on young Dylan and that he needed time to discover his true self, to be young, before claiming to speak for millions. So with this song, he cryptically announces his intention to split from the Greenwich Village protest folk scene and develop his own musical world.
3). Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out — Bruce Springsteen
A simple and to the point rocker. This song’s wistful and celebratory story about Bad Scooter (a transparent reference to the Boss—look at the initials) and the Big Man (obviously Clarence Clemons) teaming up to “bust this city in half” is a creation myth about the formation of the E Street Band. Apparently, Tenth Avenue intersected E Street. Bruce has been closing out his recent shows with this song, in honor of the dearly departed Clemons, giving the hopeful beginnings expressed in the song some sad context.
Every superhero needs an origin story. Sure, an audience willing to suspend disbelief about a man with the powers of a spider or a scientist who turns into giant green rage monster probably should not care too much about why these men can do these things, but what can you do? These origin stories help unravel the mystery surrounding the motivations of these people, why they are who they are and why they do what they do.
Looming equally large in popular mythology as superheroes are musicians, who seem to have superpowers of their own. Since we don’t really know too much about the lives of these musicians, people try to color in the lines, embellishing the details that we know. Did Robert Johnson really sell his soul to the Devil to become a great guitar player? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter because that’s the first thing anybody talks about whenever anyone brings him up in conversation.
The playlist I made for this week takes a listen to what happens when musicians create their own mythology, and how it colors the listener’s expectations of the artist. Some of these songs are not exactly origin stories in the strictest sense, but statements of purpose, an attempt to instill a message into a larger body of work. Or they could just be theme songs, rallying cries for the artist’s fans. I have used a lot of “brand names” in this playlist (particularly in Hip-Hop), because the type of artists that generate reverence and mythology are either popular or cult favorites.
Even though this is a concept playlist, it is still a collection of great songs that sound great together and I hope you enjoy listening as much as I have.
Next week, Dan is going to create a mix that’s full of origin stories. Lots of singers, groups and songwriters have created their own mythology in their persona(s), performances and music, and Dan’s mix will explore some of those mythologies thoroughly. A neat idea for a mix, if I do say so myself.
Dan’s Tumblr can be found right here, so do check it out.
We have mixes lined up for the end of the month, but none for October and onward, so if you’re interested in creating a mix, please get in touch with me. You can contact me via this blog, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
1. Louis Quatorze — Bow Wow Wow 2. Do You Wanna Funk — Sylvester 3. Wanna Be Close To You — Tavares 4. Glow in the Dark — The Bongos 5. Green Fingers — Siouxsie and the Banshees 6. Sleepwalking — Gerry Rafferty 7. You Dropped A Bomb on Me — Gap Band 8. Cuss Cuss — Horace Andy 9. Skulls — The Misfits 10. Amplifier — the dB’s 11. Coming Home — The Prisoners 12. Dress Code — Chronic Sick 13. Love Sail Away — Juice Newton 14. It’s Nasty — Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five 15. It’s A War — Carole King 16. Good For You — Toto 17. Hope for a Heartbeat — Bill Nelson 18. Gloria — Laura Branigan 19. West Coast Poplock — Ronnie Hudson 20. Let’s Get Small — Trouble Funk 21. Rise & Meet Jah — Lone Ranger 22. Una Vez Mas — Los Bukis
19). West Coast Poplock — Ronnie Hudson and the Street People
My mix policy on covers isn’t strict, but I’m not nuts about ‘em. They’re kind of like mixmaking steroids: you get the boost of the familiar to keep people listening. Still, I’ve heard from enough friends that they like to receive mixes where about half the songs are already known, so I’ve probably shot myself in the speaker countless times. “West Coast Poplock,” like “It’s Nasty,” pounces on the listener’s likely familiarity with another song: in this case, it’s “California Love,” which cribbed Hudson’s chorus. The song - P-funk synthbass, Watts shout-outs and all - came from the minds of the brothers Troutman, founders of Dayton, Ohio’s Zapp. So I feel OK moving the mix from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., since we’ve got the Midwest as a stopover. (As a Texan, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but here’s the East Coast version.)
20). Let’s Get Small — Trouble Funk
I could ride on that harmonica riff for days. We pick up on the funky familiarity to a track that ought to stick long after you’ve turned it off. (Both tracks start with a little chatter, for what that’s worth.) TF loaded this one to the top of the truck: call-and-response, mind-burrowing bass, that go-go percussion, and the aforementioned harp hook. And that’s it for the high-stepping portion of the mix. Unless, y’know, you cue this one up again.
21). Rise & Meet Jah — Lone Ranger
Another interstitial, bridging the incendiary funk and the pleasant comedown to close. Mixes immediate history (I’m pretty sure Lone Ranger’s talking about this Billy Boyo) with apocalyptic imagery and a dash of the devotional: “We shall all rise to meet Jah/In the morning/Blood coming from his eyes,” he croons. Lone Ranger’s toasting is on-point here, juggling syllables like a circus performer. It’s settling and unsettling at once, which makes the sudden presence of the last track kind of a strange joke. The mixmaker always hopes his tracks are strong enough to withstand the sequencing. He’s not a DJ, after all.
22). Una Vez Mas — Los Bukis
“¡Que crudo delirio!” indeed. Trying to find the provenance of Spanish-language music is kind of maddening; the records, if they’re out there, haven’t been gathered satisfactorily in one place. (Also, I don’t speak Spanish, so if some resources bit me on the ass, I didn’t recognize the feeling.) Because this closes Los Bukis’ 1982 LP Yo Te Necesito, I can only assume it meets the mix’s criterion. The mix closer ought to be short, I believe. Something pretty, perhaps a little wistful. Marco Antonio Solís’ sturdy pipes ought to qualify; so, too, should that stunning instrumental break, all popping bass and soulful, roller-rink-worthy organ curls. You will get a text to confirm you received the mix; you tell me that you did, and it’s good. And we never think of it again.
Generally I don’t think to juxtapose song titles, but I like the cod-hardcore pairing of “It’s Nasty/It’s a War”. I dig this song in spite of its lyrical squishiness: King’s explosion into the chorus and its chiming guitar blows the self-help text into genuinely uplifting territory. Plus, hey, I’ve now shown you my Soggy Side. Your can now peg your mix anywhere on the provided gamut.
16). Good for You — Toto
We close this section with another pop/rock confection: a quasi-magisterial come-on from everyone favorite studio-musician punching bags. Lately, my taste veers toward the shamelessly immediate; I briefly considered turning my beloved cutout-pop project into a mix. There’s so much joy here: joy in craft, joy in hoping. The buzzing guitar sneakily nudges the track up the hill to the cathartic chorus, with its synthetic castle fanfare and ecstatic “oh”s. This pairs astoundingly well with the obsessively repetitive “Lonely Like Me” by the Gap Band. (Weirdly, both Toto and the Gap Band released records titled IV in 1982: both are pretty great.)
17). Hope for the Heartbeat — Bill Nelson
Let’s wash the pop away with something a little off. Nelson’s a little much in high doses, but I always come back to this one for mixes. The beat is measured out almost perversely here: you can’t find a recognizably human pulse, but the electronic edges gleam and it hopefully cleanses the palate for one of the bigger hits on here.
18). Gloria — Laura Branigan
I do wish this mix had more of a Euro flavor. “Gloria” was originally released and co-written by Umberto Tozzi; Branigan’s translated take has basically the same arrangement, but it took me years to hear the venom in her approach. The grandiose fanfare echoes “Good For You,” but putting it back-to-back would have been a bit on the nose.
Again, ‘82 has to have some hardcore. Black Flag re-recorded “T.V. Party” that year for an EP, but that felt like cheating. So here’s the self-styled “Cutest Band in Hardcore” with some tasty fucking licks chasing the deceptively simple rhyme scheme (You’re under arrest?/Surely you jest/I’d never have guessed/Cos you’re so well-dressed”) with a sweetly-leveled come-on. “You can dress me/You can dress me/You can dress me/Anytime,” our boys sing. It’s slyly romantic, and if you get the joke, you might be able to hang through the stylistic gearshift.
13). Love Sail Away — Juice Newton
I suppose - thinking back to the first track - I could have slotted Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds’ “Sneakin’ Around” (from the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas soundtrack) leadoff: it’s under two minutes, upbeat, and deliciously unserious. But country gets represented here, with its great processed twang and an assuredly wide-eyed chorus. The verses have the genial chug of Elvis’ Felton Jarvis years. I like my mixes to range; my listening experience is broader than it is deep, and impressing someone is, like, the 19th-most important thing I ever want to do.
14). It’s Nasty — Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
A non-factor in ‘82’s Pazz and Jop poll. Everyone got that “The Message” was an Important Song; thankfully, they were also onboard with the Fearless Four’s “Rockin’ It” - again, too long and too not-on-Spotify to include. Anything cribbing from “Genius of Love” is gonna hit, and we’re well into the effervescent part of the mix. You gotta skip through a bunch to get to the pure pop - sorry.
We get a little claustrophobic and a little more urgent here. Wikipedia tells me Andy’s been on all five Massive Attack albums. I mostly know him from ‘82’s Dance Hall Style, released on the venerable Wackies label. There couldn’t be a mix without something beyond America or Britain. Andy’s insistent reggae stepping is a start.
9). Skulls — The Misfits
The way I usually do mixes is to gather a ton of candidates in one place, pick the first couple energetic tracks, and build from there. When I made this, I was way over the time limit, but didn’t realize cos Spotify told me I’d expended an hour. More like 90 minutes, it turned out. So I did some pruning, and rather than dig back into the longlist, I decided to arrange what I had. So the structural vibe is totally off from Horace Andy to here, but the paranoiac feeling clicks into the sociopathic kind well enough. I like the Misfits when they’re… more explicitly funny, but I love the mournful way Danzig requests my skull. Well, if it’s that important…
10). The Amplifier — The dB’s
Back into the college rock, and a little bit more into the funny. Humor is, I think, an undervalued ingredient in music. The concept itself probably summons thoughts of Weird Al and LMFAO and Julie Brown, but it can be found everywhere from Little Richard’s wigged-out absurdities to the black humor of “Amplifier”. Girl breaks up with boy, girl takes everything but the amplifier, boy just goes ahead and dies. A surefire karaoke killer.
11). Coming Home —The Prisoners
More rock, more lurching. Graham Day’s hoarse howl bears a resemblance to Glenn Tilbrook’s, but this mod nugget is less artful about its despair. “Cos everybody hides inside a dome,” he notes; I guess I’m supposed to nod here. Subliminal Hammond organ: that plus the melody should disguise the fact that this is the middle of three punk/punkish rock tunes.
So now we can get appropriately gloomy. There are echoes of the funk-inflected rhythm guitar that I kept running into in my research. A large chunk of post-punk delved into black music; here’s it’s backgrounding Sioux’s open-ended fairy tale of cultivated attraction and mystic dread. “With this hand I thee wed,” she intones, boosting the emotional throughline and taking us into the next track.
6). Sleepwalking — Gerry Rafferty
Rafferty’s “The Ark,” from 1978’s City to City, is up among my favorite album openers. “Sleepwalking” starts the second side of its titular album, but Mo Foster’s keening bassline pairs wonderfully with Steven Severin’s from “Green Fingers”. It’s a cinematic pop boogie, and a kick in the shins to hidebound classic-rock programmers.
7). You Dropped a Bomb on Me — The Gap Band
I do like to keep the best track on the album somewhere in the middle. No real reason. A stone fucking classic, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” has an all-time bassline (synthesized, but still), an anguished vocal from Charlie Wilson, and a tight-assed groove dovetailing nicely with the practiced accusations at hand (“You were my pills/You were my thrills/You were my hope, and you were my smoke”). I grew up with this one, but didn’t cotton to its world-ending power until an off-campus pizza parlor took to blasting it in the afternoons. Go figure. After a one-song break, the gloom begins again.
I’ve always kinda thought that mixes are only listened to straight through unless you have a high opinion of the mixmaker, or you’re hoping to have sex with the mixmaker. I’m fine if you don’t fall into either category, but just to be safe, I’m starting with High Energy. (I only deviate from this principle if I have a melodic track under two minutes, or maybe a snippet from a Harold Lloyd interview.) Those infamous cod-Burundian drums start us off, with Lwin’s breathless tour of colonialism, rape culture, and male insecurity carrying us through. Special prize to Leigh Gorman’s twitchy bass descents.
2). Do You Wanna Funk? — Sylvester
Gotta keep the levels up on track two. If I can hitch an element from one track to the next, wonderful. The synthbass takes the baton from Gorman well enough. Created by Sylvester and Hi-NRG wizard Patrick Cowley (whose Mega Mix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” is both unavailable on Spotify and too long for mix purposes). It’s a monster - not Sylvester’s most incendiary moment on wax, but brutally efficient, with hooks spangling the whole thing.
3). Wanna Be Close to You — Tavares
The first interstitial track, chosen to bridge tracks two and four. It’s a fine comedown from “Do You Wanna Funk”: a super-polished, funky tune with a slower tempo to manage the transition to rock and roll. And it serves, thematically, as a kind of pullback to Sylvester’s assumptive question. Maybe it’s my relative inexperience with this era in major-label R&B, but I really don’t think we’ve mined all the possibilities yet.
4). Glow in the Dark — The Bongos
I don’t like putting three songs of 4+ minutes together. I also don’t like stacking styles; it’s the A.D.D. magpie in me. We get a little mournful now, courtesy of this New Jersey power-pop group. It’s college rock before the concept got codified, with a ironed-out synth line providing a lovely harmony to the melody of the verse. If I were sending this to a romantic target, here’s the hint that we could have Complicated Relations.
1982, fools! Just one year in a century of recorded music. I didn’t grow up with much on this list. It didn’t soundtrack my formative undergrad years, or accrue meaning from romantic partners or romantic seasons. It’s something I decided to explore a couple months ago for a party.
Soon after my final submission, I’ll turn 30. Symbolically, that’s the age one starts turning from keeping cultural tabs toward nurturing a career or family or what have you. For my dad, that age hit between the births of me and my brother. He used to tell me about coming home from a long workday, sitting down in the living room and encountering an episode of Miami Vice. He remembered a particular scene that incorporated Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” to mesmerizing effect. It was years before I learned that what he’d seen was the pilot. If he saw another piece of TV before Mystery Science Theater 3000, I’m unaware of it.
In going back to 1982, I’m trying to give myself a rough backdrop for (roughly) the era of my birth, to build some kind of impossible jukebox of jams. Were I 30 in 1982, I could only hope to have found a fraction of the tracks I’ve uncovered for this project. (Hell, if it weren’t for the Singles Jukebox, I’d have that problem in 2012.)
More than a capsule, this mix is (hopefully) a reminder that everything’s up for grabs. From hardcore EPs to massive Europop hooks, you can have it all. No matter when you got to it, Los Bukis or Juice Newton or Ronnie Hudson can carry just as much personal significance as anything that hit in your formative years. Fun is where you find it, and I chose each track here because I think it’s a blast. The longlist will play at my 30th party, but if you want the abridged version of my ‘82 in entertainment, look here.
This week, Brad will make us a mix that pulls songs from one year and one year only; 1982. As Brad describes in his introduction, 1982 was quite a year in music and had something for everyone.
Brad’s Tumblr can be found right here, so please do yourself a favor and check that out. He’s also a One Week One Band alum, and the week he spent covering Gary Glitter should probably be considered required reading, especially for glam rock fans. It’s an excellent read and you can check it out right here.
We’ve only got a month of coverage lined up, so if you’re interested in making a mix for the blog, please let me know. You can e-mail me right here.
1. You’re So Good To Me — Langley Schools Project 2. We’re Going To Be Friends — The White Stripes 3. ABC — The Jackson 5 4. Back To School — Cheap Time 5. School Lunch Victim — Mean Jeans 6. School — Nirvana 7. School Days — The Runaways 8. Get Your Study Hall Outta My Recess — Dillinger Four 9. Jack The Idiot Dunce — The Kinks 10. Substitute — The Who 11. High School Confidential — Jerry Lee Lewis 12. High School — The Mc5 13. Rock N’ Roll High School — The Ramones 14. Rat Race — The Specials 15. Bad Kids — The Black Lips 16. Fuck School — The Replacements 17. Rock Star — Hole 18. Highschool Lover — Air 19. Stay Free — The Clash 20. Git Up, Git Out — OutKast 21. College — Animal Collective 22. Teenage FBI — Guided By Voices 23. Campus — Vampire Weekend 24. All Falls Down — Kanye West
I’ve always really loved this bittersweet instrumental and feel like it’s a good choice now that we’re moving away from High School and heading towards college. It’s the type of melancholy song that you can imagine in your head when you think back to high school memories; the good, the bad and the ugly.
20). Stay Free — The Clash
Continuing with the reminiscing theme, this song has Mick Jones thinking back to all his high school shenanigans and trouble-making friends. He had a lot of fun busting heads with them back in the day, but now that they’re older, some of them are continuing to push back against society while others are growing a little more mature. The song is bittersweet; “stay free” has to be taken both literally (don’t get busted, don’t go to jail) but also as “stay independent, stay resilient, stay fearless, stay yourself.” It’s a tough balance, but an important one.
21). Git Up, Git Out — OutKast
An older OutKast jam that urges folks to make something of their lives. I have to be honest, I love Cee-Lo, I don’t care that he’s been reduced to a “Voice” judge or whatever. I mean, listen to this track, he’s incredible, and so is the core of the group. OutKast probably won’t make another record since Big Boi and Andre are on the outs, which is a shame, because they’re probably the best hip hop group of the 2000’s.
22). College — Animal Collective
You don’t. Really. But I’m glad I did.
23). Teenage FBI — Guided By Voices
That feeling that bullshit high school mentality follows you around wherever you go. Why do you care about what people say about you, what people think about you? Peer pressure is an idiotic concept when you’re objective, but it’s harder to deal with when you’re actually feeling it. Think of some of the prouder moments of your life: were they rooted in you doing what you thought was best for yourself, or what everybody else thought was best? Exactly.
24). Campus — Vampire Weekend
Not a cool band to like or song to like, I guess. White collar grad school Afro-pop? Come on. Guilty as charged, I love it, and I think while this song sounds all pop and fun, it’s about the difficulty of interacting socially with someone you were intimate with, trying to pretend like you don’t care. Not an easy thing, and something we can all relate to.
I wanted to make this section about high school and I wanted to transition it slowly from naive innocence to complete dissolution. Jerry Lee Lewis might not exactly be the best figure to choose to represent innocence, but this piano banging stomper sure does kinda sound pretty gosh darn enthusiastic for high school, doesn’t it?
13). High School — The Mc5
This could be a more guitar driven update of the Jerry Lee Lewis song. It’s fairly simple and straightforward and pretty much resembles a pep rally. Not deep, but fun.
14). Rock N’ Roll High School — The Ramones
Speaking of fun, “fun fun.” Oh, baby. If you think of some Ramones song, you might be immediately surprised about them doing a song about how fun high school is. But they are a bunch of nerds, really, and a lot of their songs are pop-punk riffs on 50’s themes, so it makes a certain amount of sense. Besides, this isn’t any high school, it’s Rock N’ Roll High School. And yeah, that does sound fun.
15). Rat Race — The Specials
Here’s where disillusion begins to set in. Technically this is about college, but it feels very high school to me. Maybe that’s because I personally grew so disillusioned in high school. I liked some of my classes and some of my teachers, but the whole thing always felt fake to me. Fake and unnecessary, with everyone simply going through the motions. I did feel like I was wasting my time. I felt like everyone was wasting their time. It almost prevented me from going to college, but thankfully I changed my mind about that.
16). Bad Kids — The Black Lips
For a while in Junior High School, I was a bit of a punk and did a few of the types of things the Black Lips sing about here. Never anything quite so bad as all of it together, but I got into some bad times for sure. I wish I could say that I was as fun to be around as this song is to listen to, but that’s not quite true. I was pretty miserable. There’s a conception that “bad kids” are fun to be around, and that might be true for some. But it wasn’t for me. If I went back and did it again, I think I’d still be a “bad kid,” at least for a little bit. I think it was good for me, ultimately. But I think I’d try to be a bit more of a fun bad kid.
17). Fuck School — The Replacements
Miss the bus to stay school
18). Rock Star — Hole
I didn’t go to school in Olympia, far from it. And by the end of it all, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a really great group of friends that I keep in touch with to the day. But man, did I relate to this song and album when it came out. I mean, who hasn’t felt this way about school at some point? Complaining that everyone’s the same while also hoping that the process of school and going through the motions will make you more “real,” more “part of the crowd.” But the song is brilliantly called Rock Star, because not only do you have those fantasies of standing out from the crowd, you have the fear of persecution that comes with it. That’s high school in a nut shell for me. Looking around, disliking a majority of what I was seeing, wanting to set myself apart, but ultimately being afraid too. “Good-bye,” Courtney Love sing-songs at the end. I can’t think of a more fitting song to give the big kiss off to high school.
Another long day. Time to blast this one. The Runaways were simply awesome, and even if this song came from their third album, long after the departure of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett is still pure rock n’ roll and you get the feeling she’s pulling from painfully real experiencing in both her shredded vocals and shredding riffs. After all, she was just 19 when this song came out. Let that roll around in your head for a little while. What did you do when you were 19?
8). Get Your Study Hall Outta My Recess — Dillinger Four
Many D4 songs are about looking around at false institutions and calling them out for their phoniness. I mean, if school is gonna suck, call a spade a spade and have as much fun as you can, right? ”Let’s call the future what it is/ diluted hope and shackled wrists.” Don’t you wish more teachers were this honest?
9). Jack the Idiot Dunce — The Kinks
Everyone feels stupid in school sometimes. That nightmare scenario. “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” That feeling that the world is against you is very tangible when you’re young and at school, and this song plays up why really well. But there’s a really nice twist. Jack, the titular dunce, eventually forms his own dance out of his stupidity and becomes really popular. We’ve all felt stupid before, and we’ve all had that feeling of watching someone completely stupid become really popular. And man, that’s frustrating, isn’t it?
10). Popular — Nada Surf
Speaking of popular, this song really captures the hollow emptiness of it. What does it mean to be popular in school? If this song feels callous and shallow, well, that’s kind of the point. I missed the opportunity to see Nada Surf live recently and apparently it’s my loss. Friends reported back that they’re really excellent live. Next time they’re in time, I’ll try to look past their one hit wonder.
11). Substitute — The Who
While technically not a “school” song, I think this fits for a couple of reasons. For one, I was a substitute teacher and man, I don’t think there’s ever been a harder job. Just think about general class behavior when you find out you have a sub. Yeah. Now imagine being on the other end all the time. You have no support. Nobody cares about you. It’s not easy.
But also, there’s that general feeling of being replaced by other people in high school. Other friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers. It’s nothing but constant change and the only thing people tell you the whole time is that you’re supposed to learn from it. Not always the easiest pill to swallow while you’re feeling like second best.
Back to school? A little more back than I’d like. I’ve been at work for ten hours today preparing for all sorts of stuff (orientation, classes, placement, etc). So coming to this blog to put together songs about school is the last thing I want to do. That said, this blog is going to be the slacker edition of blog posts for the week. If you don’t like it, give me detention.
5). School Lunch Victim — Mean Jeans
I had a yogurt and a soggy pear today for lunch. It sucked. However, it’s still probably better than school lunches. You ever hear someone say “that food was bad, but ‘good’ bad?” I think that comes from school lunches, which were always terrible but sometimes (SOMEtimes) terrible in a way you could appreciate.
1). You’re So Good To Me — The Langley Schools Music Project
Released into relative obscurity between 1976 and 1977, the Langley Schools Music Project was a collection of pop song covers by British Columbia music instructor Hans Fenger and his students, who sing the songs children’s choir style. A compilation titled Innocence and Despair was released in 2001 after some crate divers discovered the original LP’s. If that title seems a little melancholy for a collection of Beach Boys, McCartney and Bowie covers from a kids choir, once you listen to a few of the songs, you soon see that it’s an oddly fitting label. For one thing, the sparse arrangements really contrasts with the power and enthusiasm of all those young voices belting out songs they know by heart. But even in some of the more upbeat versions (including this Beach Boys cover) there is a sadness in those collective voices, too. When you think of this as a recording, and you think of it as recorded innocence, you despair over the loss of innocence and the power that youth has and eventually loses.
It seems like a good choice for starting a mix about school. For one thing, it was recorded at a school (a gymnasium, actually, which adds to the ghostly reverb of the vocals). But also, as enthusiastic as these kids sound, there is a small hint of sadness in this recording. Is it the threat of change, of the impending loss of innocence, or something greater or more tragic? When these kids began their educations, they were full of life. Where were they all when they ended their educations?
2). We’re Going To Be Friends — The White Stripes
One of Jack White’s deceptively simplest songs, there’s something quite beautiful about the earnestness in this story about a young person starting school and meeting another young person. Not having friends at the start of any new enterprise can be an intimidating thing for people at any age, but not having friends at the start of a school experience is particularly frightening because school is such a social construct and your enjoyment of it depends largely on who you’re with and the social status of who you’re with (an unfortunate truth). Couple that with the fact that kids frequently don’t have the self-confidence desired to be able to write-off the importance of friendship, and the pressure to meet/befriend someone similar enough to you is a paramount concern.
So there’s something incredibly sweet about how naturally these two kids come together, and that speaks to the clever songwriting White builds off of a collective nostalgia. We all had friends that we just clicked with when we were young, and this song forces you to think back on those friendships and contextualize them. My guess is that there is at least one line or lyric that everyone can find especially personal. For me, it’s the “teacher marks our head against the wall” line. Not only did my teacher did that, my mother did too. And my mother was the best teacher I ever had, both inside the class and out.
3). ABC — The Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 made plenty of incredible pop songs, but they have two songs that are undoubtedly 100% perfect. Of the two, I might give I Want You Back the slight advantage, but come on, ABC is pure joy. This is a nice contrast with the collective chorus of Langley Schools Project because young Michael Jackson was just a schoolboy himself, but his enthusiasm and power blows an entire choir out of the water. Nobody has ever sounded so excited to learn before or since.
I’m an English and Composition professor at a small college in Boston. Sometimes I think I got into education because I just really love school and always have. Obviously there are aspects of school that I’ve always disliked, even hated. And there are certainly aspects of academia that I absolutely despise. But all in all, I think being a teacher really fits my life and personality, even in ways that I previously would have never guessed. Before I became a teacher, I had jobs. Now I have a career; one that always excites and challenges me.
That said, the first week back is always a rough transition. The common conception is that teachers are lazy and always have the summer off. My mother was a grade school teacher and while she didn’t literally go into the building every day over the break, her work ethic refused to allow her to relax over summer vacation. As for me, while it’s frequently tempting to take a couple months over the summer, I earn (just a little) extra income for each summer class I teach. I live in a city. It’s expensive. My wife and I would like a family one day and we’d like to buy a place of our own. Not teaching over the summer simply isn’t an option for me at all.
That said, even though I teach all the time, there’s always something different about the beginning of the academic year. There’s the anticipation that this year will bring new challenges and opportunities. Simply by providing new students, my job changes from semester to semester. There are moments while teaching that I absolutely thrive on. When I see a concept click with a student, when I see them use it to improve their writing skills, their critical thinking skills, it’s something of a rush. Hopefully, you’ve passed down something important to them and hopefully they remember it and use it to their benefit for the rest of their lives. Even more exciting is when you learn something from your students, which happens more often than you’d think.
Long story short, this mix is an ode to going back to school. Hope you enjoy.
Eamon sent me his playlist yesterday. He didn’t send me any write-ups and he didn’t break up the playlist up into chunks, so I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I sent him a couple of messages but haven’t heard anything.
So, I’m not sure what to do. I decided to post his playlist as Mix #20 in one big chunk. It’s a small mix, but it’s got good stuff on it and I still wanted Eamon to participate.
So here it is: Mix #20, Tracks 1—10. Theme: Wood’s Adventure.
And I plan on creating a regular mix for the rest of the day’s, just to keep the regular routine going. I’ll have a post later in the day about the theme, etc.