In an effort to discover some new music Gillian, Alison and I recently decided to resurrect the art of the mix tape in playlist form. I was the first to finish (read: the only project manager in the group) and rather than include a standard list of songs and artists with the CD I decided to catalogue my submission here. I tried to make the cd more than a representation of my favorite songs but a collection that worked well together while still accurately representing my music library and hopefully giving the listeners some new bands to explore.
Teen for God – Dar Williams
This song does a great job of capturing the simplicity of religion and the desire of wanting to believe but also it’s satisfyingly silly. I love it most for the serious bit in the middle when she asks her teenage self to pray a bit for a young adult self who will have lost her faith but could really use some help from an omniscient deity. There are many things I’d like to be able to protect my younger selves from so I am drawn to the idea of asking a stronger version of me to look out for a weaker version.
And Mary scrubbed the clothes,
And Mary busted horses,
And blew the baby's nose,
And Mary and a shotgun
Kept the rattlesnakes away;
How she kept on smiling,
No one could ever say.
On the surface this is a song about your standard country girl who gets pregnant at 17 and lives the boring life of a rancher’s wife. But if you listen closely Mary is a bad ass. In country songs women get to be mini superheroes a lot more often than you would think.
Satin in a Coffin – Modest Mouse
You were laying on the carpet
Like you're satin in a coffin
You said, "Do you believe what you're sayin'?"
Yeah right now, but not that often
I’m including this song because it’s so fun to listen to. The lyrics are rather basic but the beat is undeniably satisfying – whenever it turns up on shuffle I can’t help but bounce a little as a walk.
We'll pass through
And I'll steal you something pretty
You'll say 'Man well aren't I lucky
I've gone and found myself a crooked lady
Martina Sorbara is somehow able to make every song she sings ooze sex, even this song which is much less jazzy than most of the other tunes on her only album.
A Man/Me/Then Jim – Rilo Kiley
For the slow fade of love
It might hit you from below
It's your gradual descent
Into a life you never meant
It's the slow fade of love
Love is hard, people never really understand each other, blah blah blah… this is probably the most accurate representation of my music library.
With My Looks and Your Brians – Mr. T Experience
So far, there's no doubt, things are working out;
between us we can cover every base.
You're cute; I'm not.
I'm sharp; you've got a certain way of spilling all over the place.
I once had a friend make fun of my love for novelty songs and I know they often seem trite but songs like this never fail to make me smile and that’s pretty awesome.
Great Divide – Storyhill
Your body is like this land
Pressed into knots just by its motion
So long untouched by human hands
So far from it’s forming ocean
Long ago a boy who I liked quite a lot introduced me to this band and I like them well enough that it almost makes up for his turning out to be a bit of an idiot.
I obsessively listened to this song while driving through
Have to Explode – The Mountain Goats
The stage is set
Someone's going to do something someone else will regret
I speak in smoke signals and you answer in code
The fuse will have to run out sometime
Something here will eventually have to explode
I cannot say enough positive things about The Mountain Goats – I’m ridiculously obsessed. I still think
When You Come Back Down – Nickel Creek
You got to leave me now, you got to go alone
You got to chase a dream, one that's all your own
Before it slips away
When you're flyin' high, take my heart along
I'll be the harmony to every lonely song
That you learn to play
This the most straight forward of the songs on this cd, guy loves girl unconditionally, guy supports girls dreams, guy waits for girl. Good thing it’s really pretty and the fiddling rocks or I’d be rolling my eyes.
Too Bad About Your Girl – The Donnas
If you werw smart, you'd send her home on BART
Before the real trouble starts
'Cause who's she gonna slap when she sees me in your lap
And you say you had a change of heart
This is a fun song and listening to it let’s me pretend to be the kind of girl who goes around stealing boys from their boring dates. I also love when a song makes me feel cool for picking out the silly local reference. BART is the train system in
The Luckiest – Ben Folds
I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here
Pretty pretty love. This was Amy and Joe’s wedding song and it always makes me teary.
Brown Boxes – The Spinto Band
And all these brown boxes haven’t helped me move one bit
in half-empty rooms they sit,
Stay that’s where they will stay
I could never say,
I would never say,
"This is over"
This song speaks to some of the same themes as Have to Explode -- knowing that it’s over, not being able to move on. It’s shocking that a song that prominently features a kazoo could be so sad.
Kate Kelly – The Whitlams
Now you do horse tricks
In a wild west show
The Last of the Kellys
Now the queen of a rodeo
I’ve been trying to force this Australian band on my friends for years. To really appreciate this song you need to know a bit about Ned Kelly an Australian criminal and folk hero (if they want the rest of the world to quit with the convict jokes they may want to pick some more tame heroes like really tall lumber jacks and steel driving men). This song is about Ned’s youngest sister who was the last surviving member of the family and who some think partially inspired her borthers’ crime spree when a local policemen wouldn’t stop with the unwanted advanced. It’s a pretty song for so sad a subject matter.
and the days go on forever and the towns all look the same
and I can ride the back roads and I can walk the main streets
and show someone your picture but they would not know your name
Kris is a mean lyricist. She used to make a habit of playing at least once a year at my college. If the music industry were really based on talent she’d be famous by now.
Big Brown Eyes – The Old 97s
Well a box of red, and a pill or three,
And I'm calling time and temperature just for some company.
I wish you were here. I wish I was too.
I'll drink myself to sleeplessness, I always do.
Oh Rhett Miller, if you ever need company give me a call. I once had a friend who was gaga over Mr. Miller and supposedly, well before I know her, was a bit of an Old 97 groupie. She never bedded the boy which is sad for both of us, I could have done with a little vicarious rock star action.