Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Musical bio or How to talk to teens

Occasionally I'm asked how I relate to students or connect with them. I've honestly never really viewed that as a challenge of my job as an editor at a teen newspaper. I've always felt like the editing is the hard part and the layout. The teens ... they're a blast. But if I had to provide a hint it would be to be true to yourself. Teens are smart and they can tell when you're bullshitting them. I usually share with them my thoughts about music.

I created this playlist for a student with the goal of giving her insights into my musical tastes (ergo me) from high school, college and now. I also wanted to introduce her to some great music she might not have heard of. Since she has have struck me as someone with great instincts musically (based on our brief discussions) I wanted to help shape those. Some pithy comments follow the tracks.

Portions For Foxes -- Rilo Kiley -- This is my new fave band. They're the band that makes me feel about music the way I did in high school.

Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken -- Camera Obscura -- One of my fave songs from 06. A great little band from Scotland, where they make such fab music.

High And Dry -- Radiohead
Fake Plastic Trees -- Radiohead -- back to back, these are the saddest songs ever. I'm usually about 1/3 chance of crying while listening to this album (The Bends)

Feed The Tree -- Belly -- a high school pick.

Drawn To The Rhythm -- Sarah McLachlan -- a high school pick. I was really into female artists in HS and Sarah was the first.

The Bleeding Heart Show -- The New Pornographers -- at 2:42 this song kicks into the greatest overdrive.

Born Of Frustration -- James -- a high school pick.

Reason Why -- Rachael Yamagata -- another artist I discovered really only b/c I live in Los Angeles now. I've seen her live 2.5 times. Once was a free show at Amoeba. I count those as half shows. She's amazing and really funny, too.

Poison Oak -- Bright Eyes -- From my fave album of 2005 (I'm Wide Awake It's Morning).

Heart and Soul -- T'Pau -- a song from my childhood. The band's name is a character from the original Star Trek series. It's fun 80 music.

Ageless Beauty -- Stars -- From my second fave album of 2005 (Set Yourself on Fire). Pretty great year that spawns two desert island CDs.

The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth -- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- they kind of break a lot of rules, the first of which being clear vocals that sound tonal. But wow are they energetic.

Birthday -- Sugarcubes -- HS mike. This is Bjork before she got really weird.

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic -- The Police -- My college marching band did a version of this song. Not nearly as good, though.

Pull Shapes -- Pipettes -- could a song BE any more fun? The English are quite fab at this music thing, eh?

Nightswimming -- Coldplay with Michael Stipe -- as Chris Martin of Coldplay says: the most beautiful song ever. Seeing REM perform this live (finally) at the Hollywood Bowl (not this version sadly) is one of the highlights of my concert experiences.

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart -- Wilco -- Amazing band. A band that seems to appeal to smart people/music snobs. Yeah, I'm a music snob. But I'm not saying anything about my intelligence.

Human -- The Pretenders -- theme song to my favorite prematurely canceled series, Cupid.

Across the Universe -- Fiona Apple -- Beatles re-imagined. It's never a bad time for them, right?

Pure -- The Lightning Seeds -- HS Mike.

From A Million Miles -- Single Gun Theory -- HS Mike. Heard this song on the radio once fell in love with it. This is how a pop band should incorporate world music sounds into their compositions. This is an obscure, now defunct, band from Australia. Even some people at Amoeba have never heard of them.

Under Pressure -- Queen and David Bowie -- Believe it or not, I have a friend who likes Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby, which samples this, more than this song. I am thinking of de-friending him.

Walkie Talkie Man -- Steriogram -- iPod commercial got me into this song.

Why Can't I Be You? -- The Cure -- junior high mike. I was a metalhead, thankfully I found The Cure.

No Man's Woman -- Sinead O'Connor -- This song appears in the Alias pilot. There's never been a better marriage between song and show, and I'm not even a Sinead fan.

I'm Gonna Soothe You -- Maria McKee -- Very underrated, rootsy and bluesy. This is a good rain song for me.

You Ought To Know -- The University of Arizona Marching and Pep Bands -- you said you like Alanis, so I thought I'd actually give you some of my college pep band. I am on this song, btw.

Least Complicated -- Indigo Girls -- the title says it all.

The Boy With The Arab Strap -- Belle & Sebastian -- the live perf of this at the Hollywood Bowl this summer was one of the concert highlights of my life, too. After seeimg them live, I bought three of their CDs on amazon.

A Million Tears -- Kasey Chambers -- one of the saddest songs ever. she's aussie. they also make great music.

Chicago -- Sufjan Stevens -- This album (Come of Feel the Illinoise) was rated Pitchfork's No. 1 album of 05. It's awesome. Btw, his name is pronounced (SOOF-yan). This is another artist who grants you immediate access into the music snob club. I mean that in a good way, as a card-carrying member. :)

Bad -- U2 -- there's no more emotional vocal than Bono singing this song about heroin addiction—not his own.

Red Dirt Girl -- Emmylou Harris -- This is COUNTRY music, not that stuff they played on the now-extinct KZLA.

Carbon Monoxide -- Regina Spektor -- She's Russian. The first time I saw her she was meek almost on stage and blown away seemingly that she had fans and that they knew her music. The third time I saw her she was encouraging singing along.

Political -- Spirit Of The West -- A band from Vancouver whose sound continues to evolve. They're awesome and I love this love song.

Wheat Kings -- The Tragically Hip -- Another Canadian band, this one from Toronto. Growing up near the Canadian border I was really lucky to be exposed to some amazinng stuff from up north.

Someone to Watch Over Me -- Ella Fitzgerald -- It's Ella. She's the best.

Hallelujah -- Brandi Carlile -- show stopper. Not just this perf either. She's unbelieveable live.

Sometimes Always -- The Jesus & Mary Chain -- HS mike song. The Cure rescued me from my metal head days and led me to music like this.

Just A Ride -- Jem -- Thank you KCRW!

If You Knew (Live) -- Jeff Buckley -- Check out our Jeff Buckley review on

From the Morning -- Nick Drake -- He died way too soon. We've also got an amazing review of him on, too.

Another For The Darkness -- Gemma Hayes -- She's Irish. Very beauitful voice and also very beautiful. Entertainment Weekly turned me on to her.

Daydream Believer -- The Monkees -- Some of my parents' music is awesome.

Mornings Eleven -- The Magic Numbers -- there are two brothers and sisters. Pretty cool, eh? Btw, they did a live version of Crazy in Love that knocked me out.

It's a Shame About Ray -- The Lemonheads -- HS Mike.

Here's Where The Story Ends -- The Sundays -- HS Mike, title is obvious, eh? Btw, this is one of the first altrock bands I liked. I was ahead of even the most trendy people at my school when it came to The Sundays. Sadly, they released only three albums.

Irony alert: I didn't include my favorite song on the list ... (so here's a lyric)

"They say California is a recipe for a black hole
I say I've got my best shoes on ...
ready to go ..."
--Rilo Kiley "Pictures of Success"

1 comment:

Connie Chung said...

good stuff, mike. you are quite the music snob. ha!