Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mega playlist for a girl off to college

I made this for Charlene, one of my favorite L.A. Youth students, just before she headed off to college. When Charlene came to L.A. Youth for the first time, she was just finishing eighth grade, though she had the maturity of someone several years older. (When we're talking about teens, a few years is a HUGE leap.) Unlike most students who join the non-profit teen newspaper, Charlene stayed through her senior year, which is longer than any student since I got hired in 2002. By the time she graduated I considered myself her more than her editor, but more like her friendtor. She is one of the few students who ever made me a mix CD, so as she headed off to college I owed her one. Since I'm terrible at music editing, I made her a mega-playlist. Enjoy, kiddo!

Disc 1
"Vox" — Sarah McLachlan: She was one of the artists I discovered through living on the Canadian border and one of the first intelligent songwriters I listened to. This song was from her first CD, which was recorded when she was like 19, and captured like what I felt was coming up next in my life, whatever that may be.
"Goodbye" — The Sundays: I'm still trying to figure out exactly what Harriet Wheeler means when she sings, "As the heavens shudder baby, I belong to you." That the meaning mutates from year to year in my life is the sign of a truly great lyric.

"Make Your Own Kind of Music" — Cass Elliot: This is one of those glorious theme-music-for-life songs that's great to dance to. There's something to me that is very California in its attitude.

"Tightrope" — Yeasayer: Choices, consequences and perhaps regret or redemption. This is what Rock n Roll was made for.

"Albatross" — The Besnard Lakes: A gazy, hazy dream of a song.

"Young Adult Friction" — The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: With a name like this, I was nervously expecting precious, instead got precocious melodies and danceability.

"I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" — Annie: The dance vibe continues with the Swedish pop/dance star's could-be anthem to college. Not that I'm advocating!

"Spin The Bottle" — The Juliana Hatfield Three: A touchstone high school song for me, sadly not because I was playing Spin the Bottle, just because I listened to this song all the time watching Alternative Nation and dreamed of being misfit enough to write a song about doing something so HS cool later on that was half as great as this song.

"Fall On Me" — R.E.M.: Still one of my favoritest bands. Listen to this song when it rains, not because of any literal rain in the song, but to truly embrace the song's title.

"Stockton Gala Days" — 10,000 Maniacs: A Western New York band that made it HUGE playing at Bill Clinton's MTV-sponsored inaugural ball. Bonus points for making a garland crown.

"Stand By Me" — Ben E. King: There aren't many songs I would say are important non-musical markers, but this is one of them. I suspect that you're feelings for this song will deepen when it's dark outside.

"Tumbling Dice" — The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street is a perfect album and this is my favorite song on it.

"Country Girl" — Primal Scream: My friend Dave introduced me to this song, which he calls a great Stones song that they never recorded. I wish everyone friends who will introduce them to songs as kick-ass as this.

"Be My Baby" — Glasvegas: Wall of SOUND with this fuzzy remake of Motown.

"Release Me" — The Like: Sometimes my mom is right and something should just be fun.

"Birthday" — Sugarcubes: Another Mike HS fave. This song got me excited about music not made by people from the US, Canada or the UK.

"Coast Is Clear" — Curve: Mike's HS life continued. An amazing block-out-the-world song from a band that never got as popular as they should have.

"From A Million Miles" — Single Gun Theory: My fave radio station of all time, CFNY in Toronto, introduced me to this band and song from Australia. Not sure that I've made a playlist that didn't include this song, which for my money is more transubstantiational than any other.

"Anthems for a 17-year-old Girl" — Broken Social Scene: Aproposity should be obvious. This is a live version recorded live at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto 7.11.2009.

Disc 2
"Get Out The Map" — Indigo Girls: For anyone starting college this song seems really clear as to its inclusion on a playlist from a friendtor.

"So Young" — Suede: Another UK band that deserved more attention.

"I Can Dream About You" — Dan Hartman: Many of the songs on Disc 2 reflect how your definition of love and courting and dating and relationships can and will evolve.

"Who's Loving You" — Jackson 5: KCRW's Jason Bentley played this after Michael Jackson died and said that when he was growing up this was his "jam." That's a very smart musical man.

"Swimming Pool" — The Submarines: Songs use metaphors and similes all the time. Many of them suck. This one is a perfect fusion of lyric, melody, harmony, song length and idea.

"Dancing in the Dark" — Ted Leo & The Pharmacists: Awesome bootleg of a great Springsteen song. Play this at a party and someone might fall in love.

"All I Want Is You" — U2: I think this is the best. love. song. ever.

"Stay" — Belly: "He sleeps under stairs along with the heirs
Of nothing and nothing means no one who cares
But I love him dear and I love him dear
And I've loved him hundreads of thousands of years."

"Fade Into You" — Mazzy Star: Hope Sandoval's vocal on this song is a perfect match for the ambivalent lyrics.

"Plainsong" — The Cure: Dark dark dark moments of love.

"Chasing Dragons" — Gemma Hayes: over.

"Baby Just Be Yourself" — The Pipettes: Unfortunately, you'll probably encounter too many people in life to whom you want to play this song for. At least the Pipettes have fun with all their songs.

"Political" — Spirit Of The West: Work through the shit in this song and tis the real thing.

"Papa Was a Rodeo" — The Magnetic Fields: Ridiculously beautifully sad song.

"If Love Is A Red Dress" — Maria McKee: Someone's heart has been buffalo'ed. I hope that you never feel like this song, Charlene.

"The Drinking Song" — Moxy Fruvous: Here's what I told the Wude, when I included it on her mix. It still holds. One of my fave bands from high school. This song about aftermath is just about perfect.

Disc 3
"Little Bones" — The Tragically Hip: This is the PARTY disc. Another thanks-to-CFNY song. This song makes even a dorm room sound like a rowdy bar on the Canadian frontier. And what could make a party better? NOTHING.
"California Love" — Dr. Dre and Tupac: When this song stops being welcome at parties, then check the horizon for the silhouettes of four dudes on horses or a red Moon rising.

"Sexy Hypnotist" — Luscious Jackson: I think I always hoped one of these would show up at a party. I had to settle for --------------. You'll hear this story when  you're older.

"This Is The Night" — Jarvis Cocker, Jonny Greenwood, Phil Selway, Steve Mackey, Jason Buckle, Steve Claydon: This is guaranteed to make your parties magical.

"Sukie In The Graveyard" — Belle & Sebastian: The second-coolest concert party moment I've ever seen was at the Hollywood Bowl when B&S closed their show with the LA Phil with this song. Crowd members got up and were dancing around the orchestra pit!

"The Bleeding Heart Show" — The New Pornographers: At 2:40 this song kicks into the greatest overdrive ever.

"Intervention" — The Arcade Fire: The first time I heard this was on a leaked mp3 of its debut on British radio. The DJ said that if this song didn't make you feel something special inside something was basically wrong with you. I could not agree more.

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" — Tori Amos: Nirvana's version of this song inspired slamdancing at college parties in 1992. This version is for when the party needs to chill.

"Into the Mystic" — The Swell Season: Van Morrison cover that's a much better song than Brown-Eyed Girl, which is a fun, if grossly overplayed, party song.

"Not Going Home" — The Elected: For when dawn is closing on you and you still wanna outrun it.

"Take On Me" — A.C. Newman: By the end of the song you'll know why this version is a must-include on the PARTY disc. :)

"My Life Would Suck Without You" — Kelly Clarkson: Favorite pure pop star of the decade must be represented. With any luck this is how you'll feel about most everyone you're surrounded by on weekends.

"Love U More" — Sunscreem: This is as techno as I got. Just dance.

"Summertime" — DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince: Be bold and bring it down and everyone will thank you.

"Birdhouse in Your Soul" — They Might Be Giants: A great party has the levity and intelligence of this song.

"Life In a Northern Town" — Sugarland, Little Big Town & Jake Owen: Little countrified version of an 80s classic. I hope that the parties you attend will have people who appreciate some diversity.

"World Sick" — Broken Social Scene: Just listen and fall in love with Canadian music.

"Sometime Around Midnight" — Airborne Toxic Event: Taste of California. I don't know of any songs that charge me up more than this.

Disc 4
"Safe Travels" — Peter and the Wolf: Another alum gifted me this song for the Perfect Song CD project. It's a spare and beautiful song. It's inclusion should be obvious.

"Pictures Of Success" — Rilo Kiley: This is my favorite song, Charlene. It's the song by the band that makes me (an early 30s person) feel about music the way that I did back in high school. Like the best songs, the opening notes immediately put the part of my brain that loves music into a suspended animation, in which exists only the song. Musically, it’s simple but the lyrical and vocal vulnerability as Jenny Lewis contemplates the future and laments the possibility of living a meaningless life ... it coalesces into something that absolutely hypnotizes me. It’s every moment of my youth that I wondered whether there was something beyond Amherst, NY and every moment since that I’ve understood that there is and that I can’t waste it. In short, the purest example in my life of William Blake’s concept of higher innocence—seeing with the unfiltered wonder of a child and understanding with the wisdom of those who have learned to value the fleeting nature of our time.

"Red Dirt Girl" — Emmylou Harris: You've already not become her. Be bold as you venture out and inward.

"Boy 1904" — Jónsi & Alex: Iceland rules as does music from Iceland.

"Us" — Regina Spektor: I hope that you'll feel this way about all your memories, especially of college.

"Elevator Love Letter" — Stars: The way Amy Millan talks about the power of shared memories as she introduces this live version speaks to the ineffable bonds of sharing a beginning.

"To Sir With Love" — Soul Asylum and Lulu: Maybe scratch what I said about "All I Want Is You" by U2? This might be the greatest love song ever. And I actually like this duet version better than the original solo version by Lulu.

"Slow Show" — The National: Another gift song from an alum. You guys have great taste.

"Umbrella" — Rihanna: Don't be like me and forget about great pop music while thinking that cool kids don't like it.

"A Million Tears" — Kasey Chambers: A song the defines a heartfelt plea.

"I Would Never" — The Blue Nile: I believe this is what the wisdom of having healed sounds like.

"Falling Slowly" — Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová: This bootleg is from the movie. This will never cease giving me chills.

"Stay" — Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories: This is one of the most defining songs of my time in college. This video sorta made Lisa Loeb a precursor for Tina Fey's intelligent, quirky hotness. Reality Bites was a crappy movie, though.

"California Stars" — Billy Bragg and Wilco: Don't forget from whence you came.

"Ammæli" — The Sugarcubes: Icelandic version of "Birthday" from Disc 1. I heard this for the first time while vacationing there. LOVED IT.
"Parting Words" — Michael Giacchino: Giacchino's score made the raft scene in the season 1 finale of Lost the most emotional thing I've ever seen on TV. It felt like the closer to this mix, but then I realized that we needed something less poignant.

"Stadium Love" — Metric: fin

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