Hello and welcome!
Here we are two weeks into 2021 (even though it feels like it’s already been several months) with a new entry of the Tuesday Time Machine: January of 2013.
For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly playlists which I’m re-visiting came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that would see me create one 80 minute playlist a month.
The reason for doing this was two-fold: I wanted to create and re-enforce very specific lived experiences and memories tied to music, and I wanted a rather consistent set of songs to propel me each month as I created my art.
In creating these playlists, I tried to make things flow— I wanted songs to segue very effortlessly (or abrasively) creating a sense of narrative.
Going forward, once a week, I’m going to update the Spotify playlist that you can find below.
I’d recommend not shuffling the songs, as they were sequenced the way that they were for a reason. To get the full experience, listen to them in the way in which I’ve arranged things.
Included below is a short description of the tune I’ve included, and/or a description of the specifics memory associated with it. If you’re not trying to read all of that, just hit play on the link below!
1. 909 Day- John Frusciante
We begin with a peculiar little intro of sorts for this month— one which features a very short vocal interjection from RZA, a quick sample of a UK grime rapper (?) drum machines, and lotso synths.
A strange, strange hybrid, I know, but it’s what felt right in the moment.
I still like this too. It succeeds as a little blast of rose-colored optimism in spite of itself.
2. An Ugly Fact of Life- Explosions in the Sky
Hmm… a little sad, yeah?
Going through these old January playlists, these were not always the happiest months, from a sonic standpoint. There are spots of darkness and melancholy in here. Most likely, this has to do with the fact that I a midwest resident for all of these, and nothing’s more bleak than 5 hours of daylight, and passing sunshine at best, yeah?
It’s funny, because I’m facing a roof that’s getting hit with ample sunlight, as I write this, but I feel like January contributes a lot of grey to the mix, hence including a song like this.
3. Walking Far From Home- Iron & Wine
This is better, right?
Have you ever heard an organ that sounded so warm?
I think part of that warmth comes from the memory of the first time I heard this.
It was just after new years– sitting in a particularly cozy kitchen with two of my dearest friends from Minneapolis, Noelle and Spencer, eating whatever outrageous thing Spencer cheffed up that evening.
It was a moment— a kind thing found amongst frigid winter temperatures, and brisk, brisk, walks.
It’s not often that a song can put you RIGHT BACK where you first heard it, but this is one of those tunes.
I’ll always love it.
4. Entombed- Deftones
Speaking of warmth, is there any more striking assortment of oranges, whites, and pinks that you’d prefer to be cocooned in?
I know, I know, this song is called, “Entombed,” which brings to mind something that’s probably more grim, but this is not that.
This is euphoria.
Anchored by a hypnotic, trance-like arpeggio tapped out by Mr. Stephen Carpenter that shape shifts for the entirety of the song, the music here grows only more beautiful, the more it’s repeated.
This is an all-timer for me— pretty close to perfect.
5. Coral Blue- Converge
This is some sledgehammer shit, a tune that morphs into something slightly more lithe in the chorus, whilst still maintaining the characteristics and general qualities of molasses.
That’s ridiculous, I know, but please listen, and see if you don’t feel the same way.
6. Secret Lover- The Isley Brothers
Look folks, I’m here for Ernie Isley’s guitar leads, and that’s about it.
He gets WILD, WILD, in here, and doing what he does as an elder statesman in here, is really impressive to me.
7. Love is Only a Feeling- The Darkness
I saw The Darkness live around the time that I made this playlist, and I think that reminded me just how damn great they were.
You gotta embrace this.
The corny, (or, dead serious?) things going on in here are just flat-out awesome, and I don’t think they got enough credit for their greatness when they first came out.
8. Lump Sum- Bon Iver
More wintertime sadness.
I feel like this selection is kinda justified though (not a Justin Vernon pun) as he recorded this not too far from where I was living at the time?
He was probably feeling those winter blues compounding his heartbreak, so I think it’s legit.
9. Wet Sand- Red Hot Chili Peppers
And here it is…
My ALL-TIME FAVORITE Red Hot Chili Peppers song.
But you all knew that, right?
In any case, John Frusciante plays his greatest guitar solo on this song, and it may make you believe in humanity again, or something?
You’ll have to see for yourself.
10. Stinkfist- Tool
Look, I like Tool pretty well.
I own four of their albums, and Lateralus is one of the greatest metal albums ever.
I wasn’t 100% sure about some of their older stuff at first, because I wanted them to flex harder. However I’ve since found that the beauty of their music perhaps lies in the fact that they don’t feel compelled to flex, or, that they’re just trying to keep it subtle.
In any case, Danny Carrey hits a couple of fills in here that will raise an eyebrow or two, and perhaps, elicit the highly coveted reaction of, “that’s a wild boy.”
This song is worth the hype.
11. King Back- T.I.
Depending on what day of the week it is, this might be my favorite T.I. song.
Just Blaze was at the unquestionable HEIGHT of his powers in the mid-aughts, and here, he blessed The Rubber Band Man with the perfect thing to glide over.
If this one has never made it across your radar, now’s a good time to check it out.
12. Camay- Ghostface Killah featuring Raekwon and Cappadonna
I used to get down on myself when I listened to this. I was 25 when I made this playlist, and at that same age, Ghostface and Raekwon had already released Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and were in the process of recording this.
I took that as having failed in life.
I say that only semi-seriously, but for real— listen to the masterclass that Ghostface turns in here, and try to wrap your head around coming up with that at TWENTY FIVE.
That said, you can get a hit record these days with a chorus that’s 95%, “Gucci gang, Gucci gang” so, idk.
13. A$AP Rocky- 1Train
I think the power move here might actually have been for Rocky to remove his verse from this, and just let everyone else rap, but that’s not what happened.
The hip-hop posse cut is sadly no longer in vogue, but I admire him trying to bring it back with this, because this is incredible all the way through.
14. Zed and Two Naughts- The Mars Volta
Can you count the time signature?
This was the single from The Mars Volta’s final studio album, and I thought it was pretty good. The chorus is a top-tier ear-worm, and the snake-like rhythm of the guitar in the verse is pretty darn slick.
15. Time- Hans Zimmer
This is a really beautiful piece of music.
Somewhat melancholy, but hopeful…
I put it in as a palette cleanser, and something that would leave me thinking, “perhaps…” at the end of my listening experience, in an optimistic way, of course.