Hello and welcome!
For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly playlists which I’m re-visiting (and continuing to create) came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that woud 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, bi-weekly, 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 above!
1. Different World- Iron Maiden
This number kicks off Iron Maiden’s 2006 album, “A Matter of Life and Death,” and what an opening salvo it is.
For an album fully of slower and proggy (albeit excellent) songs, this is the only tune that harkens back to Maiden’s glory days in the 80s. Its highlight is its triumphant, panicked chorus, one that make you want to attempt hit the notes Mr. Dickson is hitting.
2. You Make it Easy- Jason Aldean
I have it on good authority from my friend who really, really, likes country music, that this is, “superficial small-worldview trash pop,” but I can’t help but love this song.
It’s easily digested, and doesn’t require a lot of attention, but sometimes, when you’re out chilling by a body of water with a drink in hand, that’s all you need.
3. Falls Apart- Sugar Ray
I think I’m gonna get run off of this blog for putting this on here, but hear me out…
If you play this for someone whose childhood included the late 90s, see if it doesn’t get a reaction out of them.
Within seconds of hearing those opening chords, they’ll laugh, or they’ll smile, I guarantee you.
The summer of 1999? This shit OWNED pop radio, and when I hear it, I think only of sunshine, and being too young to understand just how great those childhoods summers were.
This will always be a winner.
4. Teenage Dirtbag- Wheatus
When I first heard this, circa 7th gradeish, I thought it was an unfathomably stupid piece of music.
Thankfully, I’ve grown to realize the error of my eyes, and now recognize this as a slice of pop perfection.
The turntable scratches might not have aged too well, but the rest of it is pure gold.
Hate on it at your own risk, because it’s nothing short of a classic.
5. My Time- Zoey Dollaz featuring Gashi
Zoey Dollaz makes some solid tunes. Modern Miami rappers both confound and fascinate me, as some of them can really, really, rap, and some of them… can’t.
Mr. Dollaz is thankfully in the former camp, and this is a solid showcase for his storytelling abilities. I dig it.
6. Girl of my Dreams- Rod Wave
We all know that I believe Rod Wave will to save music for Gen Z, or something, right?
iTunes says I’ve played this song over 100 times in the last year, and I’m surprised that that number is not higher. This is prime, deep-concentration drawing music, and I love it.
7. Thingamajig- Miya Flock
Mates put me on to this one, folks.
He was PREACHING too.
And you know what?
This was worthy of his sermon.
This is one the most tremendous vocal performances I’ve ever heard, and probably the best vocal performance I heard in 2020 (even though this is from 2018).
This is a truly astonishing piece of music, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
8. In a Yard Somewhere- Bosse-de-Nage
This is a really uncomfortable/borderline-terrifying piece of music that you kind of have to be in the mood for.
That said, when you’re in the required mood, there’s actually nothing better in the world.
The section that kicks off at 4:22?
There has been nothing more perfect recorded in the last 10 years, for people who are going through it.
If you’re ever in a place where you really want to allow yourself to be crushed just listen to that, and let it flatten you.
You might cry, but it’ll be great.
9. Embers- Elder
Did you miss Elder’s album from last year?
It was a towering, incredible achievement, that should probably be a part of your life.
This was probably my favorite song on the album? It fuses At-The-Drive-In and Thursday with early 70s Weather Report, and 80s King Crimson, which is essentially all that I want out of life.
10. I Have Nothing- Whitney Houston
I’ve gone on the record about how Whitney Houston’s music showed up throughout the earliest years of my childhood, so I won’t re-tread that.
I will say that this is my second or third favorite song from the soundtrack to, “The Bodyguard,” and it features a vocal performance that’s nothing short of top-tier.
11. Teenage Dirtbag- Sega Bodega & Dorian Electra
So, this is a lo-fi (Skype duet?) cover of the Wheetus song from earlier in the playlist.
And it’s great, right!?
Seriously, when I heard this for the first time, I thought it was genius. Full of bold decision-making, and two weirdo vocal performances, it’s a winner, through and through.
12. Fade Into you- Sega Bodega & Eartheater
Hate to say it, but this might be more successful than Mazzy Star’s original, in certain places?
It’s quite the achievement. I challenge you to not like it.
13. Limelight- Rush
This is kind of a classic, so I’m not sure that I need to go on at length about it.
For the uninitiated, Rush became superstars around this time, and this song got radio rotation and a music video.
The song is incredible as a whole, but the real showstopper is Alex Lifeson’s guitar solo— a wildly original cruise through the lane that Eddie Van Halen reigned over at the time. Here, Lifeson’s whammy bar, and harmonic work here at the very least rivals Sir Edward’s, and it’s a tremendous thing to hear.
14. Just Like Heaven- The Cure
Everyone loves The Cure’s unabashed pop songs, right?
If you don’t, check your pulse.
I feel like this is the perfect song for the beginning of summer— emblematic of the coming three month’s joy and sunshine.
Play it on Memorial Day Weekend, or else.
15. Won’t Back Down- Fuel
I’m not sure if you all are ready for this…
This is a song about Daredevil.
To be specific, Ben Affleck as Daredevil.
It was recorded SPECIFICALLY, for the movie’s soundtrack.
And man— if you could bottle everything that made early 2000s hard rock what it was for better or worse, it’s RIGHT HERE, in ALL of it’s glory.
If you want to hate on this, you can leave, because I’m not hearing it.
16. Raindrops- John Paesano
I liked season 2 of, “Daredevil,” on Netflix.
I know that’s an unpopular opinion, but I thought it was pretty solid.
Early on in the show, there’s a scene that’s soundtracked by this, and it’s kind of incredible.
Love it, and it will love you back.
17. Porcelain- Red Hot Chili Peppers
It pains me to pay Anthony Kiedis a compliment, but this is as good as he ever got.
This might be the best song from, “Californication”?
This will chill you out, and think heavy thoughts. In a beautiful way, but yes— something for the quiet moments.
18./19. Conveyor/boxes- Moses Sumney
I kind of refuse to discuss these songs in detail, because I really just want you to listen to them, and be 100% floored by how EFFING good they are.
Seriously. Just listen, and let yourself be bowled over.
20. Helter Skelter- The Beatles
There are days where I believe this to be The Beatles greatest achievement.
I’ll fight people on that one, too.
Let’s talk about Paul McCartney’s bass guitar tone on here.
He’s playing like he was trying to put Jack Bruce out of WORK.
Let’s run that back…
Out of WORK.
It’s like his mantra for all 4 minutes and thirty seconds of this song were, “I’m only into bow-legged women these days.”
For the record, bow-legged women, you all run the show, so don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Anyways, if you ever hand me the aux cord, and say you want to hear The Beatles, don’t get mad when this comes on, because I already told you what time it was, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.