It is time to reveal my P-Mag birthday gift to the world! JewelCourt won my give away and was kind enough to give me an awesome birthday playlist. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well our tastes aligned.
JC: I love music but I’m not a musically gifted person. I can’t carry a tune; I can’t talk about rhythm, melody, or pitch or any other technical thing (I actually just exhausted all the technical terms I know). So, when it came to picking a Top 10 list, I couldn’t base it on quality because I don’t know how to measure that. All I know is how music makes me feel. And how it’s entwined with my memories, both good and bad. Instead of combing through my music collection trying desperately to come up with music that would make everyone think I was cool (which I am not), I figured I’d just be honest, so some of this probably borders on embarrassing. Also, I didn’t include anything new because I’m not sure if I’ll still be singing those songs ten years from now. (And I like old music because, as previously established, I am not cool.) (And I am an old.)
AM: There is nothing wrong with old music.
In no particular order, here are 10 songs that I never get tired of singing along (badly) to.
1. “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac
I discovered a cache of my parent’s old albums when I was in high school. Among them were Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album (the first one with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) and Rumours. Rhiannon probably wasn’t the first song I listened to off of those albums, but it was the one that hooked me. There was something otherworldly about Stevie Nicks spinning around and singing about women who turned into birds with that haunting guitar riff in the background. To this day, when I listen to it, I want to twirl about wearing a flow-y dress.
AM: I absolutely love this song, too. I am an unabashed Fleetwod Mac lover. Stevie Nicks is pretty freaking amazing.
2. “Taillights Fade” by Buffalo Tom
Buffalo Tom was one of those bands poised to make it big in the mid-90s with the album Big Red Letter Day, the most polished of all their releases. However, I don’t think they ever caught on much outside of the Boston area. Which was great for me because I got to see them play at the clubs on Lansdowne Street and numerous times at the Middle East (an awesome venue) in Cambridge. This song is off one of their earlier albums. It’s sad and yearning but hopeful at the same time. Gets me right in the feels.
AM: A band and a song I was not familiar with at all until I listened to this song. I am pretty sure I had heard it in some 90s playlist somewhere, but it didn’t really stick. They kind of remind me of the Gin Blossoms or the Goo Goo Dolls. It is definitely the sound that came post Nirvana.
3. “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie
Even Vanilla Ice couldn’t destroy this song. That opening bass line grabs you by the throat and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s vocals move in for the kill. Also, it’s fun to sign a friend up with you for karaoke and then force them sing the Freddie Mercury part. (I’m David Bowie all the way.)
AM: Absolutely a classic and one of my favorite songs. I would never want to sing the Freddie part because its Freddie Fucking Mercury. I have always appreciated the bass line.
4. “Explode and Make Up” by Sugar
When I was much younger and much drunker, I had a one of those drama filled head fucks with some dude whose name I can’t even remember now. This was my soundtrack. I listened to this song on repeat for at least a month straight. I’m surprised my roommates didn’t murder me and hide the body. Now when I listen to it, I can still feel an echo of those intense feelings. A bittersweet nostalgia.
AM: Bob Mould is a lyrical genius. This song packs a giant wollup of Fuck You into one song.
5. “After Dark” by Le Tigre
It’s physically impossible to listen to this song without dancing. Can’t be done.
AM: My relationship with Le Tigre is very complicated. I have stuck listening to just one song by them in the past only because I really really liked it. It was nice to listen to another song outside of “Deceptacon”
6. “Here Comes a Regular” by the Replacements
There’s something about the way Westerberg’s voice cracks and goes slightly off key that stabs me in the heart. It’s no secret that he struggled with alcoholism and his shame is on full display here. I listened to this song a lot when I was transitioning out my hard partying days. I’d decided, to quote another Replacements song, that I didn’t want “to grow old in a bar,” which wound up causing rifts in the majority of my friendships. Happy to say that I came out better on the other side.
AM: Until about two months ago, my Replacements knowledge was zero. Then I read Our Band Could Be Your Life and it allowed me to explore bands I hadn’t before. I am really digging on this song.
7. “More than This” by Roxy Music
This was my de-stress song during law school. I remember slipping my earbuds in, putting on the Avalon album, and letting Bryan Ferry’s voice wrap around me like a sweater (a sexy sweater) whenever I thought I was going to lose it.
AM: Some classic 80s pop here. I had not really been exposed to Roxy Music other than random radio play. I kind of enjoyed it. Bryan Ferry’s voice is pretty enjoyable.
8. “Court and Spark” by Joni Mitchell
This whole album really. There’s just something about her fearless vulnerability. This is an especially good album to listen to while cooking dinner and drinking wine (my version of partying these days).
AM: I have always been more of a Ladies of the Canyon Joni fan. It was really nice to sit down and listen to this Joni song/album. Carolina is a huge Blue fan, and I am starting to waver that way, too. What I have learned is you can’t really go wrong with any Joni album.
9. “I Can Get Us out of Here” by Lucero
This is just straight ahead, working class, dudely rock. Sometimes I wonder if I’m betraying my feminist ideals with music like this because I should really be listening to more women, but that’s a whole ‘nother essay.
AM: I understand the pain of wanting to listen to more women or at least including them in my lists when I write them. Sometimes I realize how many men I actually listen to. Thank goddess right now I am really big into Sleater-Kinney again. My reading of Lucero sounds like they are trying to combine Springsteen with Americana, Indie Rock, and a slight twinge of punk. This is not a bad thing.
10. “White Houses” by Vanessa Carlton
Sometimes you just connect with a song because it taps into something. This is objectively not a very good song, but I still love it. It reminds me of my college experience. Of leaving home for the first time and falling in with a group of new friends and being so scared that they’d discover I wasn’t nearly as awesome as I was trying to be. And then leaving them behind.
AM: I have to admit I didn’t even know Carlton had more than one hit. I mean everyone knows “1000 Miles.” I kind of enjoyed this. It is nice piano pop. It has a fun beat. It might be worth exploring the Vanessa Carlton oeuvre.
I really enjoyed listening someone else’s picks. It really forced me to listen to music that might be outside of my comfort zone or outside of my music knowledge. I think Roxy Music would definitely be worth exploring further.