I’ve got an extremely complicated relationship with Fall. I can remember feeling unhappy in the third grade for the first time during the season because my mom made me go to church choir against my will, but that is definitely another story for another time.
this playlist contains music dating back to my freshman year of high school, when I started to make a point to try to remember song association. The latest tracks are from last year. A lot of songs chronicle growth, heartbreak, triumph, and other lessons that occurred with leaves turning orange.
I hope you enjoy this playlist! Let me know, and I will post more from my Spotify library.
I feel like this post has been a work in progress for ages, and you might feel the same if you know me, even a little bit. It is common for me to wake up every morning and my gaze turn to a pile of dusty cassette tapes on my shelf. Some days I look back on them with nostalgia and other days, I just look at them and wonder why I ever stopped making mixes on cassette. I felt like they became such a part of my identity, even before I knew what an identity was.
My story with mix tapes has a beginning, middle, and an end, like all stories do. However it’s a story with a bunch of noise in between and I think about continuing the story often. I can recall images of childhood glances toward my father’s big cassette cabinet, where every tape featured his incredibly meticulous handwriting. I can recall an image of sitting on the floor of my new boyfriend’s dorm room, sprawled out with CD’s, in an attempt to show him what I could do; Mix tape creation felt like a secret talent. I don’t remember what I put on that first tape for him except a song by The Clash, but I do remember I never made him another tape for the four years we were together. I struggled with how much time he spent making his own tapes for me, especially when we were in a long distance relationship. He was attempting to write a story featuring Gordon Lightfoot and They Might Be Giants songs, and I guess I realized I had stopped “writing” by then.
My story with mix tapes isn’t all sad; it’s a story of joy, laughter, questions, confusion, and a whole batch of emotions I can’t make sense of, but they are all perfectly outlined on the tapes I’ve made. I was inspired by an article I saw recently from NPR about conveying the right message when making a tape (specifically, how to not “look like a creeper”). When I read the article, a story immediately came to mind from high school where I had given a mix to a guy I’d really liked. I don’t think we had anything in common except for our mutual love for music. I made and gave the tape pictured above to him, which he examined closely and proclaimed “WHO MAKES THESE?!” I was really upset because I realized this was the first time I had realized making tapes had become my favorite way of expression. I was the “who” in the situation for the first time.
I specifically remember making this tape for Dude No. 2 (the number two is very significant. I didn’t like him as much as I liked Dude No. 1, and he was also a piece of number two). I’d considered the mix just to be a mix of songs I really liked but this tape was probably the first and only tape where I did not construct a mix full of meaning. My very idealistic teenage self searched for meaning in absolutely every lyric, and I spent hours agonizing over how the person giving me the tape felt about me, and what possessed them to put a certain song on the tape. I drove my friends absolutely nuts with the constant squealing and questioning over the next few years of tape looping; something they chose to slowly reveal to me much later. 🙂
I’ve got a ton of mixes and a ton of stories to tell through songs so I’ve decided to dedicate my next few blog posts to these tapes and stories. Some have been long worn out and some of them are still going strong with new mixes being created, and a few are really cringe worthy and give me feelings similar to the stomach flips I felt after dropping my beloved purple boombox in an elevator while moving. I consider that to be the “end” of the story, but there is a ton of feedback in between for your listening pleasure!
“Who Makes These?!”
“Shabby Doll”- Elvis Costello & The Attractions
“Beware of Darkness”- Concrete Blonde
“Wendell Gee”- R.E.M.
“Can’t Get There From Here”- R.E.M.
“A Million Miles Away”- The Plimsouls
“Candle In The Wind”- Elton John
“The Bucket”- Kings of Leon
“Hey! Hey! Nadine”- R.E.M.
“Burning Down”- R.E.M.
“All The Young Dudes”- World Party
“Skin Deep”- The Stranglers
“And Your Bird Can Sing”- The Beatles
“Other Arms”- Robert Plant
“In The Mood”- Robert Plant
“Take A Chance On Me”- Roxy Music
“Everywhere At Once”- The Plimsouls
“Love My Way”- The Psychedelic Furs
“(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” Blondie
“Mirror In The Bathroom”- The English Beat
(note: “Mirror In The Bathroom” was apparently the only song he liked).
(I still rock really hard. like all of these selections on the list.)
39. “Sleepy Doni”- Pujol: I bought a PUJOL record in high school, but put it on the back of the shelf for a long time, and finally gave the band a chance when their 2015 EP Kisses was released. You know those records that you’re not prepared to hear for a long time because you’re not prepared to have your mind blown? Kisses was that EP for me, and I particularly dug “Sleepy Doni” with its catchy chorus and bouncing sax.
38. “Secret Garden”- Bruce Springsteen: Is there a point in life where everyone is supposed to wake up and start listening to The Boss if they haven’t been listening to him since infancy? Someone told me I’d like this song, and it ain’t bad.
37. “Keep The Car Running”- Arcade Fire: My first exposure to Arcade Fire came from Revolution, and I always loved what I heard. However “Keep The Car Running” was released a few years before, so I had missed it, and I’m really happy to have found it! I was riding around with Ashley on New Years Day of 2016, and she told me that she’d heard this song before and knew I would love it. I tend to get extremely optimistic during the early days of the new year and I bounced along to this song for a while, and damn, this is the definition of pep.
36. “Turtles All the Way Down”- Sturgill Simpson: If you’ve never heard of Sturgill Simpson or had the chance to hear his music, I hope you saw his performance on SNL this week. After you watch that, go listen to this song from his sophomore record, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sturgill is the “new classic” of country music and will no doubt have a hand in redefining the genre.
35. “Sound and Vision”- David Bowie: Bowie forever and always. As I tried to keep Bowie’s memory alive in 2016, I tried really hard to figure out which track of his was my very favorite. I decided that award would be impossible to give, but I know for sure that “Sound and Vision” is pretty close to number one. The chorus has sort of become a life mantra for me in times of difficulty in decision-making. “I will sit right down waiting for the gift of sound and vision….”
34. “Shadow”- LEV: This track is one of my all time favorites I first heard at the station! Part of the appeal of the song was that I had NO idea for ages who did the song. I would hear it during times of automation, and I couldn’t find a thing on the internet pertaining to the few lyrics I remembered. “Shadow” is pretty close to its name; it’s dreamy and reminds me of past times.
33. “Janie Jones”- The Clash: It’s the only band that matters. Need I say more?
32. “Dear Mr. Fantasy”- Traffic: Traffic is my boyfriend’s favorite band, so I’ve heard this track so many times in passing, but never really got to listen to it until he was helping me move back in to my dorm in Bowling Green for my last semester. One of the most attractive ways of listening to music and committing songs to memory have to do with staring out the window while paying attention to everything going by, and Traffic evokes those kinds of memories.
31. “Sittin’ and Thinkin'”- Elvis Costello and the Attractions: I had no idea that I’d been listening to this song so much this year (like any of Elvis’ tunes.) this one was from his Nashville recorded country record, Almost Blue, and every song on that record is depressing yet extremely comforting, like all country music.
30. “Breezeblocks”- Alt-J: One of my favorite tracks from Revolution that brought me into the present college radio sphere. You know you’ve found a good tune when it inspires you to actually work out!
I’m listening to this playlist a bunch as I write these posts. I’ve got the original order memorized almost, but I’ve started to put this on shuffle as I listen to it. This brings the question to mind: are playlists, or records, tapes, or CDs meant to be heard in the track order in which they were originally created? It’s fun to not know what song is coming next, but there’s an odd level of comfort when you know the exact order of songs.
49. “Beyond Belief”- Elvis Costello and the Attractions: WHY is this one on my list? It’s not a surprise to me or for those of you who know me well. I’m sure I hear at least one Elvis song a day, whether it’s intentional or playing in the background. Maybe it’s because Nathan and I saw him live when he came to Nashville in October? Regardless, it’s a favorite of mine. It’s Elvis when he got “weird” and hired Geoff Emerick, who produced several mid period Beatles albums.
(Nate and I at the Ryman. God, he’s cute.)
48. “You Can’t Help Me Now”- The Both: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo’s 2014 collaborative project as The Both has been a fixture for me for a long time. I love to listen and watch how well they preform together. There isn’t a single song that I skip on The Both’s self titled album.
47. “Jacksonville”- Ryan Adams: I think I’ve talked about how much I love Ryan Adams in a previous post, but in case it needs to be brought up again, I really dig him! I discovered this track via Ford, my best pal and resident North Carolinian resource. The song is about Jacksonville, North Carolina, which is Adams’ hometown. I’ve always loved to hear songs about an artist’s hometown as they detail the rise or decline of the place they know best.
46. “88 Lines About 44 Women”- The Nails: This is probably one of my guiltiest pleasures of all time. I feel like writing about the song wouldn’t do it justice. Just listen to it. I even played it on the radio a few times- probably not my brightest decision as a program director? It was also my go-to song for working out?
45. “On Tour”- Kurt Vile: My love for Kurt Vile’s music could probably warrant its own post. I discovered Kurt in high school via my Dad, who is more on top of current music than I will EVER be. In 2011, I think the newest music I was listening to probably came out in 1989. Dad had been listening to Vile’s latest, Smoke Ring For My Halo a ton, and it became our soundtrack for when we went to Cleveland after I graduated. Ashley discovered Kurt this year when she went to Bonnaroo, and dangit, I was happy to play her some favorites.
44. “College Music”- Gap Dream: “College Music” is the perfect title for this weird boy-rock.I have no idea what Gap Dream looks like, but I picture them to be a bunch of cute and sweaty guitar playing boys, with nice eyes who like to make weird noises in the garage. This was one of the first tracks that Ford played for me after he became MD at the station, and I really dug it. I’m still sorry I did not put it in my top 30 list for last year, Ford.
43. “Kiss Off”- Violent Femmes: If you saw my previous post, I talked about my experience seeing the Violent Femmes at the Pilgrimage Music fest in Franklin. I went with my friend, Katy, and she also fell victim to the blistering sun. By the time the Violent Femmes played, we were both lying on the ground and groaning at our inability to function in the outdoors. When the band played “Kiss Off”, however, we were able to do some limp wiggling.
42. “Hidden Shame”- Johnny Cash: One time Ford and I took a road trip to see Nate, and I forced Ford to listen to some Elvis Costello b-sides all the way to Nate’s place. I was kind of disoriented during the drive, but I remember hearing Elvis’ version of this a bunch. When I got back to Bowling Green, probably collapsing into a heap, I looked up Johnny’s original version. It’s better.
41. “The House We Grew Up In”- The Weeks: Some of my favorite memories involve bouncing around to music in Ashley’s apartment. I don’t know what it is, but we always bop a little harder when we listen to this song. I won’t pretend to know a lot of songs by The Weeks, but dang, I love this song.
40. “Love Is A Drag”- Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift: Two of my favorite musicians as of late, collaborated together, and it’s really dreamy and hardly even heartbreak-y to me. I love how their voices blend together. It’s silky. If you like the feeling of silk and would like to know what silk sounds like, it sounds like this.
(Here’s me when I went to go see the Violent Femmes
with a giant sushi burrito, and a very painful sunburn.)
It’s been a week since I wrote the last installment of my Best of 2016 series and what a week it has been! I have been settling into 2017 with a lot of country tinged music (I’ve really found myself sort of enjoying Miranda Lambert’s latest release?) I’ve been in a good head space as I headed back to school, and attempted to participate in my first 30 day yoga challenge via Yoga With Adriene (her videos are on YouTube and they’re fantastic!) I’ve been listening to a lot of happy teen pop from my younger days, too. It feels good!
59. “Paul Is Alive”- El Vy: One of my favorite releases of 2015, I kept this song in heavy rotation for a long time in 2016. I was immediately drawn in by the lyric in the beginning that goes, “Beatlemania made my mother think the way she does..” because it sets the tone of the song. It’s a bit mystic and dreamy.
58. “You Told Me”- The Monkees: 2016 brought the revival of The Monkees! Their reunion record Good Times was a new release that I certainly had some *good times* with, and I went back into the band’s catalog and discovered 1965’s “You Told Me” from Headquarters. My love for this song is pretty simple- I love a good pop song, and this one did the job for me.
57. “Dancing On My Own”- Robyn: I can’t believe I had never heard this song before this year considering I love 90’s dance pop. I first heard it on an episode of Girls and bought its first soundtrack largely to own a physical copy of this song. I subjected my boyfriend to (probably) one too many lip sync/dance routines to this one during a summer radio conference.
56. “Hold Me”- Fleetwood Mac: Another tune from a lesser favored Mirage, “Hold Me” has long been my one of my top favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Stevie and Christine’s harmonies are beautiful, but my favorite part of the song happens at the fade out; if you crank up the song, you can hear a fantastic guitar solo from Lindsey Buckingham. It’s short, but it is so worth multiple rewinds. I hardly play the song only once!
55. “Karma Police”- Radiohead: I’d always been around Radiohead since the beginning of my strong memories, but I’ve never quite sat back and listened to them on my own time. I assume many people may start with the band’s critically acclaimed album Ok Computer, so I did the same, zeroing in on “Karma Police.” I had always heard “Karma Police” had been a good “beginner track” into the world of Radiohead and it’d had been a longtime favorite of my Dad. I ended up playing it often on the jukebox of my favorite bar. It really brought down the house! 😉
54. “Battery In Your Leg”- Blur: I have my parents to thank for introducing me to Blur beyond the familiar “woo hoo” heard across the land in sports arenas. Blur’s two disc greatest hits compilation became a stereo staple for my Mom during the last year, and I was riding with her once and noticed how dreamy a particular track sounded. After looking it up, I discovered it was known as “Battery In Your Leg.” I promised myself that I would use this song in a dream sequence if I ever wrote a movie with a scene of me crying softly in the back of a car, and pressing my hand on the window, like one of those young adult fiction covers.
53. “Five Years”- David Bowie: My 2016 was defined by Bowie, of course. “Five Years” has long been a personal one for me, and I opted for “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” while on a Bowie Spotify Binge.
52. “Memory”- Violent Femmes: I’ve been a fan of the Violent Femmes for a long time, particularly in high school when my alter ego was Angela Chase from “My So Called Life” and I had my own Jordan Catalano. Imagine my excitement when I discovered I could now stop wearing out their debut record, and continuously listen to their newest release in a decade! I picked “Memory” for rotation at Revolution, because I loved how it sounded so much like a classic Violent Femmes tune.
miscellaneous trivia about me: I had the opportunity (thanks, Katy!) to see them at the 2016 Pilgrimage festival. It was kind of spur of the moment and in the middle of September, so I didn’t think I was going to need much sun screen. My shoulders are incredibly tan to this day, complete with the imprint from my purse strap. I just really wanted to hear “Add It Up”, okay?
51. “Bittersweet”- Emma Swift: Emma Swift’s EP was probably my favorite discovery of 2016. I discovered her through her work and touring with her partner, Robyn Hitchcock, whom I’ve been a fan of forever. Emma’s voice is incredibly honey sweet and the perfect soundtrack to many nights spent studying sadly in the library. I’m casually trying to become Twitter friends with her, so I can have the chance to tell her how cool she is.
50. “Easy”- Mothxr: I’ve talked about Mothxr a lot in this series, and I hope you’ve decided to check out their music by this point! “Easy” was the first track I discovered when I came across the incredibly simplistic music video via YouTube for Revolution rotation, and it quickly became a staple and rotation favorite.
(Dad, showing Baby Me a CD. Nothing much has changed.)
I’m still a little irritated that I listened to songs in 2016 I had discovered in previous years. I think it’s some hidden meaning about expectations or something (there isn’t much glitter in your daily life? not every man I’ll meet will have the dream personality of Chandler Bing?) But that is okay, in a way. Having the same songs play in the background of your life can provide a welcoming accompaniment to new daily happenings. Whatever, I’m sure that I’ll have a lifelong love of the Spice Girls.
69. “Heavy Bells”- J. Roddy Walston & The Business: Ford saw this band live while working a music festival on a station assignment while I was off doing Other Things, back in 2015. One of the biggest music related regrets I have is skipping J Roddy Walston and the Business’ set at this festival. I really loved “Heavy Bells” because it rocked so hard in a time during a dance craze within college radio and the CMJ charts. I loved opening the studio door and cranking this song; it was almost always met with confusion when the (heavy) bells started ringing loudly toward the end of the song.
68. “Girl Loves Me”- David Bowie: I was thinking about writing a post related to Bowie and “Blackstar” on the one year anniversary year of his death, but the truth is, I haven’t been emotionally able to listen to the album enough to warrant a good post. However “Girl Loves Me” was a track I was able to listen to during times of extreme mourning. It was classic Bowie, mixed with a Bowie I had never heard before (did he REALLY just say “fuck?”) It seemed like the track that was the “least” sad; it’s able to stand alone on the emotional scale better than the other tracks for me. It’s almost as if it is completely separate from “Blackstar” as a whole.
67. “Slow Show”- The National: I really love Gossip Girl, okay? This song was featured in an episode where something Really Important happened in which Blair Waldorf’s face was adorned with twinkle lights for an entire scene. The song went incredibly well with the aesthetic!
66. “Head On”- The Jesus & Mary Chain: I haven’t yet clicked “play” on a song while writing these posts, but I just might for this one. “Head On” was the soundtrack to my junior year of college, where I went through an extreme period of change in my life, pretty much for the first time. My boyfriend and I had to become long distance when he had to relocate. There was a significant staff change at work, which was incredibly significant for me, and held an incredible impact.
However, all of the change and confusion was briefly put on hold when I rode in the homecoming parade with the station. Night had just fallen, and I was cruising in our car with some coworkers and my boss/radio mentor/role model. We were driving up and down the hill while classic hits from our music library rang out through the night. As music director, my job was to create a mix CD of classic college radio hits and modern nuggets for the parade. I was sitting next to my boss in the passenger’s seat while she was thumbing through the tracks, and muttering “no” until we got to the last track on the CD, “Head On.” She finally settled on my most recent favorite song as I exhaled a sigh of relief and turned to look outside to see a group of sorority women bouncing down the sidewalk to the Jesus and Mary Chain. It was what I’d like to classify as a Perfect Moment that only happens rarely but is so significant, that you’re able to pull it out of your memory bank with extreme clarity almost three years later.
65. “Jet Fighter”- The Three O’ Clock: I file this band and song under the category, “Songs From Your Dad’s Youth Which Remind You He Will Always Be Cooler Than You.” I’ve been a fan of this tune since childhood and it stands the test of time. It was also a big influence on my personal music taste and the vibe I attempted to capture as a college radio music director. When the Three O’Clock reunited for a TV appearance in 2013, I made my boyfriend stay up late to watch it with me while trying to explain/screech how important the Three O’Clock were to power pop and new wave, and my general being. I think he seemed to Get It.
64. “Hymn For The Dudes”- Mott The Hoople: I tried to get rid of a spider last week while listening to this song. Does that make me holy?
One Saturday Night, Ashley and I came home for a family gathering to find my Dad showing off his latest CD purchases. He excitedly told us Mott The Hoople’s Greatest Hits changed his life as a teenager, after he found it in the cut-out bin at the record store. Ian Hunter and co. became our travel companions for a while on the way to and from Bowling Green, and I began to believe that god ain’t jive.
63. “Oh Diane”- Fleetwood Mac: I’m a huge Stevie/Lindsey era Fleetwood Fan. My go-to Fleetwood Mac records are “Rumours” and “Tusk”, and I tend to pass over “Mirage” which has the glittery “Gypsy” and the Buckingham fueled “Hold Me.” When “Mirage” was re-released earlier last year, I got into it and really gravitated toward “Oh Diane”, a Lindsey vocal track. There’s something about Lindsey Buckingham that screams POP MUSIC to me.
62. “Joey”- Concrete Blonde: “Joey” was always a song that everyone around me knew but I didn’t for a very long time. Once I discovered it through a College Radio Day weekend my junior year, I became pretty much inseparable from this tune. I just really wanted to tell someone named Joey that I wasn’t angry anymore.
I guess it’s always easy to hang onto the songs that remind you of incredibly happy times! “Joey” reminds me of a period of transitions which were aided by memorable life moments. It’s also insanely catchy!
61. “Get Along (Diamond Ring)”- Dressy Bessy: Sometimes you discover music from unlikely sources. There was a period of time when I was younger when I went along with my Dad as he jammed with musician friends. His pals were always really fun and interesting and knew More About Everything, and I couldn’t wait to be in the middle of it all.
I remember one of his pals was really into this band called Dressy Bessy. They had a wacky name, and looked really whimsical in their publicity photos he had laying everywhere. I don’t remember hearing any of their music, but the name Dressy Bessy really stuck in my ten-year old brain. Last fall, I was “reunited” with the Weird Band, through college radio when Dressy Bessy released a new record. I’m a sucker for a Bouncy and Fun song that reminds me of chewing bubble gum and The Beach Boys (although I don’t know why I would chew The Beach Boys.)
60. “Vision of Love”- Mariah Carey: Mimi; the force who attempted to hold 2016 together at the end of the year as Impending Doom attempted to ruin us, and won. She also held me together throughout some tough times in 2016 by giving me the power to pretend like I could sing my way through the darkness. What a Fantasy.
(Does this count as a music related picture? 7th grade band recitals were the bane of my existence.)
79. “Desdemona”- T.Rex: I hadn’t heard this song before one night in January at a David Bowie tribute night at The Stone Fox (R.I.P.- this place should be on an “overlooked deaths of 2016 list.) I had gotten there a little before the deejay started spinning Bowie records, and I’d noticed a girl totally entranced in this song. She was dancing around like I do on a daily basis in my bedroom, but I was totally into the fact she was feelin’ Marc Bolan so hard.
78. “Living This Life Makes It Hard”- The Dutchess & The Duke: I know absolutely nothing about this band. I discovered this song in the closing credits of an Orange is the New Black episode, and immediately looked it up on Spotify!
77. “Love Today”- MIKA: I’ve always been attracted to the extremely bright colors featured on MIKA’s album cover for “Life in Cartoon Motion.” However the first time I actually listened to a MIKA tune was almost a decade after the album was released! One of my favorite memories of year happened on a spring night when my roommate and I decided to go on a random drive around Bowling Green, and she had me choose a CD from her giant CD carrier. Vanessa told me about how “Life in Cartoon Motion” had been a favorite album of hers in high school; she was incredibly animated when she was telling me about listening to this album on her daily commute to school. “Love Today” was the track that stood out in my mind; I was incredibly attracted to how bouncy the track was, and I really could’ve used an upbeat track at the time!
76. “Atmosphere”- Joy Division: Joy Division will forever be a band that I need to explore further. I’ve always been a casual fan: I was the type of Joy Division devotee who would blast “Love Will Tear Us Apart” every time my high school crush ignored me on a near daily basis. I had never heard “Atmosphere” until discovering Stranger Things and feeling incredibly moved by its use in a scene from an early episode.
75. “Time Bomb”- Rancid: My 2016 revolved almost exclusively around the anticipation for the Gilmore Girls revival! I poured over the original series on Netflix in preparation for November 25th, and got hooked on an early episode (SPOILERS AHEAD) where Lane’s band, Hep Alien, preforms this song live. My dad also caught me bopping around to “Time Bomb” and mentioned it had been a staple on Lightening 100 in his college days- I love stories like that!
74. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”- Adele: I’ve never been a huge Adele fan, but let me tell you, I was ALL OVER the Adele train when her latest record was released last year. I was now a full-blown fan when I heard my best friend Ashley play it for me after a night out. We had both bought the album for our mothers, and I think Ashley had pretty much taken over the gift. “Send My Love..” was the first time I really got into an Adele song and didn’t mind the number of times I found myself humming it!
73. “I’ll Be You”- The Replacements: Nothing compares to the first time you hear a Replacements track in a bar. I was sitting alone at Tidballs in Bowling Green when I heard the all too familiar guitar intro come over the speakers. I sat there in such a satisfied silence and toasted Paul Westerberg, where ever he might’ve been at the time. That single triumphant moment sort of sparked a revival for my ‘Mats love.
72. “All My Friends”-Snakehips: I haven’t the slightest idea who Snakehips is. I just know that when Ashley plays a song in the car during a nighttime drive, that I’m really going to dig it eventually. It didn’t take me very long to start humming “all my friends are wasted…” on my daily trek up the hill. It pretty much sums up a universal experience after a night out, I think.
71. “Gardenia”- Iggy Pop & Joshua Homme: News of Iggy and Josh’s collaborative release “Post Pop Depression” was the first time I considered that 2016 would be a good year for music in the wake of Bowie’s death. A snowstorm had delayed my commute back to Bowling Green for the beginning of the semester when I first heard “Gardenia” played on television for the first time. I’m a huge Iggy fan, and had always loved Queens of the Stone Age, so “Gardenia” was an exhale and a promise to look ahead.
70. “Sleep Come Down”- The Psychedelic Furs: By now it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that my Dad has a huge influence on who I am as a person and a music fan. I’ve always been a fan of the P. Furs, but I first discovered “Sleep Come Down” when Dad recovered a bunch of tracks he had downloaded during the golden era of Napster in the late 90’s. It was also special that my mother (who grew tired of my 80’s music obsession after a decade or so) still enjoyed this song, and remembered the music video fondly.
Here is the second part in my year-end series on music! This series is about my “favorites of 2016” playlist from Spotify, which is the easiest way for me to look back on my year. 2016 was a difficult year for many, and I was no exception to its “curse.” I finished my last semester of living in my college town which lead to me parting with my beloved campus radio station. A handful of these tracks were discovered via the station, and I seriously hope to continue discovering new tracks in college radio in 2017.
89. “Centerfold”- Mothxr: I am so surprised that this track isn’t higher! Mothxr’s debut album came across my desk in the Spring semester, which was my last semester as the music director for the station. I guess you could call it coincidence because I was watching Gossip Girl at the time, so imagine my excitement (and slight confusion) when I learned Penn Badgely (Dan “Lonely Boy” Humphrey) is the lead singer of Mothxr. I discovered this track when I searched for Mothxr’s YouTube channel. If you haven’t checked out Mothxr by now, head over to YouTube to see a series of one-shot music videos for a handful of tracks from the record. If you know anything about my personal music preference, it’s probably no surprise that I really dig Mothxr’s 80’s influenced sound. I think this album was the first release that I physically purchased in 2016. If you’re not sold on this track, check out “Easy.”
88. “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)”- The Vaccines: If I had to capture the Summer of 2016 through one song, it would be this tune. I had heard of this band through various music circles dating back to 2010 when this record came out, but didn’t give The Vaccines a listen until I heard this track in the closing credits of a Girls episode. This track has everything I like in a single song. Loud guitars! Extremely catchy! Ra! Ra! Ra! Feedback! I think I bought the first Girls soundtrack exclusively for this song.
87. “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”- Steely Dan: My father is responsible for unleashing this song upon my life, and creating my inability to get it out of my head. I think Dad and I were just hanging out and listening to music one night, and Steely Dan happened to be his “kick” of the moment. Previously I had no connection to Steely Dan and was pretty quick to dismiss them as “dad rock.” I raised one eyebrow when Steely Dan toured with Elvis Costello for some dates last year. I was pretty against checking out any other tunes by the band since my high school’s guitar students would almost exclusively perform “Reelin’ In The Years” for every guitar show.
Let me tell you, I was dead wrong about Steely Dan when I heard “Any Major Dude Will Tell You.” What an excellent song. It’s happy! It’s catchy! It makes me almost completely forget about my weird aversion to Steely Dan.
86. “All My Life”- K-CI & JoJo: You know that song that everyone else knows, but somehow you missed out on the craze? “All My Life” was that one for me. Every girl thought this was the most romantic tune ever, and it was placed firmly at the top of their MySpace playlists. My best friend wasn’t one of those girls, but she somehow knew all of the words while I hummed the parts I did know during a night drive early in January.
85. “The Dark End of The Street”- The Commitments: I think I watched The Commitments more than any other film when it was added to Netflix earlier this year. I had seen it years ago, but had been too upset by the ending to ever watch it again. It’d had been a favorite of my parents, so I associate it automatically with comfort and I know that it’s a worthy film. When I came home for Halloween, I was so tired that I ended up not going to a party as planned, and my parents were too happy to put on their new Blu-Ray copy of the film. From then on, the movie was always at the top of my Netflix queue, and I found the soundtrack for a dollar.
When I first saw the movie at sixteen, “The Dark End of The Street” had been the song that stood out the most. I loved how the lead singer of the band had only been sixteen years old when the film was made and how mature his voice was for his age. I always have to play this song twice whenever I listen to the soundtrack on the stereo!
84. “I Feel Love”- Donna Summer:Brian Eno apparently said “I Feel Love” was the “future of music” when it was released in 1977. I STILL think it belongs to the future. I was REALLY into this song. The version I had on a playlist was eight minutes long, and it was perfect for walking up and down the hill at school. It provided me with an eight minute break from my ongoing cynicism toward the events of my life this year, and it gave me a reason to bounce around.
83. “Charlotte Anne”- Julian Cope: I’ve been a Julian Cope fan forever, and revisited his work earlier this year when I found a bunch of albums buried in my i-tunes.
82. “When Shipman Decides”- The Fat White Family: As the music director of my school’s student station, I would occasionally like to slip a track into rotation that I knew would freak everyone out and there would be a chance I would be the only one to enjoy the song. “When Shipman Decides” was my choice from the band’s LP “Songs for Our Mothers.” This band sounds like a bunch of your friends in the basement on a long baked Saturday afternoon. That’s why I like ’em; there’s no pretension here.
81. “Common People”- Pulp: Rarely do I ever listen to my friend Ford’s music recommendations, because they’re related to Duran Duran about 80% of the time. However I took it upon myself to pay more attention to Pulp’s “Common People” when he snuck it into rotation. For some reason, I didn’t make the connection that Pulp was the band that my “tumblr crush” Jarvis Cocker was in. Don’t kill me.
80. “3am at a party”- Soccer Mommy: One of my favorite releases of the year, I found Soccer Mommy around the music blogs, and discovered we had gone to high school together. I ate up her album “For Young Hearts” because it was angsty as hell, and I connect so hard with this particular song.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Spotify user. Every year, I look forward to its end-of-the-year recaps because Spotify has a way of recapping my year for me better than I’m actually able to do. In recent years I’ve stopped writing as often as I used to, (I KNOW.) and the yearly retrospectives have been the easiest way for me to recall various memories. Spotify recently released a playlist which is apparently determined by the number of times a song has been played. I finally checked it out last week, and let me tell you, I was really irritated that the tunes I listened to the most in 2016 were from previous years! However, I discovered some really cool artists that are new to me, and I’m so excited to continue listening in the coming year!
Starting from the bottom of the list, here are the songs I streamed the most in 2016.
101. “Fantasy”- Mariah Carey: I can’t remember the point where I finally surrendered and decided to throw my hands up and reveal my secret love for Mimi to the public. If I had to guess, I’ve been hiding it since the sixth grade. I discovered this tune when my sixth grade teacher played it one day before the bell rang. I was extremely peeved that this song had sampled “Genius of Love” by the Tom-Tom Club, and I felt like my teacher was supposed to stop listening and announce it to the class. Unfortunately she didn’t, and I stayed secretly upset by my teacher for the rest of the year.
I think my embracing of Mariah happened by what I like to call a “YouTube rabbit hole” session. I log on to YouTube intending to watch or listen to one artist, and I completely end up on an unrelated search. My starting point must have been Britney related, and it slowly crept completely into Mariah territory. I spent the majority of the semester walking up and down the Hill at WKU to this song. I made sure to remain pensive as possible to fool everyone into thinking I was listening to something extremely introspective.
100. “In My Room”- Grant Lee Buffalo: Left over from my Friends obsession of last year, I listened to this song constantly on Spotify, and tried to play it as much as possible during my radio shifts. Believe me, I was pretending to stare sadly out the window at the rain while I imagined being really upset at Ross.
99. “4th of July”- X: I’m more familiar with earlier tunes from X than later material, like this song right here. I think I first discovered this song a few years ago while lurking around Facebook a few years ago on, you guessed it, the fourth of July. It wasn’t until this year that I shared the video on the fourth of July and became completely obsessed with how catchy it is. Needless to say, I played it and danced around to it way past that day.
98. “Come On Back This Way”- Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders (featuring Sharon Van Etten): Good God. In a music related conversation, it probably takes less than five minutes for me to mention how much I love this song so much so that I listened to it enough in 2016 for it to make YET ANOTHER year-end list related to me. If you’re just enrolling in Taylor 101, this song was the tune that got me out of a funk after being the music director for my college radio station, and feeling extremely disappointed that I couldn’t find a song that didn’t sound exactly like every other song I was listening to on a weekly basis. This song dominated 2015 for me, and I kept it in my station’s heavy rotation category much longer than anyone on staff or listeners wanted me to.
My best friend Ford bought me a Jack Ladder t-shirt for my birthday, which came with a card autographed by Ladder which was pinned to my refrigerator with a Jack Ladder magnet. My parents still cringe when I blast it on the stereo. I have a problem.
97. “Then He Kissed Me”- The Crystals: This song is featured in my favorite scene in Goodfellas, so I listened to it repeatedly when I didn’t have a copy of the film with me while at school.
96. “Going Down To Liverpool”- Katrina and the Waves: I’ve been in a relationship for a very long time with this song. You might know that I’ve had a huge obsession with The Bangles since my childhood, and they covered this song on their first LP. I had known their version for years before finally listening to Katrina and the Waves’ version. It doesn’t pain my Bangle devoted heart to admit that I’m a bigger fan of this version! It rocks so much harder, and I think Kimberley Rew deserves so much more recognition for writing this gem.
95. “Georgia Dust”- Sunseeker: Sunseeker is based out of my hometown of Nashville, and I went to high school with two of the members, which made me exceptionally excited to hear this track when it was released in the Spring! This song was a departure from my typical soundtrack, and the rotation I was putting in at the station. I loved writing to Sunseeker’s folk sound, and really liked their harmonies.
94. “It Must’ve Been Love”- Roxette: I care only slightly about how embarrassing it is to admit that I’ve got a pretty big soft spot for this song. I’d heard it on the radio while on the bus in Bowling Green, and it stuck with me; I thought it was the best accompaniment to my extreme frustration that I was always en route to my math class. Seriously, don’t ask me why hearing this song took me on an extreme quest to find a copy of Pretty Woman. I finally bought it after searching for it at two video stores in Bowling Green (yes, really) and finally subjecting Ford to two hours of Julia Roberts’ vein in her forehead. Songs can make you do strange things.
93. “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”- Richard and Linda Thompson: I think my father was a little worried when I admitted to knowing who Richard and Linda Thompson were, a few years ago. This song is the first song of theirs I discovered while in a good mood. I found it via the “Discover Weekly” playlist from Spotify in the Fall of 2015, and good god, it’s a good one. I associate this song with a road trip I took to Lexington to see my boyfriend, and we walked around the mall while he ate a huge chili dog.
92. “Whenever You’re On My Mind”- Marshall Crenshaw: I really wish I knew this song when I was in high school and crushing on every male I ever conversed with. It’s a beautiful pop song that’s pure three-minute power pop. I associate it with warm Spring days and being completely at ease and happy. I absolutely love Marshall Crenshaw’s music. Play this if you’re feeling romantically happy! I just had to pause my music to play this one.
91. “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”- The White Stripes: This one is simple. I heard it playing on Revolution one day, and spent the rest of it singing the chorus over and over. I couldn’t stop.
90. “Congratulations”- MGMT: You know when you hear a song and it’s perfect for the present moment? My discovery of this song happened in a perfect moment. I was at a friend’s apartment, and he was spinning “Congratulations” on vinyl. I’d heard plenty of MGMT before on the radio and the countless episodes of Gossip Girl that I’d digested this year, but it was as if I was hearing MGMT for the first time. Nothing I had previously heard from MGMT had sounded this perfect. I played this one song to death for weeks afterward.
(I totally heard that in the voice of that mean talk show host from Reality Bites. Excuse me, my brain is still foggy from a deep sleep.)
Today is Friday, and Friday is a big radio day for me. My shift at my college’s radio station is this afternoon, and I’ll be in there spinning tunes! If you’ve read my posts, you know that I have been extremely active at our radio station since my second day of college four years ago. For three of the last four years, I’ve served as the station’s Music Director where I’ve been surrounded by music. Every week, I would sort out my new weekly music picks. Monday and Tuesday nights were extremely busy!
However, this year was the first that I wasn’t a Music Director full time. I admit that it’s been a bit harder to keep up with the latest popular college radio songs. Every year, my station hosts a countdown of our top 30 most popular songs of the year. We’ve measured them by deejay and listener favorites, and highest level of rotation. Not having the rotation levels for some of these songs memorized has been hard, but it’s been a fun time of discovery. I hope to do more music related posts; I LOVE to write about music to an exausting level! I’ll include my list and provide commentary for my top five tunes.
30. Sylvan Esso- Radio
29. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions- Let Me Get There
28. Carseat Headrest- Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
27. 87- Shopping Mall
26. Wilco- If I Ever Was A Child
25. Kings of Leon- Waste A Moment
24. Yoko Ono- Soul Got Out Of The Box
23. Tommy Womack- Nashville
22. Violent Femmes- Memory
21. Sturgill Simpson- Keep It Between The Lines
20. Tacocat- Dana Katherine Scully
19. Devandra Bandhart- Fig In Leather
18. Bob Mould- Voices In My Head
17. Fitz & The Tantrums- Handclap
16. Kitten- Fall On Me
15. Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift- Love Is a Drag
14. Pretenders- Holy Commotion
13. Mitski- Your Best American Girl
12. Pocket Fever (a local trio)- When I’m Looking
11. Margo Price- About To Find Out
10. David Bowie- Lazarus
9. Iggy Pop & Joshua Homme- Gardina
8. Britta Phillips- Drive
7. Andrew Bird- Left Handed Kisses
6. Charles Bradley- Changes
5. Cinepak- Blue: Cinepak is a vaporwave artist based out of Lexington, Kentucky. I don’t understand vaporwave beyond what the internets have showed me, and I have a hard time putting its meaning into words, even after listening to Cinepak. Cinepak’s noises remind me of some weird faraway time. I’m transported into a really weird part of my brain that is reserved for memories of a childhood mall. The lights are neon, and the hallways are short and narrow. Cinepak evokes all kind of forgotten senses within me. If you’re interested in hearing more, head over to Soundcloud or Bandcamp.
4. M83- Sunday Night, 1987: This song is one of the last tracks on M83’s latest record. When their new album, “Junk”, crossed my desk, I quickly found a bouncy single to play for our rotation. I was more captivated with this mysterious track which evoked a serious “mind trip” like Cinepak does. I don’t know what it was like on a Sunday night in 1987, but I can guess that there were lots of dreamy synths playing as someone’s soundtrack to dreading the upcoming work week.
3. The Fat White Family- When Shipman Decides: I was proud to pick this song because it freaked everyone out. I’d been a big fan since I’d heard their previous record in 2014. This is one of those tracks that I didn’t expect a lot of people to “get”, but if you “got” it, then you were all in. Slow melodies and haunting vocals do it for me.
2. Sunseeker- Georgia Dust: Sunseeker is a band out of my hometown of Nashville, who released their first single on Jack White’s Third Man Records. It’s got some twang, and extremely warm vocal harmonies to take you on a three-minute ride. It’s nostalgic for me; it’s extremely southern, and it reminds me of home.
Mothxr- Centerfold: No song or new band hit me harder than Mothxr. I was extremely attracted to their album cover; a lady donning a wind breaker, and a walkman/vintage headphones combination. I first heard their track “Easy” and was intrigued by how simple their videos are. The video I saw for “Easy” just featured a girl smoking a cigarette in black and white. However, I was really really taken with the song “Centerfold.” It’s haunting and simple. I kept it in heavy rotation for ages! It also didn’t hurt that I was watching “Gossip Girl” for the first time, and discovered the connection between the show and Mothxr lead singer Penn Badgely. 🙂 I haven’t bought a new CD in ages, but I searched long and hard for this one. The bass heavy goodness of Mothxr has been in constant CD player rotation for me.
It’s been a noisy year, but these songs have reduced some of the ringing in my ears.