Song Mix Sundays #13: Perseid

August 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

2:00 am, mid-November. Cold biting through my two layers of flannel pants. I’m perched on the hood of the silver Taurus in our driveway, head craned skyward, watching the Leonids peak. Dad tells me the history of the stars and my brain is full of universe.

The news claimed we’d see up to 3,000 meteors in an hour.

We must have seen over a hundred shooting stars that night, even in the light-polluted suburbs. I lost count in the first 15 minutes.

I was 16, and that was my first meteor shower.

The Perseids peak this weekend. If you’ve never caught a light show, grab a blanket and find someplace dark after local midnight. Sprawl in the grass for two or three hours with the bats and the crickets and the still night air, and watch the stars fall.

perseid

1. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois – Sufjan Stevens, Come On Feel The Illinoise “Incarnation / Three stars / Delivering signs and dust from their eyes”

2. Sleep Tonight – Stars, Set Yourself On Fire “You will cry / And I will cry / Cause all the love’s alive tonight”

3. Human Qualities – Explosions in the Sky, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

4. Meteor – the bird and the bee, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future “One night a meteor / Came to my door / And he asked me to dance / One night a shooting star / He traveled far / Just to ask me to dance”

5. The Violet Hour – The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

6. Stars – The Weepies, Say I Am You “Tangerines are hanging heavy / Glowing marigolden hues / Teasing a half-pale moon / And I feel a pull to the blue-velvet dark and stars”

7. {Awayland} – The Villagers, {Awayland}

8. Belles – Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself

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Song Mix Sundays #12: Lazy, Hazy Summer

August 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

My two big passions in life: sharing stories and sharing music.

Sometimes, a good song tells my story better than my own words. That’s how Song Mix Sundays was born. Once a week, I compile a playlist of my favorite songs around a common theme.

August means the unofficial last month of summer. So here’s a late summer snack: 8 of my favorite tracks that embrace the last remaining lazy, hazy days.

Song Mix Sunday #12

1. Take Me Somwhere – Tennis, Cape Dory
It’s already August, but there’s still a whole month left for shore trips and late-night drives to nowhere. Take yourself somewhere.

2. Yellow Bridges – El Ten Eleven, Transitions
This song is a casual afternoon drive with the windows rolled down on that first day the humidity finally breaks.

3. Upon the North – Eliza and the Bear, Upon the North “I spent summers away / Hiding in rivers and lakes / I spent summers away / Hiding”
The perfect end-of-summer anthem.

4. Back Like 8 Track – The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts
This song is the ultimate inner-city summer block party.

5. Sugar Bush – matt pond PA, Spring Fools EP
Play this song when you’re sitting on the back porch at dusk with a handmade shandy, right around the time the first fireflies come out.

6. Neutral Ground – Sea Wolf, Leaves in the River
Summer’s not over until I’ve lain on a blanket in damp grass at 2am, watching Perseid meteors streak across the sky.

7. Stay Young, Go Dancing – Death Cab For Cutie, Codes and Keys “Through autumn’s advancing / Stay young, go dancing”

8. Don’t Look Back – She & Him, Volume Two “Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get / Is the dust from the steps before…”
The end of one season is actually a beginning – a new season with new possibilities. Don’t look back; move forward.

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Song Mix Sundays #11: It Starts With An Earthquake…

August 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

First an earthquake, now a hurricane. The East coast can’t catch a break this week.

I’m weathering the storm in my Philly apartment that dates back to the 1850s with windows that haven’t been replaced since c. 1902. I don’t know what tonight has in store for me, my electricity or my historical relic front windows.

So this week’s Song Mix Sunday is going up a day early so the rest of my East coast readers can party down before the electricity goes out. Or before we float away. Or both.

The theme this week? Natural disasters. 11 tracks covering tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and even a zombie apocalypse. Because you can never be too prepared. In your face, Irene!

1. T. O. R. N. A. D. O / The Go! Team / Rolling Blackouts
“It’s the T. O. R. N. A. D. O! It’s the T. O. R. N. A. D. O! It’s the prototype, it’s the double-strike from the ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-get go!”

2. Earthquake Weather / Beck / Guero
“Something’s coming, sky is purple, dogs are howling to themselves / Days are changing with the weather / Like a rip tide could rip us away”

3. Hurricane / Eastern Conference Champions / Speak-Ahh
“I hear it coming, I hear it coming, sounds like a hurricane!”

4. California’s Burning / Augustana / All The Stars and Boulevards
“California’s burning, burning, burning to the ground…”

5. Calamity Song / The Decemberists / The Kind Is Dead
“Had a dream / You and me and the war of the end times / And I believe California succumbed to the fault line…”

6. Mt. St. Helens / Mirah / Advisory Committee
“There had been a great disaster / The hot winds came just after / A tremendous shock was filmed / Survivors often tell…”

7. A Record Year for Rainfall / The Decemberists / Always the Bridesmaid: Vol. 3
“I read in the paper today it’s been a record year for rainfall…”

8. Hurricane and Fire Survival Guide / Cloud Cult / Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
“I’ll laugh my whole way through the hurricanes and fires…”

9. Sparrows / matt pond PA / The Dark Leaves
“And when that white dust fails and smoke pours from the sun / I know I must know better…” I’m pretty sure this song is actually about a bad break-up, but it’s apocalyptic references make it fit right in here.

10. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! / Sufjan Stevens / Come On Feel The Illinoise
Because zombie disasters are just as impending as natural disasters.

11. Natural Disaster / Andrew Bird / Noble Beast

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The Great Philadelphia Earthquake of 2011

August 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

via A.V. Club

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, I felt a truck rumble past my office building in Northeast Philadelphia. A truck that started towing the very foundation while some morbidly obese maintenance workers fixed the roof.

Around the time the floor turned into a trampoline, my brain got wise to what was really going on: a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia. (Facebook and Twitter helped too.)

Ok, so it wasn’t really that traumatic, and Philadelphia hardly got the brunt of it.

But for this afternoon’s brave survivors cleaning up the aftermath (Straightening pictures. Setting vases right again. The rebuilding never ends.), here’s a playlist in our honor. A little bit of soul, a little bit of funk, a little bit of indie punk and a whole lotta shakin’ going on.


1. An Earthquake’s Comin’ / Black Velvet / Fallin’ off the Reel Volume 2

2. I’m Shakin’ / Rooney / Rooney

3. Emergency On Planet Earth / Jamiroquai / Emergency On Planet Earth

4. I Feel The Earth Move / Carole King / Tapestry

5. Shake! Shake! / The Subways / All or Nothing

6. Let Your Earth Quake, Baby / The Thermals / Fuckin A

7. Before and After the Quake / Oppenheimer / Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It

8. Earthquake Weather / Beck / Guero

9. After the Earthquake / Eels / Tomorrow Morning

10. You Only Live Once / The Strokes / First Impressions of Earth

You cool kids on Spotify can also subscribe to the playlist here.

This Is Not The End: In Memoriam, LOST

May 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s been a year since the greatest show in the history of television went off the air.

The Boy turned me into the biggest LOST fan ever when we started dating sometime before the start of the 5th season. He had watched earlier seasons with his college roommate, and now that he was out of college and out a roommate, he was also out a LOST fan to watch the new season with. He showed me the half-hour long recaps of the previous seasons and I was hooked from the first, “On the previous season of LOST…” I spent the rest of the season brain-boggled and mindfucked in the awesomest way possible. Time travel! Hydrogen bombs! The 70s! Space-time continuum! Daniel Faraday and his moleskine of scientific ramblings! I don’t think there was anything I didn’t love about the series as I experienced it thanks to The Boy.

I knew I only had one more season left to theorize and cliff-hang from week to week when season 6 started. And I knew that The End of All Things was going to be emotional and epic enough for me to need to process it all through song. This mix was born the week before the finale. At that point, no one knew how off-Island timelines would converge with on-Island timelines, how it would all inevitably come down, and how that crazy flash-sideways would resolve. I crafted the mix based on my ideas of where I thought the flash-sideways timeline was ultimately leading (which was nothing like the ending we were actually given). When I listened to the mix the day after the series finale though, I realized that my selections were even more appropriate than I first imagined. I tried to pick songs that fit the general mood of the final season with lyrical content that matched the storyline and overarching themes of the series as a whole.

So, in place of this week’s Song Mix Sunday installment, I present my mix for the final season of LOST, in memory of some of the best television drama I have ever watched. Fellow fans of the show should easily be able to discern the reasoning behind my song selection for this mix. For anyone who’s curious, the songs all focus on the themes of memory, reconnecting, fate, and rebuilding that featured prominently throughout much of the final season. Without further ado:

1. The Ocean – The Bravery, The Sun and the Moon (2007) “I climbed off a mountain and looked off the edge / At all of the lives that I never have led / There’s one where I stayed with you across the sea / I wonder do you still think of me // …Sixes and sevens we live on jet planes / So many faces and I don’t know their names / So many friends now and none of them mine / Forgotten as soon as we meet // All of these moments are lost in time / But you’re caught on my head like a thorn on a vine / To forever torment me and I wonder why / Do I wish I’d never known you at all? // …The sun and the moon, an ocean of air / So many voices, now nothing is there / But the ghost of you asking me why, why did I leave?…”

2. Black Tables – Other Lives, Black Tables – Single (2008) “When the whites of your eyes come through / You’ll see something new / With your body and mind restored / It’s good to see you back home…”

3. Brotherhood of Man – The Innocence Mission, We Walked In Song (2007) “We are in the wind planting the maples / We meet an older man who seems to know I miss my dad / And he smiles through the limbs / We talk easily with him until the rain begins / This is the brotherhood of man… // Waiting at the airport on my suitcase / a girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend / though I did not learn her name / And when the subway dimmed , a stranger lit my way / This is the brotherhood of man…”

4. Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism (2003) “The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row / It seems father than ever before // I need you so much closer…”

5. person person – Mirah, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This (2000) “You talk fast, steady, and say, ‘Howdy do’ / Take a nap on the sandbar / Know we’re dreaming of you too / Yeah we’re dreaming of you too // …Oh person, person, we’re really missing you / It breaks all of our hearts to know / That you just want to come on home / So come on home…”

6. Blue Lips – Regina Spektor, far (2009) “He stumbled into faith and thought, ‘God, this is all there is?’ / The pictures in his mind arose / And began to breathe / And all the gods and all the worlds / Began colliding on a backdrop of blue / Blue lips, blue veins…”

7. The Seer’s Tower – Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (2005) “In the tower above the earth / There is a view that reaches far / Where we see the universe / I see the fire, I see the end… // Still I go to the deepest grave / Where I go to sleep alone…”

8. 42 – Coldplay, Viva la Vida (2008) “Those who are dead are not dead / They’re just living in my head / And since I fell for that spell / I am living there as well // Time is so short and I’m sure / There must be something more…”

9. This Is Not The End – The Bravery, The Sun and the Moon (2007) “Tell me / Come on, tell me what you can / Even as you wait for death / You’re wiser than I am / Tell me, what does it mean to exist / I am not a scientist / I must believe we’re more than this / I cannot accept that everything that’s real / Is only what our eyes can see and our hands can feel // Not even earth can hold us / Not even life controls us / Not even the ground can keep us down / The memories in my head / Are just as real as the time we spent / You’ll always be close to me my friend / This is not the end // …I don’t care what you believe / As long as you are in my heart / You’re just as real as me / Maybe even more / Someone who’s touched so many lives / Can never, never die…”

10. Everyone’s in Everyone – Patrick Park, Everyone’s in Everyone (2007) “We are blessed / We are loveless / We are cold and we are kind // …We go on / to loving families / And we are sleeping in the cold // …We are lost / And we are found / We are saved and depraved // We are poor and rich / And we are sure that it’s / Of love that we are made // Everyone is in everyone…”

11. Recessional – Vienna Teng, Dreaming Through the Noise (2006) “But she’s looking at me, straight to center / No room at all for any other thought / And I know I don’t want this / Oh, I swear I don’t want this / There’s a reason not to want this, but I forgot… // …And the words, they’re everything and nothing / I want to search for her in the off-hand remarks / Who are you, taking coffee no sugar? / Who are you, echoing street signs? / Who are you, in the stranger in the shell of a lover, / Dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?”

12. Blue – Yoko Kanno, Cowboy Bebop: BLUE (1998) “Asked myself what it’s all for / You know the funny thing about it / I couldn’t answer / No, I couldn’t answer // Things have turned a deeper shade of blue / Images that might be real, maybe illusion / Keep flashing off and on // …Free / Got to know free / Please, don’t wake me from the dream / It’s really everything it seemed / I’m so free / No black and white in the blue // Everything is clearer now / Life is just a dream you know / It’s never ending / I’m ascending…” Remember the final scenes of the final episode when you play this song and just try not to cry.

13. A Dance ‘Round the Memory Tree – Oren Lavie, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Soundtrack (2008) “Said I forgot / But I did not / Dreams we have had / Played in my head // Did we believe / the cry of the wind? / Did we regret? / Would we forget? // Winters have come and gone, you know / Winters have come and gone, you know / But I’ll miss you young and sweet / For a dance round the memory tree…”

Download the full mix here. The .zip file contains all 13 songs, album art, and a text file with playlist order and lyrics.

The Rapture 2011: This Time For Real!

May 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

Judgment Day 2011. It’s been kind of a bust so far, with an astounding lack of worldwide earthquakes.

At the time of writing, I still have about 12 hours before the predicted “rolling earthquake” brings rapture and destruction to the City of Brotherly Love. What better time to throw together a compilation of appropriately-themed songs to groove along to in glorious anticipation? Here I present my soundtrack for The Rapture 2011: This Time For Real! 16 songs ranging from the campy to the thought-provoking, all entirely self-indulgent. Play it loud when pillaging vacated McMansions of raptured believers after 6 p.m. local time.

via Google Image Search

1. Cemeteries of London – Coldplay, Viva la Vida (2008) “Through the dark streets they go searching / To see God in their own way / Save the nighttime for your weeping / Your weeping… // God is in the houses and God is in my head / And all the cemeteries in London / I see God come in my garden but I don’t know what he said / For my heart it wasn’t open / Not open…” [download]

2. The Execution of All Things – Rilo Kiley, The Execution of All Things (2002) “Oh God come quickly, the execution of all things / Let’s start with the bears and the air and mountains, rivers, and streams…” [download]

3. Mrs. Jesus – Tori Amos, Scarlet’s Walk (2002) “The Gospel changes meaning if you follow John or Paul / And could you ever let it be the Mary of it all? / And even as I’m climbing up the stairs / I know there’s heaven there / And then empty arms / That comes with the Morning Star // Well, lifelines and suicide crimes / There’s something every day / And there’s someone always paging my Mrs. Jesus…” [download]

4. Act of the Apostle – Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (2006) “The lesson today was Acts of Apostles / The crazy hippies, they’re running scared / She shut her eyes and imagined the desert / No cars, no mobiles, just sun and bread / What would she look like standing by the well? / More like a woman and less like a girl // Oh, if I could make sense of it all! / I wish that I could sing / I’d stay in a melody / I would float along in my everlasting song / What would I do to believe?” [download]

5. Jesusland – Ben Folds, Songs for Silverman (2005) “Town to town / Broadcast to each house, they drop Your name / But no one knows Your face / Billboards quoting things You’d never say / You hang Your head and pray / For Jesusland…” [download]

6. Abraham – Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans (2004) “Abraham / Put off on your son / Take instead the ram / Until Jesus comes…” [download]

7. Hell – Tegan and Sara, Sainthood (2009) “No we’re not ready for Hell, hell no! / For Hell, hell no!… // Four days to remove all the bad that we do / From the heart and the soul of the city, sad and cold / Four ways to collect what we say and what we save / To discard and discover a brand new way…” [download]

8. City with No Children – Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (2010) “You never trust a millionaire / Quoting the Sermon on the Mount / I used to think I was not like them / But I’m beginning to have my doubts, my doubts about it  // When you’re hiding underground / The rain can’t get you wet / Do you think your righteousness / Can pay the interest on your debt? / I have my doubts about it…” [download]

9. In the Devil’s Territory – Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans (2004) “Be still and know your sign / The Beast will arrive in time / We stayed a long, long time / To see you, to beat you / To see you at last…” [download]

10. Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong (2011) “Come on, nothing’s gonna turn us down / So don’t stand there like you don’t care / Cause heaven’s gonna happen now…” [download]

11. Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel, The Stranger (1977) “They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait / Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t / I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints / The sinners are much more fun / And only the good die young…” [download]

12. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) “For life is quite absurd / And death’s the final word / You must always face the curtain with a bow / Forget about your sin, give the audience a grin! / Enjoy it, it’s your last chance anyhow!” Because there’s nothing like some good old-fashioned blasphemy to ring in the Rapture, Monty Python style. [download]

13. We Will All Go Together When We Go – Tom Lehrer, More of Tom Lehrer (1959) “And we will all go together when we go / What a comforting fact that is to know / Universal bereavement / An inspiring achievement! / Yes, we will all go together when we go! // Oh, we will all burn together when we burn / There’ll be no need to stand and wait your turn / When it’s time for the fallout / And St. Peter calls us all out / We’ll just drop our agendas and adjourn!” Tom Lehrer is a mathematician-pianist-satirist-songwriter who recorded various comedic tunes in the 1950s and 60s. Other works of his include “The Masochism Tango,” “The Vatican Rag,” “National Brotherhood Week,” “The Elements,” and this lovely little apocalyptic ditty. [download]

14 . In Our Bedroom After the War – Stars, In Our Bedroom After the War (2007) “Lift your head and look out the window / Stay that way for the rest of the day and watch the time go / Listen, the birds sing / Listen, the bells ring / All the living are dead, and the dead are all living / The war is over and we are beginning…” [download]

15. Sheep Go to Heaven – CAKE, Prolonging the Magic (2007) “Now I just want to play on my panpipes / I just want to drink me some wine / As soon as you’re born, you start dying / So you might as well have a good time // Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell / Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell…” [download]

16. See You in Heaven – Elliott Smith, Grand Mal: Studio Rarities [download]

Song Mix Sundays #9: Spring

March 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

Today marked the first day of spring. Days are lighter, the air is warmer, and even when it’s still chilly everything feels fresh and clean. Here are 15 songs for sunlight, rain showers, wildflower bouquets, and throw-open-the-windows-to-expel-the-cabin-fever weather on perfect blue sky days.

1. A Sunny Spring Day – Three Berry Icecream, Apricot (2000) Three Berry Icecream is a solo project of Japanese artist Mayumi Ikemizu, who plays accordion, piano, and glockenspiel and writes the happiest music on earth. This song feels like sipping coffee outside of a quaint French coffee shop on, well, a sunny spring day! [download]

2. Glider – advantage Lucy, Echo Park (2005) – advantage Lucy is another indie band from Japan. Formed in the late 1990s under the name Lucy van Pelt (yes, just like the Peanuts character), they’re known for their easy-breezy 60s jangle-pop style that’s fun loving and upbeat. This is a song to thrown open the windows and relish the fresh air to. [download]

3. Marathon – Tennis, Cape Dory (2011) – My little sister recently turned me on to this band by ever so cleverly posting YouTube videos of some acoustic live performances on Facebook on the most appropriately warm spring-like days in February and March. And I was hooked. “Marathon” feels like a picnic on a sailboat on a bright, breezy May afternoon. [download]

4. Let’s Get Out of This Country – Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out of This Country (2006) “Let’s get out of this country / I’ll admit I’m bored with me… // We’ll pick berries and recline / Let’s hit the road, dear friend of mine / Wave goodbye to our thankless jobs / We’ll drive for miles, maybe never turn off…” The perfect song for banishing cabin fever and hitting the road to find new weekend adventures. [download]

5. Daffodils – Charlene Soraia, Daffodils and Other Idylls (2008) “Strolling past the daffodils / I won’t forget how it feels / to be lost in the maze / Lying on a sun-kissed patch of grass / We found ’round the back / Of that palace garden place…”  I discovered Charlene Soraia when this song was the featured iTunes single of the week sometime during the spring of 2009. She offers the perfect soundtrack for sipping lazy cups of green tea on muggy April shower days daydreaming about love. [download]

6. Portable Rain – Gutevolk, tiny people singing over the rainbow (2007) – Gutevolk is the solo project of Japanese artist Hirono Nishiyama. I’d classify Gutevolk as sort of ambient, chill electro-pop. Another good rainy spring Saturday track. [download]

7. Born to Hum – Erin McKeown, Grand (2003) “Once in the spring of my 24th year / I had nothing to say / With a dangling promise and a terrible past / I threw all the words away / We were born to hum…” [download]

8. Running Wild – matt pond PA, The Dark Leaves (2010) “In bare feet / In back yards / In brown grass and blood / A piece of the high life / Digs into my heel / Give back to the soil to see / What can come up from the spring…” [download]

9. Fitz and Dizzyspells – Andrew Bird, Noble Beast (2008) “Comes and goes / Like in fits and dizzy spells / Like the weather…” I have no idea what this song is about. Like most Andrew Bird songs, its meaning is obscure but the lyrics are brilliant in their wordplay and sound. His lyrics always seem to be more about the sound of the rhyme and rhythm than the actual meaning. And that’s what makes upbeat near nonsense songs like this perfect for the light, fresh step of spring. [download]

10. Shortcut – Bonnie Pink, Daisy – EP (1999) A short and sweet instrumental acoustic track from Japanese singer-songwriter Bonnie Pink. [download]

11. Asleep On a Sunbeam – Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003) “All I need is somewhere I can feel the grass on my feet / A walk on sand, a fire I can warm my hands / My joy will be complete…” This song just sounds like spring. The whole album feels like spring, really. [download]

12. Summer Holiday – Wild Nothing, Gemini (2010) – This song is so sun-soaked I can’t stand it. It makes me want to drive to the shore for a day with the windows rolled down and the radio loud and play arcade games while a sticky salt breeze wafts over the boardwalk. [download]

13. Sink/Let it Sway – Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Let It Sway (2010) “Head low but you’ve got to let it sway / No miracle’s gonna happen when you feel that way / Bent up but you’ve got to let it sway / No firecracker in the dark’s gonna light your way / Blown out but you’ve got to let it sway / Come on, now, come on, come on…” [download]

14. Ridin’ In My Car – She & Him, Volume Two (2010) Everything about She & Him says carefree springtime, even the songs that are about missing a lost love. [download]

15. Ants – Ham Sandwich, White Fox (2010) Closing things off with a quieter acoustic song from Irish indie band Ham Sandwich. Check out the video for this one on YouTube; it’s heart-breakingly adorable and clever. [download]

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