On The iPod
Welcome to the 7th On The iPod feature. This is one of my personal favorite features on Sunset. To refresh your memories, let’s recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why? This week we asked Derek Torres of T0W3RS, a band out of North Carolina that Sunset is predicting to be a game changer. There’s a high chance you haven’t heard their music yet, because frankly they’re quite new and haven’t really hit it big in the marketing/PR game yet, but soon enough you will realize what you’re missing. Hopefully that can happen today when you are introduced to the incredible taste of Derek Torres.
A sample song by T0W3RS: “Scout/”
Introductory words from Derek:
It is a fact that when I was 11 years old I really liked Limp Bizkit. Now, it goes without saying, I think they are one of the most god-awful things to come out of the early Millennium, but there was a time in my life when “Break Stuff” got the repeat treatment. If I could now go back to visit my 11-year-old self, I would slap him around, hand him an Iggy Pop record and say, “This is real! You dumb little shit!” I realize tastes always change, and mine has indeed in 14 years. What would my 39-year-old, time-traveling counterpart say to me now? “You really think you’re cool listening to Grimes, you dumb bastard!?” These songs I have chosen, with a few exceptions, are songs I truly love. These are the songs that, after 14 years together, I can still wake up next to and whisper, “Darling, We will be together forever.”
Hit the jump to read about and hear the entire playlist from Derek Torres of T0W3RS.
Welcome to the 7th On The iPod feature. This is one of my personal favorite features on Sunset. To refresh your memories, let’s recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why? This week we asked Ludwig Goransson, one of Sunset’s favorite emerging producers. If you live like us in the hyperactive world of the Internet, chances are you’ve heard Ludwig’s music somewhere. His resumé is impressive. He is Childish Gambino‘s main producing partner, he also produced Haim‘s catchy debut EP, he dropped a solo EP this year under the Ludovin moniker, and he composes for hit TV shows such as New Girl and Community.
1. Michael Andrews – I’m Not Following You
If I was stranded on an island, I would start listening to something that would help me dream away. Also because I do a lot of film scoring, I feel obligated to choose at least 1 film score song. I heard this song right before I moved to the States, and it changed my perception about what a film score has to be. It opened up my ears to how important it is to have your own voice, and that’s something I really think Michael Andrew has.
2. Loney, Dear – Airport Surroundings
Loney, Dear is one of my favorite Swedish artist right now. I love the dynamics in this song, how it grows and breaths. Also, I love the bass lines, and I think it’s kind of funny that the song sounds like an ’80s action movie in the end.
3. Kurt Rosenwinkel – If I Should Lose You
Kurt Rosenwinkel is and will always be my big idol. His interpretation of “If I Should Lose You” is flawless. Although I love his original songs I chose this one because I love music that makes you feel sentimental and melancholic. If you listen really carefully to his guitar tone, you can hear that he is singing in falsetto at the same time in the background, that’s what creates his unique tone.
4. Beach House – Used to Be
Continuing the feeling of sentimentality and melancholia, I chose the best representable song of those feelings and also my favorite song of 2010. I listened to this album so many times I can’t listen to it anymore, but I’d still choose it as one of my 10 tracks (that’s how much I like it). I also saw Beach House at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010 which was an amazing show.
5. Stina Nordenstam – So Lee
I got introduced to Stina Nordenstam by my sister when I was around 10. I remembered I thought she sounded like a smurf. A few years later I couldn’t stop listen to her. Her voice is so interesting, so whatever she sings her voice will make it sound new and different.
6. Meshuggah – Future Breed Machine
Every now and then I have the urge to listen to really heavy metal, and the only metal band I listen to is Meshuggah. They are the real innovators of metal, and I haven’t heard a band since them that has the ability to make so perfect song structures and arrangements. Meshuggah is the best live band I’ve ever seen, every time I go home after their shows I feel like I got my heart punched to a bloody mess by a double kick drum. Also, blasting Meshuggah in the car ride home from Coachella really helped me to not fall asleep, in other words they kind of saved my life.
7. Jan Johansson – Mellan Branta Stränder
I think this piece is so beautiful and simple it doesn’t need anything else.
8. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
I just started to listen to Beach Boys a couple of years ago. Every time I listen to them I get inspiration for my productions. Even though these songs are recorded over 40 years ago, the production still feels so fresh. I have some very obvious Beach Boys references in my TV scores, especially New Girl.
9. Alexander Rahbari & The Belgian RTV Philharmonic Orchestra – Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring – Part 1: L’adoration de la terre
If I would be left alone on an island, why wouldn’t I have the best piece of music ever created with me? An interesting fact is that the premiere involved one of the most famous classical music riots in history. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario and choreography shocked the audience that was accustomed to the elegant conventions of classical ballet. At the start some members of the audience began to boo loudly. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles.
10. Meek Mill – Amen (ft. Drake & Jeremih)
Meek Mill’s “Amen” goes hard in my iPod right now, I’m such a sucker for that gospel piano. It’s such a perfect beat.
Welcome to the 6th On The iPod feature. To refresh your memories, let me recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why? Up to bat: G-Eazy, one of Sunset’s favorite emerging hip-hop stars.
1. Nas – Halftime
Illmatic is probably one of my 3 favorite albums of all time. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite song off of it, because it’s really one of those I like to listen to top to bottom. But if i had to pick one song to have on my iPod, itd be halftime. He goes in so hard on this track, these verses never get old. His bar structures and rhyme schemes are so crazy.
2. Kanye West – Drive Slow
It’s really hard to pick a favorite Kanye song, but this one is a classic, it just never gets old. The story he tells is so vivid… And that beat, man… He flipped 2pacs “shorty wanna be a thug” and just made it sound so much better. It’s definitely one you can play over and over.
3. Outkast – Aquemini
4. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
My grandpa and my mom both used to play Johnny Cash records all the time, so I heard them over and over again growing up, and I eventually got into his music on my own later on. He’s always been a staple on my iPod or iPhone or whatever.
5. Harry McClintock – Big Rock Candy Mountain
This is legitimately one of my favorite songs of all time. The story of a utopia told from the perspective of a hobo coming down the railroad tracks in those days is fuckin classic. Plus I’d need some of that to keep my spirits up.
6. 2Pac – Thugz Mansion
This is basically pac’s version of ‘big rock candy mountain’. If I was stranded on an island I would definitely need these records on my iPod, just so I could imagine being there.
7. The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
8. The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
9. Daft Punk – Something About Us
10. Lupe Fiasco – Day Dreamin’
I figure if I was stranded, I’d have plenty of time to lay around and kick it… this would be a perfect record. It’s also my favorite Lupe song.
Welcome to the 5th On The iPod feature. To refresh your memories, let me recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why? Up to bat: Bret Rodysill, better known in the music world as The Record Summer.
Reading back through this, there are more contemporary, and sometimes even cheezy or overwrought songs on this list than I might have expected. But when I really thought about which songs would make me okay, if truly stranded on a desert island–the things that have the strongest memories, heartbreaks, and summers that were, well, great fucking summers–these were the songs I’d personally most like to listen to for better or worse if I had nothing else, and that was the question I was asked. These are the songs that could put me somewhere in the world if I was nowhere in the world.
One January I was sitting in this bar around Brick Lane in London, where there are all these curry houses and rock clubs, and this song came on. I went up to the DJ, asked him what it was, and afterward I was playing it for weeks. That guitar riff is so simple and shrill, but works so well with the melody. It’s a great example of a song with very few changes that sounds bigger. Shows the power of melody, I suppose. I included this song because it always pulls me out of where I am and just makes me want to move around ridiculously, which seems okay in the context of the song. Just Youtube the video and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Plus the lead singer looks a little like Rick Astley. Just saying.
This was an easy one for me. I’ve always loved this song because it’s absolutely sinister, like everything is on the verge of going wrong, like someone just looked across the room at someone he knows he shouldn’t screw, but he will, and she knows it too. It’s about the good parts of the dark parts. There’s something to be said for those parts. The title of the album, “Let it Bleed,” is fitting; sometimes you just have to let go, even if it’s really, really going to hurt later.
This may appear to be an odd choice, and it is, but I couldn’t do without it. An older friend of mine got me into these guys early in high school, and I really started to dive in deep around the time I got my driver’s license. My birthday is at the end of May, so it was perfect–I got my license, and I chose to use it by dicking around with a friend all summer in the car during the hours when I wasn’t at my job at another friend’s pizza restaurant. These were a lot of hours. The Low End Theory was on constantly in the background. Oh, and by the way, this was in Minnesota, the whitest place on earth (according to Chris Rock). He’s probably right. Everyone lost their fucking minds when they heard us pulling up to a stoplight. But we weren’t blaring the bass or anything. We just loved the music.
I chose this for two reasons: (1) because it’s a great song to remember how a simple two piece can be devastating and (2) because I remember hearing them play out at Coney Island a couple of years ago, and when Jack White ripped into this, it was probably the best live display of letting yourself run as a performer I’ve ever seen. Something like when he played Son House’s “Death Letter” at the Grammys and just lost it. You see Quentin Tarentino standing up in the crowd thinking, “He does with music what I try to do with movies.” I normally play and write pretty restrained music, but it’s great to know I could rip the strings off my guitar if I wanted to. I’d just never be able to do it nearly as well as Jack White.
Surprised? I’m not. I’m not saying Will Smith is a good musician, or really even a musician at all, but this song came out when I was eight years old, and holds a certain place for me off in the distance. It always reminds me of times when I didn’t have to worry, as if everything were alright because nothing that went wrong could possibly be my fault, as if I was too young and stupid to know any better, and at the time I was. There’s nothing wrong with pleading ignorance every once in a while, and that’s in a way what this song is for me; I’ll always plead ignorance on this one. This song is a guilty pleasure, and I find nothing wrong with that.
After I had moved to New York and started college, I went to Thanksgiving at this girl’s house in Connecticut. It was wild and strange–her older brother and sister came in drunk the night I got there, and the sister threw a high heel at the brother and split his nose open. The girl was leaving for some work-related thing a few days later, and was preparing for that, so I felt slightly on my own, and everything was just all over the place around me. But, I remember the second day I was there, in that bizarre afternoon pause before you go eat the Thanksgiving meal, she and I were sitting in her study and she put this song on. It was so mysterious to me for some reason, just the sound of it. It made sense. I felt like everything around me was mysterious. It confirmed something fundamental in my mind, and I always still put it on when I want to have some reason to open my eyes up a little at what’s going on.
Mostly to remind me of vocals–the impact of a good vocal break. This is clearly a hip hop song, and most of it is pretty linear, but there’s this pre-chorus (“can’t drive me out of my mind”) where he just kills it, and when I was a young kid sitting upstairs with a collection of three tapes–this, the Top Gun soundtrack, and Roxette’s Joyride (yeah)–I could not get over it. I sang along over and over. I still sing along with it.
The main riff throughout this song just cuts into you like knives. It’s raw and unrestrained. It’s absolutely wild. That’s what I love about it. The guitar tone is about as exposed as it could be. You can hear every little crack in it, and it works. When I record electric guitar tracks for my next record, I’m going to try to go for this tone, exactly, as I’ve always loved it. It just sounds how an electric guitar should sound.
9. Kreuzberg–Bloc Party
I can’t think of a more beautiful song. I never expected to say that about a Bloc Party song, but it’s true. Every time I listen to it, I get uncontrollably sad, and I like that for some reason. Maybe it’s because sadness is an extremely strong emotion for me, definitely stronger than anything close to happiness. But I’m alright with that, as awful as it is. The song sounds like the season’s changing and you’re getting ready for one hell of a winter to come. I had broken up with the first girl I was probably in love with around when I first heard this song, and I related it to that, to the sadness stemming from that, which may have been an obvious reference in retrospect, but still, it was a perfect metaphor for what was coming. And, as it turns out, I was right. That next year was a shitty year.
This is such an abnormal song. There are all kinds of Eastern elements in it, these bends and sighs, and it’s fitting for the subject matter. We’re all always sighing when we’re growing up, always getting over something. In fact, I think I’m still growing up, still bending, still sighing, still getting over something. This song is probably meant to memorialize the specific time and place of that experience–growing up in suburbia–but it sweeps wider. We’re all still growing up in one way or another.
Welcome to the 4th On The iPod feature. This feature was created about seven months ago, and I was hoping to make it a more regular feature, but, totally understandably, it takes people a while to prepare their list of what could be their Top 10 Songs of All Time. To refresh your memories, let me recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why?
Brett Shady began writing songs four years ago after a cross-country tour with the band Golden Shoulders. His songs paint a picture of heartbreak and regret and raise questions of good and evil deeply rooted in the American songwriting tradition. Most of the ten songs on his debut album, The Devil To Pay, were written about his move from Northern California’s gold country to Los Angeles ten years ago, a period Brett says was “full of isolation, depression and struggling to find my place in the world.” Recorded in Nevada City by renowned engineer/producer Dana Gumbiner, the album features an ensemble of veteran musicians and is now available.
Here’s what Brett had to say:
I’ve been agonizing over this list for the past few days, as I always tend to do when trying to come up with a definitive list because I know I’ll think of something I left off or forgot. And I’m sure I’ll have a completely different list within about a month. But the basis of this feature is very cruel anyway: only having ten songs on a deserted island? For the rest of my life?
Well, here’s my list. I tried my best to include individual songs that really mean something to me personally, instead of just trying to represent my favorite bands or artists, which means I regrettably have left off Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith and others (picking one song from them would be nearly impossible so I chose not to). Anyway, without further ado and in no particular order:
1. “Summertime” – The Zombies
The Zombies were all I was listening to during one of the my best and most unforgettable summers. It was after I graduated high school but before moving to LA. I was unaware of how complicated and unforgiving life was about to become, but knew something was about to change. It was an exciting, innocent and heartbreaking summer. Colin Blunstone’s vocals are so smooth and cool, especially on their version of this song. It’s been done by so many great people, but this Zombies cover is probably my favorite.
2. “The Only Living Boy in New York” – Simon and Garfunkel
When I was recording my album, we were trying to come up with a percussion idea or something and someone suggested listening to this to get an idea. As soon as it started, just hearing it coming through the same speakers I’d been listening to my songs over and over on, I felt so defeated and depressed by how beautiful it was. It’s always been one of my favorites from S&G, but hearing it then just illustrated how much further I had to go. It was a wonderful ego-check and I think I’d need to have it handy.
3. “Detour Ahead” – Billie Holiday
When I was about ten, I had a Blue Note Female Jazz Vocalists cassette tape compilation that I would listen to every night to get to sleep. It had about ten or twelve songs that got burned into my brain, this one being the song that stuck with me the longest and most intensely. It’s definitely in the top five of the best songs I’ve ever heard. So good! I think I’ll actually put it on right now.
4. “Bring It On Home To Me” – Sam Cooke
It was between this, “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding and “Try Me” by James Brown as the one soul ballad I would have to have on that horrible songless island. But Sam edged the other two out slightly because this song is one of the greatest ever recorded.
5. “When You Find Out” – The Nerves
This list so far is missing some energy. I’m sure I’d also want to dance around at some point, and this song would definitely get the job done. There was a period of time several years ago when I was looking all over the place for this song and couldn’t find it anywhere. Now that it’s readily available, I’ll never have an iPod without it.
6. “Big Iron” – Marty Robbins
I don’t think I could go too long without hearing Marty Robbins’s voice (and those background vocals!). I was going to pick “El Paso”, but my friend Dana played it live once and had me come up and sing with him on it and I screwed up the lyrics pretty bad, so I figure it would just make me think of that over and over again. There are too many other great Marty Robbins songs to choose from anyway.
7. “You and Your Sister” – This Mortal Coil
This version of the Chris Bell song is one that I would never want to be without. Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly’s vocals can make my heart totally melt or break it into pieces depending on when I listen to it. There’s a quality in those voices that, along with the simple arrangement, is hard to forget or top.
8. “Ode to LRC” – Band of Horses
I think I need to have at least one song from the 2000s. I figure it would make a nice moment if I’m sitting, watching the sun set on my private island while hearing Ben Bridwell sing, “The world is such a wonderful place” and then it hits that great crescendo… Ah, life.
9. “Rise Above” – Black Flag
I’d need some aggression so things don’t get too sappy. This song can act as the representative for all the punk in my heart. One of the best live shows I ever saw was the Black Flag Tribute/West Memphis 3 Benefit at Amoeba Music in Hollywood with Henry Rollins, Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski. When Rollins came out and ripped into Rise Above, I knew it was a moment I’d always remember. Screaming at the top of my lungs with my good friends Matt and Geoff along with the rest of the crowd in positive solidarity is a moment I’d love to have with me there.
10. “Familiar Terrain” – Bobby Birdman
This song doesn’t seem to be available and I’m not sure if he ever recorded it in a studio. Back in ‘99, I moved from Nevada City, California to Los Angeles (Van Nuys, to be exact). During my first trip back to my hometown the following year, my buddy Adam gave me a cassette tape of a show I had just missed. My friend Rob was now called Bobby Birdman and he played with Adam’s great band at the time, The Gears (not the LA punk band, the Beatlesy pop band) at a local coffee shop. I completely wore out that tape over the next few years. This song in particular became the soundtrack to what I had left behind: the security and warmth of a beautiful hometown that I knew I had to get out of but also knew would haunt me from that day on. It begins with my friend Alison’s awesome laugh and voices that I can instantly recognize talking in the background during some awkward crowd participation, and then Rob totally kills it. Whatever the song meant to him, to me it will always be a way I can get back home.
“Any Old Wind That Blows” – Johnny Cash
“Marie” – Randy Newman
“So I Finally Belong To The Night” – Little Wings
“Unchained Melody” – The Fleetwoods
“Take It Or Leave It” – The Strokes
Welcome to the third-ever “On The iPod” feature. This feature was created about seven months ago, and I was hoping to make it a more regular feature, but, totally understandably, it takes people a while to prepare their list of what could be their Top 10 Songs of All Time. To refresh your memories, let me recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why?
Brenton Duvall is a 19-year-old producer from Washington D.C. and a sophomore at the University of Colorado. Since he began releasing tracks in April 2010, his remixes have blown up, getting thousands and thousands of downloads as well as reaching the top of HypeMachine charts numerous times. Brenton’s music is unique because it is melodic and frequently downtempo, while still being a hip hop track you can dance to. Without any promotion of any sort, Brenton is slowly gaining momentum and being recognized for his work.
Here’s what Brenton had to say:
This was really, really hard. I love music, obviously, and all different kinds, so condensing this list to ten songs was a daunting task. I decided to pick tracks that have been extremely inspirational to me as a person and artist, but that you could still listen to when you are driving with the windows down. A lot of these tracks are different than the kind of music I make. In fact, they all are. Still, these are some of the best songs ever written. Throw on some noise cancelling headphones, prepare your favorite variety of potpourri, turn off the lights, and listen to this playlist. I promise, you will be a better and more humble person afterward.
What I consider to be the greatest song ever written. The fact that David Byrne can make a beautiful love song out of a single four bar phrase is what blows my mind…it’s literally the same bass line over and over. His lyrics are so perfect and and powerful…experiencing this song in the right way makes you know what it feels like to really be in love. I can’t say enough good things about it.
Josh Ritter is the best songwriter today, and he is extremely underrated. This song, which tells an apocalyptic love story from the perspective of a guy named Adam, is hauntingly beautiful. While the subject matter is something we may not be used to, you’d be surprised with how well the lyrics resonate with you. They will make your heart wrench and your brain swirl…it is very intense.
This song came out early this year, I think. Nobody knows anything about CSLSX except that they’re an experimental pop-collective out of Philadelphia. This track makes you DANCE. So funky, so sexy, so awesome. Warm bass lines over blisscore vocals with heavy ass reverb…you can barely comprehend the lyrics, but you still know what they’re getting at. I never get tired of this song, it makes me feel SO ALIVE.
As a musician, this song is a kick in the ass. One listen to this makes you wonder how creating such a track is possible. Jeff Tweedy just knows the right lyrics for his voice, so that you can feel the emotion behind his singing. Maybe this is just quintessential Wilco for me. Lots of beautiful, acoustic instruments and brushes on drums. You can sense the cigarette smoke filling the studio, if that makes sense. Andrew Bird does a lovely live version of this song as well.
This playlist was gettin’ way heavy so I had to get a little hyphy. I started listening to Mac Dre when I came out to school in Colorado; my roomates are from the Bay. Alot of the synths in hyphy music are really inspiring, at least in the songs I make. Fat basses that make you throw on your thizzle face. This shit will cause even the whitest of crackers to GO DUMB.
You’ve probably never heard this song. That sucks. This guy, D. Gookin, is from right around D.C., but I’m not even really sure what kind of artist he is. I’ve only heard some of his other stuff, but it’s all pretty great. It’s kind of like art rock electro. This song is my anthem…once you hear it, I’m sure it will be yours too. Trust me: this shit is the definition of infectious.
Emily Haines just has such a great voice. Especially when you hear this song acoustically, it gives you chills. I don’t have alot to say about it, but it probably speaks for itself. If I hadn’t put this song in any top ten list I was making, I’d feel really bad.
You know when you hear Ratatat for the first time and you’re like “WHAAAAAT?” Well it’s the same thing with Javelin. Their set up is so crazy, it’s like 4 samplers and a bunch of old Mexican rock records, all electric pink and yellow and stuff. They really do their own thing. THIS is what rappers should be going in over. Pure insanity…you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard of these dudes yet.
I’m pretty sure Hazelton was Justin Vernon’s solo record that he put out before he became Bon Iver. I’m lucky enough to have a copy, and I think it’s out on the internet somewhere. It’s got that same Bon Iver simplicity: a set up that’s probably just Justin, an acoustic, and a shitty drum kit that you can layer tracks over. It’s really a haunting song, and the lyrics are almost terrifying. Nonetheless, Justin Vernon just has a way of presenting himself so that you know exactly what he means with his music. I really wish more people knew about this record.
When I listen to this, I imagine how it might sound today, and it really can’t be that different. Joy Division were SO ahead of their time. This isn’t any different than what alot of bands do today, and I hope the music industry recognizes how much they owe to Ian Curtis and Joy Division. The guitar riff in this song really evokes a particular feeling for me…like hope and sadness mixed into one. That’s what I love about this band.
Welcome to the second-ever “On The iPod” feature. I was hoping to make this a more regular feature, but, totally understandably, it takes people a while to prepare their list of what could be their Top 10 Songs of All Time. To refresh your memories, let me recap what this feature entails. We are asking people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that held only 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why?
Emma Simmons is a Photographer based in San Francisco, California. She is pursuing her dream of capturing the beauty of life on camera, and loving every minute of it. Since finishing school, she has worked as an Assistant and traveling wing-woman to several world-famous photographers. She has mastered the art of portraiture, wildlife, and landscape photography. Here are some links to her work:
And on top of all of this, she just so happens to be my sister!
Here’s what she had to say:
If I only had 10 songs on my iPod…
Being someone who LOVES to listen to music, be it sitting at my computer editing photos, driving in my car, sitting on a train or walking, I love having music right there, so limiting it to 10 songs was a little difficult, but I decided to categorize why I would choose each song. Sitting here at my desk, I chose to write down the numbers 1-10 on a napkin that was next to me. I labeled each number with a category: Dance to, Whistle to, Relax to, Daydream to, Drive to, Sing to, Smile to, Frolic to, Travel to, and the YOU song.
1. Dance to: ”Say Hey (I Love You)” (ft. Cherine Anderson) – Michael Franti and Spearhead
Last Labor Day I was in Aspen with my boyfriend and best friend. We went to hear Michael Franti, who was playing at Aspen Jazz Fest, and it could not have been a better night. While he performed (outdoor show), the moon was rising over the mountains and dancing with a cold beer in hand was the picture perfect setting.
2. Whistle to: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin
An all-time favorite. I did a summer program back in high school, living on a 69’ sailboat in the Bahamas, tagging sea turtles and sharks. The first mate of the boat didn’t allow whistling. I’m not sure if you have ever been told not to whistle, but when you have that freedom taken away from you for 3 1/2 weeks, you realize how much you tend to whistle in life…
3. Relax to: “Caribbean Blue” – Enya
My family grew up listening to Enya NON-STOP, literally! We would wake up to Enya playing in the house and go to sleep to Enya playing, the CD was the only one in the CD player and repeat must have been a new function on CD players because it was on repeat for months at a time. I love listening to her music – it helps me slow down (which is hard to do at times!)
4. Daydream to: “The Wind” – Cat Stevens
I was having a hard time picking my perfect daydream song, but “The Wind” is one of those songs that just never gets old. I find it too short, but it’s about the journey, which my mind is constantly fixed on.
5. Drive to: “Settler” – Balmorhea
I can really drive to anything. If there are words to sing at the top of your lungs to, even better! But, a little over a year ago, a friend sent me this song and I had this vision in my mind of one of my all-time favorite memories: driving my parents’ 1982 Range Rover to this lake in Maine with one of my closest friends. We would have the windows rolled down and most likely would be listening to the Top Gun soundtrack (which is the exact opposite song choice). We would park the car on the side of the road, jump into the lake for an afternoon “dip” and then continue on with a beautiful drive with wet hair drying in the crisp Maine air and summer sun in the REARVIEW! Somehow this song is so peaceful that it reminds me of growing up (although I still do this routine with my friend) and beautiful days in Maine.
6. Sing to: “Man in the Mirror” – Michael Jackson
I guess if you are told you can’t whistle, you can always snap your fingers! Absolutely incredible lyrics and inspirational for sure!
7. Smile to: “Way You Do The Things You Do” – UB40
UB40 is one of my favorite bands. EVER. Seeing them live (minus the lead singer) was one of the best nights I had while living in NYC. I totally believe in doing things your own way. It’s okay, you too can be custom!
8. Frolic to: “Wide Open Spaces” – Dixie Chicks
I went on a trip with my family before the iPod existed…and being that I lOVED listening to music, I decided to bring my whole CD collection with me (not smart-lugging that weight around at that age…). For some reason, though, I gravitated towards one CD: The Dixie Chicks. My two older sisters and I went on a long hike one day and found a huge field, which we happily “frolicked” in. This song will always remind me of this unique experience.
9. Travel to: “Praan” – Gary Schyman
Ever since the YouTube phenomena, “Where The Hell Is Matt,” surfaced, I have LOVED this song. Playing it on your iPod in the airport, on a crowded bus, an open-aired market, it works for any setting!
10. The YOU Song: “Kokomo” – The Beach Boys
I believe everyone has a song that people hear and immediately think of you. A family friend hosted a lunch for me when I was graduating from high school and as party favors, she gave out cds, with one song on the CD to remind them of me. That song was “Kokomo.” I’ve claimed it as my song ever since!
As always, keep your eye out for the next On The iPod feature!
We’re starting a new feature here on Sunset called “On The iPod.” We’ll try to make this a semi-regular thing, where we ask some people, be they artists, listeners, or fans, what they would do if they were stranded on an island with an iPod that only held 10 songs. Which songs would they pick and why? This idea stemmed from when I studied abroad in Kenya and had to take an iPod Mini from back in the day and it could only hold about 150 songs. Preparing that iPod for a 4 month trip was a huge challenge. So I’m asking some people if they’re up to the challenge of picking 10 songs. First up? Anthem.
Anthem is an up-and-coming hip-hop emcee who graduated from Duke University and had secured a job on Wall Street, only to quit the job and pursue a career in hip-hop. His music has been featured on Sunset several times, and now we get to hear a bit from Anthem on what his favorite music is. Here’s what he had to say:
What would you do if someone held a gun to your head and forced you to delete all but 10 songs on your iPod?** Sounds ridiculous, I know. I made a playlist to answer this question. Welcome to Anthem’s iPod.
Intro.Stevie Wonder • “Living For the City” • Innervisions
“Living For the City” is classic soul. The narrative reminds me of my own upbringing, and the pride you feel when overcoming obstacles. You can hear the edge and angst in Stevie’s voice as he paints a picture of hardship, inequalities, and perseverance. I play my full-length version because it has Ray Charles singing the final two verses after the spoken interlude.
2. Smashing Pumpkins • “Landslide” • Pisces Iscariot
I’ve always liked Billy Corgan’s voice. Although I really like the original, the Smashing Pumpkins’s cover is a great rendition of the Stevie Nicks hit. Vocals aside, the song features a powerful songwriting and vivid imagery. Replay value through the roof.
3. Donny Hathaway • “Love, Love, Love” • Extensions of a Man
This is an amazing ballad. When I think of the phrase “the voice is an instrument,” Donny Hathaway comes to mind first. He is an unheralded legend of soul music and if you skim through his catalogue, you’ll soon see why. Simply put, he’s a soulful brother. “Soulful” is my way of describing that intangible quality that draws you in and leaves you no choice but to feel exactly what he’s feeling.
4. Michael Jackson • “Rock With You” • Off the Wall
Anyone that knows me knows that Michael is my favorite artist. Thriller and Bad are among my top albums period, but Off the Wall is my favorite MJ album. It’s a great fusion of disco, pop, funk, and soul. This song is a timeless feelgood track. The greatest entertainer; R.I.P. King of Pop.
5. Outkast • “A Day in the life of Benjamin André” • The Love Below
Popular opinino in hip hop can be pretty out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Outkast has one of the best catalogues in hip hop, and in my opinion, André is the most underrated emcee. Without writing an entire blog entry, I’ll just say that I really idolize his lyricism, flow, and creativity. Three Stacks is on my shortlist of greats. This song is a great exposé of his storytelling and effortless emceeing. Go 3000.
6. Jay-Z • “In My Lifetime (Remix)” • Streets is Watching Soundtrack
I think many people shortchange Jay’s early work by labeling it Mafioso rap. He used his slick persona to share honest and introspective thought, giving the listener an insight to the wisdom gained from weathering the gritty realism of street life. He packaged “depth” and made it relatable to the layman. In this song, Jay cleverly spits about the risks/rewards that come with self-empowerment and taking the bad with the good when fighting to create your own fate. I love how he ends each verse with a variation of “I know the price, know the risks, know the wrongs and rights, still my blood flows ice, it’s just my life.” Classic Jay.
7. Notorious B.I.G. • “Everyday Struggles” • Ready to Die
1994 was a good year. Among all the albums that dropped (Resurrection, The Diary, The Main Ingredient, Hard to Earn, Thug Life…the list goes on and on) were three legendary debuts: Illmatic (Nas), Soutnernplayalisticadillacmuzik (Outkast), and Ready to Die (B.I.G.). Biggie epitomized effortless emceeing, and this song is an anthem. It feels like the same frustration and hardship in “Living For The City” (first song I listed), but spoken through the hustler’s vantage point. Storytelling and conviction is phenomenal in this song. R.I.P.
8. 2Pac • “Str8 Ballin’” • Thug Life
When Pac died, Me Against the World and All Eyez On Me were already my favorite rap albums. I’m older now and have a deeper appreciation and understanding of his work. Whether your M.O. is rollin one up, slow sippin, or cruisin at a low speed, this shyt is most definitely a hood classic. Nah, I never sold drugs. But I still identify with that by-any-means-necessary attitude and the hustle of a have-not. You can always hear passion and angst in Pac’s voice. R.I.P.
9. Common • “They Say (feat. John Legend & Kanye West)” • BE
Common + (Ye’s production+Guest appearance) + John Legend hook = G.O.O.D. Music. Along with Finding Forever, Common is responsible for two of my favorite albums in the past decade. I love Common’s verses, and Ye adds stellar production and a hot feature verse. Take into consideration that I’m also a huge John Legend fan and this choice is a no-brainer.
Outro • Kanye West • “Last Call” • College Dropout
Entertainment Weekly is not exactly my first source for hip hop commentary, but they definitely caught my attention when they awarded College Dropout as the album of the decade. I credit him for the evolution of the game and ushering in this post-gangsta rap era. This will remain my favorite Kanye track, but not because of the classic ‘Ye production or bars. It’s the nine-minute monologue at the end. As a rapper myself, I appreciate a close look at another artist’s personality and struggles and really identify with the raw passion and energy in this track. @9:55 “Everybody out there, listen here. I played them ‘Jesus Walks’ and they didn’t sign me!”
**I wouldn’t trip. Best believe I already got all my music backed up. You should too.
Be on the lookout for the next episode of On The iPod! It’s going to be a very special guest!