Shuffle the Music Tag

Music is something I should talk about more, and I’ve got a great opportunity because Ash at For the Love of Books tagged me in the Shuffle the Music Tag!

Here are the rules, although I’m going to modify them a bit:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this tag and link to their blog.
  2. Shuffle your entire music library (no matter how old songs the songs are) and talk about the FIRST FIFTEEN* songs that come up (anything like why they are there, if they signify something, any story, why you like them, etc.)
  3. Mention the songs as well as the artists.
  4. Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and please let them know!

*Ash did 20 songs, so I’m doing 20. Also, my library is split between iTunes and Spotify, so I’m going do 10 from each. Long story short, iTunes has a lot of older music I would listen to, some bought, some on CDs from my parents. It’s probably also a smaller collection. Spotify, meanwhile, I got more recently and now use frequently, though I think I’ve mostly saved (and listened to) musicals. So this will be interesting!


iTunes

1. “The Long Run”: The Eagles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This song wasn’t on our Eagles greatest hits CD, so I remembered I ended up buying it on iTunes, maybe toward the end of middle school or early high school. The Eagles often sound somewhere between rock and country, and while I don’t really listen to the latter, I find the Eagles’ songs catchy. “The Long Run” is definitely one of their hits, all about taking a chance on a relationship and seeing what happens.

2. “Daniel”: Elton John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a kid, I resisted my dad trying to get me into Elton John for a long time, but let’s be honest, he fits very easily into my musical tastes. “Daniel” became one of my favorites…I realize now it’s a pretty sad song about the narrator’s brother, a Vietnam vet, but it’s just so pleasant and breezy to listen to?

3. “Rent”: Rent, film version (Jonathan Larson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the last album I purchased on iTunes before I was hacked and basically lost my account (though I still had the music downloaded on my laptop as I do own it). I actually much prefer the Broadway version because it’s less stylized, introduces more characters (not to mention has actual context before it), and has more of an ensemble focus…but overall this has been one of my favorite songs recently. “How do you document real life when real life’s getting more like fiction each day?” is basically how I feel watching the news, and I love the lines about trying to focus on the future and escape feelings from the past. Let’s be honest: this isn’t about the actual rent, but the burdens of society on those looked down upon (Roger can’t escape HIV+ and his mistakes that led him to that diagnosis, Collins gets mugged, etc). It’s angry and such a rousing opening number; when I saw this live during the 20th anniversary tour, that opening riff’s volume took me by surprise and I thought, “Yep, this is a rock musical, all right.”

4. “I Have Confidence”: The Sound of Music, film version (Rogers & Hammerstein)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently my iTunes does have quite a bit of musicals on it! I’ve had this CD since my childhood…I was in a (minor) car accident when I was 5 and was mostly worried if this CD, which had been in the car’s player, was okay. This movie got me into loving musicals and singing back then and I’ve never looked back. While I might generally prefer stage productions to movie musicals now, but I still return to this one regularly and it holds up thanks to the wonderful dialogue and performances. “I Have Confidence” is such an empowering song, and a great scene in the movie–even though my dad annoys me with it sometimes.

5. “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”: Simon & Garfunkel, live Concert in Central Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Simon & Garfunkel Concert in Central Park CD from the titular 1981 concert was a regular listen on car trips when I was a kid, and I fell revisited and fell in love with it in early high school, I think (it has a better version of “Sound of Silence” than the original, IMO). The soft rhythms and their lovely harmonizing is certainly present in this carefree song. (Fun fact: my dad was at this concert back then. It was free.)

6. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”: Jim Croce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clearly there’s quite a bit of folk-rock songs in my foundation. While not my favorite Croce song (that would be “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” or “Time in a Bottle”), this is again something introduced to me by my parents’ CD collection and radio channels. It’s just SO CATCHY and casual with plenty of dropped -g’s, humming, lyrics like “ba-da-bee,” sort-of monologue, and good advice (don’t spit into the wind!). Also this is about some sort of gangster named Jim Wailker, not about Croce himself! This song creates a fully-realized world and legend in less than 3 minutes.

7. “Guinnevere”: Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and Young??)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really got into Crosby, Stills, and Nash (sometimes with Neil Young) during middle school as I discovered my love for soft songs with lovely harmonies. “Guinnevere” is certainly one of them: slow, some parts almost whispered, close harmonies. And yes, it’s about comparing a woman to the King Arthur character.

8. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”: The Beatles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: YouTube didn’t have an easy-to-find original version of the song, so instead please have this amusing choir arrangement because I am also choir geek.

The Beatles were another band my parents introduced me as a kid and accompanied us on our long car rides to family. I remember this one fondly, of course, because what kid wouldn’t like the nonsensical chorus of this song? And it certainly remains fun. LIFE GOES ON…BRRRAAA!

9. “Katmandu”: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another car trip favorite was Bob Seger. This song is heavier than some of his others and so it sticks out…K-K-K-K-Katmandu! Unfortunately, I didn’t learn/remember where Katmandu actually is until much later in life. I always thought of it as mountains in the Western U.S. for some reason?

10. “We Go Together”: Grease, film soundtrack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Grease is kind of a bizarre movie, from the first time  I watched it in like middle school to rewatching it this year. But that’s another topic, and regardless I’ve always liked the music, because the 50s style was something I listened to when I was younger. “We Go Together” is definitely one of those I would listen to…I know all the words, and some aren’t really “words.” One of these days, I will go to an old-fashioned sock hop!


Spotify

1. “No One Mourns the Wicked”: from Wicked (Stephen Schwartz)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is saved because it was initially one of the musicals I intended to listen to when I first got Spotify, as several of my friends really love it. While I know some of the songs, and there’s a chance I might have heard snippets of this one somewhere, I still haven’t listened to the whole musical and honestly it’s so popular that I’ll probably see it someday and so I don’t feel an urgency to.

2. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”: U2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know U2 gets a bad rap nowadays, mostly because of their iTunes gift that became difficult to delete because of iTunes’ updates (and now they have another new album??), but I really like their older classics like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Bono’s vocals are great, and the slow build of the instruments leading into a steady melody provides an immersive experience. My favorite version, though, is probably this, a three-part harmony sung by Broadway and Smash stars (though I haven’t seen that show) Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, and Jeremy Jordan.

3. “I Love My Daughter” (But Not In A Creepy Way)” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, how your song parodies make me laugh. This one’s from an early first season episode and it definitely helped win me over on the show. Nothing beats Darryl’s coming out “Gettin’ Bi” song, but he’s genuinely one of my favorite characters and any song with him is a gift. This one satirizes common themes and aesthetics in country songs to a cringeworthy but funny effect.

4. “Imitation of Life”: R.E.M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.E.M. is in that collection of music my dad introduced me to as a kid and that I generally grew up with, but that was mostly limited to their big hits and Automatic for the People (one of my favorite albums). But last year I discovered some of their other work on Spotify, probably because I was searching for more of that ’80s-’90s angsty political rock with great vocals like Rent (their album Lifes Rich Pageant was the answer to that). “Imitation of Life” stuck out to me because it’s just plain catchy and I would get it stuck in my head, though the central idea of “imitating life” does have plenty of weight to it. (Also I just watched this video for the first time and…what??)

5. “Take A Byte”: Janelle Monáe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise, a new, non-musical song! This doesn’t happen very much at all. Dirty Computer was actually one of the first albums I really anticipated, mostly because a friend made me listen to the Prince-style catchy “Make Me Feel” when it came out, and I was intruiged by the style of that and the singles that followed, especially as it all made a sci-fi storyline with queer representation. “Take a Byte” isn’t one of my favorites on the soundtrack, but the electronic feel at the beginning definitely highlights the technology theme of the story, and it can definitely be read as queer desire in context.

6.”Many Meetings”: Howard Shore from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord of the Rings music is absolutely memorable and great background music. This track has atmospheric elvish (I think?) singing, and the Hobbiton motif that just reminds me of nature and a sense of belonging/home keeps repeating…it’s really beautiful.

7. “Encore: Our Shot”: from Spamilton

 

 

 

 

Although I don’t have much of a personal connection to it because it was so popular and I didn’t quite come to it on my own, I love Hamilton. What a surprise, I know. But did you know there is an off-Broadway parody? Some of it’s great, some is less so, and some of it relies on knowledge of other musicals and actors, but if you love Hamilton it’s worth the listen. This track is just a little ending piece to the tune of “My Shot” about how now their voices are shot and they need a drink. Probably what every performer thinks after a show!

8. “Not Too Bad”: from Fun Home (Jeanine Tsori & Lis Kron)

 

 

So, like Wicked, here’s a musical I intended to listen to but still haven’t. I’ve heard some of the songs, but I had to read the book for class last year and I loved it, and I’m just not ready to experience an adaptation of it because what I liked about the graphic novel was so intrinsic to its form and voice. But I’ve heard it’s good. (Also let’s be honest, a song from this started playing once and it was too sad I just couldn’t listen to it.)

9. “Telekenetic Energy”: Chris Tilton, from from Fringe Season 4 soundtrack

 

I love the TV show Fringe (which, alas, is a subject for another time), and I discovered it has a pretty good score to listen to as background music, so of course I added the albums when I got Spotify. My favorite thing is that most of the titles are puns, including this one! This piece is very tense initially but then evens out (albeit with a heartbeat-like thumping in the background) and grows quieter…definitely like the main character Olivia gaining control of her telekenetic powers! (Maybe. Not sure when this was used specifically.)

10. “I Am Playing Me”: from [title of show] (Jeff Bowen)

And here’s another musical I haven’t listened to, although this one I fully intend to because it’s lesser-known and I don’t really know the storyline. Apparently it’s about the creators of a musical, so it’s very meta, which is the kind of stuff I love.


Wow, iTunes went really well with lots of childhood memories and Spotify was…not nearly as expected. I think I tend to save musicals to listen to them later and what I haven’t listened to is larger than what I have

I tag…

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2017 Favorites: Music and Musicals

Welcome to my 2017 in review posts!

R.E.M.: Lifes Rich Pageant

lifes rich pageantEarly in 2017, thanks to Spotify, I rediscovered R.E.M. Automatic for the People has always been one of my favorite albums (and it still holds up!), while I was also familiar with a few of their other hits (“Losing My Religion,” “Shiny Happy People,” “The One I Love,” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” of course). Of the new songs I listened to, I found myself gravitating to the Lifes Rich Pageant album. It’s heavier than Automatic (which I still think I prefer) and full of optimism and making a difference. “These Days,” for instance, is all about how young people do care about the world and want to do something good with it as they construct their own identities.

Favorite songs: “I Believe,” “These Days,” “Fall on Me.”

Soundtrack to Arrival  (Johann Johannsson)

arrival soundtrack.jpgTechnically I discovered this in 2016 when I saw the movie, but I don’t know if I listened to this or not until this year. Regardless, I wanted a little more variety on this list. This movie relied on sound and music for atmosphere and the soundtrack is SO GREAT, although really intense and creepy at points. So I do not recommend listening to it when you’re looking for more peaceful music to write a paper to though!

P.S. I also recommend the movie and it’s currently on Hulu!

Pippin (Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Book by Roger O. Hirson)

pippinIn April, I saw the Broadway tour performance of Pippin (the acrobatic-intense 2013 revival, which adds a final scene not in the original that’s thematically important). It was at my college and I thought it would be fun, plus I had friends who liked it and the music. And it was certainly fun, but by the end of Act II I was blown away by the story, which originally confused and disappointed me at the beginning of that act because it seemed to be undoing some of the stakes and settling into “love is the solution!” But I was wrong. Really, what Pippin does is literally tear down (and I mean literally) the hero’s journey and accept that life might not be as grand as you hope it will be. It was a little on-the-nose at the end, but I loved the metatheater and found it an inevitable point of life I’ll have to face sometime, as I’m sure my writing and teaching careers won’t pan out exactly as expected. It helped I was studying postmodernism and really clicking with some of the philosophy at the time, too–particularly the part about questioning and dismantling master narratives.

Favorite Songs: “Magic to Do,” “Corner of the Sky,” “No Time at All,” and “Finale.”

Falsettos (Music & Lyrics by William Finn, Book by Finn & James Lapine)

If you’ve talked to me at all in the second half of this year, you probably know about my love for Falsettos. It all started with the release of the trailer for the PBS broadcast of the 2016 revival, which I’d previously heard good things about it. I managed to see the recording in a theater in July and you bet I’ve got the PBS recording from October saved on my DVR permanently.

falsettosI previously discussed it here, where I got carried away talking about some of ways it addresses gender roles. Look, this musical was basically made for queer musical and literary nerds. (I admit I am not Jewish, and when I watched it with a friend of mine who is, he pointed out a lot of little jokes and references that had gone completely over my head.) It’s intensely character-focused, using repetition and motifs like games/sports and cooking to show how strict gender roles and homophobia are affecting everyone. (It’s all sung-through.) Some lines from Act I (originally written and performed in 1981) are mirrored in Act II (from 1990, before the two were combined for the originally 1992 Broadway production), displaying character development. The set changes to express the state of the family. Serious issues and real-life history are handled head-on, while other scenes feature more abstract caricatures of masculinity. And did I mention the harmonies are lovely? The soundtrack is basically filled with bops and tear-inducing ballads.

It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, but ultimately it just fills me with hope and happiness at how much this family went through and grew together.

Favorite Songs: …I have to choose? Fine. “Four Jews in a Room Bitching,” “This Had Better Come to a Stop,” “I’m Breaking Down,” “Jason’s Therapy, ” “The Chess Game,” “The Games I Play,” “I Never Wanted to Love You,” “Father to Son,” “Falsettoland/About Time,” “The Baseball Game,” “A Day in Falsettoland,” “Everyone Hates His Parents,” “What More Can I Say?”, “Something Bad is Happening,” “Holding to the Ground,” “Unlikely Lovers,” “You Gotta Die Sometime,” and “What Would I Do?”…yeah, look, this was hard, but there’s 34 songs so I narrowed it down, right?

Something Rotten! (Music & Lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell)

something rottenI really discovered this last year, but I saw the tour over the summer (with Adam Pascal aka Roger from RENT as Shakespeare!) and it the soundtrack has now become a staple in my family. “Welcome to the Renaissance” has been such an earworm, and I returned to it frequently this semester as I studied many of the poets and playwrights mentioned in the song. Basically, the show is a humorous interpretation of Shakespeare (represented as a rock star, performing some of his famous poetry in rock anthem style) by focusing on his rivals who get a soothsayer to tell them what Shakespeare’s next play will be, except they get it mixed up with musicals and breakfast food (“Omlette…Ham…Danish”). While I do prefer more emotionally intense musicals, this was basically made for both the musical and English geek in me. There are so many references to various musicals and Shakespeare plays! And I’m sure I’ll use some of these songs in my own classroom for fun.

Favorites: “Welcome to the Renaissance,” “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” “Will Power,” “A Musical,” “Hard to be the Bard.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Music & Lyrics by Stephen Trask, Book by John Cameron Mitchell)

This one was a long time coming until I got fully into it over Labor Day weekend. I first discovered the beautiful and epic song that is “Origin of Love” when skipping to a random segment of a recording of an Anthony Rapp concert on YouTube. I didn’t quite know what it was about, but I loved what I was hearing, and I looked it up on Spotify and found the Neil Patrick Harris 2014 Hedwig album (labelled “Original Broadway Cast,” as hedwigJohn Cameron Mitchell’s recordings are under the Off-Broadway and the movie albums). But I mostly just listened to that song for a while. I also knew “Sugar Daddy” because a friend showed the Tony performance to me previously.

Even though the show contains a lot of improv and it’s an unusual format for a “musical”–more like a rock concert with  Hedwig and Yitzak telling the story of her life, sometimes playing multiple characters–listening to just the 14 songs on the album (though I usually omit the instrumental intros and the Hurt Locker joke song) tells such a story. The music and metaphorical lyrics, especially in the last 4 songs, illustrate Hedwig’s breakdown and acceptance of herself so beautifully. It’s a story of healing and being yourself with an awesome rock score.

Also, shout out to Lena Hall, who has become my newest inspiration because she can play both a man (though written for a female voice) who impersonates other men, as well as Hedwig herself (written for high tenor) and rock out. I think I’ve finally found role(s) I can play as an alto?

Favorite Songs: “The Origin of Love,” “Sugar Daddy,” “Wig in a Box,” “Wicked Little Town,” “The Long Grift,” and “Midnight Radio”

Penderecki: St. Luke Passion

I got the privilege to see this performed at my college with Penderecki in the house (he was supposed to direct but was advised not to by his doctor, so someone close to him direct it instead). It’s the story of the Crucifixion focusing on the emotional human aspect. My choir director (who was in one of the choirs performing it) told us how the score is very experimental and strange, and that definitely came through–especially the chilling moments of loud chattering (and banging from the orchestra) that represented the crowd. I really enjoy classical choir pieces! That said, like Arrival, this is another piece that isn’t recommended to listen to when you’re studying because of its intensity.

Singular Songs and Honorable Mentions

  • “Kia Hora Te Marino” (Christopher Tin): This is SUCH fun piece we did in choir this semester. The lyrics are from a Maori text. Here is a great performance of it.
  • “Tshosholoza” (arr. Jeffrey Ames): Another blast to perform from choir this semester, and you can see a similar performance here. It’s South Africa’s unofficial national anthem, and we sang it right after their official one.
  • “The Book Report” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (only the 1999 revival I believe): I love how this illustrates the 4 types of students writing essays for class: trying to hit the word count, getting off-topic, overachieving, and ANXIETY! (Charlie Brown’s the last one and I find it very relatable, plus he’s played by Anthony Rapp!)
  • I’ve only just started listening to more of Come From Away, but I love “Welcome to the Rock,” “Me and the Sky,” and “Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere.” I’d love to see it sometime, and I’m glad they’re making a movie.
  • Dear Evan Hansen I tried to get into shortly after it came out, but there wasn’t a plot synopsis on Wikipedia yet and I didn’t get through the whole thing. Then suddenly it blew up and like Hamilton last year, it was hard to make something for myself out of something so popular. I also feel like the context for the songs is extremely important and so I would need to read the script (or see it, but that’s unlikely) to fully appreciate it. BUT I do listen to “Waving Through a Window” and “You Will Be Found” regularly and was blown away by Ben Platt’s emotional singing in “Words Fail.”
  • Kinky Boots: I got to see this in October because it stopped on tour at my college. It was a lot of fun, and I found myself surprised that I actually liked the music more than the story. Don’t get me wrong! The story was enjoyable enough, but it was the music that stood out to me. Even though it’s Cyndi Lauper (who I like well enough, but she’s known for a different style), it’s much more rock than pop, which is a style I LOVE in musicals. That said, I haven’t listened to it much at all since I saw it, so it didn’t feel right to include it on this list.

Any recommendations? I know I need to listen to all of The Great Comet; I only know a couple of songs so far. It’s definitely a play I would have loved to experience…