Random Gum – Summer 2016 soundtrack: Alive and Kicking
Latent Love and the Pre-Internet Days
The whole playlist (minus the songs that don’t exist on Spotify…) on Spotify.
01. Simple Minds – “Alive and Kicking” …now it’s all or nothing/cause you said you follow through…
Appeared twice in the same week on primetime TV (The Goldbergs & Fresh Off the Boat), proving 80s/90s nostalgia is alive and kicking – Simple Minds and John Hughes, always leading the charge. For S, for Amber
02. Vorderhaus – “Stepping Off the Ghost Train” …You tell yourself you’re in love/I tell myself I don’t care/I’m stepping off the ghost train/I’m tired of loving you in vain…
03. INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” …but if I hurt you, I’ll make wine from your tears…
A cover version of this with female vocal (Paloma Faith) appeared in L&O SVU and made me think of the original, and of the domino-like tragedy of Hutchence–Yates–Geldof. And after the “Alive and Kicking” appearances I also thought of former best friend Terra and her junior high crush on INXS’s Jon Farriss. She had gone to spend the summer in Aberdeen (Scotland, not WA), dreamt Farriss died and had written me a letter (yes – a real letter, as this all happened in the 1987-8 world before the internet) describing the nightmare, to which I replied, “Don’t worry – he’s alive… and kicking!” Which was only funny at all because INXS’s hit album was called KICK. For Terra. For S.
04. John Grant – “Geraldine” …we’re not like them, we’re not that strong/at least that’s what they have been telling us all along…
The gorgeousness of John Grant continues.
05. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure” …When it all breaks down and we’re runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain…
06. Glenn Frey – “The Heat is On”
This has been a particularly rough year so far for musical deaths. I’m no Glenn Frey/Eagles fan, but this song plays into 1980s memories as well as a more recent vignette when two of my colleagues and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday, and he commented on how I can possibly wear dresses in the cold, and I replied, “In the office, the heat is on…” The three of us old lady colleagues, in unison, burst into song, ‘The heat is on…’, which perplexed the youthful Spaniard.
07. AaRON – “U-Turn (Lili)” …you know there’s still a place for people like us…
Many thanks to my colleague, Laurent. This popped up at a time that everyone and everything seemed to be named Aaron, and as Key & Peele ended on Comedy Central, and I inhaled all five seasons in a few days, and keep going back to the “Substitute Teacher” clip in which the sub pronounces it, “A-A-Ron”.
08. Beach House – “Days of Candy” …I know it comes too soon/The universe is riding off with you…
09. David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”
I’ve never experienced anything like the collective outpouring of shared grief and mourning for a public figure – and felt a part of it – the way I did when Bowie unexpectedly died in January 2016. I had never been a huge fan, but his departure felt like the dimming of a bright light that guided our path through the modern cultural landscape. For weeks afterward, I cried if I listened to him (which I could not stop doing) or thought about him. In the end, mortality will come for the flesh, but the work, voice, sound and vision live forever.
10. Lush – “Lovelife” …in your concrete arms I adore you…
Celebrating the resurrection of Lush, their 2016 tour and (possibly) seeing them in London in May (which, sadly, I could not). For all my Lush-loving friends (too numerous to count!). “Every door conceals a dream and a nightmare…”
11. Karen Elson – “Who’s Sorry Now?”
12. The Chills – “Soft Bomb Part One” …I’m tearing all my hair out with my hands/I know what they will never understand…
For all the New Zealand-leaning ambitions and longing. For all the NZ friends (Trevor, Kimberley, Dan, Lauren)…
13. Los Blenders – “TJTQ”
Tijuana! For Martina, as everything Mexican is.
14. Tennis – “Mean Streets” …Stay on your own/Or leave it alone…
For Esteban and Ana, fellow Tennis fans.
15. KC & the Sunshine Band – “Boogie Shoes”
I don’t know how this fits into the soundtrack, really. I watched a documentary about the 1970s and thought we could use a pause here to groove on the decade
16. 88 ULTRA – “Oceans”
17. Christine and the Queens – “No Harm is Done” …I can follow/Wanna take the lead/but I roam all alone/With a heart so hollow…
With more thanks to Laurent.
18. Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”
19. The Ink Spots – “I’ll Get By”
For S the Firewall
20. Elvis Costello – “Sweet Pear” …But there’s a void without your kiss/I wake on the precipice above the abyss/And though the touch of your lips these fears dismiss/Make no mistake there is an ache I have to live with…
“Was my grip too loose, my grip too strong/That made you want to run away/And now you’re back where I pretend you belong/I wonder every night and day, how long?” For Roberto.
21. Dom La Nena – “Saudade” …E onde é que foi que vi voar aquele beija flor/Onde esta agora os restos de um amor que machucou/E o tempo passou, você não mudou/A quanto tempo foi que você não voltou…
Brasil, so much in the news, so much in the thoughts, this year.
22. Soapkills – “Wadih”
Many thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.
23. Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now?” …is there someone else, am I too familiar, was it when I said I wanted to have children…?
I’ve always preferred Elvis Costello’s slower, sadder recording of this song. Every time I hear it, it seems to take on new depth and meaning. “What do I do now? Are we going under? What did I do wrong? I thought we had it sorted out the other day. Maybe I’m just stupid. Thought we’d try again. No one told me it was raining.”
24. Linda Mirada – “Lío en Río”
25. Crystal Castles – “Plague”
For and thanks to Roxane.
26. Saint Motel – “A Quick One While He’s Away” …It’s like a dream to be with you again…
27. Townes van Zandt – “Waitin’ Around to Die” …sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me…
Never get enough of Townes. “Now I’m outta prison, got me a friend that lasts. Well he don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie, well, his name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen, yeah, together we’re gonna wait around and die.”
28. Psycho Killer – “Road to Nowhere”
Stuff like this (the original anyway, and the Talking Heads in general) and The Pretenders – stuff I could not appreciate until on the cusp of being “aged” like cheese or wine.
29. Tom Jones – “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer”
Of course I’m inspired by Martina (another Mexican thing) here and how kind of comical this song is, but also thinking of multiple discussions on the dislike for Welsh people (haha) and the recent passing of Tom Jones’s wife (RIP).
30. Salt Petal – “Cumbia de Billinghurst”
31. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” …No comprende/it’s a riddle…
For Martina. “I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana”
32. Telefon Tel Aviv – “Helen of Troy” …Your face is the place/where it ends…
33. Clan of Xymox – “A Day”
This certainly takes me back in time.
34. Ezra Furman – “Body Was Made” …Your body is yours at the end of the day and don’t let the hateful try and take it away…
Had not heard so much saxophone in a long time, and stumbled on this right after having multiple conversations about how the name “Ezra” isn’t one you hear often.
35. Lush & Jarvis Cocker – “Ciao!” …life is wonderful now that I’m rid of you…
This is 1996 for me, two of my favorites of the time, trying to break away from the grip of shitty relationships that seem to be the telltale sign of young adulthood.
36. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”
37. Mashrou’Leila – “Imm El Jacket”
Thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.
38. Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”
Music my mom listened to a lot when my brother and I were children. My brother had an angry-looking, fluffy blue stuffed rabbit he named “Eddie Rabbit” thanks to our exposure to this. Wondering what happened to the little rabbit, as I made some of my last long-haul drives in the middle of the night between home & Gothenburg.
39. Irma Thomas – “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”
40. Townes van Zandt – “Be Here to Love Me”
“Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine/though you and I both know it’s only the warm glow of wine/that’s got you to feeling this way/but I don’t care I want you to stay/hold me and tell me you’ll be here to love me today”
41. Bertrand Belin – “Je parle en fou”
42. John Grant – “Down Here”
“Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing/And guessing games, and no guarantees/And you work so hard to be in control/And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go”. For Roberto.
43. Still Corners – “Beginning to Blue”
Lovely song anyway but its placement in the stunning second season of You’re the Worst, when you’re hit with the realization that the main character is descending into a deep, dark depression was perfect.
44. Philip Selway – “Coming Up for Air”
For Kyle. “You hafta come up for aih(s) sometime”. Ugh/puke.
45. Robyn Hitchcock – “1974” …And as Nixon left the White House you could hear people say/’they’ll never rehabilitate that mother, no way’…
Robyn is just a magnificent storyteller, master of verbal imagery and a genius. Love! If “Boogie Shoes” was a grooveable 70s moment, this is a philosophical rumination on that ruinous and ugly decade.
46. Elvis Costello – “What Do I Do Now?”
Had to include this version, too, of course.
47. Alex Vargas – “Till Forever Runs Out”
48. The Cure – “A Strange Day” …Held for one moment I remember a song/An impression of sound/Then everything is gone/Forever…
For Gary, with whom it’s great to be back in contact. Here’s to the best moments of our teenage years.
49. New Edition – “Cool It Now”
I remember enjoying this video as a little kid – and then the tune turned up in the soundtrack to Master of None and I just had to include it.
50. Happyness – “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”
“What do you do when you hate all your friends?”
51. Tobias Jesso Jr – “Without You”
“I can hardly breathe without you/There is no future I want to see without you/I just don’t know who I would be without you/There is nothing out there for me without you…”
52. Koudlam – “See You All”
I don’t know why, but this song is the right one for walking through the city and waiting in queues.
53. bigott – “Baby Lemonade”
“Like in the movies, she wake up dreaming/nothing is hiding/if you can find it…”
54. Giant Sand – “Stranded Pearl” …every girl is like a pearl/hearts strung along and then left stranded…
A great, visual, wordy song. “I lost me my eye in a battle/went there to rattle their cage/lost sight of the big picture/now this permanent fixture is my rage”. (Made me think a bit at the end of a Derek Walcott poem, “Codicil”, which ends, “All its indifference is a different rage.”)
55. The Staves – “Black & White”
57. Ra Ra Riot – “Foreign Lovers”
“Well the one in Chicago wasn’t there anymore, and because that thing in Berlin wasn’t anyone’s fault… I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before – you got foreign lovers”. An insanely fitting song, stumbled on by accident. All the foreign lovers (and hilarious that Chicago and Berlin are the cities referenced…).
58. Niyaz – “Beni Beni”
59. Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “No End” …I guess it’s useless to say/I want you to stay…
The Guardian described Jaakko thusly: “tram driver in Helsinki by day, weird-pop maestro by night”.
60. All We Are – “Keep Me Alive” …I hear nothing at all but your breathing…
61. Fairport Convention – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”
As an adolescent, my friend Terra and I ‘discovered’ Fairport Convention, and it’s still something nice to listen to. When I listened to this again and reflected on the time that’s passed by since we were friends, and particularly since we were close and finding new music together, the song was particularly poignant and bittersweet.
62. Núria Graham – “Dark Past” …everybody’s got a dark past/but mine is just about to start…
63. David Bowie – “Cat People” … Just be still with me/You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through…
64. Cousteau – “Last Good Day of the Year”
“When the summer’s light is fragrant/with scents of returning/you relent, you resent, now you’re burning/for nothing to change…”
65. Wire – “German Shepherds” …it’s beginning to and back again…
Song title made me think, in a very roundabout way, of the Paris attacks of November 2015. Following the attacks, the French government went on the offensive and a Belgian shepherd (like the one in the TV show Person of Interest) was killed during a raid, prompting the Russians to give a new dog to the French. Hmm. Then in March, of course, Belgium fell victim to yet another terror attack.
66. Pet Shop Boys – “Love is a Bourgeois Construct”
No sentiment could be truer. November 2015, driving around downtown Tacoma, with thanks to my brother, Kyle, on relationships: “That phase of my life is over.”
67. Vorderhaus – “Venus in Retrograde” …how do you really love/the truth is happening/it’s venus in retrograde/the dark affair within…
You know you want more: https://soundcloud.com/vorderhaus/
68. Townes van Zandt – “For the Sake of the Song” …nothing’s what it seems/maybe she’ll start someday to realize/if she abandons her dreams/then all the words she can say are only lies/when will she see that the gain is only to lose/all that she offers me are chains/and I got to refuse…
For ML. “Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song/who do I think that I am to decide that she’s wrong?”
69. The Paris Sisters – “I Love How You Love Me”
70. Blur, Françoise Hardy – “To the End”
71. Primal Scream – “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” …I betrayed you, you trusted me, and I betrayed you…
Sometimes you realize that even when something is ostensibly done, you cannot fully move forward until you have let go completely of past things and people. The sad reminder of the last conversation, last realization/S.
72. Amanda Bergman – “Vintersaga”
For many reasons I put this here – it’s a Swedish story full of Swedish place, but it is also choice for its connection to dear Andreas, the value of musical recommendations, and to our many talks about ad copy and the fraudulent feeling of writing stuff without meaning, pop culture stuffing of ads & such.
73. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”
Constant striving for Berlin, which represents a constant striving for change.
74. Prince & the Revolution – “When Doves Cry”
What can I even say? If Bowie was a loss and a shock, the loss of Prince was an even greater shock. For me, Prince is always freshest, best and alive in the Purple Rain period. I fell in love with the first time I heard this one as a child. RIP.
75. Johnny Cash – “The Beast in Me”
A fitting ending, in many ways. For S. “God help the beast in me.”