A summer playlist breakdown

I have had many thoughts ricocheting around in my brain that I’ve wanted to share this week. Now that I’ve officially given myself the go-ahead to blog again, the inspiration just keeps coming.

Which explains why when I sat my tanned-and-sun-giddy self down at my laptop in the lovely air conditioning of the mobile studio this afternoon, the cursor blinked emptily back at me. My fingers were poised above the keyboard.

What…did I want to write about, again?

I think the best I can do is enter in the many thoughts and feelings from a different angle(s). I’m going to start with a playlist, because of course I am. Playlists are another form of art that I don’t pretend to be expert at but I do love creating them.

But instead of just sharing it with no context, I am going to crack these knuckles (but carefully, because I suspect my finger is broken – another story) and write out a little context for the songs. The playlist is linked here and below so you can listen along (don’t shuffle! Please don’t shuffle!), but really it’s best for playing in the car or while out walking/running/what have you.

Worms – Ashnikko. Last year while hiking with friends and having the kind of long, rambling hiking conversations you do, we discovered that at some point in our old age we’ve become prudish. And, entirely unbeknownst to and independent of one another, we had the same evidence: we heard the song Slumber Party by Ashnikko and were scandalized by the lyric I gave your girlfriend cunnilingus on your couch. I know, right? We were practically whispering it on the trail, and then laughing hysterically at ourselves. What and who have we become?! What are the kids up to these days?? Anyway: this song is not that song (which is, by the way, a good song). The feel of this is how I feel at my best right now. I imagine that I listen to it while rolling down some long, lonely desert highway en route from one destination to the great and exciting unknown; in reality I listen to it while walking the mile to the gym in the blazing 90+ degree sunshine wearing a UV hoody and hat and hoping to dear god the drivers of St. George see me at the crosswalk. It puts a little pep in my step.

Howl – Junip. Honestly? Boring story: it came up on Pandora recently and I remembered/enjoyed it. The un-boring part of this story is that even though I’m still a paid Spotify subscriber because of the ease, having access to full albums, and yes creating playlists; Pandora remains the undefeated master of music radio. There’s a whole reason behind it with the music genome project that’s cool to look into. Also, Junip has a song on my favorite movie, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. So.

When You’re Lonely – Cash + David. I love songs with sad lyrics that are upbeat (in my book the classic example of this is Train in Vain by the Clash). I was hiking recently in Snow Canyon’s Padre Canyon, and as the sand sage smell ballooned in my nose and I picked my way through seemingly glowing red sandstone in the morning shade of a canyon I’d never seen before, with a dazzling array of phosphorescent green plant life contrast against these massive and often surprising rock formations, I felt so completely happy. I also felt so completely aching. The same joy I felt at the experience of simply inhabiting this place, of feeling the combination of heat interspersed with shade on my skin, laying a hand on rock as I moved along and up, seeing lizards skitter in my peripheral vision bled over into this painful bursting feeling, like there is just too much, and I am just missing everything even while I feel (maybe because I feel?) so perfectly content. It makes no sense. It makes so much sense. The way this song builds and defiantly sings about missing something all the time falls along those lines.

Lithium – Nirvana. This song is the focal point and why I decided to come up with this playlist. It got lodged in my head one morning when I realized Sunday morning is every day for all I care. That works for me right now on a lot of levels, both in terms of caring less about what is a weekday and what isn’t (I tend to work more on weekends, and save up adventures for weekdays when we can evade the crowds) but also Sunday here in Mormon St. George, Utah is a THING, and I am…not Mormon, nor a church observer. Then, I don’t need to explain the raw joy and beauty of Kurt Cobain scream-singing yeah multiple times or, again, the upbeat song with the mix of love and pain. That’s life right now, feeling many things every day (everywhere, all at once. Sorry. Couldn’t not).

Attrape-reve – Polo & Pan. This came up on some sort of radio recently and it stuck. I have no idea what they’re saying. But it sounds like how I feel much of the time: a grounded, focused kind of woozy and dreamy where I spend a lot of time dreaming and thinking, but also sitting myself down to do (she writes).

How It Ends – DeVotchKa. This is about me, a drain snake, and a plunger. I was concerned I didn’t know how that particular mobile studio plotline would end. And then there was that voice yowling in my inner ear: you aaaaaalready knowww. It ended with me fixing the clogged drain! I expanded on this triumph on the phone with a very patient and supportive Wes, who has worked probably over 100 hours this week on his first solo guiding trip and made the questionable decision of calling me to say hello. Side note: if you haven’t seen Little Miss Sunshine…

leikara ljoo – Susanne Sundfor. She put out a new album and Wes and I listened to it at many a campsite on the drive down to Utah from Alaska. Notably, I remember hearing this song one glorious night when we decided to fully unhitch the trailer. Generator! Heat!! We were in go-mode, so often we would just boondock by the side of the road but this was the first night we treated ourselves with a full on campout. This was also before it was warm enough to add water to the trailer. We built a campfire by a lake in Yukon Territory and made a delicious dutch oven dinner. We were surrounded by snow on opening day of the campground, but we were happy watching spring light push through skeletal tree branches and thinking about a future that included a little more warmth.

A Baby for Pree/Glow Into You – 1995 – Neutral Milk Hotel. Agggh, my HEART. I understand this song will not be for everyone, but for anyone it IS for you will get it. I tried to explain my love of Neutral Milk Hotel in a rambling post from earlier this year, and I’ll leave it at that. …but ALSO I was delighted to find out there is now an album full of previously unreleased recorded work that included this updated rendition of a song I know well, and yes, I listened/scream sang along with the album several times along the drive down.

Do You Remember – Jarryd James, Raury. Playlist order and arc is very, very important to me and this song I happen to like and comes up frequently on my suggestions fit nicely here. It’s kind of brooding, which I like. Enjoy.

Hallucinogenics – Matt Maeson, feat Lana Del Ray. The song I kind of wanted to include here is another Lana song, Taco Truck x VB from Did You Know There’s a Tunnel off of Ocean Blvd, her most recent album. The reason I wanted to include that other song is because I love it and listened to it an unhealthy amount earlier this year. Specifically I listened to it while pacing the snowy, then slushy, then mucky little loop of road our tiny home complex dreaming of a different life that was then a few months and change away. I didn’t include that song because, while it is an amazing song and you should hear it if you haven’t, it is now of a different time (thank god), and this song popped up one night and I liked the duet, build, and lyrics.

Sleeping on the Blacktop – Colter Wall. The best at playlists is one Kyle Martin, my friend in Alaska. I asked him for his rec’s for a few languid hot desert nights boondocking in Nevada’s fabled Black Rock Desert, and he sent over this album as part of a suite of ideas. Nailed it, as always. This song is actually already on this year’s draft Fall Mix (yes, those drafts start…early) but you know what? We ARE often sleeping on the blacktop. This song is probably going here vs fall.

Non-Believer – London Grammar. It’s pretty simple: I always love strong vocals, and again I like the contrast of beautiful and building music with kind of a struggle bus of lyrics because these days that totally speaks to me.

Straight to Hell / Satan is Real – Medley – Hank Williams III Lol. That’s all. Again, this speaks a little to the feeling of being a bit of an outsider here. But. Mostly, just – lol.

Here is the playlist again. Give it a listen, and like I said somewhere back there, buried in text – please, please, play it in order. I take such great PAINS. You wouldn’t believe the listens and relistens to truly get those transitions just right. Enjoy!

4 Comments on “A summer playlist breakdown

  1. This is great, Alli, I was thinking a few days ago, I need new music. So thank you.
    Have you tried Tidal, it is the deutschegrammophone of music platforms, From a quality standpoint, the music is high-fidelity (now that in itself is a funny term)
    My 77 year old brother (77. how the fuck did that happen) turned me onto it. He is a rock officianado and general music buff.
    They don’t have everything but more daily..

    When I go back to Spotify and Pandora, for something specific I notice a difference.

    • I have tried Tidal! I think you told me about it. (77 how the fuck did that happen, haha – right?!) I hope you like the playlist!

    • I will listen to this during my next watch at the helm. Thanks for sharing.

      • Awesome! I hope you enjoy it

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