I’d like to share the soundtrack that fits my life, so you can enjoy some of my favorites and learn about new artists who are a part of my journey. They’ll span virtually every genre and many time periods but you will not hear any country music here.
Let Your Love Grow by Modeselektor
I found this jam shuffling through some Radiohead recently on Spotify which lead me to a Modeselektor track called Shipwreck featuring Thom Yorke. Radiohead often captures important moods and tones in my life, ever since I got turned on to them in High School. They’re music spans so many genres, and I enjoy almost all of it. Modeselektor is a completely unrelated German Electronic Duo and Let Your Love Grow has nothing to do with Thom Yorke or Radiohead. The song has an eerie feeling that captures how I feel right now. When I read the news or leave my house for groceries or the studio during this quarantine I get a strange feeling of emptiness. I feel unrest, and tension all around me. I’ve always had a thing for repeating patterns and motifs in music and in life. The words kind of blur together but what stands out in my mind after a few days of the song on repeat is “got to come together” and “preach you like a pastor” and something about a pulpit. A strange refrain of “checking in” and “checking over” echo as the mind numbing drums beat on and the synth dangles in midair making time seem to stand still. This banger is good for the car, the studio, the shower. I could let it resonate for a few more days until I find the next track to distract my brain.
Wet And Rusting by Menomena
The first song on my playlist. This song began a list in 2014 that has been added to until as recently as a few days ago. It’s my master list of jams, of a certain style I can’t describe. I just know it when I hear it. I found Wet And Rusting when I lived in New York City in 2014 through my Discover Weekly on Spotify. I was a pretty serious runner at the time, because I couldn’t afford to ride the subway. I listened to the same songs every day when I ran. I was at the lowest point of my life and “when you unravel the secret will take you home”. I had recently been left by my partner and the line “it’s hard to take risks with a pessimist” was resonating for sure. I used to run so hard I couldn’t breathe in New York, with my headphones blasting. It felt like a game to dodge people, dogs and cars. I almost got hit by a few bikers. I’m only capable of running at full speed. Usually it was simply my available method of transportation, but sometimes I ran the Central Park 6 Mile Loop for fun. I think I was running about 6-7 minute miles, sometimes with a backpack full of stuff. Snowboarding is the only rush I’ve experienced close to similar to what I got from running, and I hope I can get back into a running routine this spring.
Two Brothers by Hanni El Khatib
This is the second jam on my playlist. It’s got a disco feel that gets my goose going. It also came from 2014 Discover Weekly on Spotify, and I used to run to it. I’m very close to my brother Jon, probably closer than I feel to any other human being. The song begins “I lost two brothers this year, I hope they died without fear” and it made me think about my relationship to my brother. The image from the album cover is an arm with a snake coiled around it, and a hand holding the snake by its neck just far enough away not to be able to bite it. As the son of a Rabbi, this imagery conjured up some biblical references to me. I remember as a child the story of Kane and Able. I wondered if I would ever deceive my own brother or parents out of selfishness. I wondered if my brother would resent me as the first born son. I wondered if I would be able to be a good brother to him, after feeling so disconnected as children. We hardly spoke to each other growing up, and we know each other better than anyone else knows either of us. When he was born I asked my parents to “take him back” and the next day at preschool when I was asked about the name of the new addition to my family I responded “I don’t know.” The song repeats “your brother still loves you” and I remember that line giving me comfort as I ran alone through the streets of Manhattan.
Bring Me the Disco King by David Bowie
This one came out of left field. One night in the studio we were listening to some Bowie on shuffle when this gem came on. The jazz drums played with brushes sit beneath a wide open piano refrain that gives me all the feels. The album is called Reality and the artwork is loud. Then you hear that voice “you promised me the ending would be clear, you’d let me know when the time was now.” It sounds like a classic jazz standard tune coming out of a bar like Cleopatras Needle (a spot I frequented in the Upper West Side when I lived in New York). “Bring me the Disco King, dead or alive” the voice rings. I’ve often considered myself to be somewhat of a disco king and my friend Molly who took Ballroom and Social Dance class with me in college might confirm. But why would Bowie have a hit out on my head? “Dance, dance, dance through the fire” he calls out. I read a book called Dance, Dance, Dance recently by Murakami as suggested by another friend. Sometimes everything feels cosmically connected, even when I don’t understand what it all means.
The first most important band in my life was Iron Maiden. I thank my guitar teacher Erik Smith for turning me on to them and Phish among many others. One of my first bands covered Fear Of The Dark by Iron Maiden, or at least tried to anyways. I bought every CD they released before the year 2000 at an early age, and spent hours listening to every track. The first concert I got my dad to take me to was Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Dio and to say it wasn’t his style would be an understatement. My other favorite Maiden tracks are Hallowed Be Thy Name, Running Free, and Killers. If you’re looking for some British Heavy Metal dating back to 1980 and still touring today don’t skip Iron Maiden. I could listen to the early albums from 1980-1992 on repeat, as well as the album Brave New World from 2000. for days while I work in the studio. In between the 90s and after 2000 isn’t my favorite but I appreciate it all. Iron Maiden will forever be my favorite band, and the cds are always in my car.