30) Bob Marley – Jammin’

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“I hope you like jammin’ too…”

Bob Marley was a big part of our lives growing up. My sister is kind of named after him after all. It was tough to pick ONE Bob Marley song, there are so many good ones. I picked ‘Jammin” because that’s what Bob’s all about and that’s what our family is all about. It’s necessary to have a jammin’ soundtrack to you every day and to your life.

We’ve been having family jam sessions since I was really little. We play along, we sing along, we dance along. And it’s not just the immediate family it’s our extended family or friends that are like family, everyone brings a piece of themselves to a jam session and there’s no judgement on how good or bad you are. Sometimes there’s tequila, sometimes there isn’t. Jammin’ creates a sense of communal family music. All it takes is a little shaker here, and a triangle there, some bongos, and good company. Bob Marley even sang ‘One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. Hit me with music…’

“I hope you like jammin” because if you don’t, I don’t know that this friendship can continue. Music is such an important part of life. It’s the background noise, but it’s the soundtrack to your moments and periods in time – whether sad or happy.

Side note: I sent this song to one of my girlfriends from college who really liked Bob Marley. She just had a fabulous little baby boy and she said they were listening to my soundtrack during feedings. She loved her letter and the music. That kid is going to jam away! 

29) Rilo Kiley – I Never

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Rilo Kiley, a now defunct band, featuring Jenny Lewis’s amazing vocals. You may remember Jenny from her acting days. She was Hannah Nefler in the 80’s cult classic ‘Troop Beverly Hills’ with Shelley Long. That’s right ‘It’s cookie time!’

Well, she grew up and has put out some amazing music since then. Her most recent solo album is great, but I always go back to her Rilo Kiley days as my Jenny Lewis go-to’s. ‘I Never’ has this bluesy, soul background, with this force of nature sound. Its indie to a T, but it’s a great hopeful love song and not overly whiny. (I know, I love girl rock, but they can get whiny.) The album ‘More Adventurous’, which ‘I Never’ is off of, is a bit of an emotional listen, but ‘Belt it out Sister!’ because it’s great sing a long music. It’s an anthem for falling in love, it’s an anthem for falling out of love, it’s an anthem for hope. In all seriousness, that’s the best way to listen to this album – sing a long style. Sing a long in the shower, in the kitchen, on the patio. Do it. You will not be sorry. Unless you have a thing against red heads, in which case you might want to reconsider your stance.

 

28) Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule the World

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“Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back…”

I love you 80’s music! This is one of my personal theme songs and has been for quite a while. I think it probably stems from a pretty deep understanding of power (how you can get it and what you can achieve with it) and cynicism. Which is a really weird lesson to learn about at a young age, but it has a great pop beat, so it can’t be that dire.

But really, whenever I get sad about my life, it’s circumstances, what I’m doing, etc. I always remind myself “Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back…” Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, but it reminds me that it is mine to make mistakes in, to show up to, to change my circumstances, and I don’t really need to worry about anyone else (even though I still do). I’m a work in progress.

I went on a girls trip to upstate New York a very long time ago. We played this on the juke box at this bar we went to, several times, and it was awesome! (I’m sure the patrons hated us, but I don’t care.) Because ‘all for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever, everybody wants to rule the world.’

In the end, don’t we all want to rule, at the very least, our own worlds?

27) Ben Kweller – Family Tree

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Ben Kweller was an indie rocker that came into the scene in the early/mid-2000’s. I don’t think he got super, super popular, but me and my sister loved him. There’s a 7 year age different between us, so agreeing on a popular music artist when she was in her late teens was pretty remarkable. We loved this song because we were each other’s family trees. (Granted it’s kind of a love song, but we have sisterly love – sisters are doing it for themselves – and it’s about family.)

I took her to see him in concert the day I quit my first big girl job, without another job lined up, set on changing careers. It was kind of an intense, brave, reckless, scary day, and the soundtrack to Ben Kweller made everything better. And I had my family tree around.

She sent me a hand made card with the lyrics on it a long time ago. It’s been through a lot. The writing is streaked from when it was on my bulletin board and I left my window open and it started to rain. It’s currently on my fridge at home, and wherever I go next, it will go with me.

Ben Kweller also has this really random song called ‘Panamanian Girl’, which we liked to pretend was written for us. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t.) He was also in this band called The Bens for a hot second. It was Ben Kweller, Ben Lee, and Ben Folds. They have this song called ‘Just Pretend’ and it’s a pretty nice, unknown gem. You’ll have to do some searching, but they can be found.

“A broken branch I’d be, if you weren’t grown to me. You are, you are, you are, my family tree. Be good to me. Take care of me. Bop bop!”

 

26) The Who – 1921

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‘1921’. There’s not much to say about this song, because the album says it all. ‘Tommy’ is musical and showmanship genius. The most amazing storytelling set to music ever. As a kid I wanted to be a pinball wizard…I have always been terrible at pinball. But I used to dance around not entirely grasping the meaning of the whole album, but loving the beat and the imagery. I always knew that Uncle Ernie was bad, so at least my gut sense were on point.

My favorite two songs off the album are the first two – ‘It’s a boy’ and ‘1921’. It sets up the whole drama and they’re quiet, yet explosive. They’re calm, but haunting. Plus they kick off the story line. A couple years ago I got into the ‘Tommy’ album again when my dad bought me a CD of this bluegrass band called The Hillbenders. They play a blue grass version of the entire album and it’s awesome. You should check it out.

Maybe I’ll become aware this year…

Ok…I’m really behind

Ok friends, I am about 30 days behind. The last letter I wrote was on June 26th and I had only ten letters left. I fell of the wagon…hard. It’s not entirely my fault, work ramped up and I’ve been working 10-14 hours a day and I’ve logged at least 4,000 miles in the last month. I know, cue the violins, the tiniest ones out there. I’ve just haven’t made my letter writing or myself a priority in these last 5-6 weeks.It’s been intense and so my letter writing and pet project has fallen to the wayside.

Don’t feel sorry for me. This is the nature of work…non stop, pedal to the metal, keep on rockin’ in the free world style. I just thought I could make the time and I didn’t end up being able to. (And I thought I’d finish before things got crazy.)

But, fear not, I’m committed to finishing! Even though I’m already 35, I’m still working towards it. This is what adulting is all about. Plus I’m going to continue with my letter writing and with my playlist making even when I finish, which is now looking like August.

My fabulous god mother sent me some gorgeous Crane’s stationary for my birthday and you bet your ass I’m excited to use it!

Stay tuned…

25) Brandi Carlile – Hard Way Home

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Now that I’m writing all these posts, it seems like a common theme is ‘home’ – all aspects of it. I find my song psyche so interesting. Even though I feel at home at my parents house, I don’t 100% feel like it’s home. Even thought I’m at home in the US, it doesn’t feel like I’m 100% home. Even when I go home to Panama, it doesn’t feel like it’s still 100% home. I was really into researching Third Culture Kids for a while because I felt like I was having a cultural identity crisis…but I digress.

I discovered Brandi Carlile in the last year. She’s been around for longer and I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t find her before. She’s this bad ass, female folks star. She is about as country as I can get, and I live in Texas now, there’s country everywhere, but I’m resistant to being indoctrinated.

She’s got a folksy sound and I my favorite part of this song is ‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up’ because I’m still trying to figure it out. I mean I’ve got a career and it’s good, but is that all I’m going to be for the rest of my life? It’s never easy or black and white for me. I always want more. ‘Looks like I’m taking the hard way home…’

24) Guster – Demons

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I got really into Guster in early college. I think my brother introduced them to me. They had the sound and feel of a band that kicked ass in intimate venues whose floors were sticky with beer. Those were the early years. They’ve grown and developed. Their sound has changed, a couple band mates have changed, but they are still one of my favorite bands of all time – live and on record.

This is also a modern day band that my entire family is into. I’ve seen Guster at least 5 times (maybe more), almost all times with my parents. This may actually be the band I’ve most seen live. My dad bought Dave Matthews Band tickets one year because Guster was the opening band. They were playing in Michigan a couple years ago while I was there for work, and me and a bunch of my co-workers went, and it was awesome!

I was able to spend my parent’s 30th anniversary with them at a super private Guster show at the Cubby Bear in Chicago through XRT, the local radio station.

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My brother and sister are also super into them and if Guster is coming to town, the folks invite the entire fam, if you can make it. I’m partial to their older music, but I do love their newer stuff too. They know how to rock and they’re fun. Plus the instrumentation and percussion is awesome.

‘Demons’ is my favorite Guster song. It’s a bit of a dark one. I am actually not a huge liar and I really hate it. BUT I love this song. I see this song as more of a lying to yourself and lying to someone else in a relationship. I know about staying in relationships after their expiration date, it’s pointless and terrible. Nobody wins and you’re not doing anyone any favors, not even yourself. But sometimes it’s nice to be the demon, ‘a demon can not be hurt’. Or you could take the fuckboy angle with it, and in that scenario you just want to take advantage of the girl and ghost her. Since this song was written before ghosting was ghosting there’s probably a happy medium in there. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the demon always, just sometimes…to protect myself.

23) Talking Heads – This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)

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Talking Heads were always in the background growing up. I knew all the words to ‘Once In A Lifetime’ as a young child, which maybe contributed to my twisted brain – ‘How did I get here?’. However, they weren’t the ‘go-to’. I somehow rediscovered them in the mid-2000’s. I think it was part of the hipster rediscovery stage that made Fleetwood Mac popular again too. That’s when I really remember listening to the words of ‘This Must Be the Place’ and it quickly became one of my favorites. It was also during a time when I was going through a lot of change. I had left my first career and was trying to figure out my next step, but I also felt home with my co-workers in retail, but could that really be the end all? It was all very up in the air. ‘Feet on the ground, head in the sky, it’s ok, I know nothing’s wrong’.

When I moved out of that phase I kind of forgot about the Talking Heads, but then the connection gets better. The best part about this song is that it became one of my besties songs when he met the woman who would later become his wife. They randomly met while she was showing her apartment and he was looking for a place to live ‘Did I find you or you find me’. Their love story is all quite romantic, and this is the perfect soundtrack for it. It worked perfectly for them and reminded me why I loved this song so much to begin with. It’s nice to feel like you belong with someone or a group of people, that they’re you’re home. Too bad David Byrne didn’t feel that way about the rest of the Talking Heads family, but he does have a fabulous dance partner in a lamp (as seen in the ‘Stop Making Sense’ tour).

(My friends did not get this card. I thought that would kind of be unfair to the nature of the game.)

22) TLC – No Scrubs

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I’m not quite sure how this became one of my Mom’s theme songs, but it is. It’s also a nugget of wisdom that she wants to impart on her kids, and TLC just says it so eloquently. This song is so important to the matriarch of our family that we named our MS Walk team one year ‘No Scrubs’. For Christmas, a couple years ago, my sister got me and my mom pins that said ‘No Scrubs’ on them. It’s kind of an inside joke, but also kind of one of our constant mottos.

When I go on dates (which I don’t do very often and hate every second of) – ‘No Scrubs’ is constantly running through my head. It’s also a song of warning – don’t ever become a scrub or no one’s going to like you. Our momma didn’t raise ‘no scrubs’.

Personally, I always wanted to dance around to TLC in silk pj’s, like in ‘Creep’. BUT what I actually want more than the silk pj’s is a TLC – ‘Creep’/Radiohead – ‘Creep’ mash up. I’ve been obsessed with this for over a decade. I haven’t found anything to fit the bill just yet – it’s all been a bunch of scrubs.