21) Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

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This is one of the best sing-a-long songs ever. I have always felt that way. It can raise a karaoke performance, it can join people together in a store. It’s spontaneous. It can get a whole crowd going and the message is amazing. This is a seasonal song for me and I come back to it every summer. ‘Step outside, summertime’s in bloom’ – that line has always stuck with me. When I lived in Chicago I felt it was my call to arms. I needed to get out, and enjoy every second of summer possible because ‘Winter is coming’ and it won’t be as fun. In theory, I shouldn’t just apply it to summer, because life is short and we should soak up every minute of it, but I still associate this song with summer. I also try to follow the ‘Don’t look back in anger’ portion of it in my day to day. It kind of serves as a reminder to move forward and forgive, myself and others. It’s not always easy, but it’s best.

As most of you know I created this playlist in May…several weeks ago and this was one of the first songs I put on the playlist. This is before the Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande show. Oasis is from Manchester and I found it completely fitting that at the vigil this song was spontaneously sung by a bystander and the entire crowd joined in. This song brings people together and it’s beautiful. So instead of just the music video, you get two videos with this post. The Manchester vigil video (which will give you all the feels) and the music video in it’s entirety.

‘Don’t look back in anger…’

20) Mariah Carey – Always Be My Baby

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I would have totally chosen ‘All I Want For Christmas (Is You)’ as my Mariah Carey, most memories song ever, if I listened to it year round, but I don’t. She only really comes out Nov-Dec-with a brief January stint and if I randomly watch ‘Love Actually’ during the year.

Mariah Carey was one of my absolute favorite artists of the 90’s. Especially her early/mid 90’s stuff. Ok, who are we kidding, I loved her ‘Heartbreaker’ album too. I wanted to ‘shop with Jay, play box with Jay.’ I loved her image, I loved her songs, I loved how she made flannel shirts and cutoff shorts look cool. I loved how her hair was curly and she seemed pretty normal. And then she lost some of her original mojo from the ‘Emotions’ days. BUT I still love her. And I blame Tommy Mottola for most of this (and late 90’s peer pressure – lots of belly shirts and choreographed dancers – rollerblading and tire swings weren’t cool enough anymore).

‘Always Be My Baby’ was released in 1995. Mariah Carey’s staying power is evident because that was one of my jams throughout the entirety of college 2000-2004. Me and my sisters (sorority sisters) loved when this song got played at parties, dances, in our study sessions. The opening ‘Do do do, AW, Do do do do dedo de AW’  would get any of us off our asses and on the dance floor (or the kitchen dance floor). Mariah, I don’t care that you were a hot mess for a while, you’re a classic.

Update: Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign

IMG_6865So…I fell behind again this week. But hey, I’m not perfect. (Also, I wrote 15 Thank You notes to all the winners of one of my sales contests.) However, I did get validation that my Correspondence Campaign is 1) reaching people, 2) making them smile, 3) making them smile makes me smile, which is always good.

This past week I received greetings from Germany, where one of my cards found it’s home. I only make International postage available for very special people. This card went to my first boyfriend ever. It was not serious. It lasted less than a month. We were kids. We mostly just messaged each other on ICQ when we were allowed on the dial up, passed notes between classes, and ate lunch together. Don’t worry, that torch has long been extinguished and there aren’t ANY hard feelings. It was over 20 years ago. He lives in Germany, with his wife and two kids, and signed up for a letter to share with his fam. It was the sweetest request ever, and I couldn’t say no. I was worried about how many stamps to put on the letter and if it would find them, but it did.

‘Wooooooooooooooow your letter came today and it was so cool! The kids loved it and I was really moved. This was the first letter I ever got from any panama friend. Took around 20 years 🙂. I’m definitely keeping it for my kids for when they are older. Thanks so much!’

Then I got another message from my friend who received ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison.

‘OMG, you are awesome!! Did you know that Sweet Thing is one of my favorite songs??’

The soundtrack is set and has nothing to do with whoever gets the card. I try to match people up with a song or artist that they at least may be familiar with, but the songs are not picked for anyone but myself, so this worked out perfectly. It was kismet.

34 hasn’t been the best of years, not the worst of years either, but definitely not in the top 10. This is helping it end on a positive note.

19) Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

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Sometimes I wish I didn’t like Coldplay as much as I do. (I feel the same way about John Mayer.) I think GOOP kind of ruined it for me, but that is neither here nor there. ‘Strawberry Swing’ isn’t one of the most popular Coldplay songs. It’s not one of their most dance party songs. It’s not their catchiest song. It is, however, one of MY FAVORITE music videos. It’s brilliantly creative with the stop motion-chalk drawing piece to it. It’s also incredibly whimsical. I love and appreciate all things that are clever. And all things that involve an animated squirrel. (I did love ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ when I was a kid.) This video involves both. So maybe it’s not the “BEST” Coldplay song out there, but I don’t even think the best Coldplay song would have made the playlist of my life. BUT one of the most awesome videos certainly does. Plus, major props have to go out to the team that created all the chalk drawings. They’re phenomenal.

18) The Police – Canary In A Coalmine

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The Police. Sting. How does he have such great hair? This is a question I’ve been asking myself my whole life. Such catchy tunes. Such great lyrics- at times simple, at times complicated. ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ – simple. ‘King of Pain’ – complicated. ‘Canary in a Coalmine’ – somewhere in the middle.

It’s got a super upbeat, pop feel, but the message isn’t all sunshine and Wham! I sometimes think I’m living my life like a canary in a coalmine, in both a good and bad way. I always ask myself – am I a little too touchy? do I really need to get upset about this? Is being the first to fall over when ‘the atmosphere less than perfect’ that bad? How long can I survive with a touch of carbon monoxide? And at other times I tell myself – Danger! Danger! Be the canary. Get out while there’s still time.

So there’s a balance with the canary. I want to be the balance, not the canary. But sometimes I’m the canary. And sometimes that’s ok. They’re cute, have a nice song, and they saved a lot of miners lives, back in the day.

Fun fact: ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ – The Police album that features ‘Canary in a Coalmine’ was released in 1980. The British didn’t stop using canaries to warn coal miners of toxic gases in the atmosphere until 1986, so at the time, Sting’s song was really relevant. Kids of today would not have the slightest clue about this random tidbit of mining lore.

But lets be serious, I don’t ever picture Sting like a miner. He’s walking down 5th Avenue with a cane, eating toast done on one side, being a legal alien. That’s how I always picture him.

17) Van Morrison – Sweet Thing

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Van, The Man, Morrison, really hit it big in our house when my baby sister was born. She was the only kid with brown eyes and she immediately became our ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. I started listening to more Van Morisson, besides ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, in the second half of high school. As a result of my appreciation of Van Morrison, I was asked on a job application once, if I could have a theme song that played every time I walked into a room, what would it be? It was not an easy question to answer. I picked ‘Everyone’, because in my mind it was a happy little ditty for me to be announced, plus it was the final shot of ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ – a great ending or a great beginning. However, it’s not my favorite Van Morrison song. And neither is ‘Moondance’, which my parents would have guessed was my favorite because I loved the word FANTABULOUS as a kid. It’s ‘Sweet Thing’.

I’ve never been much of a romantic. I am very much a realist. I’m sure I was born all full of hope and romance, but it just didn’t stick in the more mainstream way. I have my own way, because I’m fantabulous. I fell in love with this song the first time I fell in love…and the second. (By the third, I was too realistic, potentially ruined in the romance department.) This song is what I wanted those relationships to feel like. There was no rom-com ending, Titanic ending, Romeo + Juliet ending. No children’s choruses, or fairy godmothers, or horse drawn carriages. I just wanted it to be all ‘We shall walk and talk in gardens all misty wet with rain, and I will never, never, never grow so old again.’ 

Romance is fleeting and unpredictable, and, personally, I don’t really like it. Plus, all those ‘happy’ endings are like a well crafted Facebook post – unrealistic. But I like Van Morrison, and I like his approach to romance, even if it involves chariots, dewey gardens, stars, oceans, and skies. Maybe one day I’ll find it, but it’s ok if I don’t. I’ve got Van to keep me company.

16) Rubén Blades – La Rosa De Los Vientos

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Rubén Blades – some of you may recognize him from his role in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, which I do not watch. (I’m anti-zombie.) However, he is much more famous in our household and in others across Latin America – he is one of Panama’s gems in the music world. We grew up listening to him as part of our heritage and identity. His songs are beautiful Spanish poetry that, more often than not, tell a story. He highlights social issues, oppression, politics, and patriotism to the backdrop of afro-cuban rhythms, salsa, and latin jazz.

I think any problem in life can be solved by one of Rubécito’s song, and he can inspire multi-generational sing-a-longs. I could have picked a number of songs of his, off a number of albums. The obvious choice would have been ‘Patria’, which is a sort of national anthem in our home. I picked ‘La Rosa De Los Vientos’, which is the title track off of the album of the same name. This is the first album I clearly remember him releasing and it played constantly in our home when it came out. Music can connect you and this album helped me connect to my identity, in a teenage time when I felt incredibly teenager-y and lost. Plus it felt more personal. There’s a song on the album that was written by Panamanian poet, who I used to fence against and who my dad went out with a few times in his childhood. But most importantly, this song is about where I’m from, and I always carry it with me.

‘Yo soy de donde nace, la rosa de los vientos…’

Update: Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign

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I was doing so well and was all caught up, but then I went on a work trip. I thought, I can write a letter before I go to bed after being on the road all day. No such luck. I stayed up past my bed time answering work emails and getting things done. It was miserable. So I have fallen a little behind again, but don’t worry, I’ll catch up. I’ve already written 4 letters today and I have one more to write. PLUS I finished all my cards…finally…it took forever. I apologize some of them aren’t as nice or creative or cute as others. I did my best.

My sister sent me this card this week. Apparently, it was an ordeal for it to find me as it had been returned to her. She’s super proud of my letter writing campaign. It made me feel great and lifted my spirits. I will get it done, the timeline may have to go out the window, but it will be awesome and amazing.

15) Reel Big Fish – Sell Out

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So for a period of time in my teens I was kind of into Ska/Punk. It was more of a Ska-Light type appreciation. I was never into safety pins on my clothing or Van’s, but I did wear crop top t-shirts with my Guess jeans. (That were way, way, way too expensive, but somehow convinced my mom to buy them for me.) But I really liked Reel Big Fish. Their songs were hilarious, clever, and totally different to what I had been listening to at the time and I really appreciated something different. Plus, I LOVE a good horn section. I mean, who doesn’t?

I never really rebelled much in high school and I wonder if this was me kind of going against the grain in my own way. But my parents were totally down with ska/punk, so it wasn’t much of a rebellion anyway. When I think about it now, it was just clever and fun and upbeat, how could you not like it? Rebellion – not necessary.

14) Wilco – Jesus, Etc.

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Wilco, where do I begin…I love you. I found Wilco in my early 20’s, around the buzz surrounding ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’, but really fell in love with them during ‘A Ghost Is Born’. From there it was a slippery slope of discovery from their earlier items – ‘Summerteeth’, ‘Mermaid Ave’, ‘Being There’, ‘A.M.’. There’s something comforting about loving a Chicago band and living in Chicago. I think it’s a deeper love and appreciation with a touch of pride in the music, that not all listeners get to experience.

In my 20’s, I was a regular at our corner bar. A serious regular. It was almost like Cheer’s, only not as well lit, and it usually had a lot less drama. I would go by myself, with co-workers (we literally worked next door), with my roommates, with friends. I’m a creature of habit and comfort, after all, I’m a Cancer. Every weekend they had live music and no girls can resist a man, with an acoustic guitar, belting out covers. The perks of being a regular, even the weekly musicians get to know you. Andrew, the musician, got to know me and my roommate, Kim, pretty well. He didn’t play everyone’s requests, but he always played ours. Mine were always Wilco and Bruce Springsteen. Both awesome artists, but maybe didn’t draw the same excitement from the rest of the bar patrons as Dave Matthews Band or classic rock covers – like Tom Petty. But he always played at least one and Kim and I would dance and jump our hearts out as if we were letting loose in our own living room. (Generally we were the only ones dancing…unsure if this is good or bad.) Many things were celebrated at that corner bar – engagements, going away parties, congratulations, new jobs, new boyfriends, birthdays – but my favorite moments were not the celebrations, but the every day days. There was always a friendly smile, a cold beer, and Andrew music.

I have never liked celebrating my birthday. I hate acknowledging the day with a passion. But there were a few years where it was just me, two or three friends, and Andrew’s guitar. It was simple. No one knew I was one year older. And those are some of my most favorite memories ever. 25 was great.

But don’t worry, I left that bar crying plenty of times…It goes with the territory.