Playlist — Issue Sixty-Six
Compiled by Meghan Phillips
Looking for playlist for Issue 66? We’ve got you covered. Our contributors have chosen the music and tell why below. Enjoy the issue!
Tyler Sones, “The First Invention” – “Slow Education” by Silver Jews
David Berman’s songs are full of deadpan non sequiturs and one-liners, but his music is never joke music. Or if it is, the punchlines make you sit down in the middle of the road, disrupting traffic. The images point to something far off, gigantic, and sad, the running monologue of somebody who’s not comfortable being as fed up with the world as he is.
Tom McMillan, “Eternal Sunshine” – “Seasons (Waiting on You)” by Future Islands
This story is all about changing how you see love, relationships and the like. This song makes me think about those questions too.
Avra Margariti, “The Sugar That Comes From Funerals” – “Youth” by Daughter
I listen to this band a lot when I’m writing, and to this song in particular whenever I’m telling a story about adolescent characters and/or complicated, bittersweet relationships.
Shawn Nocher, “What You Will Think About at Your Mother’s Death Watch” – “When We Were Young” by Billy Raffoul
“When We Were Young” speaks to the way we look back at home and deal with regrets in both directions, and then, hopefully, accept things for what they were and reconcile with love. “I used to say that you could change / If you would only try / But today I made the same mistake / Now I can sympathize.”
Michael Alessi, “The Door” – “Nobody” by Mitski
The songwriting on this track is so direct and plaintive in a way that fits the story. It’s a plea for connection, and the way that Mitski uses pitch to wring out what feels like every possible interpretation of the word ‘nobody’ on the chorus isn’t just a pleasure to absorb, it hints at the growing gulf of between the speaker and the world. Mitski doesn’t want your pity, and neither does the character from “The Door.”
Christen Kauffman, “Mother” – “Mothers” by Daughter
This song is so haunting and reminds me of being suspended in water, somehow. Of course, the subject of the mother also makes it a great fit for the story.
Janssen Cunanan, “Kamote” – “Māte Saule” by Pēteris Vasks
Some argue that this is the sound sweet potatoes make when they plan the revolution. They’re probably wrong.
Alyssa Proujansky, “Whistle Language” – “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” by The Velvet Underground
From the first twangy, drawn-out notes, this song twists at something in me. It always has. Sorrow and loss mixed with something ascendant. A sadness with energy to it. To me, that’s very much the mood of “Whistle Language.” I can imagine the narrator and Aunt Franny, frozen in place, listening. The pain they’re each feeling—and the way the song punches a hole in it. It also makes me think about a lifetime of stored cultural references. How they’ll follow Aunt Franny to the new life she’s chosen. The known notes, the familiar chords. That line: “Every day she falls in love / And every night she falls.”
Sara C. Thomason, “MarsOne” – “Wolf Like Me” by TV on the Radio
I chose this song to pair with my story because it’s one of my favorites. It also conveniently features the moon and the protagonist is similarly preoccupied with something otherworldly and frightening.
Santino Prinzi, “Curving the Pointy Edges” – “I Don’t Know a Thing About Love” by Floor Jansen
I chose this song because it admits that it is difficult to describe what love is. To some readers, Niamh and Hector’s relationship may not look like love, but perhaps they know differently when they’re together.
Wendy BooydeGraaf, “Librarian” – “Adia” by Sara McLauchlan
There’s a sense of inaction in this song, of waiting too long, of failing a person who needs help. Yet, it’s also a song of innocence, comfort in the face of difficult decisions. The mysterious quality inherent in both the lyrics and the music of “Adia” make me pull something different out of it every time I listen. It fits the mood of “Librarian”.
Kira Homsher, “Knife Game” – “Печаль моя светла” by Yanka
This song is both lonely and light. I don’t know why, but Yanka’s voice sounds how I imagine my narrator would sound if she were to sing. One of the lines translates to “the TV is hanging from the ceiling,” which somehow resembles the atmosphere I tried to create in the story.
Alexander Cendrowski, “Gator Bait” – “Sink, Florida, Sink” by Against Me
“Sink, Florida, Sink.” Is the song technically about George Bush’s fraudulent election because of the Florida voting recount? Yes (and we’re sorry). But does it also recount the drowning sensation of losing yourself in your identity, in spurning hesitation when it comes to discovering yourself? I mean, I certainly think it does.
Pingmei Lan, “Sweet-n-Low” – “Exodus” by Edith Piaf
Amanda Marbais, “Tolls” – “What’s Mine is Yours” by Sleater-Kinney
I feel like this song is appropriate for a mother who hasn’t had a lot of sleep. The constant tension and discordant guitars reflect her struggle to maintain her identity when she is being asked to roll with profound changes. There’s also a lot of contagious energy in this song.
Carolyn Oliver, “Nail Polish” – “Party of One” by Brandi Carlile
I didn’t hear “Party of One” until after I’d written this story, but the song lines up really well (“I am tired” / “I am yours”) with the complicated emotions I tried to evoke.
Sacha Bissonnette, “The Thick Of It” – “Nothin'” by Colter Wall>
The grittiness and pain of Colter Wall’s voice, covering the great Townes Van Zandt cuts us into “The Thick Of It.”