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Issue 68 — The Playlist

June 22, 2020

Compiled by Meghan Phillips

Looking for playlist for Issue 68? We’ve got you covered. Our contributors have chosen the music and tell why below. Enjoy the issue!


Abby Feden, “To Pieces” – “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline

I selected this song not only because I use snippets of the lyrics throughout the piece, or because the title of my piece is taken from the song too, but because of the way Patsy talks about her heartbreak! There’s a real denial happening in the song: “You want me to act like we’ve never kissed/ You want me to forget/ Pretend we’ve never met.” I tried to incorporate this “denial” of tension and loss into “To Pieces,” and end the story with the family devolving “to pieces!”

Kyra Baldwin, “This is How You Give a Baby CPR” – “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads

“This Must Be the Place” is an honest love song. I chose it because I hope I wrote an honest love story.

Rebecca Turkewitz, “Search Party” – “Every Single Night” by Fiona Apple

I think this song captures the narrator’s young spirit well: a mix of fury,
self-reliance, and a drive to survive even the seemingly unsurvivable. I
could easily imagine Marigold putting on headphones, cranking up the
volume, and listening to this song on repeat.

Madeline Anthes, “Why I Think of You Every Time I Bruise” – “Somebody More Like You” by Nickel Creek

I picked this song because it’s a song that tells of someone’s lingering pain after a break up, and has a rise and fall in both the intensity and tone that feels similar to my story.

Meg Walters, “What is Ours” – “Dancing With Your Ghost” by Sasha Sloan

This is one of my favorite songs about grief and loss, which is primarily what my story is about.

Ashley Fellers, “Four Lies” – “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Linney

I grew up listening to the original cut of this classic by Tommy James & the Shondells, and in that version, the song is a feel-good anthem to risk-taking young love.  But Linney’s cover feels a little more wistful — as if the singer is recalling the same events at a distance, through the hard-won wisdom of years.  I can’t help but feel like the speaker of “Four Lies” would be able to relate to that.

Jemimah Wei, “Waiting” – “One Way or Another” by Blondie

I love how this song blends punk-pop catchiness and menace, layering the ways we disguise obsessiveness with a manipulation of tone. And it’s an added bonus that the song is in first person as well, situating us in the mindset of a stalker, drawing us in with the lighthearted tunefulness before we realise with shock, somewhere in the middle of the song, what narrative we’re buying into, what we’ve been centered in. The song being such a bop is really just the cherry on top..

Leonora Desar, “*69” – “Geek the Girl” by Lisa Germano

When I was 15, I listened to this obsessively. In my room, at CBGBs (not the club, the pizza dive next door), in my headphones during class. No doubt, my narrator—in her alternate, bizarro world—is also plugged in, listening.

Jiksun Cheung, “Cupola” – “The Choice” by Gustavo Santaolalla

This is part of the soundtrack for the game The Last of Us which in itself is a work of art exploring desolation, loneliness, and the search for hope and meaning.

Jasmine Sawers, “All Your Fragile History” – “Generator^First Floor” by Freelance Whales

I love how this song blooms into a joyous polyphony that takes up so much space in the ear and the mind. I also really connect to the idea of the body as the site of a haunting, a house with its own history to be invoked, and that in that echo is not only discord but beauty.

L.M. Brown, “How to Build a Bunker” – “I See Your Heart and I Raise You Mine” by Bell x 1

I immediately thought of Bell x 1, I See Your Heart and I Raise You Mine, because of the idea that the father bet everything on the mother and lost. Also the story is told through the eyes of a child who doesn’t want to think of the mother and clings to the father, so the devil and angel suits the simplicity of childhood thinking, and the garden of Eden before it all went pear-shaped, is a perfect line.

María Alejandra Barrios, “Ciénaga” – “Soledad y el Mar” by Natalia Lafourcade

This song is a bolero which is a slow-tempo music that is usually about heartbreak. This particular song is about loneliness and the sea. When I think about this music, I usually
think about my elders that would play this music around the house while
cleaning or at parties and say: “Está si es música.” This is really music.


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The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. The long list has been published on the blog. The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.