SmokeLong Quarterly

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Playlist — Issue Sixty-Nine

September 21, 2020

Compiled by Meghan Phillips

Looking for playlist for  Issue 69? We’ve got you covered. Our contributors have chosen the music and tell why below. Enjoy the issue!


Tom Hunley, “Questions For Further Study” – “Sliced the Amp” by Dr. Tom and the Mini-Mes

Hananah Zaheer, “Things I say to my son while he sleeps” – “Aye Rah-E-Haq Kay Shaheed” by Strings

This song is a poem by poet Mushir Kazmi and is in the Pakistani tradition of devotion
which, whether to country, religion, God, or a lover, demands the willingness to sacrifice
life if need be. Many poems and ghazals like these were sung over the radio to citizens in
their homes and soldiers on battlefields during the 1965 war between Pakistan and India.
They endure still, this one for its call to the glory of martyrdom for the greatest of all
loves—the right path. I find it both beautiful and terrifying, which is also how I see the
role of belief and certainty, both in life and in this story.

Sara Hills, “Lions in the Amazon” – “All That You Have is Your Soul” by Tracy Chapman

This is my love song to the story–to desperate mothers with unfulfilled dreams, who
struggle to provide for their children; to children who learn by example, who grow up too
hungry to dream. I want to say don’t lose sight of your own worth.

Francine Witte, “Thin Mints” – “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies

I like this song because it has both the idea of sweetness for the cookies and the
teenybopper feel appropriate for the girl scout.

Sudha Balagopal, “Quail With a Topknot” – “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by Carpenters

John Miguel Shakespear, “Sleepers” – “Hometown Waltz” by Rufus Wainwright

“Hometown Waltz” is an unromantic look at Montreal from a native that nods to all the
ways the city is romanticized, which resonates with my story in this issue of SLQ in two
ways: first, the narrators romanticize the city in many of the ways Wainwright alludes to,
and secondly, they are forced into a reckoning with their own “home”  as Wainwright’s
narrator is at the end of the song.

Kristen Loesch, “Unwritten” – “請跟我來” by Julie Su

“Unwritten” was inspired by my grandmother, and this song brings her to mind.

Nicole VanderLinden, “A Bee Story” – “The Stable Song” by Gregory Alan Isakov

To me, this song speaks to the beauty and volatility, push and pull in relationships–
something the narrator of “A Bee Story” grapples with, too. There’s also an appreciation
for mess, which I love–that you can evolve but still look back and want your diamonds
turned back into coal.

Bryan Joe Okwesili,The Other Half Of A Yellow Sun” – “Memories” by Maroon 5

This song is steeped in emotions of loss, remembrance and love; the trio of which carry the
weight of my story at different points.


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