Running mix ("You used to be a stranger, now you are mine" edition)

One of the things I've been trying to accomplish over the past few years is to get back into music, at least a little bit. I've written about this plenty of times before, admitting my tendency to obsessively listen to public radio and the fact I'm probably never going to be into music the way I was when I was younger; browsing rows of new CDs in record shops for hours, buying something by a band I knew nothing about, or the latest from one of my favorites, and excitedly putting it on when I got home. 

Part of the problem is that I don't know how to get into new stuff. When I was in high school my friends were a huge source of musical inspiration. My buddy Matt Barbee made me a ton of mixed tapes throughout my high school years that were so influential in shaping my music tastes then, and to this day. Matt taught me about Pavement and The Silver Jews (Tommy! You love them!) about less popular songs by classic performers, like Donovan, and more about the group Hot Tuna than one really needs to know.     

But mixed tapes, obviously, aren't relevant anymore. The thing is, there are so many other innovative new ways to listen to new music, from radio streaming apps like Pandora to satelite radio, Spotify playlists and old-school vinyl. We're all into vinyl again. 

Still. I listen to the local NPR lineup most days like my life depends on it, so incredibly reluctant to break the cycle and put on some music, even thought it always, like 100 percent of the time, improves my mood when I do.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem (and please note I do realize it's a very superfluous "problem" to have in the first place) but I do know that when I allow myself to listen to it, music still moves me. I was on a road trip with the kids recently and put in an old CD I'd made J in the early days of our dating. These were songs I adored at that particular point in my life and I needed him to know them, too. Ah. Such was the romance of our burgeoning relationship. 

After I listened to that CD, I felt like someone had pummeled me in the stomach. Like my heart had been squeezed to near exploding. In a GOOD way.

That's what music still does to me when I let it. And if I can't always get into new stuff, at least I have catalogs upon catalogs of old favorites. So, when I made myself a new running mix recently, I didn't go online in search of that Justin Bieber song I'm secretly into (I know, I know) but instead onto J's laptop and our shared collection of music, which is vast. 

I looked at old playlists, and scrolled through an endless list of artists, playing songs here and there and remembering. There are so many that perfectly encapsulate a moment, or feeling, or both, recalling not necessarily the song's release date, but when I discovered it. Listening to "M79" when J and I were driving down Rock Creek Parkway, headed out to dinner on a trip to DC shortly after I had Nora; my parents babysitting and the freedom intoxicating.

First hearing that exceedingly-emotional four-beat riff in New Order's "Regret" in high school, and then listening to that song over, and over. And over.

"If I Could Talk I'd Tell You," and all the fun I had my freshman year of college...Erin and Mary and Priya and Aaron the boy, and sitting atop my very dangerous loft bed. 

Immediately loving "Houston, TX" by Deer Tick when it came on a mix of J's a year or two ago and realizing, "Wait, maybe I can get into a new band." 

This running mix is mostly made up of old and new loves like the above. I mean, obviously not "Ignition (Remix)," which is simply a hilarious party song, but most of the others. Also, J got really excited about my making a new playlist and stole the computer from me at one point to "help me with it," which, of course, infuriated me, despite his good will. He added a few, noting their stellar BPMs for running. Scientists! I bet you can guess which are his picks. Definitely the Guster one, guys. 

  • close to me - the cure 
  • m79 - vampire weekend
  • man in the mirror - michael jackson
  • consolation prizes - phoenix
  • walk like an egyptian - the bangles
  • elastic heart - sia 
  • regret - new order
  • tropicana - ratatat 
  • ignition (remix) - r. kelly 
  • strange condition - pete yorn 
  • you get what you give - the new radicals
  • secret meeting - the national 
  • unwritten - natasha bedingfield
  • black river killer - blitzen trapper
  • ease your feet into the sea - belle & sebastian 
  • girls & boys - blur
  • upon this tidal wave of young blood - clap your hands say yeah
  • if I could talk I'd tell you - the lemonheads
  • airport song - guster
  • houston, tx - deer tick 
  • I can see my house from here - the glands 
  • queen bitch - david bowie
  • girls just want to have fun - cyndi lauper
  • south bound suarez - led zeppelin
  • get me away from here I'm dying - belle & sebastian