Andrew: There are some bands that become “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” as the saying goes. One of the bands on my soundtrack is The Cure. (Adam might agree.) I can’t pick a favorite song. Nor can I pick a favorite album. Each has a distinct and therefore different sound, different mood, different flavor. Robert Smith et al have a song that fits whatever situation I am in. When I first started my job at ETSU and had no idea what I was doing, I jammed to “A Forest.” When my fiancé ditched me, I listened to (and even named an article) based on “Apart.”
When I am feeling desperately lonely I put on “Homesick” or “Faith.” Need a little joy? “Love Song” or “ Just Like Heaven” or “Play for Today” do the trick. Aggro? Pornography – the whole album or maybe the self-titled album. If you were going to ask me the “desert island” question – if there was only one Cure item I could take with me – it would be Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. If you haven’t listened to it in one sitting, you might want to try it. It touches every single human emotion in one shot. (And on that island, I’d listen to “A Thousand Hours” and lament that I didn’t have more Cure.)
Alix: You know how some songs immediately take you back to a certain part of your life? The other day I was in high school – ninth grade to be exact. While I was working on yet another iteration of my resume, I inadvertently hit play on on my mac’s keyboard – iTunes was open and shuffle settled on a Jump Little Children song. I was immediately taken back to a time when I had their album, Magazine, playing on repeat in my Discman – YES I SAID A DISCMAN.
So then, of course, I had to listen to the entire album. Not on shuffle. From track one, Not Today, to track 11, Close Your Eyes. It has easily been 10 years since I’ve listened to this album and now it definitely has a place again in my car music rotation. Jump Little Children has tickled my brain and made me happy! You know I still know all the words and am singing all the things.
EDIT: Holy crap – I just looked up the band online and apparently they reunited at the end of 2015! I actually had a chance to see them live while I was in high school, but had to miss it! Turns out, there is actually a small chance I could still see Jump Little Children show.
Art: I don’t live in New York. I cannot head downtown and see a Broadway show. As a professor, I probably could not afford Hamilton anyway, but The Hamilton Mixtape has me fully enthralled. The social conscience of this album is unavoidable and necessary listening for those who think that we, as a country, have resolved the tensions of race, class, gender, and sexuality. One song, in particular, continually draws me back both musically and critically: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente.
Beyond just being a well-composed song, Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) issues a challenge of empathy to all who have ever felt underappreciated or unwelcome to try to understand what it is like to be “America’s Ghost Writers.” The mix of Spanish and English works seamlessly and those who do not know either should check out the lyrics. Much like songs such as My Shot and Wrote My Way Out, Immigrants represents a musical call to action that translates even if you have not seen the show.
Some of the soundtrack is just talented re-recordings of songs from the musical, but the moments where this collection of artists “Pick Up the Pen like Hamilton” make The Hamilton Mixtape a must have for those looking to confront the words of those who confront cultural hegemony on a daily basis. If you have not already, buy it and listen. Really listen. If you have not already, then go grab some bell hooks and Herman S. Gray and read. The combination will lead you to better questions.