So I finally got through my Pearl Jam selection issues and have finally come up with the final mix for my son's first mixed cd's. I say "cd's" because there were too many songs to fit on one disc and I just couldn't bring myself to cut any deeper. Plus, if he'd like one, he'd probably like two right?
Now, there's a lot of music that I love that didn't make it on these discs simply because I don't think it would be loved by a 6 year old, so when you get on me for not including Led Zeppelin, let's remember the context. Ditto for 2Pac, but I did try. Oh how I tried. Any way, let's get to it, but I'll warn you. This is a long one.
1. "In This City" - Iglu and Hartly
Iglu and Hartly is a pretty damn good band with a really infectious, upbeat sound. I chose this song because it's awesome, but also because of the first few lines, "You came into my life. You can not separate yourself." Well, that's having kids, in a nutshell. Once they're there, you can't imagine your life without them for better or for worse. The song also has the line "I have nothing to fear, in this city" which is a pretty good message. When Linda and I got married we moved to Seattle without knowing anyone or really, anything about the place, but we knew that there was nothing to be afraid of. Not a bad sentiment to pass on to your kid. There's a big world out there, no reason to be afraid of exploring it.
2. "Sweetness" - Jimmy Eat World
Like a lot of people, I first heard about Jimmy Eat World from "The Middle". However, once I heard this song, well, that was it. This is, hands down, my favorite song from a band that has quickly become my second favorite band (behind Pearl Jam of course). It's also a blast to sing in Rock Band 2.
3. "World Wide Suicide" - Pearl Jam
Picking the right PJ song was very difficult. Way too many choices there. I finally went with this one as it embodies Pearl Jam to me. It's musically very impressive, socially conscious and it fucking rocks. I chose a live version because Pearl Jam is such an amazing live band that I prefer to listen to the live versions of their songs due to how much better they always are. Kind of a heavy message to drop on a 6 year old, but hey, he's gotta start somewhere.
4. "Brother Lee" - Citizen Cope
Such a great song. I remember listening to it as I drove down 400 on my way to see Citizen Cope live. Citizen Cope was the first band I chose to see on my own when I moved here, which has led to many awesome concert experiences.
5. "Go Your Own Way" - Fleetwood Mac
You can't have a mixed cd of my creation without Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham is such an amazing guitarist that I could listen to him play all day. Easily one of the greatest bands to ever live.
6. "Cold Beer and Remote Control" - Indigo Girls
Also a tough choice to make, as I love me some Indigo Girls. Such an amazingly talented duo. I went with this song because it's musically, very beautiful, and like most of their songs, has a strong social message. Not that I expect my son to pick up on it, but one never knows. Kids will amaze you with what they notice.
7. "I'm Goin' Down" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
I loved the "Born in the USA" record because of all of the different sounds on display. This one starts with a mandolin and some acoustic guitars and then has Bruce singing in a real low, almost monotone. I thought that the voice and the "I'm goin' down, down, down, down" chorus would appeal to a kid who enjoys repeating himself. A lot. Then, by the end of the song, when you're feeling bad for Bruce, he starts be-bop-a-loo-lah-ing all over the place to the point where you think "hey, this guy is actually enjoying himself". It's strange, but it works.
8. "Body Movin'" - Beastie Boys
A fun song by a great group. It don't get much more complicated than that, although this song does have one of my favorite Beastie lines: Like a bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Pap, I'm fine like wine when I start to rap. Love it.
9. "How Far We've Come" - Matchbox Twenty
This one is more for Linda. I mean, I like the song, and the band, but she and the kids absolutely love this song, so on it went.
10. "When You Were Young" - The Killers
The Killers is a maddeningly uneven band. The thing about them, is that they're constantly reaching, sometimes way overreaching. When it fails, like that stupid "Humans" song, it sucks, but when it works, like in this song, hot damn it fucking flies. There is a lot of bombast in rock, and The Killers are filled to the brim with bombast. Also a great song to sing in Rock Band.
11. "Be Yourself" - Audioslave
For a song that start off so slowly, this one builds to an absolutely incredible maelstrom of blistering rock. Plus, the lyrics are very inspirational: Don't lose any sleep tonight, I'm sure everything will end up alright, you may win or lose, but to be yourself is all that you can do. I always get a little choked up when I hear that line, especially the way that Chris Cornell sings it Plus Tom Morello actually plays his guitar rather than making odd streaky sounds.
12. "By the Way" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
My favorite RHCP song. I don't know what it is about it, but I love it. Yeah, it makes no sense, but I don't care. It rocks. That also happens to be my favorite RHCP album too.
13. "Crystal Village" - Pete Yorn
This one is from his "Live in New Jersey" set. It's a great song, but the live version has some really great moments and seems to stop, but then kicks right back up. It's a good song on the studio record, but a fantastic song live.
14. "The Last Song" - All-American Rejects
As album closers go, this one is a keeper. I'm a big fan of pop-rock, and these guys put out some really slick pop-rock. The fact that it's a good way to end a cd certainly doesn't hurt.
1. "Call to Arms" - Angels and Airwaves
This song opens their second record, so I used it to open my second disc. It's a great song if you have to get pumped up about something, not that a 6 year old needs much inspiration to get pumped up. Also a great band to see live. Their drummer has like nine arms.
2. "Hysteria" - Muse
I picked the live version from "H.A.A.R.P" for this one. It's a fucking wall of rock, I mean a 50 foot, 5 foot wide wall of rock. Sometimes rock should knock you on your fucking ass, and that's exactly what this song does. It's amazing to me that so much sound can come from three people.
3. "Mama Said Knock You Out" - LL Cool J
This is one of my most prized digital possessions, a recording of LL's performance on MTV Unplugged. I remember watching this as a teenager and being blown away. I love modern hip-hop, but the old school, braggadocio rap has a very special place in my heart, and in my mind, LL did it better than anyone else. I love how the crowd start going ape-shit about 3/4 through this song as the live band really turns it on. Great stuff.
4. "Anna Molly" - Incubus
Another one of my favorite bands and this song is perfectly done. Just a fast paced, hard rocking track. What every growing 6 year old needs.
5. "What If I Came Knocking" - John Mellencamp
For me, there is no better John Mellencamp record than "Human Wheels" and this song and the title track are the two best songs on the album. I just love how the song builds to the line "What if I came crying, after just a few weeks, and said I misread my heart, this is not really meant to be". Not a line you usually hear in a song about coming to someone's window with romantic intent.
6. "R3wind" - Better Than Ezra
Another one of my favorite bands, and a song about making a mix tape no less. Well, the song is more about how music can take you back to certain points in your life, something I can totally relate to. I listened to this album constantly when it came out as I was working at Boeing in Seattle and didn't have a lot to do, so listening to music helped pass the time. This record is still one of my favorite BTE albums, if not one of my favorite albums period.
7. "Making Pies" - Patty Griffin
Patty Griffin has one of the most beautiful voices in music. I love this song because of the subject, an elderly woman who doesn't have much of a family of her own, but has a life and a job making pies. The imagery in the song is stunning, but so is one of the underlying sentiments, namely that sometimes life really sucks and the best you can do is trudge on, but that's enough. I have a great life, no doubt about it, but sometimes, life ain't all that great. In fact, in the immortal words of Al Swearengen, "Many times, that's what the fuck life is... one vile fucking task after another." During these times, as the song says, you could cry, or die, or just make pies all day. Sometimes, that's enough.
8. "The '59 Sound" - Gaslight Anthem
Great song, great band, and it combines those two rock staples, namely death and teenagers.
9. "Angels of the Silences" - Counting Crows
Another album I listened to a ton when in Seattle. This album was the follow up to "August and Everything After" and while that first record was really mellow, this album was a bit faster paced. People didn't buy it nearly to the same extent, no doubt due to the lack of a catchy "Me and Mr. Jones" single, but in my mind, this is their best record and this song just rips. I know I was surprised when I heard it. Plus, it gets in, gets the job done and then gets out without overstaying its welcome, something Adam Duritz isn't exactly known for.
10. "Freak of the Week" - Marvelous 3
How does one show their love for power pop and their love for Butch Walker? Easy, put on one of the best songs from the absolutely rocking power-pop band that Walker fronted. I can only hope that this song serves as a gateway drug to the glory and splendor that is Butch Walker.
11. "It's Tricky" - Run-D.M.C.
Old school rap at its finest. I mean, seriously, if you don't have a copy of "Raising Hell" in your collection then you have a serious problem, one that needs to be rectified immediately. This song was also chosen because Linda and I used to play SSX Tricky on the GameCube and this song played over the opening credits.
12. "Misery Business" - Paramore
I feel like Paramore is part of a joke with the punchline "Hot Topic" but at the same time, I love this band. Musically, I think that "That's What You Get" is a better song, but this one is a lot more fun. Sometimes fun wins.
13. "American Idiot" - Green Day
Probably one of the most important albums of the past ten years. I love this song for having the balls to talk back to all of the bullshit that went down during the past eight years. I wish I could have put the live version on, but there were too many F-bombs for young ears.
14. "Famous Last Words" - My Chemical Romance
A final song from a concept album about a guy dying from cancer is an odd choice for a 6 year old's first mix cd, but sometimes I think rock should scare you a little, and this song is a little scary before it gets all uplifting. I picked the live version from Mexico City, because there's so much emotion in it. I am not afraid to keep on living indeed.
So there they are. Thanks for sticking around for all of them. Let the criticism commence!