Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Song of the Week: Matthew and The Atlas

On Sunday, I woke up to the thought that a friend needed new music (and peanut butter cups), so I spent most of the morning making a mixed CD/playlist. This particular friend is probably one the few people that completely trusts my POV when it comes to music so I feel pretty confident that I can send them a CD of bands they  have never heard of, knowing that they will end up loving each and every song.  
I have been making mixed playlists for myself and for others since junior high school; it is seriously one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.  It may just seem like dumping a bunch of songs together, but there is an art behind it, because in a very real since, you are telling a story.
First, you do just dump songs.  I go through my music and without too much thought I click and drag songs, so much easier than sitting on the floor with a pile of audio tapes. It is important to think about what the playlist if for, a summer road trip, a party, the eve of the apocalypse (which happens in DC about every 3 months).  What kind of story do you want to tell?
 I can stress out during this first step because you have to balance between songs people know and songs you want them to know. On road trips, people want songs they know and can sing at the top of their lungs while you’re cruising through beautiful landscape. This can be hard if people in the car all have different tastes in music.  But, also, if you want to be sneaky, and if people are open minded, being stuck in a car can allow you a time and place to introduce people to new music. 
 I admit, I am pretty intense about music.  I want to tell people every little thing about why I like this song or why I put this song on the playlist. I have been known to break songs down to individual notes, or breathes that the singer takes.  Lately, I have come to realize that some people, even people close to me, see music just as wallpaper. Yeah, it’s pretty, it’s there, the end. I have had to stop wanting to shake them, but don’t you get it, and not get hurt when they keep asking if they can turn down the music.

But, like I said before, this friend is pretty open minded when it comes to music, and I have thrown some craazy stuff at them, so no shaking was involved.  
Next, since I was going to have burn the playlist on a CD and mail it, I had a limit of how many songs could fit. Some of this editing was easy, since there was a slightly folksy feeling developing and some songs were a little outside that party theme.  I also started to arrange the songs so the flow would be right, the same artist can’t have more than one song in a row, you have to mix slow and fast songs, etc. The first and last songs are the most important, but all the middle ones have to feel like they fit too.  I must have changed and replaced the second to last song at least 5 times.  And of course, of course, the first song has to have bagpipes in it.
And when I was happy with the order, I listened to it with my eyes closed.
Let me tell you, this playlist is so good, I think I deserve a certificate.
While I was dumping songs, I came across the below one, by Matthew and the Atlas, that did eventually make the cut. I love his old soul voice and the clapping. I am big fan of clapping in songs. I want them to come back to the US, so badly. I would bake them a pie. Or maybe, bend my arm, I'll just have to go London. Remember when I saw them back in June, and it was that concert that inspired me to try to revive the creativity in my life?

 Whenever I hear them now, I first think,  holy wow, and then I think about that night in the hot KC heat, in front of that stage, under those stars when all the possibilities of the world seemed opened to me. I knew that I wanted to change my life, and I knew that I had the power to do it.
post script: Hey X—the banjo player in this band has a perfectly decent haircut. I know you are very concerned about things like that.

post script 2: Anyone else alarmed by the amount of banjo players that seem to be coming out of England? Not that I am complaining . . . .


  1. Really love the folksy music you are into lately. We could totally do a roadtrip together. :)

  2. Oh yes. We NEED to do a road trip. Its been long.