An early Valentine, and possibly my favorite bit of writing from Steve Safran… read, listen, rewind, repeat.
We’ve known each other a while now, dear readers, and I think the best way I can express my affection is through that most ancient of all rites: a mixtape. Cassette tapes are hard to find and somewhat impractical to distribute via the internet. Instead, I’ll link to 10 songs. However, you really should hear these over good speakers– in your car, house or through headphones. If you have Spotify, most are there. Otherwise, pony up and get them from iTunes. NOTE: I realize there are few things more boring than what someone else considers a “good” song. So I appreciate your sticking in here.
- “Knock on Wood” http://youtu.be/CVt3GWuGM9s (Otis Redding & Carla Thomas) While there won’t be thumpy dance floor music here, I dare you to hear this at a reception of some sort and not “Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock… on WOOD!” If nothing else, it will embarrass the kids.
- “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” http://youtu.be/NN7b-DZgGjs (Composed by John Rutter): TOTALLY caught you off guard there, didn’t I? You were expecting something else from the Atheist Jew, right? On the second song? The power of a good melody is transcendent. I sang this in high school choir. I was never again in a choir that sang anything nearly as good again. And we were going through puberty.
- “Landed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vPygzPSg8M (Ben Folds): This is for everyone who has gone though a change in their lives. Nominally, it’s about a guy who needs to be picked up at an airport. Bigger picture: He made a big change, flew back across the country and is reaching out for help. You’ve been there.
- “One Day Like This” http://youtu.be/OUUASDWrBdc (Elbow): Magnificent and devoted ode to the power of a single morning– a moment really, where a man celebrates “the now.” “Throw those curtains wide/One day like this a year will see me right.” It was recorded with the BBC orchestra and chorus. And oh, those lyrics. “Kiss me like a final meal.” “When my face is chamois-creased.” If I made you a one-song mixtape, “One Day Like This” would be it.
- “Big Sky” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaDUFC8nigM (Kate Bush) The only ‘80s track on this side. And we’re going out huge here. This is an album that contains the directions “PLAY LOUD” and if this song isn’t on your exercise tape, you’re missing valuable heart rate potential.
- “Nowhere to Run” http://youtu.be/ABbc-O_3_Ac (Martha and the Vandellas) We ended side two uptempo and loud, so there’s no need to adjust the volume just yet. Note: The “Vandellas” are named in honor of Della Reese. So, something for you “Touched by an Angel” fans.
- “My Ride’s Here” http://youtu.be/NRkcBcyB7v4 (Warren Zevon): “I was staying in the Marriott/ With Jesus and John Wayne.” You can find better Zevon songs, but I love this one. Zevon, dying of cancer at this point, puts out a peppy song about those he might meet soon. When asked in an interview if he had any advice for the young people, Zevon answered “Enjoy every sandwich.”
- “Tempted” http://youtu.be/7PmtS_qMdXg(Squeeze): This is the perfect pop song. This is the A+ of pop. It’s High Honors. It’s the essay your friend wrote, and pisses you off a little because you didn’t think to write it first. It tells a story, has a great hook and my gosh, that Hammond organ at the top. I’m biased because I’ve seen Squeeze more often than any other band. However this is not my favorite track of theirs. It just belongs here, in this context.
- “Little Bit O’ Soul” http://youtu.be/bMIydy3Tyuw (Music Explosion): Should I ever take over this or any other country, “Little Bit O’ Soul” will be our national anthem. Listen to it and picture a stadium groovin’ to it.
- “Moonlight Serenade” http://youtu.be/VHBX0813MXc (Glenn Miller Orchestra): Nothing comes after “Moonlight Serenade.” It’s the end of the evening in a smoky room as the janitor sweeps the floor through the haze. One last couple slow dances while a few drunks are passed out at the bar. The room lights have come back on. The bartender drags a dirty rag across the tables. It’s the last song you hear before heading home. I’ll say it again: Nothing comes after “Moonlight Serende.”
That’s the mixtape I made for you. Wear it out.