1. Temecula Sunrise – Dirty Projectors
Big S shared this with me on the bike trip, they said it’s written about folks squatting in new construction houses built just before the housing bubble. I’m always reminded of Big S’s commentary appreciating the responsible drinking lyric – drinking Gatorade to prevent a hang over “I live in a greenhouse and I am getting wasted, yeah. Temperature rising. I can feel it all the way down. And what hits the spot, yeah, like Gatorade?” I also texted Majesty about this song and asked him if he’d move to Temecula Sunrise with me, he responded appropriately.
Memory – Dancing my way from work to Trader Joe’s listening to this song on repeat. Jumping from and balancing on benches and planter edges while spinning around. It felt like freedom – the whole idea of living there and feeling some good feelings.
2. Benton Harbor Blues – The Firey Furnaces
This song is also from Big S, they know the best music. This song was on repeat for both of us for a week or two. The music feels like video game music at times and is upbeatish despite the melancholy lyrics.
Memory – Probably of the first few times I listened to this song with Big S. Sitting on the couch in my living room at opposite ends facing each other, our legs pressed against each other. We shared music like this for a couple of hours, it was great. Big S is reminded of riding their own bike in a snow storm to the mini mart in Chicago, “I rode a bike in the snow to the mini-mart”. Sometimes I imagine that.
3. Pais Nublado – Helado Negro
Big S played this at their house one time I was over, it felt calming and chill and I wanted more of it’s soothing words. I spent weeks listening to the album, This is How You Smile. When I was listening to this I thought I was finally breaking out of folk punk world.
Memory: Getting into work after a cool morning bike ride and warming up inside while listening to this album over and over again every morning. This was one of the first albums that I frequently listened to that was work appropriate.
4. Nothing Came Out – The Moldy Peaches
At our furthest point on the bike trip before going back sitting in an adirondack in Connellsville trying to find the motivation and desire to go back towards Pittsburgh. Big S played several songs on the speaker, I immediately asked that this song be replayed. So sad and whiny, I had to have it again. I spent the next couple of weeks whining these lyrics.
“And besides, you’re probably holding hands with some skinny, pretty girl that likes to talk about bands,
And all I wanna do is ride bikes with you and stay up late and maybe spoon.”
5. In a Diner In Poughkeepsie – Quinn Cicala
My morning ritual consisted of waking up, showering, meditating, making an egg bagel sandwich and a fruit smoothie while singing along to whatever songs have caught my ear recently. I asked my one roommate that was home if it was annoying and she said she really liked it, she liked hearing me sing and express emotions like that. So when she was off pet sitting for a week and this song was in my ear and I recorded myself singing it and sent it to her. Turns out she very much appreciated that clip and has since replayed it for other people.
I think this song had my ear because of his longing to be laughing at a joke surrounded by all his friends, his somber longing and fear of death.
6. I’m not a good person – Pat the Bunny
This song became my motto for a little while. It honestly felt liberating because I’ve been trying to be a good person for my whole life and I am tired of trying. I just want to be enough (to paraphrase another song by this musician). Big S also took this song on as a motto, citing the lyric:
“I try to keep up with everything I know I should do, but then I fall to pieces anyway.”
Memory: Playing this song at work. I had just told my manager that I was going to send back my warranty parts to a company I was annoyed a but only after covering them in grease. He tried to tell me not to do that, I couldn’t oblige. Instead I covered everything in grease and played this song for him and said, “Sorry [manager’s name] I’m not a good person.”
Also I know this song on Ukulele and love singing it.
7. Ten Things – Paul Baribu
I thought often about this list he asks you to name, and I did my best to write it down. This was one of the few motivators in my life to get me out of bed, to get me to move forward and get up an out. At the time I wasn’t spending any time with anyone outside of work and bumping into roomies at home. My favorite part is:
“Name ten thousand reasons why you never wanna die, go and tell someone who might’ve forgotten”
8. Oh, Right. Damn It. – Sledding with Tigers
I found this song on spotify when I was first playing ukulele and easily learned the chord, got the song stuck in my head and around this time I realized how much I related to this song and how much I hated relating to it. I wanted to be over Clarity and didn’t like the way she treated me. But a part of me heard this and related. And it is one of the less than a dozen songs I know how to play on the ukulele.
9. Goodbye Lulu – Days N Daze
Despite my best efforts to break free from the folk-punk genre I couldn’t escape it, I did for a little bit because of Big S, Helado Negro, and Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers but was quickly brought back by Days N Daze and have been entranced by Pat The Bunny.
10. Never Coming Home (Song for the Guilty) – Ramshackle Glory
I appreciate him saying, “I’ve been smoking too much, because I am no exception.” I constantly think about being no exception when I give advice – wishing I could take my own advice, acknowledging that I am no exception.
I think I sung this song, especially in front of Big S to try and tell everyone that “I’m not here, I never am.” Because especially when I was listening to this song I didn’t feel present I felt lost in thoughts and hurt, constantly in “battle with the… way that I think”.
I sung this song over and over again. I sung this song on the bike trip. I played parts of this song on my ukulele. This song makes me feel so sad and distraught.
I sung this song so much on the bike trip it got to a point that I started making funny alterations on it like, “No room is as dark or stinky as ours is.” a commentary on the constant farting going on in our tent. Big S both laughed and bemoaned my singing this. But I remember my silly song catching their attention and distracting them from their own thoughts they were battling with.
11. We Don’t Get Tired, We Get Even – Pat The Bunny
The song caught my ear because of it’s hopelessness. At first it made me sad thinking that, “And I’d still be on the outside. Of the world we dreamed of building,” which honestly feels true. The first verse is so strong-willed we’re gonna fight even if we don’t sleep. The second part immediately acknowledges that “I can’t sleep anyway” and then confesses that he knows he’ll never belong. I asked Majesty about this and he concurred, that we’ll never belong – it relieved me a little to feel like I wasn’t alone in not belonging, it just feels really lonely out there. I often feel isolated from everyone and feel very little connection to others. Everyone seems to connect to me but I suppose because of my trauma I currently (nor possibly ever) will connect to the vast majority of people I interact with.
Memory: This song first caught my ear when I was biking around on this closed off bike path on duck hollow. If you go to a certain point you can climb on old equipment for loading things onto boats. I sat at the top of this perch (one time even with a hammock) and listened to this song on repeat and felt hopeless.
12. I Hate Chicago – Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers
This song was especially funny to me because Big S lived in Chicago, specifically Bridgeport too! (where Laura’s ex lives). Also my district manager at work moved here from Chicago and I jokingly threatened to play it when he came in for the first time.
I relate to this song because I felt/feel similarly about Philadelphia. I hated Philly so much, I hated every part of it, but I most hated that I went there specifically because my partner, Smiles, wanted to move there (not me). I have felt that same feeling Laura describes when she says, “Oh, when I head north on Lake Shore Drive. I fly and I close my eyes. And I reach the magic point. And I run for magic miles.” When I drove North on the Schuylkill Expressway when I was visiting Pittsburgh in preparation for moving here I left Philly and flicked it off and screamed at Philly. As Laura has realized and as I know, “this is just another divorce song.” That’s how I feel about Philly as well all you philly readers.
13. Some Rotten Man – The Taxpayers
This song makes me hurt. When I sung it I imagined singing it to Clarity, I imagined I was the some rotten man, I was nobody’s savior. It made me feel like I was being stood on, it reminded me of all the things I thought I did wrong and filled me with self-loathing, but at least I was “[her] oldest friend.”
“I know you could’ve done much better
I know I must’ve been a real fucking nightmare
Some rotten man
Your oldest friend.”
14. Screamy Dreamy – Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers
I couldn’t listen to this album at all until I saw her, and let me tell you this is much better live than it is on the album, but it got me listening to the album. I listened to it over and over and over again.
This song caught my ear one sleepless night. I wandered on a wet fall night trying to find out where a path went, trying to make sense of what was going on in my life. I couldn’t stop listening to this song, over and over again. I was super out of my body and I didn’t really know how to come back down so instead I sung this song to myself over and over again hoping I would come down. I cried on the benches surrounding the baseball field on Heth’s playground.
This lullaby felt appropriate because just like lulling yourself to sleep there is no easy way to lull yourself into your body, you need some real patience, patience interrupted by frustration and agitation, or as manifested in this song, drums.
15. Riding For The Feeling – Bill Callahan
Big S played this song for me on the bike trip and they sung the lyrics, “again and again and again and again” to me, which made me smile and blush.
I relate a lot to the distance he is feeling with other people, wishing that someone would say, “who do you think you are?” It just feels very lonely, lonely with people, which is the worst type of lonely, there is nothing more lonesome that feeling alone with people – it is the most lonely you can get, lonely with no antidote.
My memory is one day at work when I stayed late this song came on I literally broke down and started to cry, I feel down on the ground and cried for the whole song, I only stopped because the song that follows it was just too upbeat.
16. Sink, Florida, Sink – Against Me!
I was learning this song on the ukulele when I first started hanging out with Big S, I was obsessed with the song and getting all the nuances of it right. We went biking on our second hang out and I sung this song for them, half way thru I got anxious at what I was doing and I abruptly turned off the path and took a shortcut. That break helped break the connection that I felt myself forming with them and then I finished the song when we rejoined 10 seconds later.
On day 3 of our bike trip I started to feel like I needed a break, like I needed to hurt and feel bad, so we rode alone for a while. I sung this song several times and felt sad. It makes me feel sad and reminds me about how much I miss the littlest one, I hear the lyrics, “Put a distance the size of the ocean, so now this heart can beat a skipping rhythm.” I used to think I took space from them because of shit I needed to do and that it was my fault. I understand the complexity of the situation more now.
I sung this song over and over again and felt sad, I just really missed the littlest one, and couldn’t shake her face out of my head. I cried and then I got off my bike and threw my bike down, I ran up into the hills where the old “coke ovens” were and laid down in the wet undergrowth and cried uncontrollably. Big S stopped and waited for me. When I came back to my bike laying on it’s side I felt so distraught and tried to kick it as I cried, I missed. My bike for a moment became the symbol of my distance and misplaced priorities. I love those kids – I also have very little way of showing them that, that also makes me feel good.