Saturday, January 08, 2005

Life Swap CD

Lauren at Feministe set up a CD exchange. It was supposed to be a mix-CD-as-autobiography thing. I'm not much of a lyrics person, so this was a difficult assignment. Here's what I came up with:

Runaround by the Undertones: I got this album my freshman year of college and immediately decided that this was my theme song. What that means depends on whether you listen to the lyrics, which would suggest low self-esteem, or the music, which would suggest sheer, blissed-out exuberance.

Thirteen by Big Star: Thirteen was actually a pretty miserable year for me, and this song doesn't really capture the craziness and awfulness of that little bit of my life. But it does, I think, speak to some of the awkwardness of early adolescence: things like discovering sexuality and dealing with clueless parents. And it's a lovely song.

Pink Bullets by the Shins: blah, blah, blah, romantic angst, blah, blah.

Roadrunner by Modern Lovers: in high school, I spent a lot of time driving around in friends' cars, listening to the radio. Hence this song.

Meadowlands by Nancy Jacobs and Her Sisters: I got involved in the anti-apartheid movement when I was really young. I think it was sixth grade, which would have made me 11. Years later, I read an article that suggested that anti-apartheid activists had all sorts of sinister motives for seeking the participation of elementary school kids like me, and I think the article might have been right. And you could argue that by protesting apartheid, I was concentrating on distant evils instead of thinking about the pretty glaring inequities from which I benefited. But for me, anti-apartheid activism was really important: it made me feel responsible for the world in which I lived; it made me feel like I was part of a global movement to fight inequality. This song, I think, captures some of that ambiguity. Meadowlands was an area in Soweto to which black South Africans were forced to move after they were kicked out of their homes in Johannesburg. The lyrics of Nancy Jacobs' song seem to support the forced relocation program, which is why it got past the government censors. But South Africans quickly decided the lyrics were ironic and adopted the song as a protest anthem. Did Nancy Jacobs intend it that way? Does it matter? At any rate, it's also a testament to people's ingenuity in the face of oppression and censorship. And that's probably not a bad thing to remember, considering the state of the world right now.

Satellites by the Doves: the lyrics to this one are a bit melodramatic, and really, my life is not as bad as all that. ("All I've known is sadness..."? Not really.) But I've had a pretty tough year, and I suppose I relate to the "hold on" bit.

Drowned Lovers by Kate Rusby: this one is autobiographical. Ok, it's not. But there's something very appealing about a cheerful, upbeat, major-key song about tragic death.

Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch: it occurred to me after I made the mix that this might actually be a Christian thing ("in your love my salvation lies"), which would be singularly inappropriate. But that's not how I read it. I think it's about being redeemed by your connections to other people.

Me and Mia by Ted Leo: I listened to this song about a zillion times before I realized that it's explicitly about eating disorders. It's a little weird that a 30-something guy wrote the song that best sums up my late teens, when I realized that if I wanted to do anything with my life, I was going to have to gather up all the energy and willpower that I'd spent starving myself and redirect it towards the goal of becoming something more than my diet. "What's eating you alive/ might help you to survive" is exactly right.

Snakes/Mna na hEireann by Susan McKeown: when I lived in New York, I used to go see Susan McKeown at Fez all the time. This song reminds me of that heady post-college time, and also of the friends I hung out with then, who are now scattered all over the world. This isn't Susan McKeown's best song, but it does refer to two of my pet obsessions, Ireland and feminism, so it went on the CD.

The Gulf of Araby by Katell Keineg: I take this song to be about living in an imperfect world and realizing that you can never make it perfect. It's a downer, but it's beautiful.

Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks: I really was in a strange mood when I made this mix, wasn't I? And here we have another song about being happy in the face of loneliness and misery.

Pass in Time by Beth Orton: I've been thinking a lot about mortality: my own and that of the people I love. I suppose this song's message is kind of trite ("you might as well smile/ because tomorrow you just don't know..."), but whatever gets you through, I guess.

I really like Beth Orton and the Undertones. Okay, "love."

Glad you enjoyed the swap!
Way cool - This was made for moi. I LOVE it. Thanks very much. :-)
Glad you liked it, Jane. Yours was great, too, and introduced me to some new artists. I think we have sort of similar musical taste.
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