“I don’t know…[LA’s] not what I expected. It’s where they’ve taken the desert and turned it into their dreams…I think it’s also a place of secrets: Secret houses, lives, pleasures…And no one is looking for verification that what they are doing is ok…” – Sara (Steve Martin), LA Story
Hello…and – whew – tgif.
Here – I made us a mix tape, a playlist to accompany your weekend.
Actually, I put it together as a “soundtrack” for my article appearing
in this week’s Anchorage Press. (You can read “L.A. is for Love Affair” here.)
Many of these songs have played through my earbuds in the City of Angels while I’ve drifted the beach and/or streets. Others are songs I blared through the stereo speakers as I wrote the piece in my apartment in Anchorage. This, in fact – advance apologies – explains my self-referential track in the playlist, “Joan Didion,” track three from 2014’s Hope, Alaska album.
Throwing “Joan Didion” into my mix at home was an effort to neutralize a number of mounting frustrations and challenges that I wrestled with while writing this piece. When I felt tangled or couldn’t figure out how to proceed in the writing, I would grab Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The White Album and thumb through them to try to find a light, a way in or through. When the song popped up in my playlist, it was like that “Mindfulness Bell” app a friend of mine uses. I’d reach for Slouching and take a breather.
That’s my disclaimer for throwing my own song in the mix. I also learned by accident that I LOVE how ElVy’s “Happiness, Missouri” follows my tune. Try it out. That was fun to discover.
Under the playlist below are choice snippets of lyrics from different songs in the playlist that leapt out at me, stopped me in my tracks, or that perfectly encapsulated different moments in any of my trips to LA this year. My life also went through a significant transition immediately following my most recent trip, and that informed some of the songs that I played in the apartment the weekend I wrote the piece.
Finally: Enjoy. That’s what mix tapes & playlists are for. When friends used to slip me mix tapes a million years ago in the 80’s and 90’s it was blanket permission to slow down and settle in. Lean close to the sound and listen.
Or go for a drive. I made this for us. Go somewhere you can drive with the windows down. Admire the view, smog or no smog. Mountains or highway. Ocean or creekside.
Wear your sunglasses.
P.S. Other songs that I didn’t include below, but worth checking out: The Decemberists’ “Los Angeles, I’m Yours,” Israel Nash’s “Have You Seen L.A. Lately?” & Kurt Vile’s “Wakin’ On a Pretty Day,” among many others…
Lines for Sleepless Wandering
…there ain’t a language for the things i feel…
…i don’t feel it till it hurts sometimes…
– Lord Huron
…i used to think someone would love me, for the places i have been
and the dirt i have been gathering, deep beneath my nails…
looking back at me…
– Beach House
a worried man with a worried mind…
…this place ain’t doing me no good…
…been trying to get as far away from myself as I can…
people are crazy and times are strange
i’m locked in tight, i’m out of range
i used to care, but things have changed…
– Bob Dylan
…and i cried a little
i got fried a little
then she laid her eyes on mine
and she said, “babe, you’re better off”…
– The National
…so much time gets lost in my mind…
...i’ve been out walking, don’t do too much talking…
– Beth Orton
i’ve just been up here for goddam years
filling up holes with goddam fears…
– Bon Iver
gonna take a trip
…at a crossroads with myself…
– Band of Horses
…lonely as a memory
despite the gathering round the fire.
aren’t you every bird on every wire?
– Lisa Hannigan
…i smashed a camera
i wanna know why
to my eye, deciding
which lies have i been hiding
which echoes belong
i’m counting on
a heart i know by heart
to walk me through this war
where memories distort
phone my family
tell ’em I’m lost on the sidewalk
and no it’s not okay…
people are nice
they go easy on ice
but I’m on the sun today
you could be my silver springs
blue green colors flashin’…
– Fleetwood Mac
…broke in two in the heat of her hand…
never leave your mother’s womb
unless you wanna see how hard a broken heart can swoon…
give me one last dance
we’ll slide down the surface of things
i was sleepy but you held me through
carried me along the sand your footsteps gold and good
closer, i’m here to be closer
– FKA twigs
…i don’t want to talk, i only want to listen…
humming a sad song when i’m alone
but you gotta be alone to figure things out sometimes…
– kurt vile