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A mix tape - Music for Michelle, vol. 1

When Michelle and I were first dating, I made her a few mixtapes [1]. Neither of us remember exactly what were on those tapes and they are likely long gone [2]. This tape and its successors will not match what was on those tapes. However, it provides the same general model and there is likely some overlap.

I tended to vary genres and tempos on the mixtapes for Michelle. There was little punk or hard rock, since those are genres she doesn’t like as much. That means the focus tended to be on softer or folkier music.

  1. I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles. I know that the Beatles’ music got much more sophisticated over the year. But I love the pure joy in this song. I also sang it to Eldest when he was first born.

  2. Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) by Van Morrison. Another song with pure joy. Van Morrison covers a lot of styles; this is him in large-band mode embracing soul and pop.

  3. Papa Was a Rolling Stone by the Temptations. I know, I should have followed the previous song with a Jackie Wilson song. But that’s too obvious. This has always been one of my favorite Tempts songs, perhaps because my father died young [3].

  4. Father and Son by Cat Stevens. Michelle remembers that I included this on one of the early mixtapes. As long as we’re on the theme of families, this seems like a good addition. It’s also a much better father and son song than Cat’s in the cradle.

  5. Not Yet Three by Jonathan Richman. We continue the theme of family songs. Like Morrison, Richman embraces a wide variety of styles. This song feels a bit like kids music, but it’s fun and sophisticated, too.

  6. Testimony by Ferron. Time for an abrupt switch. I’m not sure why this ended up here, but it just felt right. Ferron is a Canadian singer-songwriter who I learned about from Jon Strymish. This song is one of my favorites, but I like many things she’s done.

  7. Love Train by the O’Jays. Time to kick things up a bit.

  8. Train in Vain by the Clash. As long as we’re on the theme of trains, let’s go with a Clash song that has Train in the title. Not as hard as early Clash, and hidden at the end of London Calling, this is a great dance number.

  9. Sitting in Limbo by Jimmy Cliff. The Clash were clearly influenced by Reggae. This song, from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come, slows things down a bit and, in some ways, echoes Otis’s Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.

  10. Anchorage by Michelle Shocked. Limbo, Alaska. There’s essentially the same. A great song about friendship.

  11. Iowa by Dar Williams Another place-based song about friendship. The students on campus who sing it say that the lyrics are confusing, at best, but I find them poetical. Hearing her sing it in Harris was amazing.

  12. Ain’t Life a Brook by Bill Morrissey and Greg Brown. As long as we’re thinking about friendship, it’s worthwhile visiting a pair of friends, singing a song by Ferron (see #6 above). The legendary Jon Strymish convinced me to see them when I lived in Vermont. Brown is an Iowa Singer-Songwriter, and I still haven’t managed to see him here.

  13. The Last Time I Saw Annie by David Mallett. As long as we’re in New England, we should hear one of my favorite Maine singer-songwriters. His Pennsylvania Sunrise, of which this is the opening number, lived on my mother’s turntable for months.

  14. Carry Me, Carrie by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Mixtapes for Michelle need something from Dr. Hook. This song is one of their more polite ones, and I love the sound of their voices herein. I’m also continuing the theme of songs about women whose names end with ie.

  15. Border Radio by Dave Alvin. Dave tones down the power of the Blasters and makes a strong lament for love lost. This seems to be an apt followup to the prior two.

  16. West Texas Waltz by Joe Ely. We’re nearing the end and it’s time to liven things up for a moment. Written by Butch Hancock, one of the great Texas songwriters, this song provides a contrast to Alvin’s sadness.

  17. Rock and Roll Lullaby by B. J. Thomas. When the dancing is done, it’s time to start putting the kids to bed. What better way than with this classic by B. J. Thomas [5]? It also feels like this might be the song that Dave Alvin’s protagonist sings to her kids, if she has any.

  18. You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. We conclude with the Rebelsky family theme song.

[1] On cassette.

[2] I may not throw anything out, but Michelle does.

[3] But no, he was not a rolling stone [4].

[4] Nor was he a Rolling Stone.

[5] Whoops, I seem to be slipping into annoying DJ mode.

Version 1.0 of 2017-07-16.