Eclectic Playlist Series, Vol. 1 (December 2013)

Enough with the genre-specific playlists and customized “radio stations” that serve up a steady flow of songs that sound as much as possible like the song previously played.

Eclectic Vol. 1
As recently affirmed in an essay posted elsewhere, I do believe we human beings are rather more interesting, musically, than the internet gives us credit for. Enough with the genre-specific playlists and customized “radio stations” that serve up a steady flow of songs that sound as much as possible like the song previously played. I mean, really? That’s the best we can do?

I for one am tired of it, if only because I grew up musically on playlists—we called them radio shows back then—that thoughtfully mixed music together from different rock’n’roll eras, creating an intriguing and enjoyable flow of songs, whether or not they were all the exact same kind of music. Indeed, the point was that they were not the exact same kind of music. And the larger point, now, many years later, is that we remain just as interesting and unpredictable as human beings as we ever were, and therefore, in theory, just as capable of being entertained and enlightened by eclectic playlists as at least some of us used to be.

This, then, is the kind of playlist I make an effort to construct here.

It’s an elusive art, putting something like this together. I aimed for a bit of live-radio-like spontaneity (“Ooh, after this, I’ll play this!”), while taking obvious advantage of this not happening in real time after all. Some of the songs work next to each other with purposeful effectiveness, others became neighbors serendipitously, but in all cases the list was constructed with the idea of linking decades together rather than segregating them in playlist ghettoes. I also like the idea of mixing together the perhaps less well-known with the probably more familiar—but this can itself be something of a slippery aim when offering a playlist to such a wide-ranging coterie of music fans as those of you who might in fact be reading and listening.

No eclectic mix, in any case, is perfect; while I did my best to keep the music bounding across musical sounds and time periods, I can see after the fact that I have (obviously) left out any number of genres and/or eras, even as I pushed the total number of songs to 20, after originally shooting for something more like 15. But hey, we all learn by doing. This is Volume One. More to follow in the months ahead, in and around the usual free and legal MP3 downloads and reviews.

This playlist was originally created via Spotify but has since been migrated to Mixcloud. Listen via the widget:

“Steady With the Maestro” – The Roches (Keep On Doing, 1982)
“Antiphon” – Midlake (Antiphon, 2013)
“Baby’s On Fire” – Brian Eno (Here Come the Warm Jets, 1974)
“Berimbau” – Nara Leão (Nara Leão, 1968)
“On Being Frank” – Ben Folds Five (The Sound of the Life of the Mind, 2012)
“It Won’t Be Long” – Alison Moyet (Hoodoo, 1991)
“Dance on a Volcano” – Genesis (Trick of the Tail, 1976)
“Run Baby Run” – Garbage (Bleed Like Me, 2005)
“Iceblink Luck” – Cocteau Twins (Heaven or Las Vegas, 1990)
“As You Said” – Cream (Wheels of Fire, 1968)
“The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” – XTC (Skylarking, 1986)
“Love Has Left the Room” – A Camp (Colonia, 2009)
“Make Me Your Baby” – Barbara Lewis (single, 1965)
“America” – Laura Veirs (Warp and Weft, 2013)
“Come and Get Your Love” – Redbone (Wovoka, 1974)
“Motions” – King of Spain (All I Did Was Tell Them the Truth and They Thought It Was Hell, 2012)
“Leave Me Alone” – New Order (Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983)
“Route” – Son Volt (Trace, 1995)
“Man, It’s So Loud In Here” – They Might Be Giants (Mink Car, 2001)
“One Day” – Sharon Van Etten (Epic EP, 2010)

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