Recently, a visiting friend took two entire pages of notes while we goofed off in the kitchen over martinis and a blaring iPod. Every couple of songs she'd exclaim, "I love this! Who sings it?!" Then she'd grab her pen, furiously writing. She said, "You know so much about cool, obscure music. You really should share this with people."
Well, that is what they pay me to do. As the host of Jefferson Public Radio's daily classical music program Siskiyou Music Hall, I get to share music with thousands of people every day. (I admit, I've got the best job on the planet). But it's certainly not the kind of music you'd find me listening to at home or in the car. That's something else entirely. I may dedicate four hours of my day to classical, but in high school, I was in a punk-new-wave-reggae-surf-hillbilly band. My first radio gig was a late night jazz program, and I even did a country/western show in Alaska for years. So I really do appreciate music of all genres. I also love putting together the perfect music mix for any occasion. It's ridiculous how much satisfaction I get from an attaboy for putting together a playlist, whether it's for a friend's wedding, a cd party favor for a fundraising dinner, or Sunday brunch with the folks. You've got an occasion that needs a soundtrack? I'm your gal. I am your bartender of music...the Mistress of the Mix, at your service.
But where to start? I sat around all Saturday morning in my kitchen pondering how to kick this thing off. Then I remembered (fuzzily) a moment from a few years back.
Back in 2006, I spent a warm Spring evening with my friend Judy and blogger Marc Beauchamp tooling around town checking out a handful of hole-in-the-wall joints (I 'm pretty sure he said it was for research). We cruised from one dive to the next, starting from the now defunct Clover Club and ending, I think, at The Tropics. I'd just recently purchased my first iPod, which we blasted through the car speakers, thanks to a sweet little attachment that allowed me to broadcast wirelessly through his FM radio. I created a cruising playlist on the spot, full of fun tunes neither of them had ever heard before. I considered it a high compliment when a few days later Marc suggested on his blog that I be tapped by Turtle Bay to come up with a playlist of appropriate, eclectic tunes to be broadcast over the speaker system on the Sundial Bridge to enhance the experience of strolling across the Sacramento River. He specifically requested a Viennese waltz. Nobody official ever asked me, but it's an honor just to be nominated, right?
I revisited that long-ago blog entry, and noticed that it was made five years ago to the day that this little column makes its debut. That's when I realized I had to give it a shot. I had to at least try to attempt to create the perfect riverwalk mixtape. It may not ever make it onto the loudspeakers for the whole world to hear, but you can always download the playlist for your own private musical soundtrack for an excursion to the Sundial Bridge, or stream it instead.
- Download the iMix from iTunes (it'll cost a few bucks, but you can pick and choose your tracks.
- Stream the playlist on Grooveshark (and it's totally free, although it's not perfect, because it couldn't find the last very cool song on my playlist.)
- Johann Strauss, Jr - Blue Danube First things first. After all, it was a request.
- Air - La Femme d'argent I love Chillout music, and I love all things French, so this was a natural.
- Spyro Gyra - The River Between The first track I ever played on the radio was a Spyro Gyra tune.
- Zero 7 - Destiny featuring the delicious voice of Aussie sensation Sia, who happens to be Colin Hay's niece.
- Sergio Mendes featuring Ledisi - Waters of March I really love it in the original Portuguese (Aguas de Marco), but it's harder to sing along to. Unless you're Astrud Gilberto.
- UB40 - Many Rivers To Cross Jimmy Cliff did it first, but Ali Campbell did it with a gospel choir.
- Pete Doherty & Wolfman - For Lovers The Sundial Bridge is definitely for lovers.
- Sergio Mendes & will.i.am - Agua de Beber I grew up on Brazil 66, my daughter grew up on the Black Eyed Peas. We're ~ahem~ bridging the Generation Gap with this one.
- Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water The quintessential bridge song.
- k.d. lang - Water's Edge Think she'll play this July 29th at the Cascade Theatre?
- Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place Because wherever you go, there you are.
- George Frederic Handel - Water Music Suite in G major Imagine this being performed by an orchestra on a barge, floating down the River Thames. That's how it happened in 1717. Rumor has it that King George asked them to play it 3 times over.
- Balanco - Intrigo a Francoforte - This song can't decide whether it's classical or a bossa nova, and I love that.
Maybe you've got some great songs to suggest to add to the list. Here's a few more tunes which (for various reasons stated) didn't make the cut, but are worth an honorable mention:
Little River Band - Cool Change They sing about water, and River is their middle name.
Michael Buble - Cry Me A River It's good, it is. But if someone was thinking about jumping off a bridge... well, I don't want that on my shoulders.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge And if Buble didn't do the job, this one could push someone over the edge.
Chris Isaak & Stevie Nicks - Red River Valley Chris Isaak is also playing at the Cascade in July! But one shameless self-promotion is enough. But you can get more info about the show here. Just sayin'.
Sara Bareilles - River Here's one to add during the winter holidays. Joni Mitchell did it first, but Sara hails from Humboldt County, so she's got the hometown advantage.
The Beautiful Girls - Water you like Jack Johnson? Then you should like this Australian band.
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back It just didn't fit with the groove. But he does say "Take 'em to the bridge," which definitely makes this one a runner up.