My daughter's entire class read The Hunger Games in 8th grade. She was fascinated by the story, and read the other two books in the trilogy on her own. Since that time I have also read the trilogy (just finished it this week, in fact) and my book club has decided to jump head first into the tale of Katniss, headstrong teenage archer who is pitted against other youths in a televised game of survival designed by a cruel government that plays with the lives of its young citizens just to prove that it has the upper hand.
I saw the film as soon as I'd finished the book. Parts of it were cruel; others tender, sad and heartwarming. There was some absolute genius in costume design (mark my words next Spring when the Oscars are handed out, the 'Girl on Fire' dress will be hard to beat). As a teenage rebel who was always skeptical of authority, I connected really well with the storyline about teenagers who rebel against tyranny in their own brilliant way. I was absolutely taken with the character of stylist Cinna as portrayed by supernova rockstar Lenny Kravitz. He had the best line in the entire film when he compassionately said, "I'm sorry that this happened to you. And I'm here to help you in any way that I can."
Lenny Kravitz and one of his most amazing songs "Stand" was already supposed to be featured in today's playlist (although it's not available on Grooveshark, so you'll need to watch the YouTube video to enjoy it), because it's one of my new favorite songs since the last time I did a favorite songs playlist. Stand is about standing up for something you believe in. It's what the son of a friend did recently, and I salute him.
My friend's son, we'll call him "Peeta", is a 5th grader. And this week he had an interesting case of life imitating art. Peeta and his classmates came up with a new game that they've been enjoying at school recently. It's a variation of Tag, only they like to call it Hunger Games. All the kids start out at the 'cornucopia' (a big tree in the middle of the playground) and run off. Just like the story goes, the kids have alliances. And sponsors! (I wonder if they've come up with little silver parachutes to send in supplies!) There's no violence, no hitting or kicking, but if you get tagged, you're...well, you're dead. Out of the game. Done for the day. And that's the game. Exactly how we played War when I was a kid, or Cowboys & Indians. Some of my favorite 5th grade moments revolve around our neighborhood game of War, hiding in the bushes, strategizing.
The school administrator, whom we'll call "Principal Snow," wasn't so happy about this new game There's probably already some kind of school policy in place against games involving chasing or touching. And I'm sure it was a bit alarming that kids were imitating a fictional game where kids fight to their deaths. For whatever reason, Principal Snow decided that the Hunger Games were not appropriate and called a halt to it. But that didn't sit well with the youngsters from this district. The 5th graders started a petition, collected over 100 signatures, and marched into the office to demand the right to play their game! It didn't work. Principal Snow upheld the ban, but I have got to believe that at the end of the day Principal Snow probably had a little chuckle reflecting on this group of creative kids who came up with an elaborate schoolyard game and then questioned authority in the right way. That's something to be proud of. My friend said her son was so passionate about it, and in a state of disbelief that their efforts went in vain. He said to his mom, "We were standing up for what we believe in! We weren't afraid! Well, I was a little afraid that I would get a referral but...isn't that what we are supposed to do?"
Well, yes, Peeta. Yes, you are. You are supposed to stand up for the things you believe in. You are starting to learn right now (a little bit before the rest of the world is really ready for you to learn) that when someone in a position of authority makes a decision that you don't agree with, that you shouldn't be afraid to speak up and find a way to respectfully state your case, make your point, and hope that it's rational enough to deserve some merit and consideration. That's not always going to be the case, of course. In this case the decision went against you. You don't win every battle you fight, my friend told her son, and she said you have to obey the rules and respect the decision of Principal Snow (at least on the school grounds), but you don't have to agree with it. But you're learning how to respectfully disagree, and that's going to be a very useful tool in the future.
So here's to you, Peeta. My rebel heart goes out to you. I'm proud of you for having the courage to stand. And Lenny Kravitz, he'd be proud of you too. In fact, he's here to help you in any way that he can. Perhaps with a little moral support in the form of his song, "Stand." I dedicate today's Mistress of the Mix to you.
As I put together this week's playlist, I'm sitting in the beauty salon, in my stylist's chair, laptop in the exact place it was named after, going through song after song in my iTunes. Leslie's used to it. She's had my hair in her hands for ten years now, she knows me. Some years ago, when my marriage ended, I used to joke that I'd left my husband (a barber) for my stylist. It wasn't a very good joke, but it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows when I said that she did things for me that he never would (like color and waxing).
Anyway, when I sat down and pulled my Mac out, I had no idea what I was going to do for my playlist. I told her as much, and then started tossing out ideas and playing snippets of songs that went along with some of the ideas. Eventually she just turned off the shop stereo so that I could DJ our morning from the chair, and I got carried away, playing some of my new favorite songs. And then I remembered way back in the dark ages (last August), when I put together a list of all my favorite songs so far that year. I ended up with 23 of them, even with my stringent set of ground rules which were as follows:
I figured that by now, 8 months later, I probably have almost that many songs that have made their way into my radar since that point, so I started going through my iTunes and sure enough, I've got another 23 new songs to share with you this week, all favorites, all added since the date of my last Favorite Songs playlist. . This time there's one exception (again), although it's actually more of a correction. When I wrote my "Favorite Songs of Every Other Week" column, I somehow left one of the songs on my list out of my actual streaming playlist, so I've corrected that now. So in reality, here's 22 new songs and one you didn't get to hear from the last list of 23.
Remember, there are a few older tunes in today's playlist, but they're allowed because they're perennial favorites of mine that somehow didn't make it onto my iPod until sometime since last August, so technically they're allowed. I hope you enjoy them, and in the meantime, help me find some new favorites by listening one or two of your favorite tunes of the last 6 months or so, new or not, in the comments section. Who knows? Your favorite song may be my next favorite song!
- Cas Haley - Release Me This amazing singer was the runner-up on America's Got Talent a few years ago. One of the things I love about him is that you'd be hard pressed to match up a photo of this big blonde Texan with his reggae soaked vocal chords.
- Andy Grammer - Love Love Love Andy made it on to my first Favorite Songs playlist, and whattaya know, here he is again. His music is so upbeat and singalongable!
- FloRida - Good Feeling Here's one that's become a family roadtrip sing-a-long favorite. (And on a personal inside joke sidenote to Sophia: Sometimes I have a good feeling. Yeah.)
- Coldplay - X & Y Coldplay is still one of our favorite Sunday morning makin' pancakes music, even if we're making oatmeal.
- Coldplay - Fix You
- Bob Schneider - Getting Better Bob is an icon in Austin, Texas, and has written some of my favorite songs of all time (Hey, I smell another playlist cookin'). He's a brilliant songwriter, who has a knack for weaving together words in the kookiest way! Like this:"Well I'm driving downtown in my big red Cadillac. Sippin' on iced wine and mixing it with Similac."This one is also a shout out to my great friend Beth Doolittle. I am so jealous that she has seem him play so many times that they are now having silly arguments over where the best place is for him to stand so she can get his best side when she takes photos of him. And the photo of him above? Yes, she took it. Beth, you rock!
- Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Come Undone I was introduced to this duo on JPR's Open Air and fell in love with the rich quality of Lanegan's voice.
- Michael Franti - Love Me Unique There always seems to be at least one Franti song in my current personal Top Ten.
- Michael Franti - Come & Mess With Me And occasionally, there's two!
- The Dirty Heads - Lay Me Down I first heard this song while having a picnic on the beach in Brookings, Oregon, watching surfers on a strangely warm January day, and every time I hear this song it takes me right back there to that lovely moment.
- Ursula 1000 - Arrastao
- Imelda May - Mayhem
- Band of Skulls - I Know What I Am This is the exception. I added this song in early August to my iTunes and included it in my first Favorite Songs playlist, but completely failed to include in the actual streaming playlist. I'm making up for it now. It's got some strangely great lyrics, like "Hotel, Taco Bell. I got the hit that you know damn well...."
- Lenny Kravitz - Stand This one's for Peeta. My rebel heart goes out to you. You stood up for something, and even if you didn't win the battle, you won the war.
- Gym Class Heroes with Adam Levine - Stereo Hearts
- Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger It's almost embarrassing how many songs with Adam Levine have made their way onto my playlists. I suppose it's time to admit that I've got a thing for Adam Levine. And no, I never miss an episode of The Voice.
- Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks
- Bruno Mars - Don't Give Up This sweet little ditty is so optimistic, so adorable, and it's from Sesame Street! It's a great theme song.
- The Anatomy of Frank - Saturday Morning Here's a band that's actually played in Redding over the past year, only I missed it. Thanks to Cascade Theatre manager Jeff Darling for introducing me to their music, to one of my bff's Judy Tofflemire for not missing their performance and bringing me their cd, and to Janis Logan for bringing them to Vintage Wine Bar. Thanks to all 3 of you, this made my 2nd Favorite Songs of Every Other Week playlist!
- Gotye featuring Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know I first heard this song in a hotel room in Bend. The whole family went wild for it, absolutely mesmerized by Australian-Belgian singer Gotye's voice.
- G. Love - Front Porch Lounger This last song was such a happy surprise to be able to include! Way back in 2008, Janis Logan (two shouts out to Janis this week!) gave me G. Love's album, The Hustle. I thought I'd added the whole disc to my iTunes library, but only recently realized that I had somehow left off a few of the songs. I remedied my error last Saturday, and then spent about 6 hours on Sunday getting familiar with the incredible song stylings of this Philly born boy.
- Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody Can you believe I somehow failed to put this song onto my iPod until just a few months ago? Quelle tragedie!
- Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit I know, I know. I'm actually embarrassed that I didn't have this rock anthem either until recently. I'll get over it.