The “I’m listening to…” project update and Friday Top Ten

A few weeks back I started a collaborative Spotify playlist that I dubbed the I’m listening to project and invited everyone to either make their own contributions or to send me songs or suggestions about what to add. The idea was to make an evolving and diverse playlist of music both old and new that represented divergent tastes and preferences that would push anyone who listened out of their comfort zone and introduce them to some great music they may not otherwise have heard.

To date the playlist has had 12 contributors and has grown to 89 tracks, with everything from The Melvins to The Beastie Boys to (gulp), Florida Georgia Line – ok, I’ll admit, that one tested my commitment to diversity and open source playlist, but it’s all good!

Anyway, I plan on keeping the playlist open and using it as my new music (or sometimes, old music rediscovered) repository, and I invite you to do the same. Those of you who have already contributed, keep adding or sending me your ideas. If you haven’t yet, feel free to join us. If you’re a Spotify user and want to contribute directly, simply follow the playlist and then you are free to add songs at will. Don’t worry about if you think I will or won’t like something (you’d be surprised), I’m just looking for the songs that YOU are listening to while dancing/falling asleep/exercising/causing shenanigans.

I’m starting a new weekly tradition, due to popular demand (and by popular demand I mean I felt like doing it and think it’s fun), the Friday Top 10, where I pick an artist, theme, era or any tenuous thread I can think of as an excuse to make a playlist. Paying homage to the blog namesake today and giving you my Top 10 REM tracks, counting down in reverse order. Narrowing this to just 10 is the hardest task I can set myself, so I’m setting the bar high. (SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY): Nothing from Around the makes this list.

Wendell Gee – Fables of the Deconstruction: I’m likely the only person alive who has this one in their Top 10 REM songs, but I love it unabashedly and wholeheartedly. A wonderfully weird piece of Gothic Southern poetry with a wicked little banjo solo to cap it all off. (ugh, ending a sentence with a preposition – the Furman English department just felt a collective chill run down their spines).

Letter Never Sent – Live at the Olympia: More than just about any other song, this one highlights Mike Mills invaluable contributions to the band with the cool walking baseline and some pretty transcendent backing vocals that lift off at the 1:13 mark. Originally on Reckoning, I’m a big fan of this version on the Live at the Olympia record.

Sitting Still – Murmur: Epitomizes everything great about Murmur and early REM: the “lead” bass, arpeggio guitar, and vocals blending into the mix.

E-Bow the Letter – New Adventures in Hi-Fi: Favorite track from favorite REM album. Plus, Patty Freaking Smith.

Begin the Begin – Life’s Rich Pageant: Defy you listen to this and not move.

Find the River – Automatic for the People: Michael’s crowning lyrical achievement. Likely the only pop song ever to name check coriander stem.

So. Central Rain – Reckoning: Even my mom recognizes the “I’m Sorry” song. My favorite Bill Berry drumming in this one.

Radio Free Europe: I’ll take the original single version you find on Eponymous every day of the week, though the one that made it Murmur is pretty awesome in it’s own right.

You Are the Everything – Green: The imagery in this song still makes the hair on my arms stand up every time I hear it. Best played late at night when you are straddling the borderline between sleep and consciousness.

Shaking Through – Murmur: My favorite song the first time I heard it 30 (!) years ago and time hasn’t changed a thing. Listen to the remastered anniversary edition to get the full richness of the piano and backing vocals.

Whew. That was exhausting. Apologies to the 30 or amazing songs that I considered and had to leave off the list. That final list of available on Spotify for your listening pleasure.

Now, a challenge for you. Give me a topic, artist, etc and I’ll do my best to make a Top 10 playlist for it and feature in a Friday Top 10. The more obscure the better. The only one I outright refuse to do is Top 10 songs by artists with $ in their name though, so be warned.



Posted on August 2, 2013, in Music and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. So my boys heard “Girls” by Beastie Boys, and thought it was hilarious. How @ top 10 songs to introduce to offspring? To prove that maybe Mom (and/or Dad) are hip? 🙂

  2. hey, what happened to no judgement?! I purposely submitted the Fla/Ga line song, because I thought you needed some less highbrow music in there! It reminds me of when I went to visit Elaine R. in college and she of the depressing music was listening to top 40, happily! We were so proud of her to come to our side. 🙂

    Love this idea and will try to add Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” because I’ve introduced it to my kids after seeing Turbo. I will continue to try to keep your list balanced with the lowbrow but will abide by your no $ in the name rule. Luckily, there is no Britney $pears!

    • I was actually fairly proud on the restrain that I showed. I’m trying to go through the music snob anonymous steps and hopefully its working. In the past, I have been known to throw tapes of out the car window if something that I didn’t like was on. Other people’s tapes. In other people’s cars. And yes, I was a bit of a jackass at times.

      Nice, big fan of It’s Tricky.

      • Good to know! Thanks for the restraint . Hoping I don’t get kicked out of the list/off the island. You never know what a Fla/Ga line fan will do when she gets riled up! 🙂

  3. Ah the REM memories. I think 90% of our relationship in HS was talking REM with Chris Campbell. Chris and I would road trip to Athens just to find archaic references from their lyrics…that is HS Geekdom at it’s all time best. I think I dig your top 10 list, especially since Find the River is the -only- thing from Automatic that would crack my top 10. I normally don’t belt out singing even when by myself, but you can bet I’m crooning w/ Michael every time I hear that track. So Central Rain would probably be my #1. Driver 8 is the one glaring missing track, and I am fond of that mostly because it’s one of the few songs I can rock on acoustic and it sounds close to the original (I’m not very good 🙂 ). Anyway, thanks for sharing this. I’ve already “followed” it on Spotify. I’ll come up with some good Top 10 ideas today.

    • I think Driver 8 is the song everyone tried to learn on guitar. I’m cursed with a useless left hand, so I never even made it past the first chord change. It was most definitely on the list to be considered, but sadly didn’t make the final cut.

      I used to take an inordinate amount of pride in being able to sing It’s the End of the World at karaoke without referring to the lyrics on screen (they were usually wrong anyway), but I doubt I could do it these days.

  4. Oh two other comments that I can’t let pass….Wendell Gee (“Whistle as the wind blooooooowwwwwssssss….”). I’m belting that out as well. And secondly, to confirm my geekdom, in HS (this was before the Internet of course) we had a spiral bound notebook, with one page per song, where we would write out our best stabs at Stipe’s lyrics. They weren’t big on printing out liner notes in their cassettes (yes, all my original REM purchases were cassettes, which then had to be replaced album by album by CD’s as they came out). I don’t think I was ever heavier into a bad, and it probably wasn’t a healthy obsession.

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