Tag Archives: Playlist

Mood Music for Your Weekend

I logged on to Facebook this morning and everyone is posting hallelujahs to it being Friday—as if they didn’t just have a four day weekend. Oh well, I guess that can make the next week feel longer. In celebration of Friday and the coming weekend, here’s a few musical selections to help get you in the mood for fun—that is, a playlist for play.

There are two artists that come instantly to mind for uplifting sweet-sounding music: classic rock band Triumph and Celtic/pop band Great Big Sea. The message of both of these bands is overwhelmingly positive—and just good fun. (And hey, they’re both from Canada—coincidence? You tell me.)

Triumph was best-known in the late 70s and early 80s for their brand of melodic hard rock. The first track for the weekend playlist should be “Hold On,” which starts with a good explanation of the power of music:

Music holds the secret,
To know it can make you whole
It’s not just a game of notes,
It’s the sounds inside your soul

However, as exciting as that song is, Triumph’s “Magic Power” has got to be one of the best songs of all time. No matter what your age, when you listen to this song, you are “young, wild, and free.”

Next it’s time to turn to Great Big Sea. These boys from Newfoundland have been out on the road this year celebrating their twentieth anniversary of singing the folk songs and traditional music of their native land, infused with infectious pop melodies. If you really want a pick-me-up, go see them live! If they’re not in your area, the music will suffice.

“Good People” from GBS’s Safe Upon the Shore CD wasn’t initially one of my favorites, but with it’s simple yet necessary message and with seeing it played live several times, it has definitely grown on me over time.

One of my favorite GBS tunes is one of their earliest. To me, “Goin Up” explains what this band is all about. You know how it is when you plan to have a gathering of people at your house, and you spend lots of time cleaning and making sure you’ve got enough seating in the living room, but a half hour in, everyone’s standing around informally in the kitchen? Yeah, it’s like that. A kitchen party.

There’s thirty people in the kitchen
And there’s always room for more

And as long as you’re going up with Great Big Sea, you can’t miss “Ordinary Day,” which is their song that reminds us to believe in ourselves:

It’s up to you now if you sink or swim,
Keep the faith and your ship will come in.

Of course, no weekend playlist would be complete without a little Queen. To get you back in a rockin’ mood, how about a little “Fat Bottomed Girls”—cause they make the rockin’ world go round.

And to finish, another Queen track that perhaps many people won’t know, but one that’s appropriate for looking forward to a great weekend:

Obviously this isn’t enough music to get you through the weekend, but you could do a lot worse than exploring additional tracks from the three artists featured here. And perhaps I’ll feature more of my weekend favorites another time. Of course, your tastes might vary, in which case I’m not sure I can help you. I hope these selections help you enjoy your weekend, whether you’re out in the garden, playing sports, having a kitchen party, or just enjoying the beautiful day.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins


Weirdsville: A Playlist for Revenge

This is a story of musical revenge. It’s also the story of how music creates a story. Read on.

In the early 2000s, I worked for Borders, the now-defunct bookstore chain. In the early morning, usually two or three hours before store opening, we would have shifts reserved for stocking. During these times, employees could play whatever music they chose on the overhead sound system all throughout the store, including burned playlists brought from home.

Let’s just say some of my coworkers’ musical choices were, in my opinion, not suitable for public performance and much better left in private. When a song requires a separate version to be safe for radio play, I’d say there’s something lacking in artistic integrity—and it was those non-radio-friendly tracks that frequently polluted the morning air. As someone who lives and breathes music, being forced to listen to such garbage was offensive to my ears. And it seemed to go on for months (although it probably didn’t really).

The morning’s musical choice was decided basically by whoever was there first and chose to put something on. Eventually, I came up with my own burned CD playlist to add to the mix, and since I was almost always there first, I was thereafter able to subject my coworkers to my own brand of musical hell—which to me was quite pleasant.

Weirdsville '06: Freshly Squeezed

Weirdsville ’06: Freshly Squeezed

That first mix I made contained some real gems. It featured the Beatles’ infamous “Revolution 9” (even though I’m not really a Beatles fan). I included “The Waiting Room” from the Genesis story album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway—a bizarre five-and-a-half minute track mostly made up of weird sound effects (it makes perfect sense in context, trust me, but frankly doesn’t stand alone very well). I had a Queen song from the Queen II CD, a bonus track called “See What a Fool I’ve Been,” which is probably the gayest song Freddie and the boys ever recorded.

For variety, I included some favorite Disney tunes, “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” from The Aristocats, “Trashing the Camp” from Tarzan, and the Hawaiian language “He Mele No Lilo” from Lilo & Stitch. To satisfy my Celtic/folk side, I included Fairport Convention’s “The Eynsham Poacher.” Of course, there was more Queen, some Jethro Tull, Sting, Elton John—all the weirdest stuff I could find from my favorite artists.

The resulting CD playlist was massively eclectic, and generally unlistenable. Nonetheless, it was listened to every morning I worked the early shift at Borders for quite a long time. And yes, it was always rather satisfying when someone would ask, “What are we listening to?” And I could answer, “That’s the Beatles. Haven’t you ever heard this before?”

That playlist, which I titled Weirdsville, created back in 2004, started a tradition. Since that time, I’ve created a new weird playlist at the start of each year. I learned from that first attempt how not to construct a playlist, so in succeeding years the resulting CDs have generally been much more harmonious while still including a generous helping of the weird.

Weirdsville '08: Blue Skies

Weirdsville ’08: Blue Skies

Each time I create a new weird playlist, I also design a CD cover that goes with the music. Basically it’s just a fun exercise to take advantage of some of the design and layout skills I’ve learned over the years working in publishing and gives me the chance to practice with Photoshop and InDesign. I always try to create a design that feels like it matches the music of the particular playlist, but in turn my impressions of the playlist can be altered by the artwork.

Sometimes I’ll have a theme in mind when I begin assembling the music for a new playlist. For instance, one year I put together a collection of songs in various non-English languages or with elements of other languages and dialects. But more often, I just choose the songs that speak to me at the moment, and then see how they fit together. The remarkable thing is that I’ve always been able to find thematic connections in the music even when I didn’t choose it up front—my unconscious mind working out something on its own.

Weirdsville 2011: Launch Sequence Engaged

Weirdsville 2011: Launch Sequence Engaged

In this year’s Weirdsville collection, after listening to it for a few days, I began to hear a story emerging. The first thing that struck me was that multiple songs were about a character named Johnny—although the songs were from different artists, genres, and eras. From there, my mind began connecting the dots: What was this Johnny character up to?

Eventually, I wrote Johnny’s story, linking each of the songs from the 2013 playlist into a surreal quest. There are perhaps two great motivating factors that ultimately lie behind all stories: love and revenge. I’ve told you my story of (admittedly weak) revenge. Johnny’s story is a quest for love. I’ll post that story on my Creative Writing page.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins