There are myriad inspirational playlists about cherishing life that hit the nail right on the head with songs like “What A Wonderful World,” “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” etc. In pondering the potentially overwhelming theme of celebrating mortality, I continually gravitated back to songs that get my mojo going every time. Music that inspires and gets one fired up is, as always, subjective. However, the hope is that the following stream of songs strikes a life-affirming chord within you (while giving you a little extra zip in your step). From stone-cold classics to more obscure modern tracks, this Spotify playlist has been hand-washed and tailored to help you high-five the cosmos for all the many wondrous gifts that life has to offer. And though it’s impossible to play favorites with this greatest hits list, you’ll find a smattering of highlights after the playlist jump. We’ll assume you’re already well-acquainted with the classics, so we’re going to tell you a little more about our new faves.
“Stereo” by BoomBox
Like a mysterious swamp creature crawling out of the murky deep, “Stereo” emerges quietly and strangely as a young girl welcomes you to what turns out to be one of the greatest opening tracks on a debut album. As soon as the beat properly kicks in, you and the swamp creature are gently rocking out to the comforting groove, fully feeling the head-to-toe rapture of the peanut butter and jelly-esque symbiosis of rock and electronic music that is BoomBox. This tune (and the majority of its Visions of Backbeat album) makes for just the right kind of kick-off to gratitude for one’s existence.
“Gold Soundz” by Pavement
Much like Stephen Malkmus encourages the listener to “go back to the gold soundz” in the opening line of this sunshine-drenched song, I return to this tune over and over again to reignite the unbridled joy and love of life that I’ve experienced in hydroplaning atop this indie/alt/college rock revelation over these many years. From the opening build to the various feel good passages and all throughout the enchanted vibe forest of “Gold Soundz”, Pavement lets us climb aboard one of their more uplifting tunes and feel super cool as Malkmus lets us know that we’re “coming to the chorus now” and “you can never quarantine the past”.
“Soft Serve” by Soul Coughing
One of the few downtempo moments in the mix, “Soft Serve” has a sweet, easy-going hip-hop/jazz swagger which Mike (formerly M.) Doughty floats upon as he drops his stream of conscious science developed during his time as a doorman at the Knitting Factory music venue in New York City. This tune is one of those that truly inspires a feel-good moment as you “watch the water roll down” (be it literally or metaphorically). Though Doughty’s overall lyrical voyage raises more questions than answers, “Soft Serve” drips and melts in the sun and becomes a near perfect laid-back summertime roundelay.
“Burning” by The Whitest Boy Alive
Norway brings us yet another killer opening track off a debut LP in the form of “Burning” by The Whitest Boy Alive. Fronted by the co-founder of Kings of Convenience, Erlend Øye, The Whitest Boy Alive is a significantly more rocking affair and the song, “Burning,” is indeed en fuego. Tight, power-packed, and unabashedly poppy, “Burning” is both soothing and invigorating, finding Øye awash in advice and angst over not being able to make up his mind (yet also wishing it all not to stop). This song is the musical equivalent of a Scandinavian Red Bull: slightly restrained yet bursting with kinetic energy.
“My Spy” by Imperial Teen
Imperial Teen deserved/deserves some love. I’m biased living in San Francisco, as I’ve seem them blast out their infectious, high-octane power pop countless times (particularly when they were playing on the regular while making a subtle dent in the complicated rock ‘n roll landscape of the mid/late 90s). If only the 1996 album Seasick or 1998’s What Is Not To Love? were on Spotify, I might have gone with “You’re One” or “Lipstick” respectively (as those were a couple of the songs that first got me fired up about the band). However, “My Spy,” though not quite as raucous as those tunes, has the band’s trademark catchiness along with a slightly more seasoned sound, compliments of Moog-ian keyboard tones and atmospherics.
May this mix assist in you drinking deeply from the chalice of this one life that we have to live. Music might not be listed in the American Medical Journal as a remedy for what ails you, but it freaking should be! Cheers!
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