Monday, November 5, 2007


Hey Halloween birthday girl,

I want to explain why I put these specific songs on the mixtape I made for you.

Honestly, I’m having second thoughts about the edgier tracks I picked—Led Zep’s “Dancing Days,” Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman” and the Doors’ “Moonlight Drive.” I put all of them on as a reference to your teenage years, when you had a poster of Jim Morrison over your bed and I gave you the Led Zeppelin vinyl box set, which you seemed really happy about at the time. You’ve always loved Cocker, and I did put your fave, “You Are So Beautiful,” at the end, but “Woman to Woman” is Joe at his most intensely soulful, and I couldn’t help myself.

See, I envisioned this as a sort of driving comp. as well as one to play at your party—and both Ralph and Matthew were rockin’ out to “Dancing Days,” which was playing when they walked in (Hanna would've preferred Miley Cyrus, I think...or the original song she sang for everyone later on). The song was nostalgic for Ralph and an initiation for Matthew. But I suspect that when you’re driving around by yourself (on the way to pick up a kid, or having just dropped one off), you’d rather listen to something soothing, since being the mom of two little ragamuffins tends to be kinda raucous. If that’s the case, start with Track #14, “Sugar,” a low-keyed, totally gorgeous duet between Dan Wilson (ex-Semisonic) and Sheryl Crow.” From that point onward, the mix is totally mellow, if not without some emotional intensity.

I opened with Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic” as a symbolic way of saying, “Don’t stress out—you have a beautiful life and people (and pets) you love.” The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” is big and sweeping, like a good movie, and it sets up Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” which I think of as the perfect reflection on your frequently challenging childhood living with a pair of rock & roll parents: “Mommy’s all right and Daddy’s all right/They just get a little weird…” Feist’s “My Moon My Man” is rhythmic and lunar, which seemed apt in the hormonal sense.

Then come three driving songs: Alison Krauss’ cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” is mesmerizing, Arcade Fire’s “Keep the Car Running” (written and sung by Win Butler, the son of your mom’s lifelong friend Liza Rey) is urgent and anxious, just like modern life, and “Moonlight Drive” is a kind of escape fantasy. I went for “You Know I’m No Good” simply because Amy Winehouse is an awesome newcomer with a delectable old-school sound, and I chose Beck’s “Earthquake Weather” because it’s such a wistful look at the uncertainties of living here in SoCal.

The last third is composed of stuff I know you like—Elton, Coldplay, the Beatles and Cocker, plus the Beach Boys (“In My Room” captures solitude as well as any record), Aimee Mann describing a relationship face-off, Rio Kiley going to blessed “Dreamland” and Justin Currie from Del Amitri bringing some much-needed rain—doing it in the minute and a half I had left on the CD. I couldn’t have fit one more second of music on there.

Essentially, I let the right side of my brain be my guide in making this thing; there was only one draft and this is it. Let me know which ones you hate and I’ll switch them out. I’ll also take requests, of course.

I’ve watched you grow up, and there’s a part of you that will always be 8 years old to me, but I like the way you turned out, KAK!



  1. Coldplay, Don't Panic
  2. The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony
  3. Cheap Trick, Surrender
  4. Feist, My Moon My Man
  5. Arcade Fire, Keep the Car Running
  6. Alison Krauss, Can't Find My Way Home
  7. The Doors, Moonlight Drive
  8. Amy Winehouse, You Know I'm No Good
  9. Beck, Earthquake Weather
  10. Joe Cocker, Woman to Woman
  11. Bruce Springsteen, Girls in Their Summer Clothes
  12. Led Zeppelin, Dancing Days
  13. Bee Gees, Night Fever
  14. Dan Wilson, Sugar
  15. The Beach Boys, In My Room
  16. Rilo Kiley, Dreamworld
  17. Aimee Mann, Wise Up
  18. Coldplay, Fix You
  19. Elton John, Harmony
  20. The Beatles, It's Only Love
  21. Joe Cocker, You Are So Beautiful
  22. Justin Currie, In the Rain

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