2016 Autumn playlist

I love early autumn. I’m pretty unashamed about that (despite very much falling into that white girl “I love fall” thing – I was here first). There’s just this tiny bit of summer left right before we’re stuck with long months of miserable weather. Granted every time I think Britain is about to give us a taste of that autumn weather, it quickly changes its fickle mind and hands us another heat wave. But anyway, I’ll just ignore the ridiculous island weather.

I’m very much in the school of thought that my tastes in music change with the season. Just like the type of clothes I have to wear or the kinds of films in the cinema and the books I choose to read. There’s those ~~~fall vibez~~ ya know and I’m always a sucker for them.

Each early September brings with it a renewed sense that I’m going to do something great with the coming year. Despite the fact that I haven’t had a “first day of school” in two years now, I still mark the beginning of each year as the school year, and not the 1st of January. There’s always something a bit uplifting about this time of year. A genuine sense that the cool air will bring with it some great things.

And this feeling, especially that I’m no longer in Wisconsin (which is really home to a spectacular show every fall), escapes me a bit more every year I live in England. But thanks to Ms Aretha Franklin’s “Say a Little Prayer,” that mood instantly hit me. A bit of a breezy, loving, warm song that led to my immediate creation of a new fall playlist. I like to curate a number of songs that appeal to me over the season. It’s always interesting to compare what I was into each year and to see what remains a constant.

And I’ll give you a hint: it’s always Vince Guaraldi.

And mixes aren’t the only thing that I like at this time of year. As far as full albums go, I like to include my favourites and the new:

  • Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends by Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete
  • Aretha Now by Aretha Franklin
  • Dead Poet’s Society OST by Maurice Jarre
  • On Seven Winds by Kornog

But the most important thing is that as soon as we get September out of the way, October is here and the real fun begins.

Vinyl Friday #2: Roxy Music “Avalon”


There are few pop albums that contain as much dreamy pleasure for me as Roxy Music’s Avalon. Although not particularly rare or unique, it still feels like a jewel in the crown of my collection. It’s a soft, romantic album that makes me fall in love with it over and over again with each and every listen.

Most people seem to be fans of the more ‘funky’ albums like their self-titled or For Your Pleasure. Actually, I think a lot of fans probably prefer Country Life, but I’m sure that’s probably preferring the cover art more than the actual content. Cheeky gits.

Speaking of cover art, this is possibly my favourite of the lot. It evokes so much mystery and atmosphere – much like the music itself. The cover model is Lucy Helmore, who would later a bride of Bryan Ferry’s. The two had four children together, including a son name Merlin which I find unbelievably fitting. The falcon, medieval helmet and mist imagery refer to the legendary island of Avalon – of which the album takes its name. Following its inspiration, the album is full of almost bard-like songs of love and loss.

The copy in my collection isn’t a first pressing, but I like to treat it as one. When the day comes that I have more money than sense, I will buy every copy of this album I come across because it’s just so good. This particular copy was nipped from a re-sale store. I had own the CD for a number of years before I dived into buying it on black. It instantly caught my eye because of that gorgeous cover. I had held the album dearly already, but seeing and hearing it in its full glory was some other experience entirely.

I’ve written about this album a number of times, but it really ranks as one of my favourites ever. Every summer I visited my parents, I kept this album in my car. It was on constant repeat. Especially before my poor car had a working air con, I would keep the windows down and drive down the long country roads, weaving in and out of the pine trees.

It’s such an evocative album, especially the two instrumentals India and Tara – the last being the name of one of Ferry’s future sons. But the singles (More Than This, Avalon and Take a Chance With Me) is a really strong set of songs. Not every Roxy Music album was great, but this last shot managed to get everything right. It’s a much more mature sound than many of their previous outings, but it pays off. Being the last album they ever released together, it feels like the perfect sending off.

Like Arthur’s trip to home. To Avalon.


Is there really anything more heart-shatteringly beautiful in music than Yanick Etienne’s voice on Avalon? I really don’t think so. Brings me to tears every time.

I see bad times today

Bouts of homesickness makes people do different things to fight the sickness: watch their favorite film, eat familiar foods, sit and cry alone or listen to the right music. Being American, there are plenty of musicians that can make someone feel at home.

The South is very far away from the wooded homes of Wisconsin, but Creedence Clearwater Revival still feels so relavent. There’s something about Southern Rock that just feels American (even though CCR are from San Fran). But what’s classic about the band is that you never feel patriotic. You don’t feel not ashamed of being American, but you also have the ability to criticise the country articulately. 

The sound of CCR reminds me of driving around the countryside in my 1990 Ford Probe: windows down and music blaring – all while dodging deer on the side of the road.

I feel like I would give my right arm to be home today. I want it to be summer, to be working in a union job again and to be in that damn car. Sometimes music soothes pain, but sometimes we are only left dreaming.


Sorry, love, I don’t get it

Today some of my fellow classmates and I had a rather nice moan about being stuck writing news stories. To our credit, this eventually lead to a rather thoughtful conversation about why we want to write what we do, and why others chose a different path.

Not everyone can do everything. It takes a lot to admit that sometimes. In fact, it’s probably just worth it to say “fuck all of this” and to just do what you like. I, personally, am terrible at writing and understanding politics. Lately we’ve been sitting all day in that classroom trying to crank out stories in a room that is literally so hot I sweat while I write. And yes, I’m constantly being told what I’m doing is wrong.

I’ve always fancied myself as a music journalist. Everything about music is an obsession of mine: the lyrics, the composition, the musicians, production, historical context, references to their society…

Just a few minutes ago I was showing my boyfriend my blog. And I asked him if he liked the reference of my blog name and subtitle. He didn’t. But I hope my future readers will. Although it’s discouraging to be working so hard at something I will never be good at, it’s nice to know I’m not shit at everything.

Thank God for werewolves.

American Music

The concept of being “homesick” is a funny one.

I hate the States some days. I really do. For being such a complete country, it’s unstable, uneducated and all around fucked up. So I find it strange that I get homesick when I’m in the UK. Not only homesick, but insanely patriotic. Suddenly everything is funkier in the good ol’ US of A.

It can be difficult (socially) to be a crap Yankee sometimes. That’s why I tend to cover my accent whenever I’m in Dear Old Blighty (whenever I speak to my parents now I get scolded for “not sounding Wisconsin” anymore).

The best way to deal with this crap “homesickness,” for me, is to play Violent Femmes.

Violent Femmes are a group of weird losers, and some of the few musicians to waltz out of Wisconsin and do quite well for themselves. They even hail from my Milwaukee East Side (bring that fun fact up at your next party). To me, they sound and look like everything that damn old smelly city is.

“American Music” is one of the band’s more successful songs from a not-so-successful album. Is it their best track? No. But there’s something liberating about hearing Gano howl about the ugly lake and ask his audience if they do “too many drugs.”

The whole mop of lyrics is just a bunch of irony about pop music, but that’s kind of why it works for a dose of homesickness. This is one of those songs that can be taken too literally if the listener doesn’t take three minutes to sort it out in their mind. It sounds all Americana, but really it’s a slap on the wrists for the mindless-idiots that roam the American radio stations.

In reality, London is quite an unbelievable place to be living. Everything you could want is here, but every once in a while it’s good to remind yourself that you really are a backwards loser American after all.