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Desert island playlist 2.0

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Admittedly, our first attempt at a desert island playlist made it seem like we’d prefer to be marooned with a bunch of white men and Kimya Dawson, which I don’t think is the case. Not even for Kimya. Here’s our second mixtape. – LM

Jimmy Cliff – “Sitting in Limbo” 

The catholic church may have disavowed “Limbo” as a place in the cosmos, but Jimmy Cliff’s melancholy ode to intermediate space, recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in the swamps of Alabama back in 1971, holds new meaning for the isolated audiences of 2020. “Sitting here in limbo like a bird without a song.” How can you not sing along? Cliff, by the way, rose to stardom in the late ‘60s with his cover of the Cat Stevens penned “Wild World,” but we love him most for his revolutionary anthem “The Harder They Come” – JH

Marianne Faithfull – “Sister Morphine

Stricken with the novel coronavirus in March, Faithfull spent 22 days in the hospital fighting the illness. Her voice is one of experience in the opening lines of this paen to kicking heroin. “Here I lie in my hospital bed,” the normally satin-voiced Faithfull croaks. “Tell me, Sister Morphine, how long have I been lying here?” she asks. “Why does the doctor have no faith?” she asks. “I can’t crawl across the floor,” she says. We know she’s talking about kicking heroin, but we’re equally glad she kicked COVID-19. – JH

Funkadelic – “Maggot Brain

George Clinton and Funkadelic started out in Detroit, Michigan as the doo wop group The Parliaments. This cosmic lullaby, the title track from Funkadelic’s 1971 studio album Maggot Brain, can’t help but remind us of current events. It feels a little like we’ve all “tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe” now, and we need “to rise above it all or drown in [our own] s—.” This song’s best enjoyed on headphones. While we can’t [legally] recommend that you enjoy any of Washington State’s legal substances as you listen, we can recommend that you go ahead and listen to the whole album. You will feel better if you do. – JH

Ennio Morricone – “L’estasi dell’Oro” (The Ecstasy of Gold)

Italian composer Ennio Morricone won an Oscar for Best Original Score for Quentin Tarantino’s film The Hateful Eight in 2016, but he’s most remembered for his partnership with Spaghetti Western film maker Sergio Leone. This song from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly feels so right for our times. I mean, doesn’t life today kind of feel like we’re facing off against each other in a cemetery? While many Italians in the same age bracket as Morricone won’t survive this crisis, we wish the nonagenarian composer — who’s enriched all of our lives — the best of health. – JH

Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy

No other song captures the feeling of watching President Donald Trump answer reporters’ questions about his response to the coronavirus on television when you’re stuck in your studio apartment for the 7th week in a row eating rice and wondering if your unemployment will really kick in this week. “Who do you think you are?” asks singer CeeLo Green. Later he asks, “Do you really think you’re in control?” Finally, he answers, “Well, I think you’re crazy.” As good as that song is, when I think of president Trump I like this other CeeLo number better. – JH

Yugen Blakrok – “Gorgon Madonna

I’ve always had an ear for the esoteric. The lyrics of this song remind me of a dark corner of the corner pub where magic and science sneak off to enjoy a cold one and talk about the old days, with all the colorful imagery of an alchemist’s library index flowing between them. Part astronomy, part sorcery, all good. – TM

Otis Redding – “Cigarettes and Coffee

Because coffee, because Otis Redding, and because this is fun to belt out when you’re standing in your kitchen at 2 a.m. after months alone realizing you’ve actually been alone for years, and now you’re starting to wonder if you’re ever gonna see your people again. – TM

Stevie Nicks – “Gold Dust Woman

Some say this song is about infidelity. (Some claim it’s about a certain illicit substance, pointing in particular to the line “take your silver spoon and dig your grave.”) Stevie Nicks maintains she wrote it about the fans who were throwing themselves at Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac’s guitarist who was, at the time, in a relationship with Stevie. Honestly, the whole band appeared to be having an affair with itself. In the end, they leveraged harmonious undertones of adultery, divorce, in-fighting (and so, so many drugs) all the way to fame. One of the great rock road trip choruses, and ever so much fun to sing along to. – TM

Prince – “Purple Rain

Yeah, but *this version. Prince, onstage in front of millions during a thunderstorm and doing his quintessential thing; summoning power in equal parts from the storm as much as the audience. If this doesn’t send shivers down your spine, I don’t know what to tell you. Please remember that there are good things still left in the world. – TM

Samm Henshaw – “Broke

(For lack of a better term: mood) This rich, funky song is full of soul and boredom and self-deprecation and a humorous touch of hopelessness – which is perfect for right now. It’s funny, bouncy and layered, which is everything you want in a bop. – PM

Rusty Clanton – “Novels

This song breaks you down then builds you up again, and it is glorious. “Someday, I won’t have to wait for you” really hits hard at the present moment. – PM

Lawrence – “Probably Up
A funky, comedic piece by the dynamic band. If you like this, try “Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me?” – PM

Rachel Yamagata – “Elephants

Slow, introspective and moody. Captures the Now of the now. – PM

Janelle Monae – “Django Jane

Do I even have to explain? Come on. It’s Janelle Monae. You love it already. – PM

Anais Mitchell – “The Pursewarden Affair

Hauntingly sad with a minimal melody, this song is lyrical genius and is as beautiful as it is simple. It makes you miss someone you’ve never met. – PM

Jacob Collier – “Here Comes the Sun” (cover)

A lush, orchestral piece by a modern musical genius. This reimagining of the Beatles classic is definitely worth a listen, especially since Dodie Clark makes an appearance in the wave of acapella voices that grows through this song. – PM

The Decemberists – “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

I really love this album in general, but this song is my favorite among the four “Hazards of Love’s. Heartbreaking lyricism and beautiful simplicity make this song a crier for sure. – PM

HU – “Yuve Yuve Yu

In these dark, uncertain times, don’t be afraid. Be a Mongolian fantasy-metal band like these guys. Fresh from producing music for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the HU are a force to be reckoned with. Stomping beats, first class throat-singing, costumes straight out of a Chinese drama, and a powerful sense of humor make this band what they are. They play Hunnurock, a mix of Mongolian cultural music and modern metal. And oh boy, does it work for ‘em. – PM

Marvin Gaye – “Inner City Blues

Just as relevant today as it was in the ‘70s unfortunately, especially the trigger-happy policing. It’s eerie the way Gaye’s more social consciousness-centered songs keep coming back to haunt us, indicative of a saddening, maddening broken system that repeats itself, hoping inanely for a different result. This R&B jam doesn’t get any easier to listen to. And really, doesn’t it make you wanna holler? – DB

Mitski – “Nobody

This song is lonely, but it’s also about crushing romantic loneliness. It’s easy to find yourself drowning in that chorus on Day Whatever of Quarantine this is after you’ve come in off the ghostly streets after an 8-hour shift, or run out of Netflix documentaries and you’re staring at the same walls. Or hey, maybe quarantine Tinder isn’t going so well. – DB

The Supremes – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Something powerful to close it out with. “Set me free, why don’t you babe?” In these hopefully waning days of Stay Home, Stay Safe, many of us long for the freedom we felt before COVID-19 came into our lives. If you think about it, the virus isn’t unlike an abusive romantic partner who leaves you longing for your freedom when you know deep down that you’ll never have your freedom again in quite the same way. “Why do you keep coming ‘round, playing with my heart?” Indeed. – JH

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