The Monkey Town Mix

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According to Dr. Gary Chapman there are just five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

What he doesn’t know is that I have discovered a sixth: mixes.

My obsession began back in high school, when I made the most awesome mix tapes ever for my best friends and crushes. Pretending to be a DJ on a radio show, I’d include goofy weather reports and news updates in between each song and design extravagant covers made of magazine clippings and construction paper.

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In college, when my boyfriend went home for minor surgery, I sent him a “get-well” mix that included selections from his favorite bands at the time—Incubus, Live, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, and Creed. Is it any surprised that he proposed a mere four years later?

With the advent of Pandora, Itunes, MP3s, and CDs, my mixes have continued to evolve. They are my favorite way of saying “happy birthday,” “good luck,” or “you really need to update your musical tastes.”

So in the spirit of my love language, I spent a few hours creating the perfect Monkey Town Mixfor my readers that includes 46 meticulously chosen songs that correspond with various chapters in Evolving in Monkey Town.

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Artists include: The Wailin Jennys, Ani DiFranco, Nick Drake, Abigail Washburn, Gillian Welch, Andrew Bird, Modest Mouse, Regina Spektor, Over the Rhine, Cat Power, Amos Lee, The Weepies, Nickel Creek, Mindy Smith, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine, Arcade Fire, Jeff Buckley, The Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, and many more.

You can see the complete list and listen to short clips of each song here. (I’ve made it part of the “resources” section of the book page.) To listen to all the songs in their entirety, consider making a playlist on Grooveshark.

[UPDATE June, 2012, the Gooveshark playlist is no-longer available]

Think of it as my way of saying, “thanks for reading!”

So, what music are you loving right now? What would you add to the  Monkey Town mix to give us a sense of your personality?

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Music and Lyrics and Controversy

I really don’t keep up with the Christian music industry much, but apparently singer/songwriter Derek Webb has released a “controversial” new single called “What Matters More,” which you can listen to here

A sampling of the lyrics:

You say you always treat people like you like to be 
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality 
You love when people put words in your mouth 
‘Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak 
‘Cause if you really believe what you say you believe 
 You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy
Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

The song is obviously a criticism of the Church’s preoccupation with things like gay marriage and politics in the face of more important issues like poverty. Webb goes on to say, “we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the face/about the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to save/meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit/ about 50,00 people who are dyin’ today.”

While I certainly agree with the sentiment, I’m not crazy about the song itself or the (manufactured?) buzz about the alleged tension between Webb and his label. If using the word “shit” and singing about the shortcomings of the Church is considered highly controversial within this industry these days, then I guess I’m more removed than I thought I was.

But to his credit, Webb speaks for a lot of young evangelicals who feel disconnected from the mainstream and frustrated with current expressions of faith.  If the song is successful, perhaps we will see more like it in the future.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Regina Spektor has released a fantastic new album called “Far.”  My favorite song is “Laughing With,” which you can listen to here.

A sampling of the lyrics:

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor
No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet
No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken
No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

*Chorus*
But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha

Ha ha

Personally, I think we can learn a lot more from Spektor’s song than Webb’s, as it is much more subtle, poetic, and profound. Plus, I enjoy the music more.

The truth is, I stopped listening to “Christian music” about 10 years ago and haven’t really looked back. This whole “controversy” over Webb’s relatively tame song reminds me of why I did!

What is your opinion of the Christian music industry? What do you think of Webb’s new song?  Do you think all the so-called controversy is just a publicity stunt to sell more records?

And, if you’re in the mood, how do you interpret Regina Spektor’s “Laughing With”? :-)

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Monkey Town Mix

style="margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 20px; margin-left: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 13px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, 'Liberation Sans', FreeSans, sans-serif; line-height: 19px; ">I had a lot of fun compiling all of your musical suggestions into a super-cool “Monkey Town Mix.” I’ve always said that mixes are my “love language,” and one of my favorite things to do when I make one for a friend is to write a poem using one line from each song in the order that the songs appear. I'm sure my editor will be just thrilled to see that I took the time to do that for you! :-) Enjoy!

Monkey Town Mix:

1.“Monkey,” Counting Crows (couldn’t resist) 
2.“Long Ride Home,” Patty Griffin 
3. “For the Widows of Paradise...,” Sufjan Stevens 
4. “Chocolate,” Snow Patrol 
5. “Paper Planes,” M.I.A. 
6. “Geography,” Thao 
7. “Such Great Heights,” Iron and Wine
8. “All The Trees Will Clap Their Hands,” Sufjan Stevens
9. “Hallelujah,” Jeff Buckley 
10. “Landed,” Ben Folds 
11. “I Don’t Know,” Lisa Hannigan 
12. “Feelin’ Good,” Nina Simone
13. “At Last,” Etta James (1961 - for you, Sister Marie) 
14. “Mary,” Patty Griffin (love the lyrics to this song!) 
15. “Tennessee,” Mindy Smith

Poem Comprised of Lyrics:

Hey, Monkey,
I’ve had some time to think about it.
If you ever make a mess, 
Goodness knows I saw it coming. 
I make ‘em all day. 

I don’t know 
If God Himself did make us into corresponding shapes.
I heard from the hills a band was made,
But you don’t really care for music do ya?
It matters to me. 

Treading the sea of a troubled mind, 
I don’t know if you can swim. 
This old world is a new world and a bold world for me. 
You smile. 
You’re covered in treetops. 
You’re good enough for me. 

Feel free to take a stab at an interpretation! (Or to add another line from another song.)

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Who's On Your Playlist?

It’s a hot, muggy, and gray day here in Tennessee – a perfect time to cash in on the two iTunes gift cards I got for my birthday.

Right now I’m putting together a new playlist that includes: Sufjan Stevens, Rosie Thomas, Kate Earl, A Fine Frenzy, Tegan and Sarah, Regina Spektor, Over the Rhine, Coldplay, and Cat Power. I may also add a few songs to my “guilty pleasure” playlist, which includes artists ranging from Kate Nash, to Mary J. Blige, to Red Hot Chili Peppers, to (my all-time favorite) Alanis Morissette. 

If you had $50 to spend exclusively on music, where would you buy it and what would you buy?(I’ll use your responses to create a “Monkey Town Mix” to post later in the week!)

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Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.