We hope these playlists inspire you in these days, so when the spirit moves you, make a playlist and email it to be-belong at mit.edu and we’ll happily put it in queue. Even if you don’t “spotify” just send us the list of songs and we’ll put it together.
Soundtracks are a huge part of my love of movies, so here is a soundtrack for my current coping mechanisms. Observe. Introspect. Laugh. Love. Repeat. -Isadora
This is America by Childish Gambino
Donald Glover is a genius.
Manifest Destiny by Guster
My favorite group. Solid lyrics, inspired melodies.
Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots
Title says it all.
Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
A song about resiliency. Yes.
Patient Zero by Aimee Mann
Great songwriter. I saw her in concert with Jonathan Coulton and she said this song is about Andrew Garfield and his Spiderman role. Hm.
California by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
Steve is funny while playing the banjo, too. Multi-tasker.
The Future Soon by Jonathan Coulton
My 15-yr-old introduced me to Jonathan Coulton a few years ago. Coulton wrote the soundtrack for Portal and released his music for free online. He’s a smart guy and very politically astute. He writes and tours with Aimee Mann. Oh, and his stuff is a riot.
Stay Alive by José González
“Dawn is coming/Open your eyes”. From Ben Stiller’s Walter Mitty soundtrack. Fun movie.
All Through the Night by Cyndi Lauper
Anyone else having trouble sleeping? I know the answer.
Bad Bad World by Guster
Misleading title for this one. “It isn’t such a…”
Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka
My oldest son introduced me to this artist. Wow. “You can’t steal the things that god has given me”
Pet Cheetah by Twenty One Pilots
Great song about the process of writing. My youngest loves this song. He has good taste.
Basket Case by Green Day
Again, title says it all. “Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it.”
Think by Aretha Franklin
“People walk around everyday/Playin’ games and takin’ scores/Tryin’ to make other people lose their mind/Well, be careful you don’t lose yours”
you should see me in a crown by Billie Eilish
Anything inspired by Andrew Scott has my approval. Hat’s off to Steven Moffat for these excellent lines for his incarnation of Moriarty for BBC’s Sherlock, a reinvention worthy of Eilish’s ghoulish attention.
Qué Será Ahora by Cat Empire
“Can I have a piece of your mind?/If you do well I’ll give you mine”
Terrified by Guster
“Open up your heart; everybody’s got it hard; we’re built and then fall apart; we’re all terrified.”
Level of Concern by Twenty One Pilots
Indeed. “Tell me we’re alright; tell me we’re ok.”
Happy Together cover of Turtles hit by Weezer
Classic. “The only one for me is you and you for me.”
Alone at Home by Jonathan Coulton
Funny follow-up. “Can we just not make this a thing?”
You Ruined Everything by Jonathan Coulton
A sweet love song to our children, with Coulton’s usual humor. “We’re going to need more money.” Yep.
The Joke by Brandi Carlile
She rocks. Another song about resiliency. I see a theme emerging.
Wild World, Jimmy Cliff cover
Classic. “It’s hard to get by just upon a smile”
Everybody’s Hurting by Jakob Dylan
Writing skills of dad Bob but with a much more inviting voice. “My sweetheart we’ve got to learn to live with these ghosts/They can’t leave and we can’t go.”
Halo by Beyoncé
“Hit me like a ray of sun/Burning through my darkest night.”
This Year by The Mountain Goats
The perfect song for difficult times. “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”
The Great Remember (for Nancy) by Steve Martin
He wrote this lovely tribute for Martin Short’s wife who died of cancer.
Life’s a Happy Song by Jason Segal, Amy Adams
Sometimes you need a musical interlude from The Muppets.
My Shot by Lin-Manuel Miranda
While we’re on musicals.
Juan Loco by Rodrigo y Gabriela
Keep on Knockin’ by Little Richard
I lived in Macon, Georgia for a while growing up. Little Richard survived being from there. He passed away last month. R.I.P.
Laughing Gas by The Fratellis
“Take all your ideals and well told tales/I know a prayer that never fails/Don’t hold your breath, you dreamed this dream well/Just click your heels and you’ll soon break this unholy spell.” If only!
Lies of Summer by Aimee Mann
A song about a pathological liar. Remind you of anyone?
Truth Hurts by Lizzo
A mix of fun and challenge unique to Lizzo.
If Ever I Stray by Frank Turner
“…then I can’t ask for anything more.” Enjoy the simple things.
Feels like Summer by Childish Gambino
“Oh, my mind is still the same/I’m hoping that this world will change/But it just seems the same.” I know the feeling.
Hang On by Guster
One of my favorite songs.
With hand in hand
When hope is gone
Just hang on
I’m drawn to songs that showcase an artist’s unique voice. This playlist includes some great voices and the mood is a mix of every kind of emotion – mirroring my own state of being these days. I hope you enjoy – Alexis
My comments on some of the songs…
Sideways – Citizen Cope. Now covered by many artists but I like the original with Cope’s voice the best.
Send My Love (To Your New Lover) – Vitamin String Quartet. No voice at all – but it allows you to channel your inner Adele.
Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) – Van Morrison. Van is the godfather of all the incredible music that has come out of Ireland in my lifetime. Plus, my husband and I had a great Van Morrison cover band play our wedding reception, so there you go.
Call Me – St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens. Stevens sings in hushed tones with the technical tweak of vocal multi-tracking creating something airy and magical.
Fade Out Lines – The Avener. French born artist Phoebe Killdeer never achieved much notice in the US apart from this song, which is a shame.
I’ll Take You There – The Staples Singers. Mavis Staples – started singing with her family in 1950, gospel and blues goddess, Civil Rights Activist, still performing at 80. Wow.
Sleeping on the Blacktop – Colter Wall. A twenty-something with an old voice – deep and dark.
Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight – Jennifer Hudson. This one will make you sit up straight in your chair and take some cleansing breaths. I do not apologize for it being featured in an animated movie (Sing!).
Just Breathe – Pearl Jam.
Yellow – Richard Cheese. Who doesn’t love a bad lounge act?
Once in a Lifetime Live – Talking Heads.
Sky Full Of Song – Florence + The Machine
Save Me – Aimee Mann. A Berklee College of Music grad in the late 70’s, Mann hit my radar with her band ‘Til Tuesday in the 80’s.
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
This Bitter Earth / On The Nature of Daylight – various artists with voice of Dinah Washington. Ultimately uplifting, transcendent.
To answer Question 12 of our recent 20 Questions with Christina Birch, she provided not one but TWO playlists, so enjoy a double!
(1st) “Escape Velocity” – This my training/racing playlist for when I’m either on the trainer warming up for a race or out doing intervals. This is a real pump-up / productivity list.
(2nd) “A Different Kind of 🔪” This is my feels playlist! Softer, good for travel days, long flights, or pensive times.
A compilation of stuff I enjoy listening to and hope others can enjoy if they want to
Top songs from my different playlists in no particular order:
Shake Your Groove Thing
by Peaches & Herb
The first tune I hear every morning because it’s my alarm.
by The Band of Heathens
I first heard of the Band of Heathens back in 2016.
by Third Eye Blind
Basic 90s song.
by John Mayer Trio
First blues song I learned to play on my guitar.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
by Pat Benatar
Can’t mess with the classic.
Shake It Off
by Taylor Swift
My go-to music when I’m attempting a PB in the weight room. Dial up to 11!
Sweet Child O’ Mine
by Guns N’ Roses
Bold As Love
by Jimi Hendrix
I loved Jimi Hendrix since I was a kid. This is my favorite song from his album Axis: Bold as Love. The guitar solo here is crazy.
Highway to Hell
Can’t mess with an Aussie classic. Accadacca!
by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick won the Pulitzer Prize for his album ‘DAMN.’ This song is my favorite from that album.
Basically a collection of feel-good, cheerful songs to help us get through these tough times – no melancholy or depressing music in this one.
Some favorite songs of mine, with no particular theme or pattern.
by Manchester Orchestra
The a capella chorus kills me every time.
by Lo Tom
Lo Tom was a one-off-band assembled by David Bazan with part of his former band Pedro the lion. The whole album is just great simple, stripped down rock song writing.
by Nada Surf
I first heard Nada Surf listening to one of the early internet-streamed indie rock stations out of san Francisco as a postdoc. Still love it.
Company Calls Epilogue
by Death Cab for Cutie
By The Police
The genius pop power trio.
by Queens of the Stone Age
Cover me up
by Jason Isbell
One of our great living singer-songwriters. If you have never heard him, I can recommend the entire album southeastern as an example of his best work.
As part of my nerd bona fides, I grew up a big rush fan. This is not classic rush, but is a nice example of the brilliant lyrics Neil Peart, their famed drummer, wrote across their 40 year career. Peart passed away earlier this year.
One of my favorite all time albums. Back when Radiohead was a rock band.
by Matt Pond PA
Everything Reminds Me of Her
by Elliott smith
Probably my favorite singer-songwriter alongside Isbell.
I love intense, serious, dark songs just as much as the next guy, but the 20 songs on this playlist are ones that make me feel warm, happy, dance-y, and/or laugh-y.
I hope you enjoy, Dan
My comments on some of the songs…
Kiss and Make Up
by Saint Etienne
Let’s start coolly with Saint Etienne’s Kiss and Make Up. At the halfway point, Sarah Cracknel humbly and sincerely sings, “I don’t hate you, I love you,” offering a relationship reset.
by Ariana Grande
Ah, the beguiling Ms. Grande with a piece of pure pop confection.
Once in a Lifetime
by Talking Heads
A recent SNL performance of this song by a solo David Byrne reminded me of how powerful this track is.
Starfish and Coffee
“Her favorite number was 20”
by Scritti Politti
Doesn’t get more 80’s than this song (that no one from back in the day knows or remembers). “Each time I go to bed, I pray like Aretha Franklin,” what a lyric!
Jump to It
by Aretha Franklin
Let’s hear from Aretha herself. Imo Aretha’s 80’s work is underrated. Luther Vandross’ production is clean and (mostly) free of 80’s tropes. “Giving each other the 411 on who drop-kicked who this week.” There once was a room, a boom-boom room, and in that room this song was played.
Summertime (When I’m With You)
by The Mavericks
The Maverick’s Raul Malo has all the vocal qualities that I love in a male singer: power, control, intonation, articulation, and style. He elevates this rather simple song with swoon-worthy crooning–and the band rocks and swings as well.
The Rhythm Changes
by Kamasi Washington
Crank this one. “Don’t worry what happened before me. I’m here,” isn’t this what we want to say to loved ones right now? Isn’t this what we want to hear?
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Let’s end coolly. “The night is getting on…” coos Cécile McLorin Salvant, a most excellent contemporary jazz vocalist, on this Fats Waller song written in 1942. She sings with a flirty, power-grabbing unpredictability. The piano playing is equally dynamic and unpredictable.