How did I miss this request @jaidub ?!? Better late than never! Every mix tape I ever made for a friend had a theme, so this one would, too. And the theme would be Elaine Benes, though the songs really have nothing to do with her. The J-card would be a collage of iconic Elaine looks/moments. My belated (imaginary!) Christmas gift to you! 😊❤️
  1. Side A--Urban Sombrero
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  2. Divorce Song--Liz Phair Driving with my first year roommate in her old VW Fox from her parents' house in southeast Missouri to the Amtrak station in Jefferson City after a summer visit and singing loudly, "And it's true that I stole your lighter. And it's also true that I lost the map."
  3. Beyond Belief--Elvis Costello & The Attractions I bought a Best Of compilation at a used CD store one summer and listened to it so many times in my sophomore year dorm room, on the strange pull-out couch/bed.
  4. Sleep to Dream--Fiona Apple Driving to work at Barnes & Noble on overcast days during junior year winter break and belting this.
  5. Into the Mystic--Van Morrison I fell in love with this album when I studied abroad in Scotland. Lazy evenings listening to music and maybe smoking in my friend Nicole's room before going downstairs to watch Friends in the TV room.
  6. Country House--Blur Pubs and clubs in Scotland. Freezing on the walk home because I got so sweaty from dancing.
  7. Get it Together--Beastie Boys ft. Q-Tip More dancing, but back at my college at house parties. Black lights and pre-gaming with a few big swigs of Southern Comfort.
  8. The Will to Live--Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals This was my anthem the morning at the end of my senior year when I woke up with a horrible hangover and awful cramps.
  9. Umbabarauma--Jorge Ben Making dinner in my first grad school apartment, where I more or less learned to cook, and dancing around the kitchen.
  10. Kinder--David Garza It's super corny, but I became obsessed with this song after he did an "emerging artists" ad for Best Buy. Nice work, Best Buy. Perpetual repeat ca. 1999.
  11. Last Goodbye--Jeff Buckley Driving around and crying, working through my breakup with my college boyfriend. This album got me through.
  12. Award Tour--A Tribe Called Quest My first summer of research in The Gambia. Listening to this on my Discman while traveling by bus to Dakar for the first time. Excellent sonic accompaniment to new sights and smells and tastes.
  13. Side B--"Stelllaaaa!!!"
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  14. Ready or Not--Fugees Thirsty, post-breakup, back in the game song. Best Enya sample.
  15. Look at Miss Ohio--Gillian Welch Bought this album at Orion Records in Salt Lake City on my first road trip with my now husband. Listened to it driving around with my feet up on the dashboard of his Subaru Impreza Wagon.
  16. The Strangers--St. Vincent
    A rare happening in my adult life, I discovered her because a friend took me to a show. Falling in love with music this way took me back a few decades. Love this genius acoustic version:
  17. Animal--Neko Case Neko is my favorite. Her music could be its own soundtrack to my adult life. With this one, I love that the lyrics are both direct and obtuse and the guitar part in the chorus is like the best song the Velvet Underground didn't write.
  18. Tell Me A Tale--Michael Kiwanuka I've had an hour-long each way commute for 9 years and this is a song I heard on satellite radio, driving home on a grey winter day and it turned a bad mood right around. Warm and nostalgic and great horns.
  19. Pulaski at Night--Andrew Bird Another car song, but I heard this for the first time on my childhood favorite radio station, WXRT, driving into Chicago for a conference. It felt like my home city welcoming me back in the best way.
  20. Ayo Ayo Nene--Mor Thiam This 1973 song from Senegal blew me away and reminded me that old things can sound brand new when I heard it for the first time a few years ago, again in my car. A great song can burn a drive home from the grocery store into your memory.
  21. Jerk Ribs--Kelis
    See above. The best of old and new. Everything about this video is 💯 ( and I deeply appreciate an album comprised of songs named after food.
  22. (Don't Go Back to) Rockville--R.E.M. Childhood wish fulfillment last summer when we went to see The Baseball Project at Codfish Hollow, an amazing barn/concert venue in the middle of Iowa, and Mike Mills sang this 10 feet away from me. I'm sure I was grinning like a little girl.
  23. Get It--Matt & Kim Dancing around the house with my girls this summer. They love this song, and there's something I really love about my 8 year old singing, "At 1 AM, oh yeah, goddamn goddamn. We don't want to go home!" Jubilant!
  24. Pedestrian at Best--Courtney Barnett Full circle back to that 1990s Liz P sound. My favorite song of 2015. "Give me all your money and I'll make some origami, honey." Perfect.