SONGS FOR GOING IT ALONE

I interviewed some incredibly charming bartenders about their love of Campari to unearth the reasons why it’s so beloved, even through it’s crazy bitter and used to be made with crushed-up beetles. Read the story on VICE here.

I could use a Negroni right now.

I also got sent to Bonnaroo to eat as much as I could physically muster, and I made it pretty far! Click the link to follow me on my insane caloric journey as I dodge teenage breasts, watch Lionel Richie drink Gatorade out of a wine glass, and down approximately 300 margaritas.

Here’s what I’ve been letting myself feel to, while standing up straight and walking down the street like a girl who’s back.

1. The Replacements – They’re Blind

I never listened much to Don’t Tell a Soul until I found it on cassette a few weeks ago and thought to give it a whirl in spite of the fact that it’s the least-discussed Replacements album. But when this song wafted out of my pink Panasonic, I loved it’s doo-woppy sound and soaring chorus. It could be sung by the Zombies or the Miracles in a different era, but it’s with Paul Westerburg’s throaty, warbly voice that it really turns to magic.

‘Cause they’re blind
They hold you too close to the light
and I see what they only might if they’d learn
but they’re letting you burn, ’cause they’re blind

2. American Football – Never Meant

The special part about this song is its perfect encapsulation of bittersweetness. It’s as pretty as it is sad, as musically complex as it is melodically simple. I think that this one will stick with me forever; it has for 14 years and counting.

3. Underworld – Born Slippy Nuxx

Dirty numb angel boy
In the doorway boy
She was a lipstick boy
She was a beautiful boy
And tears, boy
And all in your inner space boy
He had hand girls, boy
And steel, boy
He had chemicals, boy
I’ve grown so close to you, boy
And you just groan, boy
She said come over come over
She smiled at you, boy

This song is difficult to dissociate from Trainspotting, so let’s not dissociate it. Let’s suppose that it comes in tandem with the last scene, when Renton has decided to turn his back on his junkie criminal tendencies with a final act of selfishness; stealing the bag of money from his miserable friends and running off to better himself because he know that they won’t. Now I don’t want to say that this is an admirable act—even he agrees that it’s deeply messed up. But this is the song of empowerment, of doing what’s best for yourself even when to others it may seem wrong. And that, well, that feels really good.

4. Washed Out – Paracosm

Listening to this song at high volume through decent headphones feels like getting a massage on a raft that’s floating down a secluded river lined with flowers. It’s a warm wool blanket that wraps around you when you most need it. And the fadeout is an homage to Slowdive’s “Shine,” which is another perfect anthem for unfurrowing your brow.

5. Cocteau Twins – Sea, Swallow Me

Pure, glassy, sparkling beauty. Nothing more, and nothing less. It reaches inside of you and touches your skin from the inside out. But unlike Paracosm, which is incandescent and embracing, this one is a cold mist. That’s all you need sometimes—a chill to wake you up.

6. John Maus – Cop Killer

Turn to this weird darkwave cop-killing anthem for a dose of sinister camaraderie with a fellow renegade. It’s as though John Maus knows just the absurdity of being the professor-turned-electronic musician who is advocating one of the most frowned-upon crimes possible. We all get some dark thoughts sometimes, don’t we?

7. The Cairo Gang – Shivers

The Cairo Gang have a lo-fi, smoky noise that turns croons of hurt into spirals of psychedelia. Through a stained glass window, after all, everything is fragmented into gentle, glowing color. This track is a cover of young Nick Cave’s band Boys Next Door, and through their simple interpretation it is made lusher, more rural and rugged. It’s hard to believe that the original is 35 years old, but it fits in just as well here as long as there’s still a corner to lean up against, a place to narrow your eyes like you’ve got a bad one coming.

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