It’s been a year, hasn’t it? Amidst everything going on we returned to in-person teaching at Simmons SLIS and the fall semester is almost concluded. An advisee of mine who is part of the leadership of LISSA (Library & Information Science Student Association), our student organization here at SLIS, asked me if I would be a part of their end of semester celebration by creating a 30 minute playlist for a virtual event they dubbed the “Serotonin Swing” Virtual Dance Party. Here’s what I came up with, the Spotify playlist is embedded below and I’ve got some more context and commentary after the embedded player. Consider this my personal liner notes for this playlist!
- “Dancing in the Street” – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas. This was the first song that came to mind when thinking about this playlist. It’s such a joyful celebration of self-expression, as well as a sort of anthem for the Civil Rights era (more about that here).
- “Pelota” – Khruangbin. I’ve been listening to this band so much during the past few years, and really loved their most recent album Mordechai which came out in June 2020. This particular song is catchy and danceable, with irreverent Spanish lyrics about the singer being a ball and going on various adventures. There’s also a music video which is pretty great.
- “Wrapped up in Books” – Belle & Sebastian. The chorus of song, from the 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress, says “Our aspirations are wrapped up in books.” Is there any more appropriate sentiment for library school students? I think not. The music video looks like it takes place in a bookstore instead of a library, for what it’s worth.
- “Move on Up” – Curtis Mayfield. A classic funk/soul anthem from Curtis Mayfield, which you may recognize due to its sampled use in a latter day hit. The lyrics are about striving and working towards a brighter future, which is an inspirational message at the end of a long semester. For a different take on this song, here’s a live version from Curtis himself back in 1987.
- “Robot Rock” – Daft Punk. This song provides the perfect soundtrack to an interplanetary dance party. It’s the first single from Daft Punk’s 2005 album Human After All and a longtime favorite.
- “Hypotheticals” – Lake Street Dive. I suppose that one song released this year should be on this playlist. This is from LSD’s 2021 album Obviously and I think it’s a super catchy, fun, well constructed song. Bonus points for the fact that this band was formed at the New England Conservatory of Music, right down the road from the Simmons campus!
- “A Minha Menina” – Os Mutantes. This song is built on a memorable guitar lick and has an addicting groove infusing it with dance. Os Mutantes means “The Mutants” in Portuguese; this band is influential in 60’s Brazilian rock and has been compared to The Beatles. Can you hear the similarity in their sound?
- “Waterloo” – ABBA. I want to start by saying that this is my favorite ABBA song. I absolutely love that it’s about a pivotal historical battle and also a pop song about love. When I was a rebellious teenager who thought I was too cool for this type of song, my parents explained to me that ABBA was the international language of music. I eventually got over myself and now have a major soft spot them, this song in particular. Check out this 1974 clip of them performing the song as part of Eurovision, it’s a legendary performance.
- “I’m Amazed”- My Morning Jacket. This song, from the 2008 album Evil Urges, is a triumphant declaration of an approach to the world (with all its clearly visible flaws) from the perspective of wonder. It’s a relevant lens for graduate school, and life in general! Here is an alternate version of the song, from the David Letterman show back from 2010. I’ve been a fan of this band for years and have been fortunate to see them in concert a handful of times. Bonus fact: this album has a track called “Librarian” on it which was considered for this playlist but ultimately rejected because it was too slow for dancing, and because the lyrics are NSFW. Go look for it yourself if you’re interested in listening to more from this band 🙂
Let me know what you think about these songs! What did I leave out, what are your favorite songs about libraries, archives, museums, and/or organizing information? Thanks again to LISSA for inviting me to be a part of their end of term festivities, this was a fun task and I was honored to be asked.