Add Some Music To Your Day: The Morning Mix

From the mind of Shmathan…

What do you when life’s gettin’ you down?  I find that the Beach Boys say it best: “Your doctor knows it keeps you calm/Your preacher adds it to his psalms/So add some music to your day.”

And in that lyrical spirit,  today I will continue to bring you my musical musings.  Now, I am no Brooklyn hipster to be sure, so perhaps I am not the greatest authority.  I’m sorry, but I find ironic t-shirts and plaid short-sleeve button-downs to be passé, and am positively mystified by the concept of skinny-jeans that require one to be a eunuch to squeeze into.  Plus, my sense of self-worth is based on actual accomplishments rather than merely being the first to know of the latest Hot Hot Heat knock-off worming its way through the city’s musical underground. Finally, I am too musically omnivorous for the pretentious myopism of the Brooklyn elite.  Sure, I have a respectable vinyl collection, consider the The National to be my favorite band, and knew Vampire Weekend when they were still playing parties at Columbia.  However, my playlist is populated not only with Indie darlings like Band of Horses and Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, but with a broad swath of the musical world ranging from Aretha and Whitney to Travis up through Springsteen and Buckley.  Plus I haven’t renounced Death Cab or Wilco for becoming too “Mainstream” and love Coldplay even though, as Ben says, they’re the rock band for soccer moms. However, I think my largely uncritical, simple love of music gives me a refreshing perspective.  Consequently, it will be my goal today, and in future posts of the same vein, to draw our lovely readers’ attention toward music, new and old, with which no person should be unacquainted (either as a recommendation…or a warning).   So without further ado, let us dive into today’s topic: The Morning Mix.


I firmly believe that the first song you hear sets the tone for the entire today.  Which means, first off, no Smiths or Radiohead.  Your first song or songs of the day should probably be something up-tempo, that energizes you with its overpowering, toe-tapping beat (something within the range of 110 and 160 beats per minute.  For example, The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” is 150 BPM).  Or, if slightly lacking in bringing the beat, something that gets your spirit moving from tone alone, something that’s just plain fun.  Ultimately, any song whose lyrics and general attitude instill in you that sense of being on top of the world will do just fine.  For your consideration, I suggest the following.

1. The Go! Team,  “Huddle Formation.”  Really, you can’t go wrong with these post-pop British darlings.  Their distinctive sound comes from a unique fusion of hip hop, indie pop,and infectious dance rhythms that provide the foundation for lyrics derived from cheerleader chants and theme songs.  Sounds trippy, but trust me, it’s amazing.  Any song off their sophomore album, Proof of Youth, is fantastically energizing.  But it’s Thunder, Lightning, Strike‘s “Huddle Formation” that will have you jumping out of bed, and “workin’ down the street” to “all these beats.”

2. Stereophonics, “Have A Nice Day”  This is a song that received a lot of morning play time when Ben, Shmarker and I all lived together back in Georgia.  Why?  Because it delivers what it promises.  From the opening “da da da da da ba da da” through the cheerful if repetitive drum beat and guitar work, you’ll find yourself filled with a delightful zest for life.  Play this song before you begin your day, and its close you will find it “turned out just right.”  See for yourself:

3. Morningwood, “Nth Degree.”  If you haven’t already, check out Morningwood’s (schoolgirl giggle) eponymous album.  Songs like “Jetsetter” and “Nu Rock” will have you jumping around your room for hours.  But its “Nth Degree” that will wake you up, get you to your feet, and have you shout “LET’S GO!”

4. Aretha Franklin, “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby).”  Of course, no morning mix is complete without the Queen of Soul (God Bless the very ground she walks on).  Of course, you have the old standbys: “Respect” and “Think” are of course fantastic songs to dance around to while getting ready, and have the added bonus of instilling pure fierceness in anyone who sings along.  And of course, “Say A Little Prayer for You” was tailor made for wistful mornings.  But personally, there’s nothing like “Since You’ve Been Gone.”  There’s just something about it, even though it’s a song about a man who left (don’t they all), that still makes me sing along and think “I feel free.”

5. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “Taking Care of Business.”  Now this is truly an anthem for all of us who “get up every morning/From your alarm clock’s warning/Take the 8:15 into the city” (Okay, so sue me, I  actually just walk two blocks to One Liberty Plaza).  A solid drum beat, catchy lyrics, overwhelmingly awesome guitar work and infectious keyboard accompaniment means you just can’t help but rock out to this song.  Trust me, start your day with this song and you will take care of business.

6.  Various Artist Covers of “I Fought the Law” Now, this is a song for those mornings where you just feel crushed under foot, where the prospect of slaving away yet another day at a thankless job is so daunting you consider hurling yourself under the 4 train.  Or, if you’re studying for the bar exam.  Anyway, this song lets you turn it all around.  Sure, the subject matter is depressingly fitting for the thoughts of corporate slavery spinning in your head, but I DARE YOU to give this song a listen and not find its enthusiastic beat a cure to what ails you.  Originally recorded by Sonny Curtis and the Crickets, it’s been covered to death, giving you options.  I personally recommend the versions by The Bobby Fuller Four (the true classic version) or The Clash’s version from their eponymous album if you’re feeling the need for some attitude.

7.  Ryan Adams, “New York, New York.”  As us New Yorkers know, it gets rough in the city.  The bustle and grind, it can wear you down.  So some mornings I take this gem from Adams’ Gold and let a wave of acoustic and electric guitars carry me away and remind me of the excitement that brought me here from the stix of the Georgia swamps.  Okay, so Atlanta isn’t really the stix, but work with me here.  Regardless, sometimes you just need to remind yourself that “The World won’t wait so I better shake/That thing right out through the door/Hell, I still love you New York.”  And I do, I really do.

8.  Hole, “Celebrity Skin.”  It’s too easy (and fun) to rag on Courtney Love.  But you know what, good songs can happen to bad people.  And let’s face it, some days you need guitar-and-drum heavy derivative grunge rock songs about drug use and sexual exploitation to sum up that feeling of “everything is fucked up, but I’ll make it anyway.”  So swallow your pride, and let Courtney Love remind you that “If the world is so wrong/You can break it all with one song” (technically that’s from “Awful,” but what the hell).

9. Wham! “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”  Yes, I know it’s trite.  But frankly, if you don’t like this song or have a problem with George Michael, you’re dead inside.  There, I said it.  So, again, get over it, and get on with your day, because you’re taking me dancing tonight!

10. The Cure, “Friday I’m In Love”  Okay, so I know I said no Smiths or Radiohead, which logically would exclude the posterboys of whiny goth rock (that damn it, I so love).  HOWEVER, exceptions must be made, and I am making one for this treasure off of the Cure’s underrated album Wish.  Even if you’re bitter and single like me, you’ll still adore this song.  And if you have that special someone (well, first off I despise you out of envy), this song will sum up and perfectly accompany that feeling of  walking down the street some morning, and finding that all is right in the world because you are in love.  You bastard.

11. Jack’s Mannequin, “I’m Ready.”  In all likelihood, any time that I suggest you Add Some Music To Your Day, I will find some way to work in my favorite pop punk powerhouse.  Put Andrew McMahon behind a keyboard, give him a microphone, and you get pure awesomeness.  Awesomeness.  And this is the perfect song with which to launch yourself out the door, ready to take on the world, for better or worse, for victory or crushing defeat.  So “wake up to find it’s another four aspirin morning” and just “dive in.”

One Response

  1. I heart Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos. And most of the bands you mention.


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