Days, nights, stories.

We have been speaking of mix CDs here lately, and one reason they have been on my mind is that we’ve been hard at work on some for a few weeks. Before we went to New York this fall, Mike kept saying he’d like to make a New York playlist. But, with one thing and another (that means H1N1 and Alisa’s wedding), it never got made. Over our winter break, I mentioned to Mike that since Alisa spent her honeymoon in New York, she might enjoy it if we made her a New York CD for her birthday.

Since Mike is, of course, the man who makes seven Christmas lasagnas instead of just one or two, he is also the man who makes three mix CDs instead of just one. With my suggestions, his suggestions, and the internet’s suggestions, we ended up dividing the songs into three different categories: days, nights, and stories. I’ve been itching to post them, and we gave the CDs to Alisa on Saturday, so here are the playlists with our thoughts.

Disc 1: New York City Days
1. “NYC—Gone, Gone” by Conor Oberst –This is a perfect song to open a disc that is ready to rock your head. It’s quick and catchy. (Mike)
2. “New York City”—John Lennon—Make sure you walk by The Dakota on your way to Central Park to visit Strawberry Fields. (Mike and Kari)
3. “NYC”—Steve Earle—This is a song that one of our stoned listeners requested on a weekly basis on our radio station. Whenever I played Steve Earle, he’d call and talk to me for 15 minutes in incoherent sentences. I finally downloaded the song for him, which is awesome, played Steve Earle and waited for him to call. He never did. (Mike)
4. “Goin’ to New York Town”—Counting Crows—“I met a girl with autumn in her eyes.” I’m glad I put this on the CD because I forgot how awesome that line was. (Mike)
5. “At the Zoo”—Simon & Garfunkel— This is about the Central Park Zoo, and it’s by one of my favorite bands. Win-win.(Kari)
6. “New York City”—They Might Be Giants— This is another of my favorite bands! I had never heard this song until we started looking for things for these CDs and this song is really great and fun. I like how it lists all the landmarks and is also a little romantic. (Kari)
7. “Chicago”—Sufjan Stevens— Every CD gets a gimmicky song. And this one really does mention New York, even though it’s called “Chicago.” So I petitioned for its inclusion. (Kari)
8. “Apartment Story”—The National—This is a Brooklyn band that is fantastic. This is from the album Boxer (coincidence?). This is my favorite song. It makes me imagine living in Brooklyn. (Mike)
9. “The Only Living Boy In New York”—Simon & Garfunkel—Why this is on the soundtrack for Garden State is almost as ironic as having Chicago on this CD. My favorite song by S&G. (Mike)
10. “Sixth Avenue Heartache”—The Wallflowers—For many years I loved this song because it had background vocals by Adam Duritz. However, after Counting Crows have come down a couple of notches on my favorite bands ladder, I’ve come to appreciate this song for being a great songs. (Mike)
11. “Marching Bands of Manhattan”—Deathcab For Cutie— This is a song I love all year long. Sad songs about relationships, what more could you want? (Kari)
12. “Lovecraft in Brooklyn”—The Mountain Goats—Lovecraft is the author H.P. Lovecraft, who had a hard time when he lived in Brooklyn. Also, I love the Mountain Goats. (Kari)
13. “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”—Simon & Garfunkel— I remember my mom singing along to this song when I was very little. I get my S&G fandom from her. (Kari)
14. “Walking Thru the Park”—Muddy Waters—Muddy Waters is an influence on M. Ward. This is a good song for walking through any of the parks in NYC, but I always imagine Central Park. (Mike)
15. “New York”—U2—This is just a great love song to New York.(Kari)
16. “New York, New York”—Ryan Adams—The chorus to the song was Jason’s last NYC Tweet on your honeymoon and it’s a nice way to end the day. (Mike)

Disc 2: New York City Nights
This might be my favorite of the three because I love the magic of the city that never sleeps. From the bright lights of Times Square to the men playing their barrels on the corner and singing at the top of their lungs at 3 in the morning. (Mike)
1. “Theme from New York, New York”—Frank Sinatra—How can you not have this song a New York City mix? It is the song that defines a city. (Mike)
2. “On Broadway”—The Drifters—I always sing this song in my head when I’m on Broadway. I’m sure I’m not alone. (Mike)
3. “New York State of Mind”—Billy Joel—This is a great nighttime song for walking the streets of NY. (Mike)
4. “Hotel Chelsea Nights”—Ryan Adams—Another Ryan Adams song. Here he is very depressed. New York can do that to you. (Mike)
5. “Back to Manhattan”—Norah Jones—1st of 2 Norah Jones songs on this disc. (Mike)
6. “If This City Never Sleeps”—Rosie Thomas—A beautiful sad song about dreams and hope. (Kari)
7. “City”—Sara Bareilles—Another beautiful song about dreams and hope. (Mike)
8. “Autumn in New York”—Charlie Parker—Autumn in New York, you know how beautiful it is!(Mike)
9. “New York City”—The Peter Malick Group—2nd Norah Jones song. (Mike)
10. “Chelsea”—Counting Crows—This was a treasure on the Across a Wire: Live from New York album. This is one of my favorite Counting Crows’ song. (Mike)
11. “My Blue Manhattan”—Ryan Adams—Too much Ryan Adams? Never. (Mike)
12. “Up on the Roof”—The Drifters—I had a hard time deciding which version of this song to pick. I went with classic over all the other choices. (Mike)
13. “Luck Be a Lady”—Frank Sinatra—As you know, this is from Guys and Dolls, I prefer Marlon Brando singing this as to Frank Sinatra, I hope you agree with that statement. However, I did not have a version of him singing the song. (Mike)
14. “Last Night in Soho”—Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch—This song is awesome. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino for introducing me to this band. (Mike)
15. “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”—Petula Clark—I love oldies and since there are no appropriate Beatles songs for these CDs, you get the female version of the British Invasion instead.(Kari)
16. “Leaving New York”—REM—The chorus says it all: Leaving New York, never easy. I saw the lights fading out. (Mike)

Disc 3: New York City Stories: Everybody who goes to the city has a story to tell.
1. “Hard Times in New York Town”—Bob Dylan—There were several Bob Dylan songs to choose from that would have fit nicely on this disc. I chose this one because it is poignant. I also like opening CDs with classics. (Mike)
2. “Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning”—The Innocence Mission— I have such fond memories of listening to this song while in Brooklyn. Waking up in a Brooklyn apartment on an autumn morning with the window open and the sun beaming in is the most powerful image in my mind. (Mike)
3. “Song for Myla Goldberg”—The Decemberists—A CD with narrative. Of course The Decemberists wanted to be a part of it. Kari helped me remember that they reference New York in this song. This a live version from SoHo. I think it might have been at the Apple Store, but don’t quote me on that. (Mike)
4. “12 West Front Street”—Steven Delopoulos—This song feels like New York to me. I don’t know if it is about NY, but I want to believe it is. (Mike)
5. “New York’s Not My Home”—Jim Croce—I, for reasons unknown to me, associate Jim Croce’s voice with New York. This goes along with one theme of the CDs that NY is magical, but can be a lonely place when your dreams are dashed against the rocks or reality. (Mike)
6. “The Boxer”—Simon & Garfunkel— This is one of my all-time favorite songs, about how hard it is to live in New York and how he refuses to let the city beat him down. It breaks my heart almost every time. (Kari)
7. “Washington Square”—Counting Crows—I remember walking around Washington Square Park last summer waiting for our reservations to Mario Batali’s restaurant. It was so much the idyllic park with people walking dogs, and young and old men playing chess. (Mike)
8. “The Hands That Built America”—U2—The building of New York and the early immigrants of the city is something I am fascinated with. It is why I love The Godfather II so much. This song, which is featured in Gangs of New York, reminds of my family’s heritage into being a part of building New York. (Mike)
9. “American Tune”—Paul Simon—When I was trying to find a copy of Paul Simon playing “The Boxer” on SNL when it came back after 9/11, I saw a lot of people say that this is the song he should have played instead. But lines like, “And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered, I don’t have a friend who feels at ease,” would surely have been hard to sing. (Kari)
10. “My City of Ruins”—Bruce Springsteen—True story, this song was actually written in 2000 before 9/11, but everybody remembers it because Springsteen performed it on the telethon. I love how achingly sad it is. (Kari)
11. “City of Immigrants”—Steve Earle—This is from Steve Earle’s album he recorded after 9/11 about how resilient New York is. (Mike)
12. “Coney Island”—Deathcab for Cutie—My cousin says Coney Island is his favorite place on the planet. Mike and I haven’t been yet, but next time we visit New York, we’re definitely going to Coney Island. (Kari)
13. “All the Way to New York City”—Rosie Thomas—I have a special love for Rosie Thomas, and I adore how delightful this song makes New York sound in the winter.(Kari)
14. “I and Love and You”—the Avett Brothers—I insisted that Mike download this album because people kept talking about it, and then we both fell hard for this song. I am a sucker for all things Brooklyn.(Kari)
15. “Downtown Train”—Tom Waits—I was not familiar with this song until I was searching for some New York themed songs to make disc 3 complete. We often play Tom Waits on our radio show during the summer. I was glad to see a city themed song by him and I think it fits nicely at the end of the collection. (Mike)
16. “Postlude- Critical Mass”—Sufjan Stevens— I insisted that one of Sufjan’s songs from his BQE album make the cut. I think the music here is really lovely, and I like that he wrote it about a road. (Kari)

Now, our disclaimer is that we didn’t want to fill every CD with songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, but if we were making a playlist instead of CDs, we’d probably have more of all three of those artists. We are happy with what we’ve got here, though. We both looked at a lot of New York playlists and songs online, and I think these CDs stand up to any of those.

What songs make you think of New York? What songs did we leave off that you would insist upon? (Don’t say “Uptown Girl”, because we left that one off on purpose.)

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