With a hearty batch of letters now up on the site and just a few remaining weeks of summer stretching before us, BAND has eased into a temporary state of repose. Our office is a little quieter, our meetings are a little shorter, and our work schedules— briefly unhindered by semester stressors and publication deadlines— allow for longer gazes outside the office window and, if we’re emboldened by our beloved office neighbor’s closed door, music.
That’s right. Just when you thought we were automatons set only to study, to code, and to talk about Blake, we surprise you with a glimpse of our humanity, our personality, and— if you may be so agreeable— our great taste in music.
Inspired by our more languid days and the restful easiness that washes over the office in the remaining throes of summer, I have curated a playlist consisting of what BAND has been loving lately. Read on for why we keep pressing repeat on these tracks, or if you’re feeling bold, jump right into the Spotify playlist here.
With that, some tunes:
Meaghan, about to start her second year on the Blake Archive team, has spent this summer (and a good chunk of her life, as well) listening to Fleetwood Mac, so she suggested “Albatross” and “Dreams.” “‘Dreams’ is quintessential Fleetwood Mac,” she said before assuring us that the nod to Coleridge coupled with a bluesy feel would make “Albatross” compelling even to those who don’t feel a landslide of love coming down for Fleetwood Mac.
Sarah, the editor of the Blake Quarterly, began her recommendations with a lively classical piece: John Cage’s ”4’33”,” which she insists is best played “on repeat.” For another pick, she put forth a New Zealand hit reminiscent of her own college days, “Loyal” by Dave Dobbyn.
As one might expect of our Blake Archive editor, Morris recommended three Blakeian tunes, all of which are selected from Allen Ginsberg’s album Songs of Innocence and Experience, a record dedicated to musical renditions from Blake’s original work.
Morris, in particular, highlighted “Little Boy Lost,” “Little Boy Found,” and “Laughing Song,” remarking, “Package Ginsberg with his harmonium and 1970s war protests and you’ve got a snapshot of life in the era.” Though I know Spotify is a repository of nearly any and all music, I was surprised to find the entirety of Ginsberg’s Songs of Innocence and Experience available there— pair it with the corresponding objects in the Blake Archive, and you’ve got yourself an enchantingly multimedial night in.
“Musical self-medication” was the theme of our project coordinator Eric’s recommendations, and so our playlist begins a radical turn from the somewhat mellow vibe we’ve so far been laying down. “Passerby” by Ripe, “The Real” by Busty and the Bass, and “Animal Spirits” by Vulfpeck, comprise his selections chosen for their “funky rhythmics” and “manically tight horn sections.”
Whether he was inspired by the aforementioned funky rhythmics or the beats he needs to power through his miles and miles of daily running, project assistant Rob’s recommendations keep the strain of musical intensity going with “Prayer” by Disturbed, “Judy” by the Headstones, and “Man in the Box” (explicit) by Alice in Chains.
Next up is Cen, a project assistant packing her bags for the big city to begin her theatre-focused doctoral work. She selected just one song, “The City Holds My Heart” by Ghostly Kisses. Of her selection, she wrote: “I have always loved songs that try to understand any connection that human beings can possibly have with anything beyond themselves through intimate relationship. This song interweaves the attachment of a person with the attachment to a city, which is extremely relatable for me as I am on the verge of leaving—and after all, what is the attachment to a city if not memories with people there one really cares about.” With that, we wish her luck, bon voyage, and a hearty assurance that this city and its people will miss her just the same as she described.
Finally, we turn to the author. My first selection is easy, “High Steppin'” by The Avett Brothers. Though I would listen to a fifteen minute track of them tuning their banjos, this track wins me over with its skillful combination of momento mori-esque lyrics and a catchy beat that wouldn’t be out of place at a square dance. Next, because summer, to me, is not summer without a hearty dose of rockabilly and rolled down car windows, “’49 Mercury Blues” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra (admittedly a bit of a guilty pleasure). And lastly, some quasi-dad rock: “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede because, let’s face it, this song is two minutes and fifty-two seconds of good feelings.
Have a song that’s been part of the soundtrack to your summer? BAND would love to hear it! Drop it in the comments below for a chance to be part of our “BAND Summer Hits” playlist. Otherwise, we wish you blue skies, open windows, and happy listening.