Tag Archives: Music

research paper playlists

I’ve talked about how I write research papers before (that I believe in hand-written outlines so I see what I cross out and write in the margins) and this is something else I really believe in: playlists.

People makes playlists all the time for friends/dance parties/road trips. And most people I know listen to music in the background while they work. But I really like making a list of about twenty songs that have to do with my paper topic. Sure this is a lot of fun, but I promise it has a purpose!

Song are usually 3-5 minutes long, so it is really easy to get a “feel” for the song. A novel could take 3-5 days to read (assuming you aren’t doing much else), and even longer to understand. And sometimes getting into a combination of “research paper writing mood” and “appropriate for my topic” mood is difficult. So playlists are productive. I promise!


This spring I had two research papers to do and I made a playlist for each. My Villette paper about how Lucy Snowe plays a part on the stage and in Roman Catholicism in order to gain an active role in her own life. So this girly needs some empowerment!

“A-Punk”-Vampire Weekend

“April Come She Will” Simon & Garfunkel

“Tennessee Rose” The Deep Vibration with Gillian Welch

“People Got a Lotta Nerve” Neko Case

“New Slang” The Shins

“O Mio Babbino Caro” (I watched A Room with a View a lot this semester. But it had relevance. Lucy Snowe goes to continental Europe (read: Catholic Europe) to develop herself beyond the Protestant constructs, just like Lucy Honeychurch.)

“O Valencia” The Decemberists

I basically played these seven songs and Passion Pit’s album Manners on a loop until I finished my paper.

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garden state: movie I wish I had never watched again

Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard in Garden State

So Garden State was probably easily in my top 10 favorite movies from ages 14 to 16. I mean I discovered the Shins because of this movie [like the rest of the mainstream world.] It slowly fell in favor of older movies that I was discovering, but I think thought I enjoyed it. Over winter break, I had an indie film fest with my mom, watching this and (500) Days of Summer, which I love, and I was sorely disappointed by it.

I originally loved this movie because I felt it showed how bipolar and bipolar medicine can affect a man and his familial connections, as well as his attempts at love.

But I was so disappointed by the maudlin interpretation of life that I held up so highly in earlier years. Zach Braff’s character  is just really annoying and kind of pretentious, and it spreads with his directing. And now I can’t look back fondly on the movie.

I hate the idea that mental health problems can be fixed by another person. Watching this movie again made me realize how warped my perception of what mental health recovery looked like at age 15.

The two parts I felt were the saving grace were Peter Sarsgaard and the soundtrack. Peter is wonderful and captured completely every character he plays. Did you see him be suave and debonair in The Education? I didn’t even recognize him at first, but he was wonderful and very convincing, just like he was in Garden State. And the soundtrack had Coldplay, The Shins, Frou Frou, Simon and Garfunkel and Iron & Wine, all that I love.

I am eternally grateful to Zach Braff and this movie though, because it introduced me to a relatively indie band, The Shins, which expanded my then musical tastes beyond Maroon 5, George Gershwin and whatever was on the radio.


Filed under Film, Music

april 1. come she will 2. is the cruelest month

“April Showers bring May flowers”


My meteorological question of the day. Where does it rain the most in April? I guess England and the Northeast? Because things bloom in April here, and it rains a lot in March. I guess because Georgia’s winter ends in late February/early March and by the end of March it is full on spring. Well, key to this proverb is that April is a time for new beginnings! and I am completely craving spring time.

I wanted to looked at how April was portrayed in one of my favorite and poems and one of my favorite songs because in Modern Poetry when we were looking at “The Wasteland” I kept wanting to sing this song by Simon and Garfunkel, which of course turned out horribly because I usually try to do both harmonies at the same time and of course fail.

In “April Come She Will” Simon and Garfunkel sing about a girl who, after she comes in April when streams are swelled with rain, and by September, she has up and left him and he is nostalgic about her. It is telling that the love starts in April, opposed to January the “start” of the year because it returns to a pagan concept of the calendar based on fertility opposed to science, that the man and woman are able to be together in fertile times, but the man is unable to harvest his love and keep it through the winter and thus is only left with his memories. Supposedly this song was based an English nursery rhyme that Paul Simon’s femme du jour would sing absentmindedly.

In “The Wasteland,” T.S. Eliot opens with his now-oft quoted like “April is the cruelest month” referring to the renewal of life coming from ground [lilacs] disturbing the dead who are buried and don’t want to wake up. I’m pretty sure this is just about the saddest thing ever.

Though both works suggest and are open to a cyclical nature in life and renewal, they both also start in April, the time of fertility and renewal and end in images of winter/dead/absence without an explicit point towards renewal, the April works are rather depressing.

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grammar in lyrics, pt. 2 [punctuation in lyrics]

Our Players:

, . ! “

I guess I overlooked punctuation because most people do. I mean, in lyrics at least. It is a lot easier to hear


LOOK FUTURA, and the artist of "Oxford Comma"

the grammar than the punctuation. What if they just needed a breath/rest there? Who says it has to be a comma/semicolon?

Well, Vampire Weekend doesn’t exactly leave anything to the imagination about grammar in their song “Oxford Comma.” It quite a cute little song, pretty much about anything other than oxford commas. But of course, they are important, unnecessary, and adorable, all at the same time. Maybe that’s what the song is about? The grammar in the song usually changed the meaning more often than the punctuation. Because punctuation is usually a subject rather than technique.

Ezra Koenig said the first line came from his reaction to the group at Columbia University called Students for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma. And he immediately thought “Who gives a fuck about the Oxford comma?”

In a transition, and hint at future blog, Vampire Weekend used the font Futura on their album covers in a tribute to Wes Anderson. And I think that the next song sounds like it could be in a Wes Anderson film during the denouement.

“Triphallus, to Punctuate!” is a innuendo filled song, must like it’s title, possibly referring to what an exclamation mark looks a little like. But, Of Montreal uses both the verb ‘punctuate’ in the title of their song and a punctuation mark. Snaps to them, for double qualifying for this blog post.

Jason Mraz, known for his semi-intellectual, self-deprecating, slightly irreverent lyrics also scores double. In a very silly song about freeing a dolphin, he notes that his cause is “This is serious with a period, not a comma.” Who told you commas can’t be serious, Mr. Mraz? I’m pretty sure he just wrote this so it would rhyme with “drama” in the next line. It is a very silly little ditty.

Again, in Jay-Z’s song “Trouble” he remarks on how the period is the only finite punctuation “fuck that exclamation comma quotations I love drama period.” Is drama the only thing that rhymes with comma? NO. Llama, mama, lama [as in Dalai], pajama.

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grammar in lyrics

Technically, all lyrics are some sort of poetry. Granted, in order to have some success of sorts, usually poetry must be good. Lyrics could got either away. But in poetry, one of my favorite things is noticing when grammar plays a major role in the meaning or the grammar changes, resulting in new meaning.

Examples: The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats. The sudden change from future to present suggests that the speaker has arrived at Innisfree over the course of speaking in the poem, implying that Innisfree is not a distant, physical place that one must travel to, but instead an inner place of nostalgia and ideals that comes to oneself at the thought of the past.

Joni Mitchell and Guitar

Joni Mitchell-Zooey Deschanel bangs before Zooey was born

Joni Mitchell, one of my favorite songwriters ever, who wrote one of my favorite songs ever, “Chelsea Morning” is the queen of grammatically significant songs. In “Chelsea Morning,” the lover singing suggests “oh won’t you stay/we’ll put on the day/we’ll talk in present tenses” showing that present tense is less intimidating, at least to lovers living in the present. Why would they plan anything when they already have milk and oranges and honey.

In Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” he recounts a story of a girl who herself is remembering a guy she knew someone once. The chorus emphasizes this by being in the present tense, while the rest of the song is in the past tense. By being in the present tense, it allows for ambiguity concerning who is telling the girl to “make it last all night.” It could be either the man she is remembering or the man who is telling her story, and that could change the meaning of how she took the advice. Did she take it from the remembered man and fail at it or has she yet to fully comprehend/hear it from her story-teller?

Those are my two favorite examples, and I’m sure there are countless others.

EDIT: Thought of another one. “I and Love and You” by the Avett Brothers. That’s totally a perfect example of anaphora used for emphasis. I had to share. It is pretty obvious which one is a grammar dork. Well, probably me, and you for reading this far.

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