By ADAM SAWYER
“For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks … Love is like the measles. The older you get it, the worse the attack.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
Love and War are two words that change lives. Sweethearts swoon and entire countries are swept up by the ravishment of warfare. My choice of the word Love over Peace is quite intentional, as I’m a firm believer in the notion that the latter is in no way the antonym to the despair that is War. Peace is merely the middle ground: safety. Creation and community are needed in order to properly balance out the scale, therefore Love fits the bill quite nicely. But I advise all to be careful with quickly labeling Love and War as two entities working in opposition. The famous Hellenic War delineates otherwise, showing how love may beget war. In contrast, one can only hope that the converse is just as likely.
I aimed to create a playlist which highlights both of these aspects of human nature while also making room for the grey areas that lie between anger and adoration. There is a certain tension involved in love – a push and pull that can turn into frustration or worse. Some of these songs come purely from the heart while others were written with an antagonistic slant; some are literal in their relevance while others are more abstract, and nearly all of them convey a sense of anxiety. That being said, let’s leave the boggy waters of semantics behind and let the playlist speak its case.
We begin with the aptly named “Cold War” from Her Lady of Awesome, Janelle Monáe. Her work is rebellious yet subtle all at once and always rides a wave of social commentary. This track sets the stage for the rest of the mix not only with its dramatic chorus and organs, but also with the title, which utilizes potent American historical imagery. Feist’s “A Commotion,” from her latest album Metals, begins with anxious strings and a nagging percussion. It’s simple and beautiful, but listen and you will hear her singing about being “ripped all apart.” Love is acknowledged as the way to “rise above the madness” in Brett Dennen’s “All We Have.” He speaks his heart within the frame of social discourse. I love it. Miss PJ Harvey’s latest album, Let England Shake, is a treasure trove for this particular playlist. It’s by far her most folk-based collection of work. She places a lot of focus on civil war and strife in England’s history. Enjoy one of my favorites among her latest gems, “The Words That Maketh Murder.” Mother Mother’s “O My Heart” is fun. At least I find it fun. But make no mistake: the Canadian indie rock band’s heart feels like “a fish out of water,” “a rock in the gutter,” “a house in tornado.”
Following is the Anglo-Irlandic punk band, The Pogues. “USA” speaks of a love lost. Singer Shane MacGowan comes to the realization that he can never forget the pain, no matter where he goes. Panda Bear soothes our hearts and minds with “Comfy in Nautica.” “Axel Rose” is one of the latest from the Anglo-Germanic indie rock band Art Brut. If this isn’t a perfect mix of love and war, I don’t know what is. Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation.” Explanation necessary? The bow on this playlist package is a neat and adorable ribbon from The xx. Beginning serenely (as most The xx songs do), the lyrics to “Crystalised” soon unveil a relationship under pressure. As the song evolves, the vocal duo convince one another that they must leave behind their issues and focus on what’s important: the strong bond between them.
Janelle Monáe – Cold War
Feist – A Commotion
Brett Dennen – All We Have
PJ Harvey – The Words that Maketh Murder
The Pogues – USA
Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
Art Brut – Axel Rose
Pixies – Wave of Mutilation
The xx – Crystalised
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