Monday Mixtape: Inspirational music

    In this week’s Monday Mixtape, Marco Cartolano celebrates the end of Spring quarter with some powerful songs. Find this week’s mixtape on Spotify here! Transcript below.

    [“With A Little Help from My Friends”-Joe Cocker]

    Hello everybody, and welcome to Monday Mixtape. This is going to be the last Monday Mixtape of the quarter and the last one before summer. I feel it’s necessary to celebrate the end of the year with some inspirational songs to help us get through finals. You just heard Joe Cocker’s cover of the Beatles “With A Little Help from My Friends.” Cocker’s bluesy vocals finds gravity in a song about the importance of friendship.The gospel vocals that back Cocker up on the chorus make for a powerful declaration of getting by. I suggest this tune for a final study session with your best friends.

    [“You Can Make It if You Try”-Sly and the Family Stone]

    “You Can Make It if You Try” by Sly and the Family Stone provides the right amount of motivation necessary to prepare for finals week. The band members trade vocals on this upbeat soul track. Anchored by drums, the band mixes keyboards and horns for a fun song with an uplifting message.

    [“Float On”-Modest Mouse]

    This indie rock anthem assures us that we will be ok. “Float On” by Modest Mouse has an iconic guitar line that feels welcoming and optimistic, and that guitar line gives in to lead singer Isaac Brock’s excited verses about dealing with life’s problems. Brock manages to look on the bright side in the face of bad news. This leads to the memorable chant that we will all float on.

    [“Hold On” Tom Waits]

    A more muted ode to keeping it together in the face of adversity, “Hold On” by Tom Waits describes people in desperate situations. Wait’s gravely voice can be raw, mournful or even creepy, but his voice takes on an affectionate tone as he describes the need to hold on when all else fails. Descriptive passages about burning down your mansion and dancing in the cold illustrate why Waits is one of our best living songwriters. Aided by a guitar, the plaintive chorus is a warm embrace after struggling through the daily routine.

    [“Greatest Love of All”-Whitney Houston]

    Whitney Houston’s version of “Greatest Love of All” is a self-love anthem from one of the best singers of the ‘80s. The keyboard intro welcomes us to a warm track about finding strength in yourself. When Houston goes to her higher range on the chorus, the results give me chills. Houston declares that she retains her dignity in spite of anything that the world throws her way.

    [“The Magnificent 7”-Kamasi Washington]

    Sometimes the pure beauty of music itself inspires me. “The Magnificent Seven” by Kamasi Washington is a masterpiece of modern jazz music. It has stellar sax lines and great piano passages. But the song truly comes alive when the choral vocals kick in. When those vocals mix with the saxophone, it’s pure musical nirvana. Music this majestic can turn a study break on the Lakefill into a moment of bliss.

    [“The Ballad of El Goodo”-Big Star]

    My last song recommendation of the quarter is one of my favorite songs. “The Ballad of El Goodo” by Big Star is resilience incarnate. Unfairly ignored in their prime, Big Star released three classic albums that inspired the alternative rock of the ‘80s. “The Ballad of El Goodo” combines expert pop songwriting with the muscular guitar of ‘60s rock. Lead singer Alex Chilton mixes desperation with hope in his quest to stay true to himself. It’s a song that captures the eternal fight against conformity with a chorus for the ages.


    And that’s all for Monday Mixtape. This week’s playlist will be available on Spotify at mondaymixtape. Make sure to subscribe to Monday Mixtape on Apple Podcasts so you get a notification every time we post a new episode. I’ve had a great time sharing music with you this quarter. I’m going to be studying abroad in the fall, so it will be awhile until I can share some more. Until then, this has been Marco Cartolano for NBN Audio. Just remember to hold on for a little bit longer.


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