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Listening

What’s the last song you heard?



We emailed our staff: “What’s the last song you heard? Respond immediately.” They wrote back: “Some Starbucks shit.” And then they wrote back some more.


“Building a Mystery” by Sarah McLachlan
XM radio is always on where I work. And more often than not it’s set to the “Sound of Starbucks” station. Sarah McLachlan brings me back to junior high, and that’s not where I want to go. At least it’s not the “your love is better than chocolate” song. That one makes me want to die. —Claire Miccio

» Watch the video for “Building a Mystery”

“Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang
A decade after ’80s nostalgia became fashionable, I finally caved and downloaded one of my favorite childhood songs. It’s on repeat. I still know every word. —Sarah Hepola

» Listen to “Rapper’s Delight” at kingblind

“Amsterdam” by Peter, Bjorn & John
When I’m half-awake and grumpy on the bus/MUNI/BART to work, I need music that’s as cheery as possible. On a cool and foggy morning like this, Writer’s Block on shuffle was it. —Meave Gallagher

» Listen to “Amsterdam” at All Things Go

“I Love My Dog” by Cat Stevens
This song was in the film Year of the Dog, and I fell in love with it upon first listen. It’s such a nakedly affectionate pronouncement. It sounds like someone discovering something incredibly significant and essential about himself, which is, I guess, also the subject of the movie. —Todd Levin

» Watch Cat Stevens perform “I Love My Dog”

“Johnny Sunshine” by Liz Phair
I think many things about this song. To name a few:
  • It may be a lot cheesier than I ever realized.
  • I have chosen to not care at all if it is.
  • Life was both better and worse when I was 13 and I memorized every word of this album.
  • I one time briefly dated someone named Johnny and it was kind of like this song except I was happy when he left.
Nicole Pasulka

» Listen to “Johnny Sunshine” by Liz Phair

“New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” by LCD Soundsystem
For anyone who’s lived here long enough to see the Disney-ification of Times Square, the over-hipnification of Williamsburg, and the transition from hard-nosed Rudy to Billionaire Mike, it’s the new NYC theme song. —Geoff Badner

» Listen to “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” at Shameless Complacency

“The Humming Chorus“ from Madame Butterfly
Because my father loves it and he was having neck surgery. He’s OK, and now he’ll be able to use his arm again. —Jessica Francis Kane

Rodrigo y Gabriela’s “Tamacun”
Listened to it as I pulled into the parking garage at work this morning. It makes me want to flamenco. —Liz Entman

» Listen to “Tamacun” at Live Music Blog

“Hate It Here” by Wilco
Sounds like a terrific mash-up of John Lennon and the Band. —Kevin Guilfoile

» Listen to “Hate It Here” at Who Killed the Mixtape?

“Lipstick Vogue” (Live at the El Mocambo) by Elvis Costello
This version kicks ass over its This Year’s Model counterpart. Elvis’s vocal is rawer, less New Wave-y, and the slightly frenzied tempo lends itself nicely to the song’s inarguably punk nature. Really, though, it’s all about the drunk guy in the audience—audible throughout the entire show—reaching his zenith of belligerence late in the track: "Yeeeeeeehooo! Yeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaa!" —Eric Feezell

» Listen to the Gaza Strippers’ cover of “Lipstick Vogue” at Something I Learned Today

“She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals
Sitting on the opposite train platform here in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., a man is reminding me at top volume from his Motorola Razr phone how much I loved this song when it first came out. There are no other sounds beside the song and some birds. “She drives me crazy and I can’t help myself.” Now, as I type this on my Blackberry, his train has pulled in. Now the man is heading north toward New Haven. —Rosecrans Baldwin

» Watch the video for “She Drives Me Crazy”

“Older” by the Joyce McKinney Experience
Found on the two-disc reissue Love Songs for Kirk, the entire recorded output by this twin-female-fronted thrash band from Leamington Spa. Disc one is buzzy and fun, but the more dubby, sparse second disc—where this cut resides—loses almost all of the band’s charm. —Jonathan Bell

» Listen to song samples from Love Songs for Kirk

“I Love NYC” by Andrew W.K.
I’ve been in New York for about seven months now, but only in the past week have I come to agree with this song’s title. —Erik Bryan

“In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7
Ask me again at the same time tomorrow and it’s likely to again be “In the Waiting Line,” or some other track off of Zero 7’s Simple Things CD, which I listen to pretty much incessantly. The whole album is amazing, but “In the Waiting Line"”is one of those rare, almost preternaturally perfect combinations of beautiful vocals, compelling lyrics, and haunting melodies that I’d ascribe to divine inspiration if I believed in that kind of thing. —Matthew Baldwin

» Watch the video for “In the Waiting Line”

“1234” by Feist
To appreciate this heartwarmer you must watch the adorably choreographed video. Like most Feist tracks, it’s catchy as hell. Been on cortical repeat for days. —Heather Rasley

» Listen to “1234” at Quick Before It Melts

“Bunker or Buster” by Fionn Regan
It gave me that feeling of melancholy and imminent, thrilling possibility that I haven’t known much since adolescence gave way to adulthood. —Lauren Frey

“Side With the Seeds” by Wilco
There is a guitar solo in it, and the guitar solo sounds like Phish. —Pasha Malla

» Listen to “Side With the Seeds” at mapsadaisical

Edvard Grieg’s “Lyric Pieces”
Dozens of short piano compositions, beautiful for their simple melodies and complex executions. My favorite, if I have to choose, is “Spring Dance.” —Kate Schlegel

“Return to Hot Chicken” by Yo La Tengo
Not only does Adam Curtis make amazing BBC documentaries about overarching political philosophies of the 20th century, but he does it with an original editing style and unique soundtrack. This Yo La Tengo track on his most recent film, The Trap, reminds me of some restful Young Marble Giants or early Velvet Underground. —Llewellyn Hinkes

» Listen to “Return to Hot Chicken” at BadmintonStamps

“Summertime in England” by Van Morrison
Religions could be built around this song. —Anthony Doerr

“Help” by Supercar
Supercar was big in Japan. They sounded like a lot of indie bands at once. Their albums were pretty great. Their best video was for a song called “Be,” but I like to listen to this one over and over again when I’m working. —Paul Ford
“Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap
Why yes, I did first hear it on that Saturday Night Live digital short and looked online to find out what it might be. I love it only when I hear it, and the proof is that I can’t imagine what it sounds like without listening to it. And then as soon as it stops I’m blank again. —Andrew Womack

» Listen to “Hide and Seek” at Coast Is Clear

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers

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