This month’s playlist comes from Kate Mast. Originally from Oklahoma, Kate now resides in Hesston, Kansas. She currently works as the workroom supervisor at the Mennonite Central Committee Material Resource Center in North Newton, Kansas. You can listen to most of the songs on Kate’s playlist below.
I am very interested in the movement of music: how it travels from person to person through various means and eventually ends up in my ears. This interest was sparked during my freshman year of college, when I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who were different than me. The new friends I made not only brought new ideas, cultures, and stories into my reality, but also brought their own individual collections of music. It wasn’t long before I was taught “the art of making a mix CD.” A “proper” mix CD has a catchy, clever title that is decoratively written with a colored Sharpie on the front of the disc. It is accompanied by a list of the artists and songs you have put on the playlist, and an explanation or history behind each of your picks. I gave and received many mixes during my college years—some favorite titles in my collection include, “Don’t Stop, Don’t Change, Stay Beautiful” (vol. 1 and 2), “Shake the World with Me,” “The Day we Jumped a Car and Fell into the Snow,” “Tunez from the Road,” and “The Sunshine Mix.” My binder of mix CD’s is still one of my most beloved possessions. Listening to a mix from a friend can instantly transport me me to a different time, location or memory, in a way that only music can.
Currently, my friends and I do still make the occasional mix CD for each other, although they are often labeled with much simpler titles, such as “Fall 2016,” and lack the detailed explanations of song choices. I think the “art of making a mix CD” may be dying, but the concept of sharing music is still alive, as epitomized by The Mennonite’s sharing of various individual’s “Top 10 Songs”. I have been eating up every playlist!
1. All Thieves, “Turn and Turn Again”: This particular song is from one of my dear college friends, Sarah. She originally heard this song on the show Grey’s Anatomy and passed it on to me. I interpret this song as a peace prayer and an empowering call to return to Shalom community. Tt has been one of my most-played songs for years.
“Every traveler, please come home
And tell us all that you have seen
Break every lock to every door
Return every gun to every drawer
So we can turn, and turn again.”
2. Feist, “Mushaboom”: This was one of my favorite songs in high school. My friends and I went through a definite “Feist phase.” The title, Mushaboom, refers to a quaint, costal town in Nova Scotia, near the artist’s hometown. There is something warm and comforting about this song and the simple world that Feist paints for us. It reminds me of my first apartment, figuring out life after college and making a “home from a rented house.” I find the lyrics playful and cozy: “Talk to the neighbors and tip my cap, On a little road barely on the map.”
3. James Vincent McMorrow, “Higher Love”: In addition to JVM’s lovely, whispery tenor voice, this song has some solid lyrics. “Bring me a higher love/where is this higher love, I’ve been thinking of?” This can be connected with so, so many situations in our current reality.
4. Luke Sital-Singh, “Bottled Up Tight”: A friend sent this song to me in October 2014. At the time, I was an admissions counselor for Hesston College and in the middle of one of my intense fall recruiting trips. Luke Sital-Singh’s delicate voice became the soundtrack to that entire trip, and I was able to soak in his lyrics as I drove mile after mile on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I love the idea of what the songwriter is asking for in this song. He is yearning to feel something, and he wants it “bottled up tight.” Don’t you know that feeling? When something makes you come so alive that your heart races and you almost shake with passion and emotion? The subtle guitar strings at the beginning of the song build up to a confident and emphatic finish, which just adds to this song’s strength.
5. Passenger, “Whispers”: This particular song touches on one of my long-standing personal insecurities: the fact that I still cannot articulate “what I want to be when I grow up.” For the most part, I have made peace with the idea that I may never know and I just have to take it a step at a time. However, when I fall into the trap of comparing my story to the stories of others, I always feel like I should know by now. The lyrics to this song put my feelings into words, and serve as a good reminder that I am not the only one who has ever struggled with this. I remember hearing the beginning stanzas of this song in my car for the first time and literally saying out loud, “YES. YES, OH MY GOODNESS, YES!”
6. LP, “Into the Wild”: At first, this song was too squeaky for me, but the more I listen to it, the more I love it. I originally heard about 20 seconds of this song on a commercial for Citibank. The advertisement shows a woman rock climbing, and at the climax of the song she stands triumphantly on the top of the rock formation and looks all around her, becoming aware of her accomplishment. It’s such a powerful moment paired with a powerful song. My favorite part of the song is when LP proclaims that “somebody left the gate open,” a phrase that is dripping with feelings of freedom, adventure and mystery.
7. Edgar Meyer, “BT”: I was introduced to this song at one of my friend’s dance recitals in high school. The choreographer had all of the performers wear blue jeans and bright solid-colored shirts as they made synchronized leaps across the stage. I usually don’t connect with songs without lyrics, but the energy of this song and the image of the dancers stuck with me. The changing tempo and instrumental dialogue tell a story of their own. I just want to do a little jig around the room every time I hear this song, and I bet you will want to, too!
8. Reuben And the Dark, “Bow and Arrow”: Honestly, I have no idea what the deeper meaning of this song is, which is what I love about it. Songs that don’t have a clear or deep meaning can mean whatever you need them to mean! The simple, repeating phrase, “we go over the mountains and under the stars”connotes movement, travel and outdoor adventure. A list of things I think of when I hear this song: pine trees, Subarus, canteens, freezing cold Colorado rivers that make your bare feet ache, the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed, maps, the earthy smell of a forest floor, tents, bears and my sister Courtney, who shares my strong affinity for this song and the great outdoors.
9. Jose Gonzalez, “Stay Alive”: This is not one of Gonzalez’s most popular songs, but there are so many things to love about it. “Dawn is coming, open your eyes.” This song offers so much raw hope. I love the crescendo that mirrors a sunrise, as well as Gonzalez’s fragile, sweet tone.
10. Josh Garrels, “Farther Along”: Josh Garrels has been mentioned a few times in previously featured playlists, but I can’t help but put one of his songs on my list as well! I love his smoky, haunting voice paired with his consciously-constructed lyrics. Many of his songs sit with questions rather than offer answers, which is something I resonate with. This particular song offers encouragement to see the “bigger picture,” and a hope that situations will make more sense with time. “So much more to life than we’ve been told/It’s full of beauty that will unfold.”
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