MusicMusic Features

A Family-Inspired Mixtape

Holidays can be crucial for bringing families together. What often keeps many of us from picking up the phone to check in with family members throughout the rest of the year—sibling rivalries, political differences, difficult in-laws and the like—seems to be cordially suspended in order to focus on the more positive things the season brings: eating excessive amounts of food, rattling wrapped gifts under the tree and cherishing all the good ol’ times. In the spirit of this wintry reminiscence, Flagpole asked a handful of local musicians with familial monikers to share the songs that remind them the most of their kin.

1. A Christmas Interpretation by The Equinox Brothers

Susan Staley of The Solstice Sisters: My sons Owen and Sam grew up with The Solstice Sisters practicing holiday music at home and hearing, every year, our holiday CD [Holiday Music From Around the World].  This was a big part of our family’s Christmas experience. Both my boys grew up to play in metal bands [Manger and Gear Jammer]. One Christmas, they made the family a holiday spoof recording with original songs called A Christmas Interpretation by The Equinox Brothers. I was thrilled that my music inspired them!

2. “And Your Bird Can Sing” by The Beatles

Ryan Gray Moore of Brothers: Although I know that this song is a John song written about Paul, and thus not very family-oriented, I actually have a fairly strong memory of a night associated with this song and my mom. I didn’t have my first job until I was a senior in high school, when I was a cashier at a pharmacy only about a mile down the street from that high school. I was also currently really into the book High Fidelity, but I mean, like, really into it. At one point in the book, the main character, who had been recently dumped, decides that the best thing for him to do is to go home and simply listen to a couple of records. The Beatles’ Revolver was included in this selection. Shortly thereafter, I was talking to my mom and, with no ulterior motive, told her about this moment in the book and how I really wanted to hear that album. 

Well, a few days later, I had a not-particularly-great Thursday involving a full day of school, work and the looming knowledge that I needed to finish a big essay that was due the following day. I remember coming home that night around 11:30, and on the desk that I consistently used to write all of my subpar schoolwork was a CD of Revolver. Of course, my mom knew about the long day that I had, and bought it for me so that I could listen to it while I worked on that dreadful essay. As someone who loved (and still loves) guitar more than anything, I remember listening to “And Your Bird Can Sing” over and over and over again that night. It turned a long Thursday into a pretty fun Friday (very early) morning. My mom’s pretty cool, I guess.

3. “Goodbye Earl” by Dixie Chicks 

George Tyler Huntington III of Padre: I have a twin sister who is still diggin’ the Dixie Chicks. She would have her Girl Scouts over for some sort of strange ritual having to do with cookies, and they would jam out to ’em. So now when I hear the Dixie Chicks, I always just think of my sister.

4. “Fearless” by Pink Floyd

Garett Hatch of Mother the Car: On account our drummer Casey [Trivett] is my literal brother, he helped me with some brainstorming! To give you the best and most truthful song that reminds me of family, I got together with my parents last night for a few drinks, laughs and music… When we were kids, if Floyd’s Meddle was playing on the stereo, there were good vibes going on in the house. The song “Fearless” reminds us of peaceful rainy days with our parents. Raising four kids did not stop them from blaring great albums through the house. We’re very, very thankful for that. 

5. “Road to Joy” by Bright Eyes

Kristine Leschper of Mothers: When I started high school, I was a huge Bright Eyes fan; I barely listened to anything else. My parents liked to refer to Conor Oberst as “Whiny Guy” and gave me a hard time for listening to someone with such a poor voice. I would listen to Bright Eyes in the mornings when my mom drove me to school, and for some reason “Road to Joy” stuck with her; she loved it. There’s a line in the song that says “I’m wide awake/ It’s morning!” and I remember shouting it with her on our early drives to school to prepare ourselves for the rest of the day.

6. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison

SJ Ursrey of Honeychild: Not only is it an ‘80s power ballad, which simultaneously strikes with awe and cracks me up, but it really unapologetically says it all. Having grown up with a family member who suffers from both a mental disorder and addiction, I relate to the lines, “Was it something I said, or something I did?/ Did my words not come out right?” This especially resonates with me because I remember thinking that things were my fault. Much later, I grew up to learn that their issues had nothing to do with me. Now, I’m free to live my life and to let them live theirs, no matter what. This song is a bittersweet epic about love, loss and love anyway. There’s a lot of beauty in that. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” came out when I was feeling very stuck in thorns; things are looking much rosier these days—”Just like every night has its dawn.” (Insert ripping guitar solo here.)

7. “19” by New Wives 

Drew Kirby of New Wives: “19” is a song about growing out of childhood and feeling disheartened by the harshness of the world, but still finding purpose in the love of family and friends. The last line of the song is “I’m just the sum of all that I have loved/ I’m so much.” It basically downplays the overall significance of life while still celebrating the things that actually give our time here meaning and worth—loving and feeling loved.

8. “Rivers And Roads” by The Head And The Heart 

Mike MacDonald of Family and Friends: The lyrics touched on a reality that was quickly becoming all-too-real in the year preceding graduation. It had become a ritual of sorts common to the playlists of our own innocent debauchery. The words hit like a blow to the gut. “A year from now we’ll all be gone/ All our friends will move away.” And so, eyes glazed and souls soaked in spirits numerous in kind, we stopped and embraced. We cried out, sacrificing pitch for passion, ignoring the inevitable and wanting only to hold one another for what might well be the last time. A family of friends. Until at long last the playlist lurched on, and the moment was effortlessly broken by one of our own mumbling something about gettin’ nekkid and attempting to defecate in the shoe basket. These are the moments we would cherish the most.

9. “Boogie in Your Butt” by Eddie Murphy

Terence Chiyezhan of murk daddy flex & Nurture: So about two years ago, Nurture went on our first tour with Antpile, who we were our good friends. We were passing time on the road listening to random songs on my iPod, and “Boogie in Your Butt” by Eddie Murphy came on. Just something someone had put on there a while ago. Anyway, it was so catchy and silly; everyone got real into it, and it sort of turned into the tour anthem. We blasted it [during the] next summer tour, and it’s been a lame inside joke ever since.

10. “T.B. Sheets” by Van Morrison 

Walker Howle of Tia Madre: It came out on his first solo album, Blowin’ Your Mind!, in 1967.  It’s a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately for some reason. It’s about a young girl dying of tuberculosis [while] lying in a hospital bed, and [she] is visited by the storyteller. The song seems so lighthearted, but apparently after recording it the rest of the session had to be cancelled because Morrison broke down in tears. It’s crazy how contagious human emotion is, and how people grow together.