The Whatever: Mix Masters

Let’s do a Whatever.

(And you’re more than welcome to go back and do the old ones, too.)

What five songs do you have to put on every mix-tape you make?

These don’t have to be your favorite five songs of all time. They just need to be songs that you absolutely have to share with other people when you make them mix-tapes.

1. “Never Say Never,” by that dog.

You can watch the video right here. Please do. It rocks, and it’s ridiculously, deliriously fun. People always comment on this one. Anna Waronker’s lead vocal = hot. And the harmonies by the Haden sisters? Delicious. Moog AND violin on the same song? Check. Truly one of the greatest tracks of all time.

2. “Thankful,” by Glen Phillips.

Glen wrote and sang the songs for Toad the Wet Sprocket. “Thankful” comes from his monumentally awesome Winter Pays for Summer album, zooming along on smart lyrics with whirling instruments that could power a space shuttle. Plus it clocks in at under three minutes, which is good for a mix-tape because you can fit more songs on it.

3. “Summertime,” by The Sundays.

Music video here. The punchy horns. Harriet Wheeler’s voice. This song is like being on a ferris wheel with someone you love … in the summertime.

4. “Beautiful in Los Angeles,” by Garrison Starr.

An atmospheric power-pop rocker from a gal who sounds like no one else who’s ever made music. Backing vocals by our old buddy Glen Phillips.

5. “Think Bad Thoughts,” by Kay Hanley.

Two bands ruled the 1990s for me: Toad the Wet Sprocket and Letters to Cleo. Kay wrote and sang the songs for the Cleo gang; for my money, she’s got the best voice in rock music. “Think Bad Thoughts” is from her most recent solo album, Weaponize, and when I tell you that you need it in your life, you know I’m telling the truth.

A few others: “Bring Me Up” or “Let’s Forget About It” (video here) by Lisa Loeb, “Question” by the Old 97’s, “Delirious Love” by Neil Diamond, “F.N.T” by Semisonic, “We’re the Same” by Matthew Sweet, “The Morning Sad” by Veruca Salt, “Sweetest Decline” by Beth Orton, “All I Can Do” by Chantal Kreviazuk, and “I Want You” by Rachael Yamagata. That’s a lot more than five.

And every mix-tape I make from now on will probably end with “Sweetest Angel,” from the new Jonatha Brooke album, The Works, that I got in the mail yesterday. You should go to her store and buy one, too, because it’s awesome. “Sweetest Angel” is a duet by Jonatha and Glen Phillips; it’s a lovely, simple little acoustic number with effortlessly gorgeous harmonies by two of my absolutely favorite voices of all time. “So let me come as close as I can, lay me down beside you. Here’s a word I’d like to whisper; I’d like to have you listen.” Amazing.

Your turn!


  1. Kerstin says:

    I LOVE this Whatever! Although this is tough for me, because my mixes change according to what I’m doing at the time, but here are my top five that seem to be on all my mixes.

    1. Aerosmith – Cryin’. I could never, ever get tired of this song, or Aerosmith for that matter. I sing at the top of my lungs, to the detriment of those near by, every time I hear the song and listen to it almost every day in my car, and most especially on road trips. It’s a great sing a long song.

    2. Marc Broussard – Saturday. If you haven’t heard this guy, you should definitely look into getting his Carencro album. This song just makes you “feel” like you’re in the middle of a Saturday. I don’t know why, but I can’t help but be carefree when I hear this song.

    3. Renee Olstead – Midnight at the Oasis. This song is so relaxing and the perfect way to end a music mix. It’s jazzy and smooth and just fantastic.

    4. White Stripes – Ickythump. It’s the White Stripes. Everyone needs White Stripes in their mix. I think it’s a rule or something. And Ickythump is a great one to go with.

    5. Matchbox 20 – Soul. Love this song. And if you don’t, then you’re a freaking communist or something. It’s a great mix song because it’s a good blend of rock and pop and is another great sing a long.

  2. WITA says:

    John: Awesome!

    Yay White Stripes, Kerstin! :D Haha.

    Anyway, hmm … here are mine. (I did make a mixed cd for Tim for X-mas, hahaha, but I forget the songs I put on it!)

    1. Rocco de Luca and the Burden – “I Trust You to Kill Me” I’m not quite sure why, but I think this song really rocks socks.

    It’s #1 on my IMEEM playlist, btw:

    2. Gary Jules – Mad World

    If you’ve seen Donnie Darko (one of my all-time favorite films), then you know how powerful this song is … especially if it was your first time hearing it. My recommendation, though: watch the movie and hear it at the end. You will be blown away.

    3. Dead Can Dance – Black Sun

    Great. Song.

    That is all.

    4. Pretty much any Depeche Mode hit. And there’s a lot that rock. So there you go. :D

    5. Train – Drops of Jupiter

    This song has a lot of sentimental value for me, but it’s still an amazing song.

    I’m going to cheat and do a few more.

    Stereophonics – “Superman”: Just about the coolest dang Superman I’ve ever head. And I’m a sucker for songs about Superman (for some reason).

    Just like with Depeche Mode, pretty much any Red Hot Chili Peppers hit (and there’s a LOT). I love love LOVE RHCP.

    They Might Be Giants – “Take Out the Trash”: Just a fun song!

  3. Melissa says:

    Summertime by the Sundays ~ John, I am with you on this one. EVERYONE should know the words by heart. It’s so happy!

    Evolve by Ani Difranco ~ so upbeat and it’s Ani!

    Jolene by Dolly Parton

    We Are Gonna Be Friends by The White Stripes

    Big Girls You Are Beautiful by Mika

  4. Kerstin says:

    I thought of three more:

    Fat Bottom Girls by Queen

    Fire by the Pointer Sisters (LOVE this song)

    Hello, Goodbye by the Beatles

    I have to stop now. I’m becoming obsessed.

  5. Lauren says:

    Lately it’s only been

    1. Some Devil (Dave Matthews) or
    2. Love Remains The Same (Gavin Rossdale)

    But the 4 runners up would probably be:

    3. I Don’t Know Why (Shawn Colvin)
    4. She Runs Away (Duncan Sheik)
    5. Call Me A Dog (Temple of the Dog)

    But really, there aren’t any truly consistent choices.

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