S.G. Browne

Awesome Mix Vol. 2

I’m a big fan of incorporating songs into my novels, whether they’re playing in the background, referred to by name, or quoted by one of my characters. I’ve done this in my novels Breathers, Fated, and Big Egos. Music helps to set the mood of a scene and can add another dimension to a novel or short story.

When it comes to movies, I love a good soundtrack. The right song can resonate emotionally and leave a lasting impression, creating favorite movie soundtrack moments. Like Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” in the bus scene from Almost Famous. Or “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies at the end of Fight Club.

Sometimes the soundtrack not only helps to set the mood, but is essential to the film. Other times, it’s part of the plot.

In last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy (which was one of my most enjoyable movie-going experiences of 2014), the soundtrack is woven in via a mixed tape called Awesome Mix Vol. 1 that the main character (Chris Pratt) was given by his mother. After her death, he gets abducted by a spaceship and 26 years later, our hero appears on another planet still listening to that same mixed tape.

On 2014 Earth, the songs on the playlist, most of which were popular in the 1970s, might seem retro or dated or cheesy by those who don’t appreciate Elvin Bishop or The Five Stairsteps.

But placed in the context of another world filled with action and adventure and where the fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of a displaced kid from Earth who still uses a Walkman cassette player, songs like “Come and Get Your Love” and “Escape (the Pina Colada Song)” are sweet, comical, and mesh perfectly with the film and the characters. In a way, the soundtrack is like a character itself.

So, inspired by the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, I’ve compiled my own Awesome Mix Vol. 2 playlist, listed below in alphabetical order. I limited the playlist to twelve songs to match the number of songs in the original mix and also stuck with the 1970s era. (Full disclosure: I unabashedly listen to a number of the songs in this playlist on a regular basis.)

 Awesome Mix Vol. 2
“Baby Come Back” by Player
“Boogie Shoes” by KC and the Sunshine Band
“Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1” by Marvin Gaye
“Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren
“Ladies Night” by Kool & The Gang
“No Matter What” by Badfinger
“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
“September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire
“Shambala” by Three Dog Night
“Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder
“Sister Golden Hair” by America
“You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate

So what are some of your favorite soundtrack moments? And what are some of the songs you would put on your Awesome Mix playlist?

Filed under: Movies and Books,Music,The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 7:04 am

My Top Ten (Plus One) Holiday Songs

I was going to blog about my Top Ten Holiday Films, but I decided that was about as original as picking the New York Yankees to get to the World Series. Besides, it’s not like there would be a whole lot of surprises:

It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Elf, The Santa Clause, Bad Santa, Miracle on 34th Street, Die Hard, and The Family Man. Though I’m not sure how many lists would have included Edward Scissorhands (yes, the climax takes place at Christmas) or Planes, Trains and Automobiles (true, it’s Thanksgiving, but last I checked that was still a holiday.)

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are my Top Ten Holiday Songs and the artists who sing my favorite versions:

“Winter Wonderland” (Louis Armstrong)
I love me some Louis Armstrong and no other version of “Winter Wonderland” hits the same notes with me as this one. This song is playing at the beginning of Chapter 50 in Breathers. Sing it, Satchmo.

“Happy Xmas” (John Lennon)
Yes, it’s a bit of a political song, but The Beatles are my favorite all time band and Lennon my favorite songwriter of the group, so this one makes the list. Plus I love the Harlem Community Choir signing in the background.

“A Holly Jolly Christmas” (Burl Ives)
This is the classic version from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that always makes me feel like a kid again. I can almost hear the reindeer up on the roof.

“Christmas Time Is Here” (Vince Guaraldi)
This vocal choir version from A Charlie Brown Christmas is such a sweet holiday song and the instrumentals are absolutely beautiful. See “A Holly Jolly Christmas” for the way this song makes me feel.

“The Christmas Song” (Nat King Cole)
The perfect song to appreciate your friends or family or that special someone around the fire or the Christmas tree. Thanks Nat.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Petula Clark & Rod McKuen)
The most playful and risque version of this song I’ve heard. And you’ve got to love a holiday song about a guy who’s working hard to get some cold weather action.

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (Judy Garland)
This is the It’s A Wonderful Life of Christmas songs. Sweet and poignant and filled with hope. No one owns “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” like Judy Garland.

“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (Andy Williams)
No other song gets me revved up for Christmas like this version by Andy Williams. For some reason, it always manages to give me goosebumps.

“Father Christmas” (The Kinks)
I’ve always been a fan of the Kinks and came across this gem of a social commentary holiday song about poor kids threatening Santa. “Father Christmas, give us some money, don’t mess around with those silly toys…”

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” / “Merry Christmas Baby” (Elvis Presley)
No list of Christmas songs would be complete without something from The King. I couldn’t pick just one and went with these two because I love the R&B influence in both of them.

Filed under: Holiday,Just Blogging,Movies and Books,Music — S.G. Browne @ 7:56 pm