Hey guys! This is Ryan with another monthly edition of the Playlist Challenge! As always, here is how the playlist challenge works. I will post a 20-song playlist on a certain topic complete with explanations for each song. I challenge each of you, Brent included, to do the same. Once you see this, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Playlist Challenge September” in the subject line.
This one is a doozy, Digital Fam. Traditionally, September has not been kind to me. I live in the South, so September for me is full of sweltering days as summer bleeds out. Even though summer weather sticks around for the whole month, summer itself is very much over. There are no more beach days, pool days, trips to Carowinds, or lazy days. In middle school and the first year of high school, it meant the beginning of football at school and the end of any free time I ever had. On top of that, every major break-up in my life has happened in September. Once Labor Day/Dragon*Con ends, the misery begins for me and this year has been no exception. This playlist will largely reflect these feelings, but will also show some of the bright spots that come with September. With that said, our topic is the very broad “End of Summer.” I hope you guys enjoy it:
1. Don Henley/The Ataris- The Boys of Summer
This Don Henley classic perfectly encapsulates the reminiscent and melancholy feeling that comes when the August sun sets and September comes upon us with its horrors. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, even a tryst with a hottie met at summer camp or on vacation. I’d also like to give a shout-out to punk band The Ataris for their awesome cover, which you’ll find above.
2. Maggie May- Rod Stewart
Speaking of the abrupt end of a summer tryst, we have one of the last good Rod Stewart songs, Maggie May. In this song, Rod the Mod has hooked up with an older woman for most of the summer and stayed well into September rather than going back to school. The song centers around Rod coming to his senses and breaking things off in a very painful way, even lamenting his foolish mistake. The harsh realities of the end of summer really smart and this song perfectly illustrates that.
3. Rush- Time Stand Still
If you’ve listened to our show for awhile then you know of my affinity for this particular track off Rush’s 1987 album “Hold Your Fire.” In my mind, there is no song that better encapsulates the joy of stopping to savor a fleeting moment, knowing that you will never be there again. This song even makes direct reference to the end of summer in the last verse. It’s a sensation we’ve all felt at one time or another and Rush captured that sensation in a single 5 minute track.
4. The Go-Go’s- Vacation
You all have heard me talk about how much I love an appreciate the female-fronted post-punk and new wave bands that I’ve collectively designated “Waitress Rock.” Belinda Carlisle’s early 80’s outfit The Go-Go’s was at the forefront of this genre, which will someday get a playlist challenge of its own. Anyways, you ma be wondering why this song about vacationing is on a playlist about the sadness after vacation. Unfortunately, this song is a victim of the advertising world, which ignores the song’s real meaning and instead focuses on the chorus’s repetition of “Vacation’s all I ever wanted. Vacation, had to get away.” In reality, this song is about trying to get over that major hottie you met on vacation but had to part ways with. These days, this problem has vanished thanks to the internet and cellphones, but in the 80’s you were just SOL if that hottie lived in another city, state, or country.
5. Pretty Boy Floyd- I Wanna Be With You
Never heard of this one? I don’t blame you. As we will discuss on this Monday’s episode of The Rock Rant, 1989 saw the debut of way too many hair metal bands and Pretty Boy Floyd was among the bottom tier. This is not a hidden gem of a band like Mr. Big. The lead singer of this band called himself Steve “Sex” Summers, which ought to be grounds for a public execution. Additionally, this band kinda really sucks. However, I’m a sucker for an 80’s glam metal power ballad, and this one just so happens to be about one of the only good parts of going back to school, checking out the new girls. It’s a dirt simple song that isn’t great, but it’s catchy and fun so it gets a pass from me.
6. Green Day- Wake Me Up When September Ends
Ah Green Day. One of the quintessential angry white boy bands. Especially for my generation. This song is about Billie Joe Armstrong’s dad, who died of cancer in September of ’82 when Billie was 10. It’s a very powerful and emotional song about loss and hardship, which I too have experienced in September. In fact, a member of my family has very recently passed away as I’m sitting here writing this list. September is the gift that keeps on giving, and I often want to curl up and sleep through the whole month. Side note: this is a live video. The real music video is an overwrought mess featuring two very overrated actors, Evan Rachel Wood and her ex-husband Jamie Bell. I still hate Bell for Fant4stic btw.
7. Kenny Chesney- Anything but Mine
For the record, Kenny Chesney sucks. He’s the Great Value-brand Jimmy Buffet and he has a legion of wine moms in cowboy boots and sundresses for fans. I hate him with every fiber of my being most of the time. That being said, I used to love him when I was a country fan and even now I have to admit that this is a really good ballad about the last night of summer. The melancholy resignation in the lyrics is palpable and the music gives off both the joy of a romantic night and the sadness of the realization that in the morning it all goes away like it was just a dream.
8. Barenaked Ladies- Grade Nine
Not too terribly long ago Brent and I discussed this track at length in our first episode on BNL. Everything I said about this album track from their debut album “Gordon” stands. I love this song and how it captures the awkwardness of your first day, month, and even year of highschool. A great track from start to finish.
9. Busted- What I Go To School For
Welcome to the school section of the playlist. We’ve talked about both this song and the next song on the list in detail on the podcast. If you’ve ever arrived on the first day of school to find that one of your teachers is a knock-out then you get it.
10. Van Halen- Hot For Teacher
Here it is! You knew it was coming. By the way, this video is still really weird. Fun, but weird.
11. Blink-182- At The Rock Show
Not every summer tryst has to end when the summer ends. In this classic Blink-182 track, the band describes meeting a hot chick at the Van’s Warped Tour (may it rest in peace), hanging out with her afterwards, talking to her on the phone, and even seeing her every year after that. The implication may even be that they got married, but probably not. Do these guys seem like the marrying type? This is a fun song for reminiscing about a summer gone by and looking forward to another one to come though.
12. Nerf Herder- At the Con
Fun fact: I was at this show and standing not very far from the camera. You can’t see or hear me though. Anyways, friends of the show Nerf Herder wrote the ultimate ode to conventions based on their experience at a con I frequent, Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, that’s where Kathie and I met in 2014. The Con is the last stand of summer. The past couple years I haven’t been able to go either which has added to my seasonal depression.
13. Red Hot Chili Peppers- Under The Bridge
Heartbreak and personal tragedy aside, one of the biggest things that depresses me in September is a feeling of isolation and loneliness. My sisters both live far from me, my parents are always busy this time of year, and Kathie lives in another state. I’m basically an island in September. Anthony Kiedis once felt the same way and wrote this song for me. Thanks Anthony.
14. Lifehouse- Hanging by a Moment
This is an interesting song. Lifehouse is one of those bands that may or may not be a Christian rock act depending on what ears you’re listening with. I’m a religious person, but this song has never really struck me as overtly religious. It has religious overtones though and largely this song is about the desire to hang on to a fleeting moment. Sound familiar?
15. The Bangles- Manic Monday
Sometimes being an adult is really hard. I’m learning that lesson now that I’m out of school. Here’s a perfect song for that. I really latched onto this song my sophomore year of college when I did school during the week and worked during the weekends…except for Sunday. Sunday was mine. My island in the storm. September was always right when this routine started getting super old, so that’s why this makes our playlist. Also, Prince wrote it. End of discussion as far as I’m concerned.
16. The Outfield- Since You’ve Been Gone
After my first big break-up with John Rutsey Girl (I still laugh about that every time I see a picture of Rutsey btw), I was in a really bad place. I was 15 and stupid. At that time I would wake up at 5:00 am to run before school and this was one of the songs I would listen to. That break-up hurt and to this day this song reminds me of that September. My memory is tied to music in case you haven’t noticed.
17. Disturbed- The Light
Here’s an inspirational song that has helped me get through September this year. This song off Disturbed’s return record “Immortalized” reminds me that I’ve come out of every September I’ve had to go through and a lot of them were worse than this one. The bad times show us better times and we will get through it.
18. Bruce Hornsby and The Range- Mandolin Rain
This is the last song about breaking up with a girl once summer ends. I promise. This song is just so mournful though. The first time I heard this song I was sick in my car driving to school while it was raining. I almost cried. It was a perfectly depressing moment. It also happened in September, so here we are.
19. Shaggy- Keep’n it Real
Nothing helps you kick out of a month-long funk like some upbeat and chilled out reggae-rap…as long as it isn’t Sean Paul. This is a great song from Shaggy though and i first heard it in the movie Holes. It’s a good little inspirational piece in the same vein as The Light, but less epic and more relaxed. I enjoy it quite a bit.
20. Ben Rector- Brand New
Ben Rector is one of the few artists that both me and my older sister like. He’s a great singer-songwriter who is just now starting to get a level of fame. This is his biggest hit so far and it perfectly describes the way I feel once I kick out of the September funk. It’s like waking up after a long rest. September is the guard standing in the way of my favorite time of year and this song plays right after I stab that guard in the face with my sword that I now have!…sorry, September does this to me.