Sarah mixtapes: November 2021 to April 2022

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. Sadly, I’m very behind! Here are the latest five.

November 2021: Just a pile of good songs

  • Friday I’m in Love by The Cure
  • Being No One, Going Nowhere by STRFKR
  • Jesus, Etc. by Bill Fay
  • Can’t Stand The Midwest by Dow Jones And The Industrials
  • Hunnybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
  • Game Shows Touch Our Lives by The Mountain Goats
  • Velha Infância – 2004 Digital Remaster by Tribalistas
  • Believe by K’s Choice
  • Peacock Tail by Boards of Canada
  • Grass by Animal Collective
  • Shark Smile – Edit by Big Thief
  • Underwater Dream by Eluvium
  • PPP by Beach House
  • Wake Up by Äl Jawala
  • Eili, Eili by Nathan Salsburg
  • In Between Days – 2006 Remaster by The Cure
  • Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales by Car Seat Headrest

December 2021 — These are good songs

  • No One’s Gonna Love You by Band of Horses
  • First Breath After Coma by Explosions In The Sky
  • 7/4 (Shoreline) by Broken Social Scene
  • Land Locked Blues by Bright Eyes
  • Autumn Town Leaves by Iron & Wine
  • Suffer For Fashion by of Montreal
  • Taro by alt-J
  • Rave On by Buddy Holly; The Crickets
  • Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem
  • Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips
  • King Without a Crown by Matisyahu
  • No Children by The Mountain Goats
  • The Vowels, Pt. 2 by WHY?
  • Kids Will Be Skeletons by Mogwai
  • The District Sleeps Alone by The Postal ServiceTonight – Remastered
  • West Coast by Coconut Records
  • The Funeral by Band of Horses

January 2022: Some delightful songs

  • Time Escaping by Big Thief
  • Undigested Parts by Elf Power
  • Summit by Ryan Roth; Halina Heron
  • Annan Kitaran Laulaa Vaan by Dave Lindholm
  • Månnge’ Hao by Micah Manaitai
  • Emmylou by First Aid Kit
  • Bleecker Street by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Gyöngyhajú lány by Omega
  • Southwood Plantation Road by The Mountain Goats
  • Psycho Killer – 2005 Remaster by Talking Heads
  • The Only Moment We Were Alone by Explosions In The Sky
  • Amreik by Eluvium
  • The Start Of Something by Voxtrot
  • Change by Big Thief

February 2022: Basic / normie songs that I still like

  • Lotus Flower by Radiohead
  • Fat Lip by Sum 41
  • Le Freak by CHIC
  • The Lovecats by The Cure
  • Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads
  • Cemetry Gates – 2011 Remaster by The Smiths
  • Old Soul Song (for the New World Order) – by Bright EyesCompanion Version
  • When I B On Tha Mic by Rakim
  • The Adults Are Talking by The Strokes
  • Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix
  • Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
  • Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
  • Burn the Witch by Radiohead

March 2022: Indie standards of the late 00s

  • Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire
  • Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend
  • Crystalised by The xx
  • Morning Mr Magpie by Radiohead
  • Such Great Heights – Remastered by The Postal Service
  • I Feel It All by Feist
  • Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Heartbeats by The Knife
  • Back in Your Head by Tegan and Sara
  • Ambling Alp by Yeasayer
  • Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
  • Lights Out by Santigold
  • Amsterdam by Peter Bjorn and John
  • Animal by Miike Snow
  • Sea of Love by Cat Power
  • White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes
  • Ready, Able by Grizzly Bear
  • Gobbledigook by Sigur Rós
  • Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second by STRFKR
  • Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games by of Montreal
  • Mouthful of Diamonds by Phantogram
  • I Was A Lover by TV On The Radio
  • Skinny Love by Bon Iver
  • Us by Regina Spektor
  • Boy From School by Hot Chip
  • Electric Feel by MGMT
  • Celebration Guns by Stars
  • (Antichrist Television Blues) by Arcade Fire

April 2022: eclectic songs that are good but don’t really fit a theme

  • Training Montage by The Mountain Goats
  • Going To A Town by Rufus Wainwright
  • It’s All Right – Single Version by The Impressions
  • Wagner at the Opera by Chumbawamba
  • The Fear by Röyksopp
  • In Our Bedroom After The War by Stars
  • 24-25 by Kings of Convenience
  • Aaftaab by Jawid Sharif; Madina Aknazarova
  • Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean by Explosions In The Sky
  • Untitled #3 – 2022 Remaster by Sigur Rós
  • Fatalist Palmistry by WHY?
  • First Few Desperate Hours by The Mountain Goats

(I try to match the photos and months. For instance, April 2022 was the month we got engaged, and the album cover is from that night!)

As always, thanks to to for making exporting playlists to text easily.


Sounds of Sephardic Yom Kippur

I’m currently obsessed with this playlist.

Growing up in a sephardic shul, this was the kind of liturgy/music I was surrounded with. Though not quite — imagine no musical instruments, and about twenty old men refugees from Iran, Syria, Iraq, etc chanting instead.

Even back as a kid who was in an itchy suit, generally bored, and unhappy about being there, these songs (and I experienced them as songs) were really powerful. There was a sort of dusty, strained, longing in the voices of these men around me. Recreating, for just a few days a year, the accents, the music, the feeling of the countries they fled for their lives, in their youth.

When I was young, I heard a fair amount about my parents’ story — or rather my mother’s family. My dad was always closed-lipped about it. I know about how my grandparents fled Iran on the last ever commercial flight from Tehran to Tel Aviv. (Story here). But it was a personal story, not a larger historical-political one. What I missed was an understanding that everyone in that synagogue had a similar experience to my parents.

There was only one Sephardic shul in town. I say “Sephardic” and “Shul” kind of loosely — everyone not Ashkenazi [including persian, sephardic, mizrahi jews] was there. While “shul” generally refers to orthodox places of prayer, (“synagogue is for conservatives, temple for reform jews”), we covered everyone. Especially since for non-Ashkenazi jews, the whole “orthodox” “reform” “conservative” split is kind of alien.

I think a lot about jewish refugees from arab countries. Their old lives are gone. Very few jews are left in places like Afghanistan. The people in vibrant towns and enclaves were pogrom’d, harassed, and kicked out. And for those that ended up in places like Rochester, NY — they didn’t really fit the mold of what “jewish” tends to be assumed to mean in the US.

Anyway. This music takes me back. It makes emotional. I think you’d like it.

Start with #2: Et Sha’areh Ratson.

Thanks to The Kitchen for making this available on Soundcloud. Specifically Asher Shasho Levy


More Sarah Mixtapes — August, September, October 2021

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. Sadly, I’m a little behind! Here are the latest three.

August 2021: Disco will never die, if we keep it in our hearts.

  • נעימת ערש by Matti Caspi
  • Cannonball by The Breeders
  • Shut Out by The Buttertones
  • I Want Your Love by CHIC
  • Fresh by Kool & The Gang
  • Bad Girls by Donna Summer
  • Green Onions by Booker T. & the M.G.’s
  • I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone
  • Get out of My Life Woman by Lee Dorsey
  • Coffee by Sylvan Esso
  • Swaying leaves and scattering breath by envy
  • Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ by The Velvet Underground
  • This Love Won’t Break Your Heart by Annalise Emerick
  • איך זה שכוכב by Matti Caspi

September 2021: New Wave music is possibly the highest form of art there is

  • Love Is A Stranger by Eurythmics
  • Two of Hearts by Stacey Q
  • Rio by Duran Duran
  • Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
  • Der Kommisar by Suzy Andrews
  • Totally Wired by The Fall
  • Never Say Never by Romeo Void
  • West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys
  • Rapture by Blondie
  • Cccan’t You See by Vicious Pink
  • Blue Monday by New Order
  • Girls on Film by Duran Duran
  • Pale Shelter by Tears For Fears
  • The Politics of Dancing by Re-Flex

October 2021: Songs I really liked in 2012

  • Shoplifters of the World Unite by The Smiths
  • Kisses Sweeter Than Wine by Pete Seeger
  • You Must Be out of Your Mind by The Magnetic Fields
  • Somebody That I Used To Know by Elliott Smith
  • All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
  • God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash
  • My Spit by Calamity Jane
  • Die For The Government by Anti-Flag
  • Rise Above by Black Flag
  • Black Flags feat. Boots Riley by Atari Teenage Riot
  • Fuck Police Brutality by Anti-Flag
  • Player’s Ball by Outkast
  • Verses from the Abstract by A Tribe Called Quest
  • How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths

As always, thanks to to for making exporting playlists to text easily.


The July 2021 Mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. I’m a little behind, both in posting about them, and making them.

This month’s playlist has the theme: “Evidence that some good music did exist in the 90s.”

Here it is. And, because proprietary services are bad, let’s export to text (thanks to

The July 2021 mixtape:

  • You Learn – Live / Unplugged by Alanis Morissette
  • Fight For Your Right by Beastie Boys
  • Black Swan by Thom Yorke
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit – Radio Edit by Patti Smith
  • Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Live Version by Nirvana
  • Zombie by The Cranberries
  • Basket Case by Green Day
  • Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode
  • Popular by Nada Surf
  • Divine Hammer by The Breeders
  • Every You Every Me by Placebo
  • Unintended by Muse
  • A Movie Script Ending by Death Cab for Cutie
  • All I Really Want – 2015 Remaster by Alanis Morissette

Love Sarah!


The June 2021 mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. I’m a little behind, both in posting about them, and making them.

This month’s playlist has the theme: “Start with a light dusting of crooning folk before rapidly upping the tempo into some light bangers”

Here it is. And, because proprietary services are bad, let’s export to text (thanks to

The June 2021 mixtape:

  • Boat Behind by Kings of Convenience
  • Rivers by The Tallest Man On Earth
  • Chalk by Blanco White
  • Take Me To The Riot by Stars
  • First Love / Late Spring by Mitski
  • Heretic Pride by The Mountain Goats
  • Burning Down the House by Talking Heads
  • I’m So Tired by Fugazi
  • 2021 Remaster by The ShinsThe Past and Pending
  • Androgynous by The Replacements
  • Masterpiece – (solo) by Big Thief
  • I Don’t Want to Get Over You by The Magnetic Fields
  • Catholic Country by Kings of Convenience; Feist

What do you think?


The February, March, April, and May 2021 mixtapes

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. I’m a little behind, both in posting about them, and making them.

Here is a link to February’s mixtape, here is March’s mixtape, here is April’s mixtape, and here is May’s.

I’m posting a bunch of mixtapes at once! Here goes.

The February 2021 mixtape:

February’s theme: Hebrews.
  • If It Be Your Will by Leonard Cohen
  • Wake up New York by Zusha
  • קטנתי by Yonatan Razel
  • עוד לא אהבתי די by Yehoram Gaon
  • אהבות ליום אחד by Noam Bettan
  • חוזרים הביתה by Shlomo Artzi; Arik Einstein
  • לאן לאן לאן by Shlomo Artzi
  • עוף גוזל by Arik Einstein
  • לבכות לך by Aviv Geffen
  • רוח רוח by Chava Alberstein
  • ארים ראשי by Shay Gabso
  • Mothaland Bounce by Nissim Black
  • Take This Longing by Leonard Cohen

The March 2021 mixtape:

March’s Theme: Great songs by great bands we know and love.
  • Up the Wolves by The Mountain Goats
  • In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear
  • Everything Is Moving So Fast by Great Lake Swimmers
  • Commissioning a Symphony In C by Cake
  • Staring at the Sun by TV On The Radio
  • Mykonos by Fleet Foxes
  • Magic Arrow by Timber Timbre
  • I Was Made For Sunny Days by The Weepies; Deb Talan; Steve Tannen
  • Sabotage by Beastie Boys
  • Dance Apocalyptic by Janelle Monáe
  • Waiting Room by Fugazi
  • We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes
  • International Small Arms Traffic Blues by The Mountain Goats
  • Americans by Janelle Monáe
  • I Think I Smell a Rat by The White Stripes

The April 2021 mixtape

April’s theme: Good bands. Nice songs by those bands. A little bit of a trip back a decade or two
  • Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) by Janelle Monáe; Big Boi
  • Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Lovecraft in Brooklyn by The Mountain Goats
  • it’s different for girls by of Montreal
  • I Think I Smell a Rat by The White Stripes
  • When Doves Cry by Prince
  • 2006 Remaster by The CureClose to Me
  • I Ain’t No Joke by Eric B. & Rakim
  • These Few Presidents by WHY?
  • Knife by Grizzly Bear
  • Did You See The Words by Animal Collective
  • So Long, Lonesome by Explosions In The Sky
  • Prelude For Time Feelers by Eluvium
  • Holland, 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Your Ex-Lover Is Dead by Stars
  • Everything For Free by K’s Choice
  • I Like That by Janelle Monáe

The May 2021 mixtape

May’s theme: Just some songs you might like to listen to as you work
  • To Ramona by Bob Dylan
  • Lullaby by Leonard Cohen
  • Mrs. Cold by Kings of Convenience
  • Champagne Coast by Blood Orange
  • Röyksopp Forever by Röyksopp
  • Bekhe Ze Jayet by Jawid Sharif
  • Dead Hearts by Stars
  • Myth by Beach House
  • Dayvan Cowboy by Boards of Canada
  • Waking Up by Explosions In The Sky
  • You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere by Bob Dylan

(Thanks again for Spotlistr for making it easy to export spotify playlists.)


The January 2021 Mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. Here is a link to this month’s mixtape.

I’m behind on my mixtapes. Slowly catching up, though! Here’s January. No real theme this month, just bits, bobs, and good songs.

Here it is. And, because proprietary services are bad, let’s export to text (thanks to

The January 2021 playlist:

  • Superstar by Sonic Youth
  • I Know What Love Isn’t by Jens Lekman
  • Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope
  • Every Party Has A Winner And A Loser by Erlend Øye
  • Congo Man by Ernest Ranglin
  • At Least That’s What You Said by Wilco
  • Almost Happy by K’s Choice
  • True Love Will Find You in the End by Daniel Johnston
  • It’ll All Work Out by Blake Mills
  • Time After Time by Iron & Wine
  • Left Hand Free by alt-J
  • Shuggie by Foxygen
  • Incinerate by Sonic Youth

As always, you can find all the playlists by going here.


The December 2020 Mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear. Here is a link to this month’s mixtape.

(Where’s November, you ask? November’s mixtape was literally just Age of Adz by Sufjan) (Isn’t it already 2021, you ask? Okay, I’m behind, sorry!)

This month’s playlist is focused on helping Sarah concentrate. To that end, it features some less-lyrical music, timeless warm post-folky music (like Timber Timbre), and songs in hebrew.

Here it is. And, because proprietary services are bad, let’s export to text:

The December 2020 playlist:

  • Holemabier by The Arcadian Wild,
  • Redolent by WMD,
  • Ísjaki by Sigur Rós,
  • Alberto Balsalm by Aphex Twin,
  • Nowhere Near by Yo La Tengo,
  • Everything Goes My Way by Metronomy,
  • For the Time Being by Erlend Øye; La Comitiva,
  • Roygbiv by Boards of Canada,
  • Adon Olam (Master of the World) by Moshav,
  • Aoede by Mashrou’ Leila,
  • Fire Flies by Gorillaz,
  • Demon Host by Timber Timbre,
  • He Would Have Laughed by Deerhunter,
  • פרגולה by Eviatar Banai,
  • Myth by Beach House,
  • Wolf Like Me by Lera Lynn; Shovels & Rope,
  • Rain Clouds by The Arcadian Wild

(As always, thank you for making “get the plain text of a playlist” so much less painful)

As always, you can find all the playlists by going here.


Consult the room full of people in your head

Some time ago, on a flight across the country, I decided to listen — I mean really listen — to a full album by the band Cloud Cult. This was new for me. I grew up listening to classical music, and in doing so, I fear I trained myself to ignore the lyrics of songs almost completely. So paying attention to actual words is quite hard.

Cloud Cult was on my mind. kept telling me that they were one of my favorite bands (by number of plays), but I couldn’t tell you much about them, or their music. I had just finished listening to Krista Tipett interviewing their lead for On Being. Clearly they were more important than the silly band with weird songs that I thought they were. So I closed my eyes, queued up a new (to me) album, and simply paid attention.

And then … woah. This song hit me like a bag of bricks.

“There’s a room full of people in your head, and every single one of them claims your name.”

There’s a party going on in your head, yes, but also parties. A parliament. And this parliament is composed of factions, each led by a different personality.

This rhymes with a concept from Jay Smooth. The Little Hater. The little hater is the voice in your head, trashing everything you do. The little hater is the leader of opposition in the parliament of you. (Never the majority leader, because then that’d mean he’d have to take responsibility for actions).

Eventually, the plane landed. The album ended. Tears crossed my cheeks. I staggered out of the airport and met my partner. I had a decision to make — should I leave my job? What sort of thing could I do next?

If there was a parliament full of personalities in my head, we decided, maybe what I needed to do was build a coalition of the personalities I wanted to embody, and do what they wanted.

We walked to a park, and I sat down on a rock, facing a pond. I decided that there were a few values/personalities to embody:

  • The one who believes they will not fail
  • The one who is an artist, unconcerned with material things
  • The one who wants to always be on the side of good
  • The one who weighs the options and coolly does the “correct” thing

For each, I embodied them, the way an actor would, or an avatar. My posture changed. My voice changed. And each personality graded different courses of action, gave advice, etc.

The last one was perhaps the most interesting. I originally thought of it as “the person who worries” or “the person who wants to make sure I’m safe”. But a trick I learned (from Gayle Karen Young at StartingBloc) was to take these personalities and add the modifier “mature”. What does the “mature worrier” look like? To me, it was a sort of Ari Emmanuel character. Brisk, even brusque. Weighing risk and reward. Hardheaded and ambitious, calculating and cool. And his take on the situation frankly surprised me.

That’s the day I realized I needed to leave Facebook (thought it took a while longer to pull the trigger). And that’s how I try to make decisions going forward.

Anyway, the point of this all was originally to suggest you listen to Cloud Cult. Cloud Cult is great! And while Room Full of People In Your Head is a great song, I’d have to say it’s not even their best. This is. Relatedly, Jay Smooth and Gayle Young are american treasures. Find Jay here. And Gayle is here.


The September 2020 Mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear.

I’m running a little behind, so I just finished September’s a few days ago. It has a gorgeous picture of her (at an outdoors wedding we were honored to attend!) and features a mix of new-to-her songs by artists we know, and a few new-to-me songs from bands I found recently in my travels.

Here it is. Or, if you prefer text:

The September 2020 Sarah Mixtape

  • Heart Is A Drum by Beck
  • Tangled up in Blue by Bob Dylan
  • One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer by John Lee Hooker
  • אדם בתוך עצמו by Shalom Hanoch
  • Nànnuflày by Tinariwen
  • Cherry by J.J. Cale
  • Snooza by Säkert!
  • י’א 2 by Tuna
  • Harfe Nagofteh by omid
  • Katamari On The Rocks by GameChops, dj-Jo
  • Je veux te voir by Yelle
  • Angels by The xx
  • Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) by Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Dry the Rain by The Beta Band
  • Preservation by Wu-Tang Clan, Del The Funky Homosapien, Aesop Rock
  • Let’s Go Crazy by Prince
  • L’maancha by Eitan Katz
  • Lost Cause by Beck

(Thank you for making “get the plain text of a playlist” so much less painful)

As always, you can find all the playlists by going here.


The May 2020 Mixtape

Every month, I make Sarah a playlist of songs she might particularly want to hear.

This month, I made Sarah a mixtape of “iconic songs by iconic bands”. No searching for great music from obscure-to-me artists. Just a list of songs that are purely delightful and have stood the test of time.

Here it is. Or, if you prefer text:

The May 2020 Sarah Mixtape

Everyone Hides by Wilco
Chicago by Sufjan Stevens
Your Rocky Spine by Great Lake Swimmers
Bodysnatchers by Radiohead
Montezuma by Fleet Foxes
No Sleep Till Brooklyn by Beastie Boys
Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle & Sebastian
Hercules Theme by Hercules & Love Affair
Thinkin Bout You by Frank Ocean
Fineshrine by Purity Ring
Black Sheep by Metric
Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem
Brianstorm by Arctic Monkeys
Your Hand In Mine by Explosions In The Sky
No One Said It Would Be Easy by Cloud Cult
Comfy In Nautica by Panda Bear
Brennisteinn by Sigur Rós
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart by Wilco


My Monthly Mixtape Ritual

As you know, I’m dating Sarah. Sarah is very good. When we started dating, however, I noticed that she had a small flaw: not only did she not like the same music as me, she didn’t even know that my favorite bands existed. When she listened to music, which wasn’t often, it was mainly show tunes from her favorite musicals.

Now, musicals are great. I enjoy them, and have been known to go to a few on some occasion. It’s delightful that Sarah likes them — it gives her something with which to bond with my sister Shelly, who works in Broadway. But — what about The Mountain Goats? What about Wilco? What, not to put a fine point about it, about LCD Soundsystem?

So I made her a mixtape. A song each from some of my favorite bands. Bookended by two songs from a particularly good band. The format, and the habit, stuck. That was back in April 2018.

I’ve made a mixtape per month since then. It’s pretty fun! The challenge of making an aesthetically coherent album each month, always with new music, and all but the first and last song by a different artist, is real. I’ve explored arabic, hebrew, persian, afro-punk, chillwave, jug bands, and other forms of music I wasn’t normally listening to normally. I’ve started keeping an ear out for new things I haven’t heard before, and chatting up strangers to learn their tastes. It’s fun! Each month has a pretty different sound.

You can find them all on Spotify. March 2020 just dropped (with a lot of help from Disco). Take a listen.