In just a few short weeks college freshman will begin their first exodus to their respective campuses to begin their four years of "wonder" away from home, relying on on themselves. This year I'm helping to run the dorm I live in, and out President sent out a message about a "Going To College" mix. I made just such a playlist last summer as I was preparing to go to NU...but it was a couple hundred songs long, so I decided to make a new, whittled down version and describe it here for incoming freshman that happen to pass by this page. Enjoy, the playlist is attached at the bottom for listening.
The Hold Steady - "Positive Jam"
We're gonna start it off with a positive jam ladies and gentlemen. If you don't know these Minnesota boys, "the best bar band in America," you better start looking them up.
Sufjan Stevens - "Chicago"
There are three kinds of Sufjan Stevens people. First there are those that just don't like him because it's not their kind of music, and then there are others around the country who like him a lot. Then there are the residents of the state of Illinois who deify the man, thus ruining his musical talent a little bit for the rest of us with how annoying they are. Nevertheless, Chicago is a stone's throw away from Northwestern, so this little beautie is appropriate.
The Strokes - "Is This It"
It is said that The Strokes titled their debut album Is This It in response to how they dealt with the veritable mountains of hype that surrounded their early recordings. You might find yourself at times wondering why you thought something about going to college would be so important or stressful. At those times, this song is for you.
Be Your Own Pet - "Adventure"
Never, ever be afraid to go on a new adventure during college, be it a weekend road trip to a random place to a midnight (or much, much later...) excursion to the beach.
Ratatat - "Wildcat"
I seriously consider this song to be my own personal fight song for the Northwestern Wildcats. It has a sample of an actual freaking wildcat in it!
Girl Talk - "Set It Off"
People like dancing, people like mashup DJs. Girl Talk (aka DJ Greg Gillis) came to Northwestern last year and people have been riding that dance high since last winter. If you haven't heard of this guy, get ready to be intimately involved with his music at parties.
The White Stripes - "Fell In Love With A Girl"
Who knows, this could happen to you. Plus the music video features Lego animation directed by Michel Gondry, and it's absolutely astounding.
Vampire Weekend - "Campus"
Another semi-truthful love song, only this time it overtly refers to college. Some of you will undoubtedly feel the emotions described in this song, but don't worry, because you'll get over it after a few spins of songs like this.
Built To Spill - "Strange"
Stuff in college is strange. You don't need me to tell you that in order to have some sort of idea of what I mean. Things just aren't the same on a college campus as they are in the real world.
The Decemberists - "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)"
For residents of my dorm who remember a performance last year of this song, it has remained the one single song I enjoy the most over and over again to come from any Performance Hour. Fall in love with it for the first time if you've never heard it, or fall in love with it again.
Polaris - "Hey Sandy"
People love to talk about TV shows from their childhood, unless you just watched PBS and never saw anything good (Arthur and Wishbone don't count). This was the theme to a fantastic TV show on Nickelodeon that featured guest appearances from many indie icons, and starred the lead character from this music video. Know the show?
The Strokes - "You Only Live Once"
Take the title to heart, and enjoy every single last minute of the first week, first quarter, and first year.
They Might Be Giants - "The Beer Song"
Yeah, drinking happens. Surprised? This is one of my favorite TMBG songs, up there with "Particle Man" and "Instanbul."
Arctic Monkeys (feat. Dizzee Rascal) - "Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend"
Some things can be tempting, like all the usual things (drinking, illegal substances, hookups), but often times the third one comes back to bite you in the ass. Just be careful, and listen to the sweet rap interlude from Dizzee on this track.
Foo Fighters - "Everlong"
This song always meant savoring moments for me and remembering what I wanted to keep in my mind forever.
New Order - "Age of Consent"
A very sweet song to dance to, but the title and some of the lyrics carry an important message about age difference...
Pixies - "Where Is My Mind?"
This song plays over the end of Fight Club, and is pretty much the sweetest song off of the debut record from the Pixies. Sometimes during college you may be asking yourself the title question.
Radiohead - "Talk Show Host"
A very calming song for me, originally from the Baz Luhrmann film Romeo+Juliet. It was a great sound for that film, and it's a great kickback track.
Spoon - "The Way We Get By"
No matter what happens, there will be people in the dorm to help out with stuff. You really do get by because of the people living with you.
Elliott Smith - "Needle In The Hay
This song was famously used by Wes Anderson in his film The Royal Tenenbaums. It still gives me chills sometimes to remember how perfectly it captured a terribly sad moment, but it's still a heartbreakingly beautiful song.
Weezer - "Pink Triangle"
Mistakes happen sometimes, and you need to get used to that. This song just makes a mistake funny and a little pitiful at the same time, which pretty much sums up Rivers Cuomo.
Radiohead - "Exit Music (For a Film)"
Another one originally composed for the R+J soundtrack that found its way onto Ok Computer, a beautiful ending song that I can just drift away while listening to on my headphones.