TDP Recommends: “The Gardener” by The Tallest Man on Earth

Kristian Matsson is a talented folk singer/songwriter and performer who goes by the stage name of The Tallest Man On Earth.  His music incorporates elements similar to that of Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder, with undertones reminiscent of Bon Iver, an artist with whom Matsson has toured.  His songs are typically home-recorded folk tracks featuring just his guitar and his voice, which provides a stripped-down sound that conveys his strong personal connection to his music. Although he sticks to one genre, his work is evident of his range as an artist; each song varies in sound and content. His narrative song, “The Gardener,” highlights Matsson’s enchanting music and poetic lyrics.  Dig it, Devils!


TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Mrs. Ford

Mrs. Ford is an amazing English, Drama, and Media teacher at BHS who also masterfully advises the school’s improv troupe, Idle Hands. She is described by her students as “funny – like for real,” “inspiring,” and “dedicated.” Here is what she was listening to when she was sixteen.

1.) “One Thing Leads to Another” — The Fixx

2.) “What You Need” — INXS

3.) “Taking My Chances” — The Outfield

4.) “Don’t Get Me Wrong” — The Pretenders

5.) “Life in a Northern Town” — The Dream Academy

6.) “Love Reign o’er Me” — The Who

7.) “I’m on Fire” — Bruce Springsteen

8.) “Party Girl” — U2

9.) “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” — The Police

10.) “Relax” — Frankie Goes to Hollywood

11.) “Let’s Go Crazy” — Prince and The Revolution

12.) “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” — Georgia Satellites

13.) “You Give Love a Bad Name” — Bon Jovi

14.) “Can’t Get Enough” — Bad Company

15.) “Mama Kin” — Aerosmith

16.) “Dance the Night Away” — Van Halen

When I was sixteen, my musical tastes were heavily influenced by other people, but maybe that’s as it should be. Regardless of where I first heard each of these songs, I wouldn’t be who I am without the music and lyrics of my youth. I distinctly remember turning sixteen, and thinking that I was leaving behind childish ways, so although their pictures still graced my wall (along with images of Doug Flutie) there are no Duran Duran songs on this mix. And though I would like to think of my sixteen-year-old self as listening to REM, Joy Division, and The Cure, the truth is, I really didn’t start listening to them until my college years. My sixteenth year focused mostly on hard rock with a little bit of pop.

images“One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx and “What You Need” by INXS remind me of the early days of MTV (when they still played music videos). I almost put “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel on the list for the groundbreaking video, but these two songs better reflect the fact that I am a sucker for catchy beats.

“Taking My Chances” by The Outfield reminds me of a particular moment: the long drive from my hometown of Clinton down to Princeton University to see my older brother play baseball. I remember sprawling in the backseat with my Walkman on, listening to my cassette of The Outfield. Though I could have included the more popular “Your Love” — I prefered the lyrics to “Taking My Chances.”

Unknown“Don’t Get Me Wrong” by The Pretenders is a brilliant song by a brilliant band. The Pretenders join Bruce Springsteen and U2 as artists that I still listen to on a regular basis. I remember hearing it for the first time riding the school bus home which is how I was also introduced to “Life in a Northern Town.” The Dream Academy song instantly struck a chord, mainly because the song felt so different from anything else I had heard on the radio to that point. I defy you to listen to it, and not sing along with the chorus: “Hey um ma ma ma (doobie doo-n-aya) / Hey um ma ma ma (heeeeey-yaaa).”

“Love Reign o’er Me” serves to represent all of The Who that I was listening to at the time. My older brother introduced me to their songs, and I was hooked. I could’ve included “Baba O’Riley” or “Behind Blue Eyes” or “Squeeze Box” or “Eminence Front” — but I selected “Love Reign o’er Me” because my first ever “real” boyfriend included it on one of the mixed tapes he made me.

UnknownBruce Springsteen and U2 — are artists who are still going strong. I’ve seen both in concert many times, but these songs in particular remind me of my sophomore year in high school. As I recall, “Party Girl” got a lot of play on the parks & rec bus trips that I and my friends took to places like Hampton Beach.

“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by the Police introduced me to reggae, ska, reggaeton, and dancehall, all of which I still love to listen to. It was also a favorite at high school dances, as was “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. So was “Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy — but that song is just terrible.

images“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and The Revolution also got a lot of play at dances, but it resonates with me because it reminds me of my high school field hockey team, which used it as a psych-up song. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” by Georgia Satellites reminds me of bus rides to basketball games with all of the cheerleaders singing this at the top of our lungs. “You Give Love a Bad Name” is the song I most associate with bus rides to softball games, again, with a bunch of teenage girls singing loudly.

Mark Sullivan 70's Rock ArchiveWith “Can’t Get Enough” by Bad Company, I return to the mixed tape from my boyfriend. At sixteen, I fell in love for the first time, so it is only right that I include several songs from that mix, as I know I listened to that tape incessantly. Aerosmith was featured heavily on all of his mixes for me, and “Mama Kin” is one of the best. If I were allowed more songs, I might have also included “Little Miss Dangerous” by Ted Nugent and “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush (how did he know I would become an English Teacher?)

Finally, I end the list with “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen. Van Halen was my second ever concert (Duran Duran was the first) and they were in heavy rotation on the soundtrack of my youth. Really, any VH song prior to my sixteenth year could have made the list, but “Dance the Night Away” always makes me happy.

Thanks to The Devil’s Playlist for running with this idea! I can’t wait for 30 for 30…

My cut list:

“When the Levee Breaks” — Led Zeppelin

“Wuthering Heights” — Kate Bush

“Day by Day” — The Hooters

“Alive and Kicking” — Simple Minds

“Gimme All Your Lovin'” — ZZ Top

“Foolin’” — Def Leppard

“Never” — Heart

“Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” — Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin

“West End Girls” — Pet Shop Boys

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Ms. Diozzi

Ms. Diozzi is a guidance counselor at BHS, who is described by her students as  “energetic and fun” – a “wicked nice lady” who “tells it like it is” and is “always on top of her game.” She also co-advises our gay/straight alliance, Spectrum, and assists on the production of BHS’s musicals. Ms. Diozzi is pictured below (on the left), next to one of her favorite high school teachers. Here is what she has to say about what she was listening to at age sixteen. 

Diozzi 16I had some trouble coming up with this list, because at first, I simply couldn’t remember what I was listening to when I turned 16 in April, 1981, the year MTV made its debut and the year I began listening to Matty in the Morning. Though I’ve had a few phases in my life during which I listened to music out of the time it was written, such as my great Beatle obsession of 1978-­79 and my Led Zeppelin/Bob Seger/Steve Miller Band stage of 2000, I tend to prefer music that’s of the time we’re in. I know that whatever was on the charts in mid-­1981 had to be what I was listening to, even if I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it now or then. I was disappointed to be reminded that so many of the songs that year were ones I truly disliked. (And not just me, a couple of them, “Morning Train” and “Theme from The Greatest American Hero” would be fodder for episodes of Seinfeld in the early 90s.) Though I’d liked a lot of the sentimental music of the 70s by such artists as Hall and Oates and Olivia Newton ­John, by the time the 80s rolled around, my angsty teenage self had had enough already. Where was the new music? Which artist or artists were going to lead us into the new decade? We had thought that John Lennon might, but he had been killed five months earlier. We didn’t know it at the time, but music from J. Geils, the Cars, Cyndi Lauper, the Police and the Go­Go’s was imminent, and Madonna, U2 and (say it like Jay­Z) Michael Jackson’s Thriller were right behind them, ready to take on and define pop music for the rest of the decade.

Ms. Diozzi’s Sweet 16 (April, 1981 -­ March, 1982):

“Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon (This song isn’t available on Spotify, so be sure to click the link to hear it. It’s amazing!)

“Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes

“Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon

“Sukiyaki” by Taste of Honey

“Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton

“The Best of Times” by Styx

“Celebration” by Kool & the Gang

“Rapture” by Blondie

“I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones

“Whip It” by Devo

“Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” by Elton John

“Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash

“Centerfold” by J. Geils Band

“Since You’re Gone” by The Cars

“Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go-Gos

“Open Arms” by Journey

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Ms. Fishel

Ms. Fishel is a BHS history teacher, who is described by her students as a “super nice” educator who “always tries to make things fun and interesting for the kids in her classes.” Here is what she has to say about the songs she was listening to when she was sixteen. 

 UnknownI turned 16 in the Fall of 2005.  I remember music being particularly important to me during my sophomore year of high school and my brown paper bag covered textbooks were covered in lyrics that managed to describe my life perfectly.  I listened to my overwhelming library of music on my pink 1st Generation iPod mini and while I always had it on me in school, I took my headphones off during class (grrr).  I made playlists for every event or potential situation – “Songs for Driving Around”; “Songs for Running”; “Songs that Make Me Miss [enter name of boyfriend].”  Looking back it seems laughable, but it was what I spent hours and hours doing.  I had a skater-punk boyfriend at the time (skinny jeans, sleeveless jean jacket with patches, studded belts, etc.) and he would always ask me to download him music, which eventually landed on my iPod as well.  I tried to stay pretty diverse – you never know when you’ll need a good ‘driving around’ song, a dance party jam, or a song that just understands exactly how you feel at that particular time.

The Songs of Sixteen (Fishel-edition)

1.  FM Static – “Hey Now” (This song was a hidden track on the album What Are You Waiting For?. It’s not on the Spotify playlist below, but  you can listen to it on  YouTube here.)

2.  Natasha Bedingfield – “Unwritten”

3.  Bubba Sparxxx – “Miss New Booty” (hilarious)

4.  Nelly – “Grillz”

5.  Ne-Yo – “So Sick”

6.  Alkaline Trio – “Time to Waste”

7.  The Veronicas – “4ever” (This was my ringtone the summer of 2006 – it only played 30 seconds of the chorus and it was so obnoxious.)

8.  Silverstein – “My Dagger vs. Your Sword”

9.  Anti-Flag – “The Press Corpse”

10.  Mario – “Let Me Love You” (still one of my personal favorite jams)

11.  Against Me! – “Cavalier Eternal”

12.  Sia – “Breathe Me” (I did this for a recital – still can’t get enough of it.)

13.  Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”

14.  Dashboard Confessional – “Hands Down” (so many feels..)

15.  Panic! at the Disco – “Time to Dance” (Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve always loved how Panic! took so much of his books in their early songs)

16.  Taking Back Sunday – “There’s no ‘I’ in Team”

Best Alternative Music of 2013

December 31, 2013

These songs are some of my personal favorites from 2013. In no particular order:

images1) “It Wants What It Wants” by Andrew Belle
It’s always great to find an artist that you’ve never heard of before in a genre of music that is relatively foreign to you. Andrew Belle was that artist for me in 2013. Listening to this track from his August release Black Bear never fails to calm me down and put me in a good mood. The atmosphere of the song is ethereal.

2) “Keepsake” by Balance and Composure
There’s always a sort of tension behind waiting to hear a band’s sophomore record after a dauntingly successful debut, and on their follow-up record, Balance and Composure were able to impress with a plethora of tracks with guitar-heavy, lyrically deep, and dark moods, best exemplified by this track “Keepsake.”

Unknown3) “Pompeii” by Bastille
Rarely do I hear a song on the radio that I thoroughly enjoy, but Bastille has created an exception. This track is both commercially accessible and universally enjoyable. The chorus is catchy yet not too reminiscent of any other top 40 single, and the lyrics for this song aren’t unnecessarily explicit garbage. “Pompeii” is just a feel-good jam.

4) “The Summer” by Citizen
This record has shot Citizen into the alternative music scene with full force, and this single from their 2013 release Youth is the perfect example as to why the band has gained so much popularity. The song’s pensive lyrics, swaying vibes, and dark atmosphere make for a captivating listen.

TCAS PROMO5) “Graves” by The Color and Sound
This song is an absolute party, and not to mention one of the unique songs I’ve heard in a long time. This track combines elements of folk, indie, alternative, all wrapped up with a wonderfully catchy poppy chorus. And there’s a banjo. What’s not to love?

6) “To the Sun” by Grandview
Even from a biased perspective, this song is just impressive. “To the Sun” captures the overall lyrical depth and stylistic complexity of Grandview’s new record and highlights just how much they have grown as a band.

images7) “Ways to Go” by Grouplove
I recommended this as a ‘Dig It, Devils!’ post a few weeks back, and this song is still as a bumpin’ and fun as it was then. This song is perfect for one of those mediocre days when you just need to be cheered up.

8) “In On It” by Daylight
From the perspective of an avid listener of 90s music like myself, this song and this record hits close to home. This song is brooding as it is wonderfully grungy.

9) “Hands” by Moving Mountains
I am a fan of songs with dreamscape-esque repetitive sections that build, build, and build some more throughout, and this song delivers on just that. I am also a fan of post-rock influence alternative music, and this song by Moving Mountains satisfies on all fronts creating an easy and enjoyable listen.

Unknown10) “There, There” by The Wonder Years
Watching a band that you were once not really a fan of prove you wrong with a new song or album is always an interesting situation, especially in the case of the Wonder Years. While I was not a huge fan of much of their past material, this track from their new album undeniably shines through, regardless of my preconceived notions with its haunting lyrics and impressive instrumentation.

11) “Shame” by The Dear Hunter
The Dear Hunter, a captivatingly genre-bending artist, drew me into his new album with this outstandingly unique track with its amazing compositional complexity and musicality.

12) “Skyline” by Gates
With a song that has a title to perfectly describe the atmosphere of the track, Gates have created a masterpiece of compositional skill that evokes an awe-inspiring melodic atmosphere characterized by carefully-crafted guitar work and amazing cohesion that will leave listeners with a sense of existential perplextion.

13) “Let’s Talk About Your Hair” by Have Mercy
Rising local band Have Mercy truly impressed me with this stand out track from their debut album The Earth Pushed Back not only with the heart-wrenching lyrics and vocals but also with its well done loud-to-soft sections and absolutely huge grooves.

TDP Playlist: Holiday Traditions

Burlington High School’s annual Holiday Traditions celebration was amazing this year. With performances by the Hip-Hop club, the Bollywood Dance Club, the BHS Chorus, and the BHS Drumline, many of today’s events centered on music. We thought it would be nice to share some of that music here. The list includes both traditional and not-so-traditional songs from various cultures that were celebrated today.

Have a wonderful vacation, Devils!


TDP Playlist: Hipster Holiday

imagesIn an effort to combat the frustration that inevitably follows being bombarded by the usual Christmas songs everywhere you go at this time of year, we’ve put together a holiday playlist full of songs you aren’t likely to catch while in the mall elevator. From She & Him to The Ramones, this list hits all of the standard tracks with some updated sounds,  and provides a few new songs to add to your holiday favorites.  We hope it makes your December a little bit brighter. Happy Holidays, Devils!

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Mr. Lally

Mr. Lally is the BHS English Department Chair and advisor of Collab, the school’s art and literature magazine.  This is what he was listening to when he was sixteen.


121003052909-rock-hall-rush-story-top1) “Red Barchetta” by Rush – I went through a HUGE Rush phase in high school. Geddy Lee’s voice is pretty awful, but that’s true of a lot of bands that I’ve really gotten into over the years. I think what I liked the most about this song was this little story within the lyrics about a nephew who tears around the country in an awesome sports car.

2) “Young Americans” by David Bowie – I really got into Bowie about three weeks too late – missed his tour with Nine Inch Nails. But I got to know him through ChangesOneBowie (his greatest hits), and “Young Americans” is a real standout. And of all of Bowie’s weird reincarnations, his blue-eyed soul era is probably the most unusual.

roxy-music13) “Do the Strand” by Roxy Music – I guess the jump from Bowie to Roxy Music is pretty easy, but I love this intro track from For Your Pleasure about a fictional dance craze.

4) “In Dark Trees” by Brian Eno – I heard somewhere that David Bowie fans fall into two categories: Those who like the Velvet Underground and those who like Brian Eno. I never really got into Lou Reed. Eno, on the other hand, is a master. This eerie song from Eno’s Another Green World is one of his less soothing instrumentals, but it’s one of his most interesting.

5) “Cosmik Debris” by Frank Zappa – The manager at the toy store where I worked was really into Zappa, and his stuff is hilarious. “Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?”

Japan-japan-band-25249093-500-4116) “Methods of Dance” by Japan – I guess my guilty pleasure in music was the “New Romantic” movement from the early ’80s. I really got into Japan & still think they were criminally unheralded. The live version of this song from Oil on Canvas is superior.

7) “A Change of Seasons” by Dream Theater – My interest in Rush drove me into some prog-rock bands. This 23-minute song is epic. And a little pretentious, but I loved the scope of it all.

8) “Close to the Edge” by Yes – another mammoth song, clocking in at nearly 19 minutes. Yes was great at this. They once released a double-album that contained only four songs – one on each side of the two vinyl records. And they were being totally serious.

9) “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John – I think Elton John is sort of lame – but I felt like I owed him a shot. This is the only song of his that I really liked.

blur_reunion10) “Chemical World” by Blur –  I also went through a pretty strong BritPop phase, and this track from Modern Life is Rubbish is a gem.

11) “Down in the Park” by Gary Numan – Creepy and moody, kind of like I was back in the day. More ’80s pop.

12) “Mile End” by Pulp – Nearly every song by Pulp falls into one of three categories: Sex, Poor People, and Sex with Poor People. “Mile End” is about slumming in East London. This one is from the Trainspotting soundtrack

13) “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed – Yes, I’m not a big Lou Reed fan. I just don’t see the “genius” of his lyrics. But this song is beautiful. It was also featured on the Trainspotting soundtrack, which is great overall.

14) “Cowgirl” by Underworld – Back when MTV actually played music, they had this short-lived show called Amp, which played techno videos, and I really got into that style as well. This song from Underworld’s debut is one that I really remember well. And I still think there’s no better music to listen to while running than Underworld.

2012TITPOrbitalPA09071215) “The Box” by Orbital – This is a song that I got into because of the video, which has a woman walking in slow motion through a pulsing city. But the song is really excellent too.

16) “Xanadu” by Rush – I guess if there’s one band that can be on my list twice, it’s Rush, as they were really the band that made me like music. And from what I understand, despite Lee’s screeching vocals, their technical skill is peerless, but I’m no musician. This song, a guitar-heavy retelling of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, got a lot of playing time on our record player. And it was part of the reason why I bought the Columbia Publishing anthology of the Top 500 poems, as I wrote an essay comparing the song to the poem. And here I am today, a poetry teacher. This stuff does matter!

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Ms. Abbott

Ms. Abbott is an engaging Spanish teacher at BHS, appreciated for both her candor in the classroom and her creative teaching style. She was 16 in 1983-1984. Here is what she was listening to.

“Mockingbird” – James Taylor and Carly Simon

 We’d sing this at night in the quad while we were waiting to get back into our dorms during a fire drill (I went to a boarding school).

 Thriller – Michael Jackson 

The whole album was great, but the real standout was the video.  It was practically on a continuous loop on MTV, back when they used to play music videos.

” Relax” – Frankie goes to Hollywood 

“Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince 

“Like a Virgin” – Madonna 

 “Born in the USA” – Bruce Springsteen

 I remember listening to this over and over again in the ceramic studio working on my homework

 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

They raised a ton of money to combat famine in Ethiopia.  This was the start of a number of international concerts aimed at raising money/awareness of this problem, which eventually led to me running a 10k in London with 300,000 other people as a fundraiser for the same cause.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2 

Simon and Garfunkel – the whole concert in Central Park

 “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran 

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” – The Clash 

“Changes” – David Bowie

 “Burning Down the House”  – Talking Heads 

The Talking Heads concert movie, Stop Making Sense, was a big favorite, as was the cassette I had of the soundtrack.  It’s still something that I listen to a lot, and have replaced many times (cassette-cd-mp3).

“Another Brick in the Wall “- Pink Floyd 

 “Down on the Corner” – Creedence Clearwater Revival 

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Ms. Carey

 Here is what Ms. Carey, an enthusiastic teacher and a member of the stellar BHS History Department, has to say about what she was listening to when she was sixteen. 

UnknownWhen I turned 16, I was a junior in high school.  It was 1986 and I had a bad perm.  We bought cassettes and had blank tapes so we could tape songs off the radio from our boom boxes.  It is hard as my 43 year old self  to reconcile my tastes when I was 16.  Although there are still some songs I have on my iPod and use in heavy rotation when I work out, most of the other stuff is pretty embarrassing.  Music-wise I was decidedly uncool, until there was a party at a friend’s house where they played (on a RECORD PLAYER) Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  There aren’t many songs that I can point to and say – that was a turning point for me and music, but truly listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody” was.   After they played it we all wanted to hear it again, and I remember my friend Doug saying – “No, it only can be played once.”

I would like to say my tastes are better now – thanks in part to my husband who expanded my Springsteen base from “Dancing in the Dark.” This is what I was listening to at sixteen.

Ms. Carey was sixteen when musicians first started getting creative in developing their music videos, and when MTV actually played them. Here are a couple of videos that made it fun to wait all day for the MTV VJ to play your favorite song.

Dire Straits: “Walk of Life” – featuring Larry Bird and some amazing 80’s dancing

A-ha: “Take on Me” – considered a groundbreaking video at the time