TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Mr. Carr

Mr. Carr, a BHS history teacher, is described by his students and colleagues as “passionate,” “highly motivating,” “memorable,” and “wicked smart.” He is also known throughout BHS as a “die hard” track coach “who is there to champion you when you win and to pick you up when you don’t.” Here is what he has to say about what he was listening to when he was sixteen. 

I actually got my first CD player and CD (Led Zeppelin IV) for my 16th birthday. I listen almost exclusively to 60s and 70s classic rock, since music effectively died for me when John Bonham died in 1980 and Led Zeppelin disbanded. My mom claims I was conceived at Woodstock (the time matches up perfectly). But my dad takes pains to remind her that he wasn’t there. In any case, though not part of the Woodstock generation, it is my music. Although I did go through my obligatory heavy metal stage in the 80s (Iron Maiden) and then right before heading over to Germany for the one-month-long German exchange program we had at BHS at the time, a bunch of us got hooked on Falco and even got to see him in concert at the Munich Olympic Stadium. Falco I only have on cassette and don’t listen to anymore. All of the others are part of my 600+ CD collection that I still listen to. I heard there is music online now apparently?

Mr. Carr’s Sweet Sixteen:
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced (1967)
Moby Grape – 8:05 (1967)
The Doors – Tell All the People (1969)
Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well (1969)
Jethro Tull – Reasons for Waiting (1969)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio (1970)
Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970)
Janis Joplin – Me and Bobby McGee (1971)
Led Zeppelin – Going to California (1971)
Roy Harper – One Man Rock and Roll Band (1971)
The Who – Behind Blue Eyes (1971)
Bob Marley and the Wailers – I Shot the Sheriff (1973)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Rush – Tom Sawyer (1981)
Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills (1982)
Falco – Rock Me Amadeus (1985)
NOTE: The following song from Mr. Carr’s list is not included in the Spotify library, so we’ve provided a YouTube clip below.
Roy Harper: “One Man Rock and Roll Band”

TDP Valentine’s Day Playlist: From the Screen & Vinyl

They say love is in the air… but sometimes it’s tough to feel. These songs, however, are guaranteed to add a little romance to your atmosphere. Sourced from romantic films across cultures, the star-crossed couples of high-nerdery, and the very best of jazz and pop, TDP presents you with a playlist to love- even if it isn’t the 14th of February.

1) “The Fountain Scene”- comp. John Williams, The Terminal Soundtrack

The Terminal somehow escaped fame, despite being born of Steven Speilberg’s mind and featuring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a couple separated by cultures and norms. Even without the heat-warming dialogue and cinematography, John Williams’ composition stands on its own as a truly romantic song.

2)  “When You’re Smiling”- Louis Armstrong

A classic from an old age, “Pops” (Louis Armstrong) delivers a clichéd love song with his signature voice and big-band feel.

3)  “Love Grows”- comp. Nobuo Uematsu, Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

Fellow nerds will attest- Final Fantasy VIII is not so much about a desperate quest to save the world, but rather about the developing relationship between a hardened, stoic bad-boy and a cheery, outgoing girl. “Love Grows” captures the ups and downs of their relationship, and the Distant Worlds Orchestra’s rendition of this video-game-romance anthem is hands down the definitive version of the composition.

4) “Por Una Cabeza”- perf. The Tango Project, Scent of a Woman Soundtrack

Al Pacino played a blind, bitter, foul-mouthed ex-colonel in Scent of a Woman, and yet, in this memorable scene, he was as loveable as anyone. A classic tango that will make for lovely Valentine’s Day dancing, if you can find a partner!

5) “Miss Misery”- Elliott Smith

A song that took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song in Good Will Hunting, Smith’s gentle voice and melancholy melody explore the sadness in love. Anything as wonderful as love certainly should have its downsides, and “Miss Misery” shows us just how groovy those downsides can be.

6) “Anyone Else But You”- The Moldy Peaches, Juno Original Soundtrack

Nerds need love too! The Moldy Peaches’s geeky, feel-good duet appeared in the 2008 film Juno and depicts a different kind of couple: awkward and unconventional, but with a love arguably stronger than any other.

7) “Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera”- comp. A.R. Rahman, Swades Soundtrack

This composition deals with the love between a man and the country he left behind; Swades chronicles Mohan Bhargava’s return to India after living a successful life in America for decades. His reacquaintance with his land, his culture, his people brings to light a love that stands as tough as any love between two people. If the Hindi lyrics are lost on you, the translation is only a Google search away…

8) “Prelude To A Kiss”- Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a swing titan, but his gentler, more romantic side was also a force to be reckoned with. While we cannot guarantee that this song will always lead to a kiss, your chances are always better when Duke Ellington is on your side.

9) “My Girl”- The Temptations

One of the original #1 hits by one of the original “boy bands”, “My Girl” is as charming today as it was when it first made young ladies swoon. Sing it to the lady in your life, and don’t forget to dance to it!

10) “So This Is Love”- perf. Dave Brubeck Quartet

Brubeck’s uptempo, lively take of the Cinderella tune is also a dance-worthy track, if you can keep up! Solos by Paul Desmond on alto saxophone and Brubeck himself on the keys round out one of the few bright love songs in the world of jazz.

TDP Playlist: Mid-Year Exam Preparation

TDP MYE 4Experts do not agree on the potential benefits or detriments of listening to music while preparing for a big test. Some studies suggest that listening to music is nothing but a distraction; while you think you are reviewing your Latin notes, you are really focusing on Lorde lyrics.  Others assert that listening to music triggers the release of dopamine, which makes whatever task you are undertaking while listening more pleasurable, thus increasing productivity. Some indicate that listening to music with a driving beat is best, and others recommend peaceful, calming music. Most, however, believe that the best studying environment varies from individual to individual.  And all experts indicate that listening to music at all times while studying is not smart. There is ALWAYS a need for QUIET while preparing for certain subjects and certain tasks.

TDP MYE 2 If, on occasion, you need something to drown out the sometimes distracting silence during a few of your study sessions, your best bet is to listen to instrumental pieces that won’t prompt you to sing along with any lyrics. These songs can provide an effective, rhythmic backdrop to your review, and – in some cases – might even hep you focus. If  listening to any music at all while studying doesn’t work for you, but you like to crank up the tunes during study breaks, sticking with instrumental sounds might be the way to go. Sometimes switching from silent study to your favorite jam can be too drastic and distract you even further. Instead, consider trying out some of these all instrumental exam prep playlists.

  • “The Mozart Effect” – Although the theory that playing Mozart for babies and children can increase their intellectual capabilities has, for the most part, been debunked, sometimes a little Mozart is inspiring. If you’re still on board with the “Mozart Effect” concept, or if you just feel smarter while listening to classical music, this playlist has you covered.
  •  “Independent Study” – Looking for a more mellow vibe? Or perhaps you’re just a fan of indie darlings like Yo La Tengo and Broken Social Scene? Either way, this mix of indie and electronic music will certainly trigger enough dopamine release to make studying a pure joy.
  •  “Rap Genius” – Need a more high energy playlist to help you get through your chemistry notes? Want a driving beat to drill those 180 vocab words into your brain? Try the Hip Hop Genius playlist.  It’s full of instrumental versions of rap, hip hop, and electronic/hip hop cross-overs. Designed to energize, this mix should help you make it through those long study sessions.  Honestly, it’s probably better for study breaks, or the drive in to school.
  • “Jazz, Man” – If you want a more swanky soundtrack to your study sessions, perhaps this playlist full of jazz classics will do the trick. From Coltrane to Gillespie, these songs will add a little ambiance to your review.

TDP3If you need some more low-key study music, try listening to a few movie scores . The soundtracks to Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and similar films work well. Really, most hero’s journey films have scores with a nice combination of both tranquil and inspiring music, which can be helpful when looking for some sounds to help you focus on your work. These soundtracks  are easily accessible with a quick search on Spotify and other music sharing sites.

If you aren’t the type of student who can listen to music while preparing for exams, you should definitely take off those headphones and put away all other technology. In fact that is one of the tips listed in the BHS mentors’ advice for mid-year exams. The BHS Help Desk students highlight this great advice in the video below.

It’s time to crack the books, Devils!

We wish you the best of luck on your exams.

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.

13 for ’13: Electronic Playlist

jamesblakeIt’s been another good year for electronic music. Here’s my top 13 electronic tracks of the year, in no particular order:

James Blake – Retrograde 

Retrograde is beautiful. The sudden burst of synths is beautiful. James Blake is beautiful.

Burial – Rival Dealer explicit

Burial likes to make these 2-3 track EPs that last about 30 minutes with crazy reverbs and strange samples, but they all end up as must listens.

Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal

Hopkins tortures some synths for about 8 minutes.


Daft Punk – Get Lucky

How Daft Punk can manage to make a single guitar loop tireless and timeless is beyond anyone’s guess. Pharrell sings and, for once, doesn’t actually ruin a song.

Martin Garrix – Animals

Martin Garrix is 4 months younger than I am, a popular DJ, and has a global hit. I listened to this and had an existential crisis after.

Zedd – Clarity

The drop just doesn’t do it for me, but Foxes’ vocals more than make up for it.

Charli XCX – You (Ha Ha Ha) explicit

It’s like a Cher Lloyd song, but better.

Arcade Fire – Afterlife

The only song that stood out from that entire Reflektor LP.

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Shareknife

Female-sung synthpop is making a comeback and I have no problems with that.

The Knife – Full of Fire explicit

This song drags a little in the last 2 minutes, but the first 7 is so good. Always trust the Swedes for a nice jam.

Icona Pop – I Love It explicit

Icona Pop justifies arson, reckless driving, and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder with the catchiest chorus of the year.

Cedric Gervais & Lana Del Rey – Summertime Sadness (Remix)

For me, Cedric Gervais makes Lana Del Rey easier to digest. For fans of the Gatsby movie, Gervais also has a remix for Young & Beautiful.

Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself

Sky blames herself for her bad reputation. I don’t blame her for this song.

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

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Dr. Nassiff

Here is what Dr. Nassiff, Head of the Science Department and advisor to the amazing BHS Chess Club, was listening to when he was sixteen:

 1.    “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”–Elvis Presley  

As a young teenager who just broke up with his girlfriend, this one tore at my heartstrings!  Wise men say, “Only fools rush in!”  I recommended this for my son’s wedding.


 2. “Duke of Earl”–Gene Chandler  

 I loved the bass man.  A good bass man was essential to Rock-n-Roll in my era, and this is the best. My friends and I used to try and imitate him. Bom de de Bon…

 3.”To the Aisle” -The Five Satins

Romantic and what teenagers of my era dreamed about. Where I grew up, not many went on to college; many married right after high school.                                            

 4.”Play Those Oldies, Mr. DJ” –Anthony and the Sophomores

This one has snippets from popular Rock-n-Roll songs that were often our requests.


 5. “Chances Are” –Johnny Mathis

Romantic and fun to dance to at the sock hop.  As one sage said, “Dancing is 90 degrees away from sin!”  Johnny Mathis was very popular for his slow-dancing tunes.

 6. “When We Get Married”–The Dreamlovers

Fantasize on what a wonderful life is circa the 1950’s.  See #3.

 7. “Blueberry Hill”–Fats Domino

Classic early Rock-n-Roll.  The Fatman could really croon.  Note the lack of instrumentation.

Jerry Lee Lewis at piano 8. “Great Balls of Fire” –Jerry Lee  Lewis

Jerry Lee really put on a show with his pounding of the piano.  Really got us going.

 9. “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” (B-side) –Elvis Presley

 The first 45 I owned. I was fairly poor so a 45 record was a big deal.  I recall it cost a buck.  A buck is what I earned per hour in a summer job. The reason both songs are together is that both were on the same 45 and both were #1 hits.

 10. “Rama Lama Ding Dong”–The Edsels  

So what is an Edsel?  Look it up. This says a lot about the song. I love the rhyming nonsense lyrics. Also mentioned in #4.


 11. “Up on the Roof”–The Drifters  

As a teenager, I had problems with rejection and this is one group’s answers to how to deal with it.

 12. “Those Oldies but Goodies Remind me of You”–Little Caesar and The Romans

Little Caesar (Carl Burnett) was one of the best lead singers of the era.  You needed a strong tenor voice with a good backup.


13. “Johnny B Goode”–Chuck Berry

Loved this song.  Berry was famous for his duck walk and is mentioned (sort of) in the movie “Back to the Future” when Berry’s cousin’s band played at the Enchantment Under the Sea sock hop. I saw him live when I was in grad school. He was quite an entertainer. Berry was one of my favorites and had many hits

 14.”Summertime Blues”–Eddie Cochran  

This was my theme song as I tried my hardest to find a summertime job in Sioux City to help pay for my college tuition.


 15 “Peggy Sue”–Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran died in the same airplane crash.  But that is too bad because I really loved “Peggy Sue.”  As A teenager I would sometimes sing this with my latest crush’s name.

 16.”Bye Bye Love”–Everly Brothers  

Don and Phil had a bunch of hits but I liked this one the best.  Summed up our teenage emotions when a couple broke up.


“Little Darlin’”–The Diamonds  

Who can forget the clanging cowbell at the start, and the ay-yay-ay-yay. It is etched in my memory.

 “Earth Angel”—Penguins

One of the earliest Rock-n-Roll songs, but I still like it


 “Get a Job”—Silhouettes

Dip-Dip-Dip-Dip, Boom-Boom-Boom- Boom Get a Job

“Lonely Teardrops”–Jacky Wilson

Late Rock-n-Roll, but I loved Wilson and the song.

 “Poison Ivy” and “Charlie Brown”–The Coasters

A very popular group.  Fe Fe Fi Fi Fo Fo Fum Who’s that  smoking in the auditorium?  Charlie Brown!

 “Transfusion”–Nervous Norvus

The words are a gas. See what happens when you drive fast?


My wife and I have season subscriptions to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Handel and Hayden Society.  I also love opera. I went to the Met Opera last year, and almost always go to the HD presentations in theaters.  I always loved classical music but never had a chance to listen to it seriously until I got to college, and then married a cultured lady. So there you have it.  This is how we spend our entertainment dollars.  Classical music and opera.

TDP Sweet Sixteen Playlist: Mr. Whitten

In an effort to grow our music community here at BHS, we reached out to the faculty and staff. We wanted to know what they were listening to when they were sixteen, and to learn about what music meant to them at that age. The responses were pretty amazing. Here is the first playlist in a recurring TDP series called “The Sweet Sixteen”; this list features sixteen songs Mr. Whitten was listening to when he was sixteen-years-old. Mr. Whitten is the Head of the History Department at BHS, and a truly inspiring teacher.

*NOTE: The fourteenth song on Mr. Whitten’s list is a cover version. Led Zeppelin has chosen not to release their music on sharing sites. You can, however, check out the song performed live by clicking HERE. The sixteenth song on Mr. Whitten’s list would be anything by The Beatles, but due to copyright laws we also can’t include Beatles songs on our playlists. Sorry, Devils.

Def Leppard

Here’s what Mr. Whitten has to say about his playlist:

At 16 I was listening to lots of pop, but on the more fringes of pop.  I had lots of folk in my life from my parents (represented by the Kingston Trio covering a Bob Dylan song), and Rap had just gotten started with Run DMC and Beastie Boys making a pretty strong impression on me and my basketball teammates.  Led Zeppelin was my introduction to actual Rock earlier in my life, and that spilled over into GnR, and some hair metal as well, hence the Def Leppard. I liked songs that were longer, hence Genesis, Floyd and the Grateful Dead.  My tastes ran all over the place, and listening to this playlist tells me that I had a broad palate for music then, but thankfully it has refined itself over the years!

Look for more Sweet Sixteen playlists in the days and weeks to come.