A couple months back we had the idea of bringing together our readers and comics professionals through the art of the mixtape. Reaching out to everyone through Twitter, we managed to put together an eclectic mix of industry regulars, CB staffers and longtime readers interested in hearing new music and meeting new people.
For our first theme, we chose “For a Better Future,” the motto of Morning Glory Academy, the setting of Nick Spencer’s breakout series Morning Glories. FX Editor/Producer (Best Damn Sports Show Period) Chris Murrin was selected to do the first public selection for what we hope will be an ongoing series.
In creating the “For a Better Future” mixtape, I tried to choose songs that in one way or another followed the plot of the first Morning Glories trade, which I had recently read. First I started searching through iTunes and Google, looking for keywords that went with the story. Kids, school, freedom, danger all led to songs I would have expected, Alice Cooper, the Beach Boys, Kim Wilde, George Michael, etc. All songs that I didn’t want to include on my mixtape, even though I do enjoy them (well, the first two, at least). Joking to myself, I thought about Winger’s “Seventeen” and the Stray Cats’ “Sexy + 17,” and the search stemming from that got the ball rolling.
Growing up south of Philadelphia, you couldn’t miss hearing Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers. In my high school years, they filled that role of awesome local band that never quite made it. Their first album, Walkin’ on the Water remains one of my favorites to this day. Local radio played it all the time, and a later remake of one song, “I’m Not Your Man,” did eventually get a shot on MTV (though the remake had this awful rap-like section added). “I’m 17” isn’t my favorite of their songs, but it’s good, and it fits about where Morning Glories begins, with an introduction to a bunch of kids.
I’ve always enjoyed jazz, especially the Great American Songbook, so I had to get a jazz number on here. “Motherless Child” makes me think of Casey, and where she begins the story, sitting beneath the tree with her journal, her father and brother nearby. While I like the Ramsey Lewis Trio, the version of this that I would have preferred to get would be by Jimmy Scott, which I first heard while working as the assistant editor on Adam Goldberg’s film “Scotch & Milk.”
While I first thought of Jade’s reaction to calling her father when I chose “The Fear,” the lyrics of the song actually fit Zoe a lot better, with their focus on materialism and superficiality, though I’m sure we’ll learn that there’s way more to Zoe than that. Still, the song felt appropriate, and it gave me an excuse to put some Lily Allen on the mixtape, which works for me.
“Problem Child” seems to sum up Ike fairly well. That boy has problems and seems to love to cause more of them. Plus, AC/DC ranks among my favorite bands ever, so I had to get them on here somewhere. This seems to be the last of the songs that remind me of specific characters. From here on, I think I went with songs that alluded the plot or themes from the book more than anything specific.
Mike Patton can do no wrong to me. In his guise as Peeping Tom, we got “We’re Not Alone (Remix).” The title and the creepy music in the verses of this song match the feeling I got when reading the book. From the get-go, you have that sense of forboding or that inkling that even though the academy looks good on the surface, something just isn’t right. Plus, the kids aren’t alone, with that mysterious ghost-killer hidden at the school.
It seems that the kids have in some ways sold themselves (or been sold) to the devil when they agreed to attend the academy. Thus, the Reverend Horton Heat’s “The Devil’s Chasing Me” came to mind. This song, on the Love & a .45 soundtrack, made me take notice of the Rev, and I’ve since bought every one of their albums and been able to see them play live. I highly recommend it; they put on a great show.
Since I first heard the jazzcore stylings of Naked City in college, I’ve been a fan of their work, and of composer John Zorn. While I could have chosen any of their screeching, unintelligible thrashy songs, I thought the chaos and quick-changing nature of this piece fit the chaotic, sometimes danger-filled, sometimes two kids talking in the library nature of the story. Also, this music is done without the benefit of tape edits or protools; seeing them play it live is incredible.
Being a sophomore in college when Smells Like Teen Spirit hit MTV, grunge music holds a special place in my heart. Alice in Chains was among my favorites of that sub-genre. Plus, come on, with a title like “We Die Young,” how could it not make this list?
Back to Mike Patton for this one. With their John Zorn influence, Mr. Bungle added this fast-changing, cacophonous style to their repertoire. Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite Mr. Bungle song (that would probably be Squeeze Me Macaroni), but again, the title fit to some degree, and it gave me an excuse to include them on the list. Like many of the bands above, I had a chance to see these guys live at Maxwell’s in Hoboken after their first album came out. My ears rang for three days afterward. Totally worth it.
I love ska music, and of active bands, Reel Big Fish is far and away my favorite. I’ve seen them live a dozen times, and they never disappoint. So I freely admit that I’ve pretty much shoehorned this song into the mix. While the band has plenty of songs that focus on teen angst, none really fit the Morning Glories mold. My thinking here that in addition to concern about their current safety, the book includes some degree of worry about how success and failure can affect the future. This song is all about failure. So I snuck it in here. Be prepared. I imagine I’ll be throwing an RBF song into just about every mixture I can put together.
Stream Chris’s mixtape here!