Another literary mixtape from the past, this one inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. As always, click on the mixtape tag beside this post to get the full inventory of mixtapes, and to listen to any of them go to the bottom of my blog and listen to it streamed on streampad.
1) Wonderwall - Ryan Adams - This was a late selection, for the longest time I had set Lambchop’s ‘I’m Glad I Never’ as the opening track. It’s terse 1:24 duration and narrative cue “In the beginning there was nothing… [ending with] I’m glad I never owned a gun” was the right sort of beginning, or so I thought for over a month. Then I heard Wonderwall on BBC and it just perfectly sums up the emotional dynamic of the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy, and also has just the right tone musically which became a better signal than the Lampchop track of what was to come. I also experimented with starting with ‘Rain’ by Ryuichi Sakamoto as a tongue-in-cheek play on the whole melodrama angle of the book.
2) Who by Fire - Leonard Cohen - Very early on the list, Cohen’s ballads of love are perfect fits for this sort of playlist, I seriously could of used five or six if I was not restrained by a desire to bring variety. This song took a while to grow on me, it was only after hearing it almost daily in the coffee shop at work that I began to register it from amongst my favorite Cohen tracks to appreciate it’s singular beauty. The songs relates to the moment Heathcliff rebukes Cathy after her first return from the Lintons. Here I am going more from the film then the book, as I read the book so long ago. But there is this moment in the film where Cathy comes home and there is an awkwardness between the two, which the chorus of ‘Who By Fire’ seems to capture.
3) Thirteen - Johnny Cash - One of two musicians I have carried over from my last literary playlist. I know very little Johnny Cash but I was noticing very early on that the playlist was going to have a country feel to it, that there would be a lot of guitar and gravely voices, and Cash was an obvious choice in the matter. The song refers to an orphaned child who has a lot of misery, and that seemed perfect for Heathcliff.
4) You are a Runner and I am my Father’s Son - Wolf Parade - The last track to be added to the playlist but strangely one of the first I had thought to add, only it took me a hell of a time to get a hold of it. Wolf Parade became an essential tonal valve to exist in juxtaposition to the quiet country ballads, and represent some of the anger of Heathcliff in the first person. Also lyrically the segueway between this and ‘Thirteen’ was better than I could have hoped, the first line carrying on the association that the character is just a number. Obviously the runner is Cathy, and the father’s son is Heathcliff who once again makes an association to his family lineage as something distressing.
5) Deeper - Eric’s Trip - I really liked a track MadPerc sent me some time ago by Lockgroove ‘Payin’ the Price’, and when I heard this song it felt like it was almost by the same group, very quiet and soothing. This is an ‘on the moors’ peaceful track, with some nice references to snow at the end which again segues nicely into the next song where similiar landscape references are made.
6) The Pull - The Microphones - Again, there are dozens of songs by this group that could also have been chosen to fit this playlist, but I choose only one to keep variety. This is a song I had for a long time and never fully listened to until much later, the song has to be listened to in its entirety; it is the crescendo of the playlist, the death of Cathy.
7) Gazebo Tree - Kristin Hersh - Late entry, but worked perfectly with that same grungy country feel that was being carried through. I see it as Isabella’s song, in response to her loveless marriage to the abusive Heathcliff.
8) It’s a Curse - Wolf Parade - the least relevant song on the list, it just sounds good, and can stand in for Heathcliff.
9) Death to Birth - Pagoda - from the Gus Van Sant film ‘Last Days’ where Pitt does such a scary impersonation of Kurt Cobain that even his sound is note perfect. This is a great song, an original song that could have been by Cobain. The chorus of ‘death to birth’ works well with the whole death of Cathy and the birth of Catherine.
10) Insomniacs of the World Goodnight - Gord Downie - The one true gem off of his solo work from The Tragically Hip. The imagery of the neverstar and the wantoness in some of the lyrics seemed to be a perfect end to this love story which was only going to end in death. This going to sleep seems to be a promise of something more, of love on the otherside.