These songs got me through college. Hope they can be of use to you too. - Joanie
[JM: When I created this playlist, I don’t think we had begun recording The Bright Sessions yet. Or at least not very much. So I was concerned that the playlist wouldn’t accurately reflect the character of Dr. Joan Bright. In truth, this playlist is just a handful of my favorite songs that I wanted to share with Lauren, Briggon, and the rest of the cast; and saying that it is an “in-universe” playlist from Joan to Mark was just a creative excuse. But two seasons later, I’m beginning to think that Joan and I are more and more alike than I originally imagined. And if these songs got me through high school and college (which they did), then it’s fair to say that they got Joan through adolescence as well.]
Notes from Dr. Joan Bright, in character
[JM: author notes from Julia Morizawa]
1. "Where is My Mind" - The Pixies
A classic, no-brainer for any alternative rock list. You probably remember me playing it a lot when I was in high school.
Your head will collapse if there’s nothing in it…
[JM: The Pixies inspired two of the (arguably) greatest bands of the 90’s – Nirvana and Radiohead. So there’s that. I remember having heard this song many times, then one night, sitting in the car, perhaps a bit stoned, and hearing it again in a brand new light. It just hit me in a different way. And ever since then, hearing Black Francis’ initial “Ooh ooh” makes me feel a little high, in a good way, even though I’m not. I imagine that Joan appears to be pretty straight-laced on the outside, but if you get her buzzed enough, she’d tell you some stories about getting high in a car, listening to this song on repeat.]
2. "Let Down" - Radiohead
Changed my life. First heard it riding in the back of a pick-up truck with friends in high school. The best album of the 90’s.
And one day, I am going to grow wings
[JM: You know the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower? When they’re in the pick-up truck, driving through a tunnel, and they hear this song on the radio that the author refuses to name, and “In that moment, I swear we were infinite?” This is that song for me. No joke, Radiohead’s music got me through my adolescence.]
3. "Rebellion (Lies)" - Arcade Fire
I could listen to this song on repeat forever and it would never get old.
People say that your dreams are the only things that save you/Come on, baby, in our dreams we can live our misbehavior
[JM: This is one of very few songs that I could literally listen to on repeat forever and ever and it would never get old. This is a “feel-good” song. I picture Joan driving in her car, playing this song with the volume cranked way up, and dancing in her seat. Oh, wait, that’s just what I do.]
4. "Girl/Boy Song" - Aphex Twin
Like Mozart for the electronica age.
[JM: Sometimes when Joan is taking a relaxing, end-of-a-long-day bath, she plays Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” on repeat. And sometimes she plays this track. In a modern age of computer-generated EDM and techno, this is a song that proves electronica can be more complex and emotionally moving than the typical laptop beat. Also, this song is featured in “Manic,” one of my favorite movies set in a psychiatric hospital.]
5. "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" - Broken Social Scene
Sitting alone and meditating song. Might be too girly for you.
Used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that
[JM: I would literally sit in my first apartment in Silver Lake with this song on repeat while “meditating,” which at the time meant smoking and drinking. There is something deeply sad and therefore exceptionally soothing about this track. I have a feeling that Joan has tried to describe this exact state to Mark on numerous occasions and he doesn’t quite get it.]
6. "Paper Tiger" - Spoon
Makes me feel cool when I’m driving and singing along.
I will no longer do the devil’s wishes/something I read on a dollar bill
[JM: Definitely one of my favorite bands and albums that I wasn’t exposed to until my college years. I saw them live a couple of times and they put on a great show – their songs sound different live than they do on the album which is a key factor for me in determining whether or not a band is worth seeing. I think Joan would consider this a love song – holding hands while fighting the good fight against a powerful but unsubstantial agency is her idea of a good date.]
7. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" - The Postal Service
My favorite track from what might be the best album of the 2000s.
And I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving
[JM: This is an album that I can listen to today, over ten years later, and still every single track and the order in which the tracks are presented blows me away. It’s so good! Even though Radiohead released four pretty damn good albums between 2000-2009, I think “Give Up” by the Postal Service is still my favorite album of that decade. Oh, if it’s not clear, Radiohead is my all-time favorite band so that’s why I made the comparison. I think Joan could relate this song to her distancing relationship with Mark, which probably took place around this time.]
8. "Skinny Love" - Bon Iver
Didn’t hear this ‘til grad school. Didn’t fall in love with it until I had heard it many times.
I’ll be holding all the tickets and you’ll be owning all the fines
[JM: When I was first listening to this album, I was primarily obsessed with the track, “The Wolves (Act I and II),” which I would listen to on repeat in my car. On the album, “Skinny Love” is the prior track, and I had listened to it a number of times. But then one day I skipped back one too many tracks and suddenly heard this song in a brand new light. I was like, “What IS this???” I feel like Joan would play this track after a long day at work, sitting in a lumpy chair, sipping on scotch, contemplating whether she should order delivery or heat one of those “healthy” frozen dinners she keeps in the freezer.]
9. "The Leaving Song" - A.F.I.
Something about these lyrics is empowering.
All the cracks/they lead right to me
[JM: I used to love singing along to this song while driving and chain-smoking cigarettes. It may be the only A.F.I. song that I can even remotely sing along to. There’s something heavily depressing about this song for me, which is why I like it. Maybe Joan would feel the same way – like when she’s feeling sad, listening to sad music will make her feel better than listening to happy music. Maybe not.]
10. "Waltz #2 (XO)" - Elliott Smith
This might be the song that got me into indie rock in the first place.
She appears composed/so she is I suppose/who can really tell?/She shows no emotion at all/stares into space like a dead China doll
[JM: Yep, this is the first song I heard that exposed me to indie rock and influenced my change is music taste as a teenager. In middle school, I was all about Hanson, The Spice Girls and a little bit of hip-hop like The Fugees. Then I started buying this indie rock magazine that came with a mix CD of new music, and this song was on it, and I was a changed girl. Well, I was also being exposed to alternative rock like The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana and Garbage and The Foo Fighters, but that’s a whole different story. Anyway. I think this song really pokes at Joan’s inner demons – feelings of inadequacy, sometimes struggling with hopelessness, but still truckin’ on one day at a time.]
11. "The Wrestle" - Frightened Rabbit
OK, this song came out after college. But I really wanted to put Frightened Rabbit on your mix. And this is my favorite track.
My enemy,please stay close to me/I’ve no breath left,you cold breath thief
[JM: Reviewing the lyrics, I realized I never really knew what this song is about. I’m thinking: sex? More specifically, sex with someone you hate? Hmm… I suddenly feel this wasn’t appropriate for Joan to put on Mark’s mix. But all of Frightened Rabbit’s best songs are about sex. Also, I think this song technically came out too recently to have logistically made it onto this in-universe mix. Oh well. Now that I’ve come to this realization, I think this song could sum up Joan’s relationship with Agent Green. Lauren may disagree with me, but I don’t believe that Joan was ever really into Green. He was instant-gratification, escapism, a distraction – much like a cigarette or a Long Island Iced Tea or binge-watching television.]
[LS: I definitely do agree with you Julia - Green was (is) always way more into Joan than she was him. He was convenient at best, I think. Also, I adore this song.]
12. "Time is Running Out" - Muse
A rock song that makes you want to dance. Enough said.
I tried to give you up/but I’m addicted
[JM: This song is kind of orgasmic, no? It’s just hot and sexy. That’s why it’s on this list. However, it seems to be about a very, very, very unhealthy relationship. Has Joan ever been in an unhealthy romantic relationship? Probably a few. But if I were to relate this song to the universe, I’d say it’s mostly about her relationship with Ellie.]
13. "Say It Ain't So" - Weezer
One of my favorite songs to karaoke. It never feels dated and everyone knows it.
I can’t confront you/I never could do/that which might hurt you/so try and be cool
[JM: Does Joan karaoke? Hmm… not in years. But back in college, with just enough liquid courage, as long as it was private-room karaoke? Maybe. This is a song that came out over 20 years ago, but if it were to hit radios today, you wouldn’t know. It is still so very, very good. I don’t think Joan and Mark can necessarily relate to the having-an-alcoholic-parent storyline of this song, but perhaps they can relate to the issues of abandonment and not having close relationships with their parents.]
14. "My Drug Buddy" - The Lemonheads
Sadly beautiful. Don’t do drugs, little brother. Mmm’kay?
I’m too much with myself/I wanna be someone else
[JM: I don’t think Joan personally relates to feeling like she’s in love with the guy she scores drugs with; but she is, first and foremost, a therapist. I mean, there’s a reason she chose therapy as her specific field of study when she is also fully capable of designing weapons of mass destruction or breaking barriers in quantum physics. I first heard this song covered by Ben Kweller on a bootleg of him playing live. And I can relate to it and I love it and that’s why it’s on here.]
15. "Places" - Ours
Great to sing along to when you’re feeling melodramatic.
There’s a hole in my soul/how much more will it take?
[JM: I like a lot of depressing songs, don’t I? It’s fun trying to hit all the high notes – it’s a good vocal warm-up. I’m a sucker for a good falsetto. I picture Joan listening to this in her car, driving on the freeway with the windows down, trying to hit those high notes even though she’s quite a terrible singer. But she loves to sing, in private, even though she’s not good at it. Oh wait, I just described myself. Again.]
16. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
This might be my favorite song of all time. I think it might be.
I see friends shaking hands singing, ‘How do you do?’/They’re really singing, ‘I, I love you'
[JM: This is my favorite song of all time. How could anyone not absolutely love this song? It is truly a feel-good song about love. This is also Joan’s favorite song. Because it’s my favorite song, and that’s that.]
17. "Om Nashi Me" - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Again, post-college. But this song just really makes me feel uplifted and full of light. I wanted to end this mix with a track that would fill you with light.
Om nashi me/I love you/And I love you forever/And I’m loving you now (these are the full lyrics for the song
)[JM: This song is for forgetting the bullshit. A good reminder to have on any playlist. Again, this song might have come out too recently to actually be on this playlist in-universe, but, oh well. It’s a great album and the best track on the album.]