Listen on Spotify (Incomplete) //
This mix was made long before Mark's individual mix and well before we ever even heard about Sam's first encounter with him. But I knew where I wanted their story to go and I knew I wanted it to feel like an old-school Jane Austen they-can't-touch-only-stare-longingly-at-each-other kind of romance. We ended up with something a little different from that - creating that sort of tension in audio alone when you can't have the two people in question in the same room is nearly impossible. But this mix reflects that old-fashioned, aching, pining feeling. It is also very specifically structured - perhaps the most structured playlist I've ever made. And gosh, am I proud of it.
Here are the structural things to keep in mind:
The first half is Sam, the second half is Mark and they meet in the middle. Literally. I chose all female artists for Sam's half and all male for Mark's half, with duets in between. This is about as heteronormative as things get in The Bright Sessions.
Things also move forwards and then backwards in time. Not necessarily literally - "What'll I Do" is a newer recording of an old song, "Arms" is more recent than "Much Farther to Go", but overall the aesthetic moves from old-fashioned sounding music up to the duets, both of which are modern, and back down to jazz standards. The whole thing is bookended by musical theater.
1. "The Beauty Is" - The Light in the Piazza
This is Sam seeing Mark for the first time, that flash of recognition - both of someone else who is out of time but also something deeper; some kindred spirt connection.
this is holding breath and keeping fingers crossed/this is counting blessings/this is wondering when/I'll see that boy again
2. "What'll I Do" - Alison Krauss
Yep, this is pretty literal.
NOTE: This song is not on Spotify - I recommend building your own playlist in your music app of choice!
3. "Let's Face the Music and Dance" - Ella Fitzgerald
Also quite literal.
4. "Arms" - Christina Perri
5. "Much Farther to Go" - Rosie Thomas
Thomas knows how to pull heartstrings better than most - this song has that same sad, snowy, sleepy quality that I described in Sam's playlist. It is a reflection on home, belonging, and love and has one of the most devastating endings ever. I don't know why, but it gets me in the gut every time.
I have much farther to go/everything is new and so unpredictable/I should just kick my heels together and go home/but I'm not sure where that is anymore
sometimes I cry when it's late at night/and you're not there to lay next to me/morning breaks and the sun warms my face/how I wish it was you warming me - I mean, just kill me already. I can so easily picture Sam going to sleep after visiting Mark and having a dream that she's still there with him. And then the sun wakes her up and she thinks it's Mark opening the curtains but it's not, she just forgot to close them the night before and great, now I'm crying.
6. "You and Me" - You + Me
Here's an album that somehow flew completely under the radar despite being a collaboration between Pink and Austin Green of City & Colour. This song is romantic and sad and everything to me.
and they say everything it happens for a reason/you can be flawed enough but perfect for a person
7. "Eavesdrop" - The Civil Wars
It occurs to me that both the duets are by male-female duos who are not romantically involved. While this wasn't deliberate, I think it fits. Sam and Mark are more than potential romantic partners; they are both people ripped out of their lives, ripped out of time, who are trying to find a way to make a life out of the shape that remains. There are ways to deeply connect and fit perfectly with someone that extend beyond the romantic.
8. "Time" - Ben Folds
Maybe a little on-the-nose to have a song called "Time" but Mark likes Ben Folds.
This is incidentally where Sam gets the title of her blog. In the context of Mark however, that same phrase - time takes time you know - seems almost mocking.
9. "Last Request" - Paolo Nutini
Ugh, Paolo. Paolo, Paolo, Paolo. Why do you do this to me? So heartbreaking and also very sexy. This one feels particularly tragic when you remember that they can't touch.
10. "You and I" - Michael Buble
This is classic Mark - ever the optimist, trying to see the glass half full. "You might not be here forever but you've given me strength and I'm grateful"
here we are/on earth together/it's you and I - for Sam and Mark, they really did feel like the only people in the world, a feeling that would have been lovely and lonely in turns.
well in my mind/we can conquer the world
11. "Run Away With Me" - Michael Arden
Let me tell you guys a little story: some night last December, I was up late trying to get some writing done for season two. And, in classic 1AM procrastination style, I somehow ended up watching random YouTube videos. It began with watching a new music video and then some old music videos and before I knew it I was watching "Glee" videos. This somehow led me to watching a video of Grant Gustin singing this song at an open mic in his pre-"Glee" days.
Full disclosure: I have a big ol' crush on Grant Gustin. He's adorable, he sings, he cries a lot in "The Flash", he's the perfect man. And Mark is sort of an adjacent type - the guy that everyone likes.
So I'm watching this video, having never heard this song before, thinking about the Sam episode I'm writing. And then it starts and I'm like, "hey, this is cute, I could totally see this being- wait, did he just say Sam?" For a moment I genuinely thought I was having a middle-of-the-night-writer's-block induced hallucination. It was too perfect. I had already started this playlist and knew I wanted one more musical theatre song and low and behold. I still don't quite believe it and I'm pretty sure that weird moment of kismet is the only reason season two got finished on time.