Mixtapes for Celebrities: Warren Zevon and Lindsay Lohan

Claire: We’re kicking off our month of mixtape madness with mixtapes for Warren Zevon and Lindsay Lohan. Through the power of playlists, we’re hoping to show Warren Zevon the music he’s been missing while we’ve been missing him, and to make Lindsay Lohan’s recent comeback her last.

Joshua’s List: Dark Songs for a Dark Motherfucker (A Mixtape for Warren Zevon)

Dear Mr. Zevon,

We miss you here on earth. We just don’t have anyone like you anymore.  And while you’ve been kicking it in Rock and Roll Heaven, there have been some songs that you would just love. They’re right up your alley.

“Holocaust of Giants” by Rasputina          

Ok, so, maybe I lied. I’m not sure how you would feel about cellos as the main instrument. But it’s cellos that are often played through distortion pedals. And Melora Creager is almost as deviant as you were. This song recounts finding the bones of a giant on the banks of the Ohio, who “slaughtered each other in a meaningless war,” which she thanks god “we don’t do that anymore.” It’s exactly the kind of humor I think you’d be down with.

“Gardening” by Spoke Ensemble

I understand this may be a little lo-fi and stripped down for you , but it’s a song about domestic abuse and murder set to simple, easy, down-strummed guitar chords. With an accordion. And amazing harmonies. I have to think this would worm its way into your head just like it has mine. Maybe you’d even cover it. Yeah….Oh, I think I just got an erection. To murder. Hot.

“People II: The Reckoning” by Andrew Jackson Jihad

His voice is tough for you, I know. But man, he’s for realsies, isn’t he? I have a feeling you would love the lines about there being a child pornographer and a Nazi inside all of us (especially “and a politician too”).  And I think you’d really love their re-imagining of “Mrs. Robinson.” They are very sick and twisted, no?

“How a Resurrection Really Feels” by The Hold Steady

At this point you’re asking yourself, “Ok, this list is pretty good so far, but where’s the power? Where’s the oomph? I mean, really…Where’s the fucking guitars?” Here they are. The Hold Steady know how to deliver an amazing song about a homeless prostitute and heroin addict dying in a church with badass guitar lines and ridiculous solos. And Craig Finn’s voice makes him sound perpetually drunk, something I know you’d appreciate.

“A Cautionary Song” by The Decemberists

This song came up on my shuffle at work the other day and inspired this list. The Decemberists have lots of dirty, dark songs, but this one takes the cake (also, it seems that prostitution and the accordion are running themes in this list). It recounts the tale of a woman who goes off to sell her body to sailors who pass her around like a ragdoll and then throw her back ashore with a couple dollars and the promise to kill her if she tells the tale. And, oh wait, it’s your fucking mother. She does this to put food in your grubby little mouth. It’s all sealed with the wonderful musical and lyrical footnote at the end, “Remember what she does when you’re asleep.” You’d hear this song and smile to yourself, I know.

Well, Mr. Zevon, I hope you’ve liked my list. Rock and Roll Heaven must be awesome, with the Tupac, the real Paul McCartney, and Otis Redding. But hopefully this list has made you smile and laugh. If you liked it, maybe you could do me a favor and put in a good word with the Rock and Roll God to just kill Nickelback already? Thanks. We miss you!

With musical love,


Claire’s List: Career Advice for the Prodigal Comeback Kid (A Mixtape for Lindsay Lohan)

Dear Ms. Lohan,

Look at you! Done with your probation, getting your red-headed groove back on, popping up on TV…yeah, we’ve seen this before. Linds Lo, I’ve been rooting for you since “The Parent Trap,” and I think you can make this your last comeback, but it’s going to take some work. So I made you a mixtape that’s better than Oreos dipped in peanut butter. Enjoy.

“Bad Reputation,” by Freedy Johnston

I think denial is part of what makes the closed door on your wild ways a revolving one. The message from Freedy is solid: I know I’ve got a bad reputation, and it isn’t just talk talk talk. After years of weak excuses and rebuttals, isn’t it time to be upfront about what you’ve been doing for the past few wasted years? Look at Demi Lovato—you were definitely her Disney prototype, right down to the post-fame boyfriend (Wilmer Valderrama, you’re gross. If you end up dating Elle Fanning in a few years, I will personally come over and punch you in the head) and she’s following the Tao of Freedy and thriving.

“Bloody Motherfucking Asshole,” by Martha Wainwright

Oh Michael Lohan, you tabloid-celebrity-chasing buffoon. Look Linds, you did not draw winners when it came to picking parents. The same logic goes for whoever managed your music career.

Once upon a time, every child actor didn’t have to sing. Mini-pop superstardom wasn’t part of the Disney deal. You’re from that time; your musical talent was legitimate and not just an auto-tuned part of your Disney package. But whoever managed you decided to focus more energy on selling you as a Top 40 sexbot instead of a legitimate singer.

Throw the world a curveball and make a good album. Cease and desist your current contact with Pitbull. Again, take a note from Lindsay Lohan 2.0, Demi Lovato, who seems to be trying to make decent music outside of the Disney mold. Kick off your album planning with some Martha Wainwright listening. She wrote this song about her terrible father/daughter relationship with Loudon Wainwright III. Consider this a higher-brow “Daughter to Father.”

“Bette Davis Eyes,” by Kim Carnes

I have a theory that everyone wants you dead. Listen, not me, but really: You’ve been marketed as an impending tragedy since you were about 20. I don’t think photographers keep thrusting you into high profile shot for shot remakes of Marilyn Monroe because you’re her look-alike—you’re not, and there are teams of young actresses who have taken her style cues and mannerisms for years without this level of Marilyn association. I think it’s because it was decided a long time ago that you were a tragic beauty.

And this isn’t just about past slipups: No one marketed Robert Downey Jr as James Dean. When Charlie Sheen fell into a whirlwind of substance abuse and mental illness, he wasn’t overwhelmingly linked to tragic, deceased male actors. But you fell into your own whirlwind and were suddenly associated, constantly, with a beloved actress who ODed at a young age.

I know the reference in this song is to Bette Davis, but I see it as your send-off song: Listen to it, and say goodbye to the tragic seductress with the big old movie star eyes. And the next time I see a photo shoot of you, I hope they style you to look like you. Or Ann Margaret, who makes way more sense as an old movie star doppelgänger.

“You Don’t Own Me,” by Lesley Gore

When you’re working your ass off to change the public’s opinion, relaunch your career, and get that Oscar by the time you’re 30 (yes, I’ve watched your interviews. But we’ll be 30 in 5 years kid, so pick up the pace!), you need a “Fuck everyone, no one can stop me!” song. Here it is.

“Come a Long Way,” by Michelle Shocked

You hosted SNL, you showed up sober and put together for loads of interviews, you did all your community service, you’re playing Elizabeth Taylor in a Lifetime movie….you have come a long way, and you haven’t even left LA.

Good luck with everything, Lindsay Lohan. One day I want to see you with a Robert Downey Jr. Type of fame, where you get solid parts and no one talks about who you were or what you did when you were young and troubled.



Top 5 Breakup Songs

Joshua: We are so obsessed with breakup songs, we couldn’t leave it at just describing the stages we go through. Here are our all-time, top five favorite breakup songs…plus a few more we just had to mention.


Etta James, “I’d Rather Go Blind”

Etta James has completed the Love and Stuff Month triathalon: She’s on my Top 5 Love Songs (Sunday Kind of Love), Top 5 Songs for the Grown and Sexy (I Just Want to Make Love to You), and Top 5 Breakup Songs (I’d Rather Go Blind). I’ve never been able to shake the image from the chorus here—”I’d rather be blind, boy, than to see you walk away from me.” An achingly, heartbreakingly beautiful song, one that conveys raw, almost to the point of numbness, pain.

Imogen Heap, “Hide and Seek”

For the blank-faced times, the too many drinks alone time, the finding a song to cry to times. Sort of a theme for  “Speak for Yourself” (the album this song is from), so if you’re looking for a prolonged spell of crying jags and blind rage, queue up “Headlock” and “Have You Got it In You?”

A Fine Frenzy, “Ashes and Wine”

A Fine Frenzy does a couple things we all have to do after a breakup. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Feels nothing. Feels end-of-the-world-depressed. Feels suicidal in a “Yeah, that’ll show you way.” Then feels bad about all that and insists that this will be amicable, damnit.
  • Imagines her ex kissing someone else. Feels alternately ill, guilty about feeling ill because she has no claim on him anymore, sad about the realization that her claim is gone
  • Wonders relentlessly if somehow they’re going to muddle through this breakup and get back together. Asks that pleading question, albeit in a much more poetic way, “Are we going to get back together? Ever?”

Beck, “Lost Cause”

You’ve given up. You didn’t want to, this isn’t some big confident show of how over it you are, no. But you’re done trying. And it’s all sad and terrible but maybe a little hopeful, because it can be over now. Not over for real, not yet, but there’s a promise that it will be some day. And that’s something.

Joni Mitchell, “Down to You”

An oddly comforting song that, when you’re in the throes of your breakup, reminds you that this too shall pass. This is my all time favorite Joni Mitchell song. I remember driving around listening to this, about a month after a breakup, and those first lines clicked with me immediately: “Everything comes and goes/Marked by lovers and styles of clothes/Things that you held high and told yourself were true/Lost and changing as the days come down to you.” Also the part where she suddenly shrieks “Love is gone” with a chorus is hilarious. I know it’s not supposed to be, but it’s a much needed laugh. Between Joni Mitchell’s zen-like wisdom and so-serious-it’s-funny-choral-moment, this song feels like a huge relief.

Honorary Mentions:

Billie Holiday, “I’ll Be Seeing You”: Nobody does wistful like Billie Holiday.

Martha Wainwright, “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole”: It’s nice to hear a pretty song turn so filthy. Martha Wainwright is angry, is not interested in hiding it, is about to spend a full minute repeating “You bloody motherfucking asshole.”

Lauryn Hill, “Ex Factor”: If you’ve ever been through a breakup without “There for me there for me, said you’d be there for me/Cry for me cry for me, you said you’d die for me” running through your head at some point, you apparently missed out on the very crucial experience of listening to “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” on repeat for two years. Fix that.

Joshua’s List:

“Sad Songs and Waltzes” by Cake

A wonderful cover of the creator of nasty breakup songs, Willie Nelson. He can’t possibly begin to forgive his ex. She done him wrong. And he ain’t got no one to tell it to but his guitar and the tech recording his song. I hope whoever Nelson wrote the song for (and John McCrea sang the song for) actually heard the song. But it’s almost better if she didn’t, right?

“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

I’m not sure if this is actually a breakup song or not, I’ve just always used it as one. Maybe it’s the accordion. Maybe it’s the wide open D-chord transitioning to the horrible E-minor. Maybe it’s Buckley’s naturally wilting, wistful voice. You can’t help but wish…no, know, that she should’ve come back to him. He knows exactly what he’s done wrong. He’s a fucking idiot. Can’t he make a mistake? Unfortunately, he knows the answer, and it’s not good.

“Accidentally Like A Martyr” by Warren Zevon

This was a serious candidate for the breakup sex entry for me for a while. The chorus describes exactly that: “Mad love, shadow love, random love, and abandoned love.” Can you think of a better description for sex you shouldn’t be having? But it’s much better describing that period after you finally break off all contact with your ex and then force yourself to remember over and over again all the times you had passionate, uninhibited sex with her/him. It’s torturous, and Warren Zevon knows exactly what you’re going through.

“No Children” by The Mountain Goats

This song isn’t actually written from the perspective of a couple already broken up; rather, a couple that should be ending but can’t bring themselves to kill it. Or each other. Or themselves. I love the line: “And I hope when you think of me years down the line, you can’t find one good thing to say.” I’ve oft felt like this: I know I’ve never done anything to truly hurt someone, especially someone I’ve loved, but there’s a certain romantic charm in being hated in perpetuity by someone who once loved you. Maybe that’s insanity, but I have a feeling I inspire that kind of long-standing revulsion with my exes, and it’s rather comforting.

“So Very Hard To Go” by Tower of Power

After that, I had to end this entry on a positive note. And what better a song than this to express positivity of a breakup? The singer is, unfortunately, deeply in love with the person he’s singing it to, but he’s realized that it’s better for her in the long run if they weren’t together anymore. He can’t bear the thought of his girl being unhappy, especially if it’s because of him. He must make the ultimate sacrifice to step aside, but, in the end, he’s ok with it. It’s hard now, and it’ll get better, but goddamn, if this shit doesn’t suck. I one day hope to be that mature to realize when I should do what he’s doing…Cuz I’ve never done it before.

Honorable Mentions:

“Break Your Heart” by Barenaked Ladies: Ok, this is only on here because I’ve never been on this side of a breakup. Move along.

“Where Did Our Love Go” by The Supremes: A shuffle written about dying love. A straight up amazing classic.

“For No One” by The Beatles: Uh…damn, Paul. Damn. This is some fucked up shizz right here. And I’ve been there.