MPA is a Mixtape: B-Side

The best B-side to an album ever is the B-side to Abbey Road. Period.

However, I feel that I just gave away my age by admitting that I remember when an album was organized in two halves…and I guess by also admitting that I still buy albums instead of songs. Regardless, it should be pretty apparent that I did not actually construct an actual mixtape of songs because, well, tracks 16-21 comprise about half an hour’s worth of music while the duration of all the songs combined is about an hour and forty-two minutes.

Interestingly enough, the remaining songs have two artists which I doubled–something I did not intend to do, but had to do anyway. The extent of musical complexity that Bach explores is unparalleled. It is amazing how casual a piece of music can sound when listening passively, but when listening intently, it is mentally exhausting! Being a fan of Bach since I was a kid though, it is not a surprise that two of his pieces ended up on this list. Thus, included in this last stretch are two Bach pieces that just plain connected with me during the past five years. They are both part of larger works, and I completely recommend listening to the entire pieces if you find the time.

Set your speed to 45, ’cause this side is shorter:

No. 16 & 17: “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk”—Dave Brubeck

I had heard of Dave Brubeck before, but I never did the appropriate amount of listening until I bought a CD at the 2010 SXSW Record Show. I love how Brubeck plays with time signatures and articulations in these two pieces. It really pushes my adrenaline, and because they almost feel erratic, they keep me on alert. It’s like feeling “flow” or when you’re in “the zone.”



No. 18: Gavotte en Rondeau—Johann Sebastian Bach

I LOOOOOOVE this song. I play it over and over and over again. There is something light-hearted and almost flirtatious about this piece. It screams confidence and puts me in a better mood every time I hear it.



No. 19: “Bright Lights”—Gary Clark Jr.

Have you ever heard this guy play? I saw Gary Clark Jr. for the first time at ACL this past year, and he has mad chops. Anyone that can switch from pick to PIMA the way he does gets my instant vote of approval. Gary Clark Jr. may be the one we’ve all been waiting for to save the blues as we know it…and he’s another Austinite!



No. 20: “Goldberg Variations” Aria—Johann Sebastian Bach

I had never heard this piece coming into my junior year. And it’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous. This piece may actually have the ability to evoke tears as it lingers on a suspended chord, leaving you longing for resolution. The entire piece is over an hour of variations on this, the theme. However, the theme is introduced so softly and tenderly—like gazing into someone else’s eyes and slowly exchanging smiles—that it sends you into a memory that lasts much longer than the five minutes advertised. Truly, this is Bach at his best.



No. 21: “If it Wasn’t for Texas”—George Strait

Like many songs before, this is not George Strait’s best song. So why is it here? Because this song was played after every game during Colt McCoy’s final two seasons—a span of which we only lost two games, including the National Championship. Those two years may have been some of the greatest times I had ever, and this song reminds me of those games every time I hear it. Hook ‘em!


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