Happy Valentines Day, Urban Light: I Made You a Mix Tape

February 13, 2009

What with Valentine's Day tomorrow, we thought we'd give our favorite streetlamps the ultimate in expressions of love: a mix tape. Here's a handful of songs inspired by the 202 lampposts culled from every corner of Los Angeles and installed at LACMA's front door almost exactly one year ago. You can go to iTunes and download this playlist:

1.The Velvet Underground: Beginning to See the Light
2.Spoon: I Turn My Camera On
3.Elliott Smith: L.A.
4.Sam Prekop: Neighbor to Neighbor
5.A.C. Newman: The Town Halo
6.Josh Rouse: Street Lights
7.The Beach Boys: Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
8.Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Water Blues Band: Guide Me Home
9.Wilco: What Light
10.Gene Clark: White Light
11.Television: Guiding Light
12.Low: Streetlight

Most of these songs, you'll see from their titles, are taken more or less literally. (Uh... any other songs about "light" that I missed?) The Beach Boys selection doesn't have any literal connection to Burden's piece, other than that it's a song about two people who shut the rest of the world out, and I think Urban Light is a terribly romantic work of art, especially around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when the surrounding neighborhood is all but silent and those lights seem to be there just for you and your sweetheart. (The Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You" is another great choice.)

On that note, the last track, by the Duluth, Minnesota trio Low, is probably my favorite: just thirty seconds long, I've always thought of it as a love song, in an elementary school sort of way. The entirety of the song:

And you can see her
Before it cracks and goes out
She throws rocks at streetlights
Keeps the streetlight changer busy

Scott Tennent