Click to play this YouTube playlist curated by Charles K. Carter to accompany his first chapbook, Chasing Sunshine. Some songs are referenced in the collection. Others are songs Carter loves that connect thematically to his own work. Hit play and read Carter’s notes for each pick below.
“Movies” Ashanti – “Green Light” is about being hung up on this Hollywood fairy tale ideal of romance and how far away that can seem from reality, especially for a young queer kid. Ashanti’s song represents the longing to be in a Hollywood movie romance.
“Ocean Avenue” Yellowcard – Though I grew up in the Midwest, this song seems fitting for a summer romance in a beach town – even if the beach was at a lake instead of the ocean (“The Moon”). Plus this song was huge jam every summer throughout the first decade of the 2000’s.
“Wannabe” Spice Girls – Does this song need an introduction? “The Sun” references singing to the Spice Girls on the radio. How can you not get excited and sing along when you hear the opening notes to this song?
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” Green Day – “How to Cope When I’m Not Allowed to Feel” explores the idea of releasing built up emotions. First, the speaker attempts to do so in a healthy way by listening to sad songs. This and the next several songs on this playlist are specifically named in the poem and were my go-to songs to cry to as a teenager.
“On My Own” The Used – The Used was one of my favorite bands in high school. This song is so vocally raw, lyrically minimal, and instrumentally powerful (those strings!). Try to listen to this one and NOT feel something!
“Poetic Tragedy” The Used – Of course the tragic poet enjoys “Poetic Tragedy.” This was also featured in the silly skater comedy Grind.
“It Can’t Rain All the Time” Jane Siberry – While the other sad songs referenced in “How to Cope” are often about being alone, this song made me feel less alone, it made me feel loved but it still had the power to make me cry. For the longest time, I could not listen to this song without shedding a tear. This was featured in the soundtrack to the phenomenal film The Crow, loved by all the cool emo kids back in the day.
“Scarecrow” Melissa Etheridge – The line “tied to a fence post” in “There Are Only Two Types of Gay Characters in Blockbuster Movies” refers to the tragic, unnecessary murder of Matthew Shepard. Melissa Etheridge crafted this hauntingly beautiful tune to reflect on her own sorrow around Shepard’s murder. The title is a reference to the young man who first discovered Matthew after his beating. Shepard was briefly mistaken for a scarecrow.
“Threesome” Melissa Etheridge – Melissa is my favorite and she deserves to be on this playlist multiple times. The complexities of jealousy and intimacy in a long term relationship come up in both Melissa’s song and “Cat and Mouse Game,” though the tone of these two pieces are notably different.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” Bill Withers – We all know this song. There’s a reason it is so popular. It’s gold. There “Ain’t No Sunshine” in “Chasing Sunshine.”
“Like the Way I Do” Melissa Etheridge – This song is called out by name in “Time.” Though the romance in this poem is fictionalized, the referenced favorites are all true. Melissa is my favorite. So is Will & Grace and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
“I’m Jealous” Shania Twain – There are some natural images that connect the poem “Jealous” to Shania Twain’s song, namely the moon, but mostly this song came up when I searched for “jealous” in my music library. The song seemed fitting by the title alone.