Five for the Road: Oregon

Geoff's Oregon Music Playlist

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We cover serious ground in Edge of America, with our caravan sometimes rolling for 3-, 4-, or even 7-hour trips across a state. And if you’re going to be in a car that long, you need tunes. I try to craft thematic playlists for each of our episodes taking into account the place we’re in, the feel of the episode and, to avoid being a complete music Nazi, consideration for who is going to be riding in my car. Here are a handful of songs we played as Team Edge rolled from town to town.

“(Do Not Feed the) Oysters,” Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
I got a little celebrity obsessed approaching Oregon, knowing it’s a musical mecca. The first guy I e-mailed was Malkmus, late of Pavement, now solo and one of my great writing heroes. Malkmus wrote to tell me he had moved away, needing a break from Portland. I appreciated the polite tone and the sign off as “Steve.”

“The Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” Spoon

I then wrote Britt Daniel to see if he’d be part of our episode, but he told me he had moved to Los Angeles. On the bright side, he recommended Stumptown, which had the best coffee in town, and I e-mailed him a picture of the bacon-maple donut I half ate from Voodoo Donuts.

“Down by the Water,” The Decemberists
This didn’t go as well. Colin Meloy, singer, author, all-around genius, ignored my e-mail, forwarding it to his publicist, who wrote a generally pissy note asking me how I got his e-mail. Well, I told her, I’m a reporter. Gotta protect my sources.

“Black Sheep Boy,” Tim Hardin
This has to be one of my favorite songs, a cult folk classic I first discovered on a compilation created by Joe Strummer. Hardin was born in Eugene and wrote “If I Were a Carpenter,” but this song, about his ultimately failed battle against heroin, is the keeper.

“Modern Girl,” Sleater-Kinney
Continuing my trend of failing to connect with my rock heroes who live in (or I think live in) Portland … I reached out to Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney past and now Portlandia, and didn’t get an angry reply or any reply at all. But I still love her band.