by Jilleen Barrett, A&E Editor & Managing Editor
Nobody in my family is a professional musician, but music had a really strong influence on my upbringing. My parents grew up in the sixties, my brothers grew up in the eighties and nineties and my sisters grew up in the nineties and early thousands, so I grew up exposed to a wide spectrum of music from 2000s pop to alternative folk to sixties hits. This week’s Jasper Jams is a playlist of songs I grew up on — some of which I never would have known existed if my family didn’t listen to them first.
Never Had It So Good – Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter released this song on her 1989 album, “State of the Heart.” She sings about a relationship she had where she felt her partner was not treating her with an equal amount of love and respect. She says “you never had it so good, babe — I never had it so bad.” This was one of my mom’s favorite songs and it always makes me feel at home.
Nameless, Faceless – Courtney Barnett
I was introduced to Courtney Barnett as a teenager by my older brother, who has probably seen her live more times than he could count on one hand. Barnett is an Australian singer and she is one of the coolest people on the planet. My favorite line from this song, which I heard for the first time in the car with him on the way home from orientation at Manhattan, is “I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you.”
All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes
Dawes is beloved among my siblings, and “All Your Favorite Bands” is my favorite song by them. To me, it represents friendship and how you might have to leave your friends behind but there will always be seemingly unimportant, yet significant details from your shared memories tying you together. Dawes has a way of connecting with their listeners with sentiments that I personally take to heart very strongly, such as these lyrics: “I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be / I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever / I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me / And may all your favorite bands stay together.”
Night Shift – Lucy Dacus
I love sad songs, and this might be one of the saddest. Many people know Lucy Dacus from Boygenius, a band she was in with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. This is a song she did solo and it is so heavy yet addicting and beautiful. You can’t fully grasp this song without listening to it, but I think the most important lyrics to the song are “You got a 9-to-5, so I’ll take the night shift / And I’ll never see you again if I can help it / In five years, I hope the songs feel like covers/ Dedicated to new lovers.”
Giving Up the Gun – Vampire Weekend
My brother was in college when Vampire Weekend was beginning their career as a band, and I will forever be jealous of the ten-dollar tickets he used to get to see their shows back when they had just graduated from Columbia University and started making money. “Giving Up the Gun” is a great song about remembering how strong you are, but that strength is something to be maintained. These lyrics are the main ones in the song and demonstrate that idea, “Your sword’s grown old and rusty / Burnt beneath the rising sun / It’s locked up like a trophy / Forgetting all the things it’s done.”
Straight Shooter – The Mamas & The Papas
This song was my go-to during the spring semester of sophomore year. I’ve developed a love for sixties music after years of listening to it in my dad’s car, but I actually discovered this one on my own. The Mamas & The Papas are known for singing about love — partially due to the turbulent relationship between bandmates Michelle and John Phillips — and in “Straight Shooter,” they sing about not being taken advantage of. They ask, “Baby are you holding, holding anything but me? / Because I’m a real straight shooter / If you know what I mean” and say “Baby, baby, treat me right / Or I won’t come round your door / No more!”
Dance in the Moonlight – The Mavericks
This song is from the album “In Time” by one of my dad’s favorite bands, The Mavericks. It’s a kind of love ballad but it certainly remains in the rock genre — they sing, “I wanna dance in the moonlight, only with you” and “Though I can’t remember now, who was wrong or right? This one thought keeps running through, morning, noon and night.” I love this song because they bring home the idea that sometimes you need to let go of any anger you have for your loved ones and enjoy your time with them.
Most of All – Brandi Carlile
Everyone in my family is equally addicted to Brandi Carlile’s alternative-indie music, especially my mom and sisters. My sister found her while watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy when her most popular song on Spotify “The Story” was used in one of their soundtracks. “Most of All” is one of the only songs that make me tear up; it reminds me of my parents and the time that I’m grateful to have with them. Carlile uses alternative indie this song to communicate how her dad “taught me to forgive, how to keep a cool head, how to love the one you’re with” and that he said to “give your love away, and remember what comes back to you.” I think this really applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones.
Everytime I Hear That Song – Brandi Carlile
I couldn’t make a playlist based on my family and not include Brandi Carlile twice. This song is about the sadness that lingers after a relationship ends, even after the initial hurt has healed. Like Chapin Carpenter’s “Never Had It So Good,” Carlile describes the imbalance of respect in the relationship when she says “I gave you all I had and got the worst of you.” She uplifts her listeners, however, by reminding them the most important thing in this situation is to move on: “By the way, I forgive you / After all, maybe I should thank you / For giving me what I’ve found / ‘Cause without you around / I’ve been doing just fine / Except for any time I hear that song.”
august – Taylor Swift
My sister was a teenager when Taylor Swift’s self-titled album, as well as her album “Fearless”, was initially popular, so I have been listening to her since I was a little kid. Swift’s music plays a huge part in the relationship between my sister and I, and I think this song portrays how being vulnerable with the ones you love is an im- mense sign of respect for those people. Swift sings about “living for the hope of it all” and “[can- celling] plans just in case you call.” I’ve listened to this song repeatedly since it came out in 2020 and it always reminds me of how strong you must have to be if you are willing to risk getting hurt.