You know that final scene in movies where the new college graduates look around wistfully, throw the last of their stuff in their beat-to-shit car and drive off into some mysterious and distant future to the strains of a perfect song? I love that part. As the car drives off into the vanishing point, there is that sense of newness and journey and possibility – the feeling that anything can happen. And of course, the music is the most important component in this scene.
I begin to wonder what my soundtrack would be. My perfect graduation mix.
Styx, “Angry Young Man”
I can see no better way to start a graduation mix. The song starts with an amazing keyboard solo and blends into acoustic guitar before singer Tommy Shaw whispers softly, “Life’s an illusion.” Then the rocking begins. With lyrics like “Why must you be such an angry young man/When you’re future looks quite bright to me,” how can you possibly go wrong? At one point in the song the whole band is cheering “Come on! Let’s see what you got/Just take your best shot and don’t blow it.” Hell yeah. Not to mention another long key solo in the middle of the song for those who like to play air keyboard on their dashboard. Maybe I’m the only one.
Timbuk 3, “Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
OK, obvious choice. The song continues the rock feel and energy but it’s more about being in school than graduating. Still, the sentiment is there with lyrics like, “Things are going great, and they’re only getting better.” That’s the kind of positivism I need right now.
Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good”
This is a sentimental choice for me – I somehow convinced the 1993 graduating class of Kenai Central High to pick this as the class song. This is a hard-rocking, hard-drinking song from the hardest-rocking, hardest-drinking member of The Eagles. It’s a hit on the classic rock stations and your grandparents probably listened to it while snorting coke.
Aimee Mann, “Ghost World”
Alright, finally a song from this century. This mellow song is all about graduation. It talks about how finals suck and there’s nothing to do afterwards. This song is basically about what my life is going to be like for the next couple of months. A little reality I suppose. “And all I need now/Is someone with the brains/and the know-how/to tell me what I want.”
Pink Floyd as covered by Scissor Sisters, “Comfortably Numb”
I think the title tells it all. It also describes how I plan to spend a good deal of my time this summer. Besides, there is nothing like hearing Scissor Sisters go after Pink Floyd’s famous chorus, Brothers Gib-style. It proves that you can be comfortably numb and shake your ass at the same time.
Stereo MC’s, “Connected”
A gem from the late ’80s. Someone told me this song is about masturbation. Others have said it’s about cocaine. Personally, I’m going to use the driving rhythm and the laid-back vocals as my job-finding anthem. I mean, I do have to get myself connected. The writing is definitely on the wall.
The Fugees, “Ready or Not”
That’s right. You can’t hide. I’m gonna find you and make you want me. This selection goes along with the last. It’s a job-finding song. I’m not trying to insult The Fugees’ groove or anything, but sometimes you just need to use the music that moves you to do what you need to get done.
Kool Keith, Sir Menelik, “So Intelligent”
I kind of like the hip-hop flava that’s happening right now, so I’m going to keep it up with this gem from some of the weirdest cats in the game. Also, I like to imagine that, like, 5,000 years at PSU has made me a little bit smarter. Yeah Kool Keith, I do think I’m smart.
Guns n’ Roses, “Paradise City”
This song is sheer sinful pleasure. Also, the description of Paradise City is exactly where I want to find myself. I mean, the grass is green and the girls are pretty? Hook me up with a one-way ticket because I’m ready to buy an apartment there and pay municipal taxes and shit. Hell, I’m looking around wistfully as I speak, getting into my beat-to-shit car and hitting the gas.