Friday Five :: Songs about New York

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Songs About New York

Walk In New York - The Secretariat Building at night. 1951 - Ewing Galloway

For the month of September I will be picking a city to do a Top 5 Songs of Post for the weekly Friday Five theme. The second installment is a city I still haven’t gotten to visit, but very much want to. I have dreams of staying in the Chelsea Hotel and writing short stories there, of getting lost in Central Park, of taking a train to Upstate, of seeing a show on Broadway, and most of all, seeing my friends that live there. I know that I have a romanticized vision of the city, and that nothing lives up to such dreamy ideals, but I still want to see it, be in it, feel the city for myself. Someday I will find myself in the city that never sleeps.

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The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.” ~ Truman Capote

London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.” ~ Dorothy Parker

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Following are my Top 5 songs about the New York. Do you have any?

1. Chelsea Hotel No. 2 :: Leonard Cohen

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself,
you said, ‘well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.'”

2. New York :: Stephen Fretwell

Fuck what they say,
fuck it if they talk,
it really dont matter,
we’re going to New York
.”

3. Only Living Boy in New York :: Simon & Garfunkel

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

4. New York, New York :: Ryan Adams

And love don’t play any games with me,
anymore like she did before.
The world won’t wait,
so I better shake,
that thing right out there through the door.
Hell, I still love you, New York.”

5. Walk on the Wild Side :: Lou Reed

She says, ‘hey, babe,
take a walk on the wild side.”
Said, “hey, honey,
take a walk on the wild side.”

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Friday Five :: Songs about Los Angeles

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Songs About Los Angeles

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For the month of September I will be picking a city to do a Top 5 Songs of Post for the weekly Friday Five theme. To start off with, of course, my hometown, place of my birth, and place I always find myself back in no matter how many times I try to leave, Los Angeles. The city of angels, of broken dreams, of Hollywoodland, of tinsel and stars on the sidewalk, and maps to the stars handed out by the homeless, and of mountains and oceans and palm trees, and yes, really nice weather (except for maybe the earthquakes). I have spent my life falling in and out of love with this city, she holds my memories, and I try not to hold her in too much disdain, after all, I am always the prodigal daughter returning, again and again and again.

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I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets godawful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.” ~ Jack Kerouac

If Los Angeles is a woman reclining billboard model and the San Fernando Valley is her teenybopper sister, then New York is their cousin. Her hair is dyed autumn red or aubergine or Egyptian henna, depending on her mood. Her skin is pale as frost and she wears beautiful Jil Sander suits and Prada pumps on which she walks faster than a speeding taxi (when it is caught in rush hour, that is). Her lips are some unlikely shade of copper or violet, courtesy of her local MAC drag queen makeup consultant. She is always carrying bags of clothes, bouquets of roses, take-out Chinese containers, or bagels. Museum tags fill her pockets and purses, along with perfume samples and invitations to art gallery openings. When she is walking to work, to ward off bums or psychos, her face resembles the Statue of Liberty, but at home in her candlelit, dove-colored apartment, the stony look fades away and she smiles like the sterling roses she has brought for herself to make up for the fact that she is single and her feet are sore.” ~ Francesca Lia Block

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Following are my Top 5 songs about the Los Angeles. Do you have any?

1. Let Me Back In :: Rilo Kiley

But when the palm trees bow their heads,
no matter how wrong I’ve been,
L.A.,
you always let me back in
.”

2. La Cienega Just Smiled (live) :: Ryan Adams

“And I hold you close in the back of my mind,
feels so good but damn it makes me hurt.
And I’m too scared to know to how I feel about you now.
La Cienega just smiles…”see ya around”.”

3. L.A. Song (live) :: Beth Hart

She hangs around the boulevard,
she’s a local girl,
with local scars.”

4. A Long December :: Counting Crows

“And it’s one more day up in the canyon,
and it’s one more night in Hollywood.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean,
I guess I should.

5. Angeles (live) :: Elliott Smith

I could make you satisfied in everything you do,
all your secret wishes could right now be coming true,
and be forever with my poison arms around you.
No one’s gonna fool around with us.
No one’s gonna fool around with us.
So glad to meet you,
Angeles.”

Quintessential Albums :: Aimee Mann :: Whatever

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Quintessential Album Series :: Whatever :: Aimee Mann

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A Little History:

Whatever is the first solo album by the American singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, released in 1993.

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I’ve Had It is one of the songs featured in Nick Hornby’s book 31 Songs. The album with special note for the song 4th of July was included by Elvis Costello in his “Costello’s 500” list for Vanity Fair.

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Whatever received mostly positive reviews from the critics. Most praised her sense of melody and the wordplay of her lyrics, exemplified by Entertainment Weekly in “hooky songs” and “evocative lyrics“.

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The Los Angeles Times reflected this by saying she “mixes words like a master, catching lifetimes of ache and Angst” in her songs while the Chicago Tribune compared her to Elvis Costello.

Rolling Stone cited her music as “sunny, surreal melodies” with “razor-sharp lyrics“.

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 What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?

This is my first, and most played, Aimee Mann album I own. It is one of those albums that has followed along with me, and been a soundtrack to my life, during many chapters and incarnations. The songs have traded off being my favorites, my most relevent, and sometimes my most painful during those times, as well. I’ve listened to this album on two cross-country moves, three break-ups, and while writing a few chapters of a novel I will (hopefully) someday finish.

I’ve been lucky to see Aimee Mann play live four times, and three of those four she sang a few of my favorites off this album. The most memorable was the acoustic set she performed for the show I caught in Chicago while visiting a lover at the time during Valentine’s Day. She sang stripped down versions of both Fourth of July (my absolute favorite off of this album) and I’ve Had It.

Fourth of July reminds me of past relationships that collapsed in on themselves, and the regrets and bittersweet memories that linger afterwards, like the cloying smell and smoke that stick around after the fireworks are set-off on Independence Day. There is this sense of freedom that explodes when we finally leave something broken apart, but there are pieces of things, of feelings, and photographs that stay beneath our skin, like shrapnel after a war, that still sting years later.

I’ve Had It is one of those still painful songs to listen to. There are too many images that play like a slideshow on the inside of each eyelid when I close my eyes and listen. It isn’t the story being sung exactly. I don’t have a band break-up to recall from my past, but I’ve had break-ups that felt bigger than a one-on-one relationship. The kind that costs you a community of friends, or a place that feels like home. As you walk away it is a different sort of moving on, with bigger things you will have to try to remember, or learn to forget. I think everyone experiences a loss like that at least once in their lives – their own version of a band breaking-up, or the end of an era.

The opening song, I Should’ve Known, reminds me of the mid-90’s and the re-defining times that I found myself in then. It reminds me of a patchwork dress I used to wear over crushed velvet tights, the taste of Marlboro lights, and the way the salty sea air felt like in the wee hours of night, or would it have been morning then, where we’d sit by the shore just past Newport Beach. I made a series of mistakes then, and just as many successes, I’d like to think.

My Top 5 Favorite Songs:

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1. 4th of July

“So that’s today’s memory lane,
with all the pathos and pain,
another chapter in a book where the chapters are endless,
and they’re always the same;
a verse, and a verse, and refrain.”

It was never my favorite holiday, but somehow it became us and ours, for reasons I still could not explain. Now the holiday brings the weight of loss and sadness to me, a shadow I can never seem to completely shake off. They all get on with it, they all expect that I have, too, especially me, but the past is still there, with me, and it still hurts like hell.

2. I’ve Had It

“Oh, experience is cheap,
if that’s the company you keep,
but I’ll never get that disease,
cause I’ve had it.
I’ve had it.”

The boxes felt heavier on the way back down the rickety back stairs than they ever did on the way in. This had been a place of dreams shared, of plans plotted on the bare floors, that night we snuck in before our lease really began and made love in the kitchen; I suppose back then we really had it. I could hear the back up sound of the moving truck and I looked at you then, hardly recognizing the eyes in front of me that I had once sworn were forever mine.

3. Mr. Harris

“And honestly I might be stupid to think,
love is love,
but I do.”

Though I have no older man love to relate to, this song still resonates deeply with me. I think we all have that one love from our lives that no one understood/understands, except of us, and that love, that together between make all the sense in the world. I think that is what I connect to.

4. I Should’ve Known

“And I don’t know what else you hear,
but it’s not me weeping.”

Sometimes my writing is misconstrued as my heart being tied somewhere, and to someone, from the past, but most of the time it is where the muse has taken me, where a song has led in my box of memories, or something I feel like writing out of me. Funny how often ex-lovers, or ex-somethings, will mistake it as me crying my eyes out over them still when it couldn’t be any farther from the truth – my past is right where it belongs, I may wave at it, or write about it, but I do not want to ever go back.

5. Stupid Thing

“Maybe that’s just how I am,
to fall where I stand,
or I’m weak for that kind of man;
one who looks helpless and brave.
But you turned into a coward,
I don’t care for the parts you saved.”

I never wanted a savior, I was never looking to be saved, but the weakness you gave to me, the lack of spine and honesty, they were not what you claimed to be. You could never seem to stand next to me with any kind of strength, not in front of the people who mattered to you, not when I needed you most – instead you lied about me and left me to fall when the world came close to closing in. I could never trust you after that, the lies and cowardice took it all away.

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Friday Five :: Songs about August

1 Songs about August

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I just read something about August that said it is Summer’s Sunday, which made me smile. Though I do not feel the bliss and ease of Summer vacation any longer, there is something about August that I have always loved. Maybe it is the close proximity of Autumn coming around the bend (Autumn is my favorite season), or perhaps it is the back-to-school energy that swirls around (I may not currently be a student, but there is something about all that back-to-school stuff that makes me smile — new notebooks, lunchboxes, brightly colored pens).

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Whatever it is, when August comes around I feel a shift in my mood. I tend to start projects, read more, see more music, travel. I honestly don’t know what it is, but it does give me the same kind of bliss kick that Sundays do, so maybe they are the Sundays of Summer after all.

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Following are my Top 5 songs about the August. Do you have any? How does August make you feel?

1. August & Everything After :: Counting Crows

The next day you’re everything he wanted you to be,
they dress you up in white satin,
and they give you your very own pair of wings.
In August and Everything After,
I’m after everything.”

2. August :: Rilo Kiley

Someday we’ll meet beyond the stars,
and it’ll be away from here.
Someday we’ll meet beyond the land that you call miles away,
away from here.”

3. Time For August :: Julie London

But now that it’s time for August,
I’ve got thirty-one days to glow.”

4. August :: Love


I said August is all that I know.”

5. August March :: Grizzly Bear

Wash the taste of me right out your mouth.

Friday Five :: Songs about the Sun

1Songs about the Sun

9752491551Squinting in the sun on days when I forgot my sunglasses in the car, but the water is so cold, shocking start your heart racing kind of cold, and the car seems so far off in the distance, that we stay, my eyes crinkling as if from laughter, basking in the shadows that play all around us. For a moment the world beyond the water’s edge fades away into nothingness and I can breathe in deep. With my hand as a visor over my eyes I stare up to the sky and I wonder if everything I have ever seen will burn away if I stare long enough into the sun.

6860564481_f6cf5742ef_zWe stood there staring until the sun began to fade away. As it disappeared into the horizon I wished it to take with it all the impossible things I could not chase far enough away from.

summer-daysFollowing are my Top 5 songs about the sun. What are yours?

1. Always the Sun :: The Stranglers

“There’s always the sun,
there’s always the sun,
always, always, always the sun.”

2. Don’t Look Back Into the Sun :: The Libertines

“They’ll never forgive you,
but they won’t let you go.”

3. House of the Rising Sun :: The Animals

“Oh mother tell your children,
not to do what I have done,
spend your lives in sin and misery,
in the House of the Rising Sun.”

4. Sun Comes Up, its Tuesday Morning :: The Cowboy Junkies

“Sun comes up,
it’s Tuesday morning,
hits me straight in the eye,
guess you forgot to close the blinds last night;
oh, that’s right,
I forgot,
it was me.”

5. In the Sun :: Joseph Arthur

“I picture you in the sun,
wondering what went wrong,
and falling down on your knees,
asking for sympathy,
and being caught in between,
all you wish for and all you seen,
and trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in.”

Friday Five :: Songs about the mouth

1Songs about the mouth

graffitti-painted-lips1Songs about lips and tongues, of mouths and lipstick and gloss, for an orally fixated girl this theme was right up my alley. For me, my lips are painted red most days, a habit I got into around the age of 16, inspired by old film stars and a friend who once told me the only make-up you really need is red lipstick.

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I used to smoke, but I gave that up two years past. My hands are still in my mouth too much though, as my bitten down nails will attest.

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I love kissing and bitten lips, and the feeling of other’s skin on my lips, from kissing. I notices people’s mouths and eyes first, how they smile, the expressions painted on both when they change mood and tone, when they lie or tell the truth, when they are vulnerable or when they hide things away. I love to watch people’s lips when they talk, or when they sing.

kissable_lips___black_and_white_by_starstrukk_by_whowhywherewhenwhat-d5tmreuFollowing are my Top 5 songs about the mouth, somewhat randomly chosen as I’m sure I could fill two playlists (at least) with all the songs I could gather:

1. Lips Like Sugar :: Echo & The Bunnymen
from the album, Self-Titled

You’ll flow down her river,
but you’ll never give her,
lips like sugar,
sugar kisses.”

2. Acid Tongue :: Jenny Lewis
from the album, Acid Tongue

So, I found myself a sweetheart with the softest of hands,
we were unlucky in love,
but I’d do it all again.”

3. Kiss Me :: Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy
from the album, The Call Him Tin Tin

Kiss me with your mouth,
your love is better than wine.”

4. Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go) :: Garbage
from the album, Absolute Garbage

With your cherry lips and golden curls,
you could make grown men gasp when you go walking past.”

5. Molly’s Lips (live) :: Nirvana
from the album, Incesticide

She said,
she’d take me anywhere,
she’d take me anywhere,
as long as I stayed clean.”

Friday Five :: Songs about the Fourth of July

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Songs about the Fourth of July

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Though I have never been too much of a fan of the holiday, I have loved quite a few songs about the Fourth of July. Some of them evoke memories of past gatherings, my favorites from when I first lived on my own and gathered with big groups of friends, all day parties that were filled with conversations, loud music, food and drinks, and yes, lights in the sky. I long for the days when there was less expectation for every gathering on a “holiday” to be epic, or full of forced traditions. I miss the days when everyone just got together because it was just another excuse for just that – getting together. I suppose I just need to carve out my own non-traditional traditions one of these years.

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But, let’s get back to the music, shall we? There are quite a few songs that I adore about the Fourth of July. These are primarily songs that transcend the stereotypical patriotic flair or the notion that it has to be all about fireworks, though there may be a few mentions. My favorite “Fourth” songs are ones that I could, and often do, listen to all throughout the year. That said, there is something about the day today that makes me want to put them all together and push play.

So, here are my Top Five Fourth of July songs. What are some of yours?

5. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then) (live) :: Colin Meloy, with The Decemberists and Laura Veirs
originally from the album, The Crane Wife

Heart-carved tree trunk,
Yankee bayonet,
a sweetheart left behind.”

4. Fireworks :: Siouxsie And The Banshees
from the album, Ju Ju

We are fireworks,
slowly, glowing bold and bright.
We are fireworks,
burning shapes into the night.”

3. Independence Day (live) :: Elliott Smith
originally from the album, XO

I saw you at the perfect place,
It’s gonna happen soon,
but not today.
So go to sleep,
and make the change.
I’ll meet you here tomorrow,
Independence Day.”

2. 4th of July :: X
from the album, See How We Are

On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone,
Mexican kids are shootin’ fireworks below.
Hey baby,
it’s the Fourth of July

1. 4th of July (live) :: Aimee Mann
originally from the album, Whatever
live version from the album, Live at St. Anne’s Warehouse

Today’s the fourth of July,
another June has gone by,
and when they light up our town I just think what a waste of gunpowder and sky.”

Friday Five :: Songs about the Beach

1Songs About the Beach

10406713_10152472436286113_7797433007479312659_nMaybe its June sinking in, maybe its my itch to get out of the indoors, out of my office, out of air conditioners and artificial lights and be outside, or maybe its because my soul feels freer by the ocean. Whatever the reason, I have had the beach on my mind all week, so much so that I can almost feel the sand between my toes and the shock of cold Pacific ocean water sting my legs. So, why not celebrate my beach longings with a top five list of favorite beach songs?

guitar-in-sandThe only trouble is, there are so many ocean/sea/beach songs I love, so much so that I think I could fill about five or six playlists with them all. The challenge this presented is one that requires either careful cutting of beloved tunes, or giving in to the random first five songs that come to mind when I think of songs about the beach. I decided to be random, I mean, it is Friday, after all.

So, getting all random about it, here are my Top 5 Songs About the Beach:

5. Walk on the Ocean :: Toad the Wet Sprocket
from the album, fear

We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail,
Where are we going?
So far away.
And somebody told me that this is the place,
where everything’s better,
everything’s safe.”

4. Redondo Beach :: Patti Smith
from the album, Horses

I was looking for you.
Are you gone gone?”

3. He’s on the Beach :: Lemonheads
from the Big Gay Heart single

And he says it’s brilliant there,
there’s something in the air,
and sunshine everywhere.”

2. The Sea :: Morcheeba
from the album, Big Calm

I left my soul there,
down by the sea.”

1. Verdi Cries :: 10,000 Maniacs
from the album, In My Tribe

Holidays must end as you know.
All is memory taken home with me:
the opera, the stolen tea, the sand drawing, the verging sea, all years ago.”

Friday Five :: Songs About Stars

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Songs About Stars

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Living in Los Angeles, even in the suburbs where I reside, it is a rare thing to glimpse a sky full of stars. Light pollution steals all my sky wishes and makes me long for a little more darkness. The lack of falling stars makes me delight in the way the desert night looks whenever I’ve driven through it, though.

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Midnight in the desert, oh my, the first time I experienced it I was in a state of wide eyed awe. Thinking about it tonight, and missing the stars above, got me thinking about what my favorite songs about stars are. With that in mind, today’s Friday Five is Songs About Stars.

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5. Little Star :: Stina Nordenstam
from the Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack

“You must have wanted him to know.
You must have wanted the world to know.

4. California Stars :: Billy Bragg & Wilco
from the album, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions

I’d like to rest my heavy head tonight on a bed,
of California stars.”

3. We are All Made of Stars :: Moby
from the album, 18

People they come together,
people they fall apart.”

2. Northern Star :: Hole
from the album, Celebrity Skin

And I want you,
and blessed are the broken,
and I beg you.
No loneliness,
no misery is worth you.”

1. Lucky Star :: Madonna
from the album, Madonna

You must be my Lucky Star,
’cause you make the darkness seem so far.

Friday Five :: Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs

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Songs of the Red Hot Chili Peppers 

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Growing up in Los Angeles brings with it a handful of bands that we are quite proud of, as a city, and within that pride comes a love that can often turn to radio over-play and all-around inescapable presence. Los Angeles and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been together for a long, long time.

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Sometimes these bands have expiration dates, maybe they last a Summer, a year, a decade, but others, well they transcend any recommended shelf life and keep playing into musical oblivion. I am a radio listener. I am an anywhere I can get it music listener. That said, I do not limit my listening to what’s on the radio, which means I often dodge the “played to death” reactions to some of the top hits (for instance, I still like Lorde’s Royals because I have not heard it eight thousand times at ever “top of the hour” rotation). Even still, the Red Hot Chili Peppers got to me in that burned out, please don’t play another song or I will scream and run kind of way.

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Some time has passed though, and we have had some separation, some time apart, and I find myself missing them, and their music. Listening to a friend’s Say Anything Personal Retrospective Podcast (click here and listen – you will not regret it), I heard a snippet of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song Taste the Pain and it became a three day earworm that I just could not shake. I found myself playing it on repeat, seeking out the video last night, then going from that song to another I love, and another, and soon it became a playlist worth of Red Hot songs. So, while the music is still spinning through my musical bloodstream I thought I would start the revised “Friday Five” post with my favorite five (at least today) Red Hot Chili Peppers’ songs.

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Friday Five

5. Sexy Mexican Maid
from the album, Mother’s Milk

My angel girl she sings to me,
baby, tell me this is not a dream.”

4. Soul to Squeeze
from the album, The Coneheads Soundtrack and Greatest Hits

Today loves smile on me,
It took away my pain,
said please.”

3. Road Trippin’
from the album, Californication

Let’s go get lost,
let’s go get lost.”

2. Taste the Pain
from the Say Anything Soundtrack, and Mother’s Milk

Headlights flash across my bedroom wall,
crying eyes open because I cannot fall,

in love with you,
no not at all.”

1. Scar Tissue
from the album, Californication

With the birds I’ll share this lonely view.”

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