Q2 Playlist: Music To get Dirty To

April 21st, 2020

4 Big Monoclers. 10 songs each. 40 ways to get dirty in the Spring — whether that’s gardening, painting, or makin’ love 😘 

I’m in quarantine with my 10-year-old Virgo/Aries/Capricorn order-muppet son. In general he seeks precision and accuracy and routine and safety. I resist precision, measure recklessly, and hate doing the same thing every day. I’m basically a Gemini/Sagittarius/Libra chaos-muppet of a mother. I get to teach his home-school home-ec class and we have a fun, and interesting, push and pull, with him turning down my music and insisting we stick to the recipe. While he has a fair point most of the time (the brownies were better with the prescribed amount of cocoa powder), I want him to know that every framework that came before is just one person’s suggestion. It’s a great starting point, but let’s not forget to follow our hearts when we think the brownies could be fudgier or the salsa a little bit roastier. The creative process is risky. It’s dirty. There’s no guarantee we will improve on the recipe. But what if we do?

My apartment is in a constant state of flux. I’m often changing things around on a whim, like switching the brutalist newsprint poster I got from a New York City design studio for letterpress test prints somebody discarded (and I rescued), moving the plants around to follow the sunlight, or trying to find the perfect spot for the 80 lb (SO SMALL BUT SO HEAVY) dusty blue antique mirror I got from a friend. I’m not sure why I love constantly making changes and never letting my decor be permanent, but it gives all of the things I treasure a space to temporarily live in my apartment, almost like a museum with it’s many changing galleries. Curating ever-evolving living space and a good playlist to accompany it is pretty much a combination as good as brie and fresh strawberries on a saltine.

As I live in a condo with no yard, the dirtiest I get is usually while baking. Whether it be cheesecake, homemade nutter butters or simple and delish, gooey brownies, I’m sure to have worn some sort of black attire and soon look like a black bear stuck in a snowstorm with various ingredients smeared on my face. And let’s not even talk about the end state of my small, galley-style kitchen. And as it is in the war of baking, perfect measurements and timing are crucial in creating a mouth-watering genoise or perfectly-balanced lemon bars, while dodging the baking god’s cruel hammer of failure. You gotta be focused, sharp, and not afraid of a little mess! Enter my baking playlist. This collection spans from positive, upbeat jams such as BJ the Chicago Kid’s “Reach,” keeping my spirits up while obtaining stiff peaks of meringue, to slow-and-steady songs like Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart,” keeping my head in the game while eyeing through the oven window for the perfect doneness of that tarte tatin. Bon appetit!

Margaret Atwood said that “in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” I couldn’t agree more. So with the scent of soil in mind, I contribute these ten songs to the spring edition of the Big Monocle Quarterly Spotify Playlist. May they be an invocation for weather so good it’s a crime to ignore (from inside the house), picnics on newly green grass (six feet away from other diners), and hands fresh with dirt, nature’s original blank page. Whether you plant a trimming in a jar, herbs in a pot, or a garden in your yard, it’s Spring — dig in with both hands.