Guide to the site

To see all of the poems I wrote for girls in their 20s, a series I call "songs for girls in their 20s," click here. The songs that the poems are based on are listed in the left sidebar, and you can listen to them in the right sidebar.

To see all of the tracklists my friends and their friends made featuring songs for girls in their 20s, click here.

How a Resurrection Really Feels

Tundra to the north and west
freshwater sea to the east
the big/second city below

And of all the bad seeds
who never found a way
out of town
the one we loved the best
had been stranded at that party
for years

The Upper Midwest
dulls the nerves
with the dull hums of devotion
glacier-scooped and wooded
and too knowable
for a big fish
with a systems-analysis
kind of mind

The free drinks
keep you
at the corner bar
the easy hookups
keep you in town

The Upper Midwest
in the stale blood of Catholics
which smells like
the stale beer
of all the college bars you went to
in high school
’cause your friend worked there
and gave you the IDs
people left behind

How many girls were Jill Van Groll?
I was, and Jenny, and Emily, and whoever
was blonde mutt enough
to pass

There is nothing to do but drink
but there are lots of kinds of drinking

there is nothing to do but drugs
but there are plenty of drugs

And of all those guys
those guys with the baggy jeans
and black t-shirts
with the wallet chains
and buzz cuts
of all those guys I couldn’t tell you
for sure
who’s dead and who’s alive

walk on back
walk on back

Dragged to Sunday Mass
I took the chalice from my mother
Eucharistic Minister
grinned and winked as I sipped
before heading back to the pew

       “Becca has a taste for wine”

There is nothing to do but sip
but some drinks are classier
than others
some drinks are Catholicker
than others

he’s been disappeared for years

And when they let him out of prison
this Christmas
and he drove around town
in John’s old truck
we missed them all so bad
all those boys

and his grin was the grin of a kid
or of ass-flat defeat
or of someone who’d felt
the divine softening of blows

We weren’t allowed
to sit and smoke in bars once

And we’re not allowed
to sit and smoke in bars now

But there was a time
            we sat in bar after bar
using one cigarette to light the next

And those were our twenties

The friends he met in the bathroom
the bullet that grazed him
the lakeview condo he rented
in the complex
where all the ballers lived
the topless bar that paid
her tuition
the suitcases full of packages

Hustlers in the land
of no opportunity

If you can’t make it here
you could take it as a sign
it’s time to get out

walk on back
walk on back

there is no such thing
as the third coast

After all
the lake freezes over
they swing the incensers over the ice
there’s a lot to confess
because there are so few ways
to be good

so we got ourselves all gone again

a bar and a steeple
on every corner

the bells ring out

and the changeover
takes no time at all


I'm reliving all my Miranda July love

after seeing her at a Q&A at IFC that followed some Jane Campion shorts she loved when she was a senior in high school. As I was reading the articles rolling in with The Future on the horizon (it's out July 29), I came across this playlist she made in 2007 for The New York Times Arts Beat blog, which is totally a list of songs for girls in their 20s, especially with stuff like this:
3) Sitting In The Park, Quix*o*tic. Which reminds me of another great contribution that Christina Billotte has made to my life – the song “Soda Pop*Rip Off” from the album of the same name (via her early 90’s band, Slant 6.) If you are going to look for this though, don’t just download it, because it is important to stare at the picture of the three really tough girls on the album cover the whole time the song is playing, and conjure a life where you, too, are tough. This works best if you are in your early 20s. If you’re older than that, go straight to “Sitting In The Park,” and comfort yourself with the fact that those three tough girls are older now too.


Melix's Mix

“Sentimentality is a form of fatigue”
Leonora Carrington, ix

1. Square Heart by The Black Heart Procession

2. Maladjusted by Morrissey

3. 30 Equals by Sleepytime Trio

4. Shine So Bright by Inkwell

5. All of the LP, “Another Green World” by Brian Eno
Here's the track, Golden Hours

6. All of LP, “Thief” by Destroyer
Here's the track, Queen of Languages

7. All of the LP, “Baader Meinoff” by Luke Haines
Title Track

8. Open a Rose by U.S. Maple

9. Get No Toys (When You Pay the Money) by Karp

10. Great Communicator by Rye Coalition

11. Algebra of Need by Rye Coalition

12. Get the Kid with the Sideburns by Reversal of Man

13. Sluttering (May 4th) by Jawbreaker

14. Hands that Mold by Dystopia

15. All of the LP, "Orange Rhyming Dictionary," by Jets to Brazil
Here's the track, I Typed for Miles

16. Sex is Personal by The Faint

17. You Will Miss Me When I Burn by Palace Brothers

18. Wolf Among Wolves (live) by Bonnie Prince Billy

19. Tennessee by Silver Jews

20. Run Run Crying by Adult

--Melissa Severin


Mairead's Mix

1. sleater-kinney – “get up”
2. phranc – “life lover”
3. karen dalton – “take me”
4. tommy janes and the shondells – “crimson and clover”
5. iggy pop – “fall in love with me”
6. brightblack morning light – “everybody daylight”
7. kevin coyne – “highway of dreams”
8. the cure – “close to me”
9. annie – “heartbeat”
10. a-frames – “eva braun”
11. psychic tv – “godstar”
12. gravy train!!! – “hella nervous”
13. hole – “rock star”
14. jewlia eisenberg – “meister of culture”
15. cansei de ser sexy – “let’s make love”
16. new order – “ceremony”
17. battles – “atlas”
18. suicide – “mister ray”
19. the shaggs – “it’s halloween”
20. los jaivas – “foto de la primavera communion”
21. dub narcotic soundsystem – “fuck shit up”
22. yeah yeah yeahs – “y control”
23. kate bush – “running up that hill”
24. tracy and the plastics – “oh henrietta”
25. cadallaca – “june n july”
26. buffalo – “stump”
27. le tigre – “deceptacon”
28. scout niblett – “fuck treasure island”
29. can – “i’m so green”
30. tegan and sara – “call it off”
31. stereolab – “peng! 33”
32. sonic youth – “do you believe in rapture?”
33. matmos – “steam and sequins for larry levan”
34. the modern lovers – “girlfriend”
35. spiritualized – “any way that you want me”
36. daniel johnston – “speeding motorcycle”
37. beat happening – “our secret”
38. hella – “1-800-ghost-dance”
39. talking heads – “this must be the place”
40. patti smith – “gloria”
41. the raincoats – “in love”
42. the gossip – “yr mangled heart”
43. arto/neto – “malu”
44.the gits – “another shot of whiskey”
45. lizzie mercier descloux - "wawa"
46. hold steady – “cattle and the creeping things”
47. big star – “ballad of el goodo”
48. roxy music – “all i want is you”
49. black flag – “nervous”
50. pj harvey – “a place called home”

--Mairead Case

Fro's Mix

Here are some of my favorites from the 8 years that I've spent in my twenties (in iTunes order after #1):

1. James "Laid"
2. Belle & Sebastian "Asleep on a Sunbeam"
3. Ben Folds "Annie Waits"
4. Bishop Allen "Empire City"
5. Boston "Peace of Mind"
6. Clem Snide "Action"
7. The Decemberists "The Crane Wife 3"
8. The Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"
9. Flo Rida Featuring Wynter "Sugar"
10. The Jesus and Mary Chain "Sometimes Always"
11. Kate Nash "Foundations"
12. Modest Mouse "Get It On"
13. The Mountain Goats "This Year"
14. The New Pornographers "Adventures in Solitude"
15. The New Pornographers "Fake Headlines"
16. Roxette "Fading Like a Flower"
17. She & Him "Sentimental Heart"
18. Stars "Tonight"
19. The Weepies "All Good Things"

--Fro Klaver

Fred's Mix


[click above to download mix]

there were two ways to go about this, as i saw it: songs from the years during which you were in your twenties or songs from your own personal twenties. this project is a product of the former approach. the latter approach would have yielded a history of the musical taste i now possess, more or less: only in memory reconstructed did i mope to morrissey at 14; at the time i was probably listening to a rap album w/ a parental advisory sticker on it, on headphones, all the while attempting to figure out a new&better hiding place so that my mother wouldn't find that album (again).

from this remove, the person i was at the beginning of this mix is just as unrecognizable as that 14 year-old; he only comes into focus at around track 13, the year i began both drinking & graduate school. the one thing that we have in common is that we are both me, or were. & that we remember these songs and we remember what these songs make us remember--really palpable memories, some more sensitive to the touch than others. these songs are about girls i liked and loved, new york and not new york, me and not me.

my twenties were all right but i never missed them, not even at age 14.

"let me state that without my notes [this mix] simply has no human reality at all since the human reality of such a [mix] as his (being too skittish and reticent for an autobiographical work)… has to depend entirely on the reality of its author and his surroundings, attachments and so forth, a reality that only my notes can provide."

(following caolan, these tracks--from 1997 through 2007--are arranged mostly chronologically, although some came up and bit me after the fact, and some continue to do so, alas&alas&alas.)

01 morrissey: "the edges are no longer parallel": age 20
CREDO: my only mistake is… well, never mind, never mind.

02 the future bible heroes: "lonely days": ""
arcade fire got a grammy for their suburbs, but really i don't think they've ever even been to a mall. FBH, though, they deserve a monument: "nothing good is on TV // no one falls in love w/ me." exactly.

03 masters at work feat. india: "runaway" (radio edit): ""
now these sentiments would be expressed by "box elder" but you can't dance to "box elder" and i like to dance now, more than then.

04 mercury rev: "delta sun bottleneck stomp": age 21
"waving goodbye // i'm not saying hello." music for the end credits to a film about me, roughly; & end credits worth sitting through and seeing through to the end since you've been waiting so long anyway.

05 will oldham: "in my mind": ""
rehearsals for a farewell not far off and a reconciliation that never was. it's all all right, now.

06 the magnetic fields: "just like a movie star" (live): ""
beginning to learn about the internet, romance. listening to MP3s at work, downloading from FTP sites, dreaming of the ways &c.

07 death in vegas: "aladdin's story": age 22
emerging in new york from PATH tunnels, looking for work, late autumn '99. the sound of becoming an adult in new york, but not yet an adult new yorker.

08 mary j blige: "all that i can say": ""
& not yet either. still looking for work, and so is my girlfriend. one december afternoon, after an interview of my own, i'm listening to this waiting for her to finish w/ hers so we can just… i don't know, walk together. that was good. such synesthesia here; remember lauryn hill?

09 the clientele: "as night is falling": age 23
but now. the metropolitan subterranea. subways rattle & roar but not this, not me.

10 lambchop: "grumpus": ""
midtown west, winter 2000. it's all going to fall apart, i think, his falsetto so fragile at 4:06. he seems like he won't make it, but he does. it takes practice.

11 pulp: "like a friend": ""
so it did all fall apart and sometimes still does, even now.

12 the strokes: "the modern age" (EP version): age 24
it was good to be young in prelapsarian new york. i wouldn't want to be young there now and nature obliges.

13 the go! team: "hold yr terror close": age 26
oh, hello, you. i am getting a second bachelor's degree; i am going to become a high school teacher; i do not know how i feel about this exactly but this song says something about it.

14 the long blondes: "lust in the movies" (7" version): age 27
the last band i loved. i saw them w/ a girl i'm pretty sure i loved for about, oh, four years, maybe. my life's great what-if, or so i thought. (unsure of tense.) after this show she kissed me.

15 danny chung: "happy together": ""
she never did again though. this is from the end of one of our shared favorite films. not long after this, i told her that i was over it, that i hope someday, when we're in our 40s, we're having coffee somewhere in new york, talking about our lives. & she told me, oh, i just broke up w/ my long-term ex- and i was just about to ask if you wanted to come over and listen to records but now i guess not? she's married now. the last time i saw her we talked about the girl i was then dating, whom i thought everyone was wrong about; everyone, including her, was right as it turns out. i emailed her the other day to ask her about her life.

16 sébastien tellier: "la ritournelle": age 28
times square, august 2006, early AM. i'm really unhappy about everything. i turn to the new york of my childhood. i'm glad it exists. & to be the kind of person i'm in the process of being and to make such a statement one would have to have known times square as a child. have felt at the center of everything and so sure that everything had a center.

17 silver jews: "random rules": age 29
west village, fall 2006, and today when the light catches the branches on the sidestreets just so. i see all kinds of people i have known in new york and elsewhere in new york; it's so strange sometimes. on this day i see my ex- who doesn't see me. i think about catching up w/ her, literally catching up w/ her as she's ahead of me. but i don't. i think of the end of annie hall, which took place a few blocks from our old apartment but before either of us were born. people leave and these streets aren't going to bring us back, but we had some times esp. around the time of track 8.

18 guillemots: "made up lovesong #43": ""
at a point where some days it's hard to get up off the couch, but now i'm singing and it's love again.

19 peter born and john: "objects of my affection": ""
but it's life always.

Lauren's Mix

Songs for Lauren in her twenties. So far there are only 4 years to choose from, so that makes it a little easier.

(year 20)

1. Joni Mitchell, “Carey”

2. The Pretenders, “I’ll Stand By You”

3. Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Southern Cross”

4. Razorlight, “America”

5. Keith Jarrett, “Shenandoah”

6. Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate, “Debe”

7. Youssou N’dour, “Li Ma Weesu”

8. Céu, “Rainha”

9. Regina Spektor, “Field Below”

(year 21)

10. Simon and Garfunkle, “America”

11. Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, “Killing the Blues”

12. Cat Power, “The Greatest”

13. The Spencer Davis Group, “I’m A Man”

14. The Shins, “Caring is Creepy”

(year 22)

15. Led Zeppelin, “Goin to California”

16. Blue Oyster Cult, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”

17. The Sundays, “Here’s Where the Story Ends”

(year 23)

18. Blind Faith, “Can’t Find My Way Home”

19. John Lennon, “Jealous Guy”

(year 24)

20. Florence and The Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”

21. Adele, “Someone Like You”

22. Massive Attack, “Teardrop”

23. The Who, “Substitute”

--Lauren Kimball


Caolan's Mix

Songs for Me in My 20s

Here's my mix! It's arranged roughly chronologically, according to how old I was when I was most actively listening to each song. There are a lot of songs that seem to be missing--like, where is the Hole? where is the Liz Phair? Where are the Smiths??--but I think that's because those are Songs for Me in my Teens, which will be important forever, but not necessarily unusually important in my 20s.

1. Joni Mitchell, California (20)
I don't really have a relationship with California. This should probably be "Case of You." But so many of these songs from my 20s are about ramblin', or wishing you were ramblin', or wishing you were home, and I listened to this song a lot when I was away from home, so. I think sometimes "California" = "America." At least when you're outside America.

2. The Lucksmiths, The Year of Driving Languorously (20 - 21)
The only show I ever used a fake ID to get into was a Lucksmiths show, about two weeks before I turned 21.

3. Magnetic Fields, The Book of Love (21)
This album makes up, like, half of the songs you listened to in your 20s, right? Be honest. Also one of the only nice love songs on my list. I _do_ love it when you read to me! And when you give me things.

4. The Be Good Tanyas, The Littlest Birds (21 - 22)

5. DQE, Go Bananas (21 - 22)
I can't find a video to link to. But, you know. Just look at that title. You can figure it out.

6. Le Tigre, Much Finer (22 - 23)
In your 20s you have a lot more time and opportunity to be depressed than in your teens. I don't think my mom would have let me stay in bed all day when I was living at home. No! I can't imagine feeling any other way.

7. Gillian Welch, Miss Ohio (22 - 23)
"I wanna do right but not right now" was the theme song of my 20s. I think it makes sense! In your teens you don't even want to do right. Also related to frustrated ramblin' impulse.

8. Old 97s, Buick City Complex (23)
Yes, I do wanna mess around. Might as well mess around if you are not ramblin'.

9. The Pretenders, Night in My Veins (24 - 25)
Yes, I still want to mess around.

10. Joanna Newsom, Book of Right On (23 - 24)
OK, now it's time to weirdly and ambiguously settle down. This is the song that made me want to settle down with Joanna Newsom, after initially thinking she was just an elf who wrote about Narnia: "even when you touch/my face/you know/your place."

11. Will Oldham, Agnes Queen of Sorrow (24 - 25)
Oh, sorry, I mean Palace Songs. Oops! Anyway, more settling down: maybe your 20s is about learning to wait another day?

12. Diamond Nights, The Girl's Attractive (24 - 25)
Enough downers. It is time to get sexy and dance.

13. Cat Power, I Don't Blame You (25 - 26)
This song is probably about Kurt Cobain, but I just like how that I don't blame you soars in. I'm ashamed of how much some of these songs have to do with "growing up." I am learning to wait another day! I am learning not to blame people! I am feeling conflicted about doing right but not right now. Well, I am. I mean I was. Now I have it all figured out.

14. Leonard Cohen, Famous Blue Raincoat (25 - 26)
"Suzanne" was one of the most important songs of my teens, but let's put this one in for the 20s. A crazy "Between Men"/doppelganger thing going on. Both those things are interesting! Also I like to get mad at Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan and forbid them to date my impressionable girlfriends.

15. David Bowie, Modern Love (25 - 26)
It does terrify me!

16. Throwing Muses, Shimmer (25 - 26)
Keep your eye on Kristin Hersh she is the best! Also her memoir Rat Girl changed my life when I was 30 (glimpse into the future!). I also considered including "Your Dirty Answer," which includes the lyric "It's not my fault you don't love me/ when I'm drunk." IT'S NOT.

17. Talking Heads, And She Was (25 - 26)
Best exercise song for girls ever. Go running in the suburbs to this song!

18. Shonen Knife, Tomato Head (23 - 26)
Also good for exercising. Also good if you wanted to start drinking tomato juice (I don't!)

19. The Decemberists, Myla Goldberg (26 - 27)
Well, it was only a matter of time before I got into the Decemberists. I felt a pull, like the pull I felt toward Dungeons & Dragons. I resisted both until someone else pulled me in.

20. Sufjan Stevens, That Was the Worst Christmas Ever (26 - 27)
2006 - 2007 was the year of Sufjan. Lots of Illinoise. But the Christmas albums are the ones I'll take into the future. Your 20s are when you realize how weird and sad your childhood really was! And you haven't messed up anyone else's childhood yet.

21. Neko Case, Furnace Room Lullaby (26 - 27)
Good God the keening! Also didn't you always want to listen to a beautiful song that seems to be based on "The Telltale Heart"? Or that scene in _Native Son_.

22. Bob Dylan, Is Your Love in Vain? (27)
OK, so a lot of Dylan songs belong on this mix, but a lot of them also belong to the "Songs for Girls in Their Teens" mix. This song really gets at my love-hate relationship with Bob--like, I think this speaker is ridiculous! but I also love the song. I want to do a cover of this song as a duet with one my many Dylan-lookalike friends, and I want to be wearing a wedding dress and a white satin top hat.

23. Carrie Nations, Find It (from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) (28)
If only this band were a real band, you guys.

24.The Breeders, Saints (25 - 29?)
It would behoove all of us to pay attention to this song right now. Summer IS ready when you are.

25. Pat Benatar, Heartbreaker (29)
In my mid- to late-twenties my main thing was I liked songs where women encourage men to try to break their hearts. Like, Pat really wants you to try. I think "Bad Romance" is about this, too.

26. Lady Gaga, Bad Romance (29)
If I'm going to talk about it in relation to "Heartbreaker," it might as well be on here!

27. Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights (29 5/6)
So, I think all the songs on this mix and like my whole musical and literary history are pointing to this song, and yet I never heard it until I was 29 and 10 months old and had a nightmare about Heathcliff trapping me in my apartment and Becca sent me this link. Which only goes to show that songs may be kind of getting you through your twenties without you even knowing it.

Happy last day of your 20s, Becca!

Candice's Mix

Here's my top 10 (one song per year) for girls in their 20s (in no particular order):

1. Patti Smith's "Gloria"
2. Pixies' "Gouge Away"
3. Neko Case's "I Wish I Was the Moon"
4. Sonic Youth's "Little Trouble Girl"
5. Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes"
6. David Bowie's "Rock & Roll Suicide"
7. Nina Simone's "See Line Woman"
8. Le Tigre's "Tell You Now"
9. Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johnanna"
10. Marianne Faithfull's "Why D'ya Do It?"