What does Oberlin sound like?
August 28, 2011
Ma'ayan Plaut ’10
I have been working on an Oberlin blog post since October of last year trying to define my Oberlin years through the local music I’ve imbibed, but somehow, it’s taking a staggeringly long time to write about the bands and the music I have an emotional connection to. It is part due to how overwhelming it is to think back to my four years of college, part due to an inability to remember all of my musical experiences (I have quite severe music ADD...), and part due to lacking the words to properly write about the feelings I have when I listen to certain songs.
This is why I, and Ben Jones, and many many many others want to urge you to add something incredibly important to enhance your Oberlin experience: make musical mixes. I don’t care if you’re following the rules from High Fidelity, but for your own sake, keep track of what you listen to and revisit it every so often.
To be super cliched, you’re going to be transported when you encounter the visuals (see also: the existence of Oberlin posters) and audios you’ve collected, created, and experienced throughout college. Document it while you’re there: you’re not going to have the chance to recreate it.
To start you all off on the right foot, I’ve compiled a mix of sorts to kick off the class of 2015 (who will be filling campus in a few days, oh my!) years of mix making. A handful of these songs are my personal college anthems or songs that incessantly remind me of Oberlin, but a great majority of these songs were actually contributed by some supremely awesome Obies from Twitter and Facebook.
I tried to get a variety of songs to show the breadth of musics we Obies are into right now to psych ourselves up for this school year. Did I miss yours or did you forget to tell me one? That’s what the comments are for!
For those of you who want to listen straight through, I’ve created a playlist on YouTube with all the songs from this post. Listen to it while you pack, fly, drive, shop... it’s here to get you going about Oberlin. (Isn’t that the point of everything?)
Oberanthems: Ma’ayan Edition
For those of you who want to listen straight through this section only, I’ve created a playlist on YouTube. (Disclaimer: some of these videos are not worth watching. They are, however, worth listening to.)
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.
This song was a camp anthem for me, always played at the last dance, and was filled with lots of exuberant jumping. Oberlin’s gonna change your life, guys. In a totally fantastic way.
Pizza Day - The Aquabats
Partially about starting school, partially about school lunch, but most importantly, this is the anthem of Harkness Pizza Night. Pizza night is Friday (both in the song and in real life in most of OSCA) and it truly is the best day of the week. If you’re part of pizza night in any co-op, make this a part of your listening routine.
Time of Your Life (Good Riddance) - Green Day
Cliched, maybe, but it works for me. Also, Green Day used to be a big deal when I was younger. Boy, am I old.
I’m Not Going to Sleep - We’re About 9
Fact: you’re probably not going to sleep through most of orientation (or college for that matter). Line to ponder from this song: "I’m not going to bed tonight till everyone else does." Consider doing that, maybe sometimes?
BONUS: We’re About 9 is playing an orientation concert at the Cat in the Cream on September 3rd at 8pm! They’re one of the most adorable groups I’ve ever seen, and it’s totally worth going to.
Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen
Nothing about this song isn’t a college anthem. Grab all your friends and belt it. I’ve done this dozens of times, in cars, in study rooms, in my kitchen... any place is a good place for Queen.
I Wish I Could Go Back To College - Avenue Q
Well, maybe this is me projecting on this upcoming school year, but fact: this song will serve as a pretty accurate encapsulation of what college can and will be like. Especially take note of the line "I wish I had taken more pictures." That’s my favorite line.
We’re Going to Be Friends - The White Stripes
Pretty self explanatory. At Oberlin, you may want to be friends with most people you meet. That’s entirely normal.
I Like It That Way - Sweet Honey in the Rock
This song is such a confidence booster, which is much of what an Oberlin experience will do for you, too. I also heard them perform this live at Finney Chapel a week after the election in 2008 and it was totally invigorating.
This Will Be Our Year - OK Go
When I first heard this song, I knew was a super sappy love song. I’m still okay with that, though, since I’m so freaking head over heels with you, Oberlin. Sorry everyone/thing else, Oberlin’s the one.
Oberanthems: The Obies Weigh In Edition
Disclaimer: this is only a selection of the dozens of songs I received. All the songs can be found on the contributed Oberanthems playlist on YouTube.
New York, New York - Frank Sinatra
While Oberlin is not New York, we’re comparably awesome and filled with music and culture. Everything Sinatra sings here is applicable to starting a new step of your life here in the New York of the Midwest. "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere."
For Good - Wicked
Oberlin has changed many for good. Are you next?
A Love Song to Ohio - The Black River Belles
The anthem that I use most to explain my remaining in Oberlin. Just singing "Oh, Ohio, I love you" gives me great calm.
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
To Ohio - The Love Anthem
Cleveland Rocks - The Presidents of the United States of America (yes, the theme song from The Drew Carey Show...)
Ohayoo Ohio - Pink Martini
Ohio - From the musical Wonderful Town (as covered by Glee)
Ohio is for Lovers - Hawthorne Heights
A rash of songs on and about Ohio: there are a number of artists who have a similar love obsession with the Midwest as we do. It’s a pretty good state to sing about.
Wide Open Spaces - The Dixie Chicks
While Oberlin itself is in a lovely small town, drive out of town in any direction and you will encounter lots of flat farmland. The skies here are big and broad and you can see forever. I’ve never seen skies as pretty as the ones here in Oberlin.
Hold On, I’m Comin’ - Sam & Dave
Oh man, I opened the video for this and started groovin’. That’s a good thing. Oberlin is all about groovin’.
Pokémon Theme Song
Gotta catch all the educations?
Will You Return - The Avett Brothers
Good call, whoever told me this one. I find most bluegrass and old-timey/folk musics are so reminiscent of Oberlin. Maybe it’s partly how long Oberlin has been in my life in rural environments and maybe it’s just that so many sounds of music here on campus tend to head this route. Beautiful.
Friday - Rebecca Black
I do believe that you should watch the video, gawk at how awesome our administrators are, and then see that this addition is self explanatory.
Can’t Go Back Now - The Weepies
College is about moving forward, and returning home will never be the same after you come to Oberlin. I speak from much experience. "The only steps that matter are the ones you take by yourself."
Go Outside - Cults
Going outside here is necessary and required. Do it while the weather is nice, do it while the weather is iffy (we don’t get hurricanes here...), and orientation is a great time to go outside.
I Can’t Stand Still - Footloose
Fact: you could dance your way through Oberlin. It would be mighty fun that way.
Snow is Gone - Josh Ritter
Awwwww yeah I can’t have a list of Oberanthems without having an alum on here, and Josh Ritter ’99 is as good as any. He’s lovely. I’ve heard him play here in Oberlin three times and each of the shows has been totally spectacular. "Snow is Gone" is particularly great, though, since we have a lot of snow here, and it’s nice when it’s melted.
Mahna Mahna - The Muppets
Maybe I have placed this song here as a metaphor: sing your own songs, have some rockingly awesome solos, but if it works, go with it? Some nonsense words don’t hurt.
After the Storm - Mumford & Sons
Sent to me with the following pull quote: "And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. / And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. / Get over your hill and see what you find there, / With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair." It’s a pretty freeing song.
September - Earth, Wind and Fire
Apt, contributor! This is played constantly at TGIF, and it’s one of the best back-to-schooly songs I know.
For more recommended listening, take a peek at my (very old?!) post with my playlist entitled The Long Road Home, perfect for riding from the Cleveland Hopkins Airport to downtown Oberlin.
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Responses to this Entry
I'm sitting in the lab listening through this post, and all of these songs are spot-on -- yay for the collective musical judgment of Obies on the Internet!
And I'm so glad someone suggested "Snow is Gone". I listened to it non-stop at the end of my semester in London, while waiting for a giant blizzard to lift so I could fly back home... now it always reminds me of coming back to Oberlin after studying abroad. I'm glad it's an Oberlin song for someone else too :)
Posted by: Eli on August 28, 2011 6:17 PM
Aaaaaaaahhhhh this list is so good! I listened to the Zombies' version of This Will Be Our Year a lot right after graduating high school, and I love love love the Pomplamoose cover of September.
Also, I'd never even heard of Pink Martini before, but YES.
Posted by: Ida on August 29, 2011 2:13 AM
@Eli - Things like this post and the creation therein give me faith that all Obies know good music. And my brother recommended Snow is Gone! I couldn't agree with it more.
@Ida - I held off from covers here (except the Glee cover of Ohio, because there aren't too many good originals, and cause Glee rocks), but agreed on covers that are awesome.
Isn't Pink Martini great?! We heard about them on NPR one spring and promptly bought two albums for my dad. They're totally lovely!
Posted by: Ma'ayan on August 29, 2011 9:47 AM
This is a great blog entry. A very creative way of describing the acoustics of Oberlin. Thanks for the entertainment!
Posted by: Justin Andrews on August 30, 2011 4:41 PM
@Justin - You're welcome! Thank you for listening!
There are many similar posts from whence this came; I have at least two more posts involving music in queue for this year sometime.
Posted by: Ma'ayan on August 31, 2011 3:05 PM
I am a class of 1981 Obie. Just wanted to make people aware of a video I uploaded recently on YouTube by my Uncle, the late pianist and composer Neal Creque. He used to teach and perform at the Oberlin conservatory (as well as at Cleveland State University). Wendell Logan is credited with bringing him to form a part of the Oberlin Jazz community. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnJigzz7Io0
Posted by: D. Mathews on September 14, 2011 8:39 AM
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