For Valentine's Day, we asked three of our favorite local singer-songwriters—Sarah Shook, Phonte Coleman, and Mac McCaughan—to create themed mixtapes. Each tackled a distinct theme related to the most Hallmarked of all holidays.
Shook, a hard-living country badass, took on loneliness. Coleman, the Little Brother alumnus who now croons at the helm of The Foreign Exchange, accepted lust. And McCaughan, the perpetually energized co-founder of Superchunk and Merge Records, took on the topic of young, exuberant love. Listen to 'em as your mood sees fit.
Below, Mac McCaughan's anthems of love:
Here's my mixtape under the sub-header of "dumbstruck / teenage-like love." It's funny to think of Bruce "Man's Job" Springsteen feeling like he has to pull out all the stops to convince a girl to go out with him, but that's the comedic situation we find him in with "Rosalita." He's making up stuff about his record deal and excuses about his car troubles, and they're young enough to worry about her parents. He wrote a much broader song once—"Hungry Heart"—for the Ramones, but the Ramones like to keep it simple. They do with "She's The One."
Several of these songs get to the point with simple, repetetive lyrics—"Get Over You," "Maps," "Temptation," and the mantra of "Can't Do Without You." Really, when you're trying to express something like love, maybe the writer realizes that if you try to get fancy, you're likely to make a hash out of it. Others are no less ambivalent but written by those just waiting for the other party to come around, like "Did I Tell You" and "Time After Time." The Madness and the Big Star songs are so affecting partially because the artists are otherwise coming at you from wacky or acerbic places but are here plaintive and straightforward. And the Arthur Russell song is one that could float along forever, and the listener wouldn't mind ... like love, I suppose. —Mac McCaughan