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The Awkward Pre-Frosh Playlist

Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Columns

We have all seen the sad looking pre-frosh tour groups tromping around campus in the rain. It is easy for us to forget, now that we’re comfortably established at college, that it is actually application season; In fact the Tufts ED deadline just passed this week. In honor of those poor souls back home who are feverishly writing their supplements, I thought I’d make this week’s post about my Tufts pre-frosh experience with music.

I was almost positive I wanted to apply ED to Tufts when I came to re-visit in October of last year but I wanted to be absolutely sure. I was staying with my friend Louisa who was living in South. We ended up spending the whole night chilling with two guys on her floor, Mike and Max. On the floor of Mike’s room, we were sitting around talking about music (surprise!). Max is from Wisconsin and was ranting about another Wisconsin native, Bon Iver.

Before I go on I should take a second to establish two things. A) I had heard of the artist before but had never listened to a song, essentially writing him off as just another hipster phenomenon. B) I’m aware that at this point Bon Iver is old news, and even such mainstream artists as Kanye West are collaborating with him. Please forget for a moment that he has been indie-blogged to death and allow me to take you back to a time before Blindsided became my most played song on iTunes.

Anyway, long story short, Max began playing Skinny Love on his guitar and from that point forward I was sold. A short while later, someone mentioned Tracy Chapman, a Tufts graduate and singer songwriter. When I said I didn’t know her, Mike peaked his head down from the top bunk, horrified, insisted that I find her on iTunes immediately, and dictated that I play Give Me One Reason. The slow, bluesy guitar riff and her husky voice caught me completely off guard.

The night’s discoveries didn’t end there, however. Max had started teaching Mike how to play guitar and the two of them spent the rest of the night singing and playing together. The first song they played was The Ballad of my One True Love by Mason Jennings. They soon moved on to All Cleaned Out by Elliott Smith. This song is on New Moon, an album of sketches and out-takes released after Smith’s tragic death in 2003. At the time I didn’t know any of this, however. All I knew was that two college boys kept on singing the line “Here come your pride and joy, the comic little drunk you call your boy” over and over until they got the chord progression right. “You say you don’t want anyone around ’cause you’re all cleaned out.” I was overwhelmed by the profound and simple melancholy of Smith’s lyrics. I would later find out that Smith was like totally a big deal and I had been completely unaware. I mean, he essentially dominates the Good Will Hunting soundtrack for goodness sake! But if you are like my pre-frosh self and you have missed the Elliott Smith phenomenon up until now, I beseech you, run out and buy Either/Or. Max will assure you that it is the best album and it is also the one I bought not long after this incident.

I remember that night clinching my attachment to Tufts. I had felt supremely comfortable on campus, I had met really interesting people, and I had been introduced to Bon Iver and Elliott Smith, two artists that would fundamentally change my taste in music. I remember thinking if all of my nights of college were like that one, I would be the happiest girl on campus. Well I’ve arrived and if The Awkward Freshman Playlist has shown me anything its that College life has pretty much worked out just the way I hoped it might when I was still a pre-frosh sitting on the floor in South.

1. Give Me One Reason – Tracy Chapman

2. Darkness Between the Fireflies – Mason Jennings

3. Ballad for My One True Love – Mason Jennings

4. All Cleaned Out – Elliott Smith

5. Tomorrow Tomorrow – Elliott Smith

6. Rose Parade – Elliott Smith

7. Bracket, WI – Bon Iver

8. Blindsided – Bon Iver

9. silent signs – DeYarmond Edison

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