Late-Summer Listening List, Courtesy of Professor Eric Falci and His “Poetry and Music” Seminar

Besides being an Irish poetry rock star, Professor Eric Falci is also a musician. In his newest project, “Poetry’s Musics” — for which he was awarded a Townsend Center Fellowship last fall — he sets out to think against the temptation to speak about poetry and music interchangeably. Lucky for our undergraduates, Professor Falci tried out some of his newest research  last spring in a class called “Poetry and Music.”

In this post, Professor Falci reflects on some of the goals of his course and treats us all to a late-summer reading list, courtesy of his students in the “Poetry and Music” seminar. [Let it be known: I’m officially jealous of all the students who got to listen to anything from Zapp and Rogers to Lauryn Hill to Arcade Fire while learning about poetry from Professor Falci.]

This past spring, I taught an undergraduate research seminar entitled “Poetry and Music.”  The goal of the course was to take a very broad look at the connections and disconnections between these two forms of art.  We discussed the basis of both arts in rhythm and sound, the very different ways that rhythm and sound work in each art, how poets have adopted musical forms and techniques in order to make poems, the strange torsions that occur in these processes of adaptation, and the course of the relationship between poetry and music in modernity.  We read a diverse and quirky set of poets, mostly 19th and 20th century writers, and listened to range of music, from Beethoven to Coltrane to Cage.

One part of the course focused on what we can broadly describe as popular music, and as a class we spent time thinking about the ways in which lyrics interact with the music accompanying them, and how we listen to words in songs differently than we do to words in poems.  Listening—both to poems and music—was a regular part of each class, and as the semester went on, we made it a point to examine the notion of listening itself: how we listen, how listening is culturally constructed, the difference between listening and hearing, the role of silence in listening, the differences between sound and noise.

As we neared the portion of the course on popular music, I asked everyone in the class to send me a list of five

Undergraduates especially dig Radiohead.

songs and five albums.  It didn’t necessarily have to be a list of their favorite five songs or albums, although it could of course be that, but they should consider songs that would be intriguing examples in the context of the course.  They could define “popular music” in their own way, and the final list that the class generated includes a huge range of styles and genres.  Everyone in the class spent a lot of time and thought on compiling their own list, and many said that they couldn’t stop tinkering and revising their list before sending it to me.

Think of the catalogue below as something like a late-summer listening list.  One is a list of songs in alphabetical order by artist, and the other is a list of albums in chronological order (asterisks next to a title indicates that multiple students had that song or album on their original list, or that they voted for it when we later chose songs from the list that we would listen to as a class).  It is the product of the 25 students in the Poetry and Music seminar, and offers something like a core sample of what Berkeley English majors might be listening to these days.  Happy listening!


Thelonious Monk, The Blue Note Sessions (1947-1952) *

John Coltrane, Blue Train (1957) *

Charles Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) *

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) *

The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969) **

David Bowie, Space Oddity (1969)

David Axelrod, Songs of Experience (1969) *

Harry Partch, The World of Harry Partch (1969) *

Curtis Mayfield, Curtis (1970)

Karen Dalton, In My Own Time (1971)

Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971) **

The Who, Quadrophenia (1973) *

CSNY, So Far (1974)

Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks (1975) **

Pink Floyd, Animals (1977)  *

The Clash, 1977 (1977)

Dexter Gordon, Ballads (1978) *

The Misfits, Static Age (1978/1997) *

Pink Floyd, The Wall (1979) *

The Residents, Commercial Album (1980)

Brian Eno and Harold Budd, Ambient 2 the Plateaux of Mirror (1980)

Minutemen, What Makes a Man Start Fires? (1983)  *

Cocteau Twins, Treasure (1984)

Tom Waits, Franks Wild Years (1987)

The Blue Hearts, The Blue Hearts (1987)

Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (1988)  *

Sonic Youth, Daydram Nation (1988) **

A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory (1991) *

Junior Kimbrough, All Night Long (1992)

Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992) **

Nirvana, In Utero (1993)  *

Weeze, The Blue Album (1994)

Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Hot Minute (1995) *

Nina Simone, After Hours (1995) *

Radiohead, OK Computer (1997) *****

You’ve Got Mail soundtrack (1998)

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) ****

The Mountain Goats, Protein Source of the Future … NOW! (1999)

The Dismemberment Plan, Emergency & I (1999)

Richard Thompson, Mock Tudor (1999)

Goo Goo Dolls, Dizzy Up the Girl (1999)

Braid, Movie Music Vol. 1 (2000)

Rilo Kiley, The Initial Friend E.P. (2000)

Green Day, Warning (2000)

At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command (2000)

Deltron 3030, Deltron 3030 (2000) *

Rilo Kiley, Take Offs and Landings (2001)

Tool, Lateralis (2001)

Regina Spektor, Songs (2002)

Maroon 5, Songs About Jane (2002)

The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) *

Adam Green, Friends of Mine (2003)

Outkast, The Love Below (2003)

Sufjan Stevens, Michigan (2003) *

R. Kelly, Chocolate Factory (2003) *

Madlib, Shades of Blue (2003) *

Gavin DeGraw, Chariot (2003) *

The Mars Volta, Deloused in the Comatorium (2003)

Explosions in the Sky, Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)

Hella, The Devil Isn’t Red (2004)

Bjork, Medulla (2004) *

Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch (2004)

Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004) *

CocoRosie, La Maison de Mon Rêve (2004)

D.J. Spooky, Rhythm Science (2004) *

Broadcast, Tender Buttons (2005)

Death Cab for Cutie, Plans (2005)

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (2005)

Joanna Newsom, Ys (2006) *

Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope (2006) **

The Killers, Sam’s Town (2006)

James Morrison, Undiscovered (2006) *

Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (2006)

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (2006) *

Breaking Benjamin, Phobia (2006)

The National, Boxer (2007)

Blonde Redhead, 23 (2007)

M.I.A., Kala (2007)

Lovedrug, Everything Starts Where It Ends (2007)

Kings of Leon, Only By the Night (2008) **

Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords (2008)

Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I-IV (2008) *

Laura Marling, Alas I Cannot Swim (2008)

Lady Gaga, The Fame (2008) ***

Man Man, Rabbit Habits (2008)

Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009) ****

Broadcast and the Focus Group, Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (2009)

Jónsi, Go (2010) **

The Chemical Brothers, Further (2010)


AFI, “But Home is Nowhere”

Arcade Fire, “Sprawl II” **

Arctic Monkeys, “A Certain Romance”

Bad Brains, “Sail On”

The Beatles, “Come Together” *

The Beatles, “Let It Be” *

Beirut, “Nantes” *

Bill Evans, “Love Theme from Spartacus” *

Billie Holiday, “Stormy Weather” **

Bjork, “Oh So Quiet” **

The Black Eyed Peas, “Gone Going” *

Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma” *

Bob Dylan, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” *

Bright Eyes, “When the Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass”

Britney Spears, “Hold it Against Me” *

Los Campesinos, “You, Me, Dancing!”

Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”

Cat Power, “Cross Bones Style” *

Chubby Checker, “The Twist”

Coldplay, “Viva La Vida” **

Converge, “Concubine”

Cream, “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

CSNY, “Helplessly Hoping”

The Damned, “Neat Neat Neat”

Dancing in the Moonlight, “Toploader”

Daniel, “Bat for Lashes”

David Axlerod, “The Sick Rose”

Die Antwoord, “Evil Boy” **

DJ Spooky, “Encode” *

DJ Spooky, “Let’s From Some Loud Unworld’s Most Rightful Wrong”

E-40, “Tell Me When to Go” *

Edmund Rubbra, “String Quartet no. 2”

Elvis Costello, “Pretty Words”  *

Five For Fighting, “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”

Florence and the Machine, “Dog Days” *

Fred Neil, “Handful of Gimme”

George Harrison, “Awaiting On You All”

GG Allin, “You Hate Me and I Hate You”

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, “Falling Slowly”

Gogol Bordello, “Sally” *

Gorillaz, “Clint Eastwood” *

Incubus, “Anna Molly” **

Jamie T, “Northern Line”

Jesus Christ, “Brand New”

John Lennon, “Imagine” **

Just Jack, “Embers”

Kanye West, “Power”  *

Kate Bush, “Get Out of My House”

The Kinks, “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman”

Lauren Hill, “That Thing”

LCD Soundsystem, “All my friends” **

Leonard Cohen, “Chelsea Hotel #2” **

Linkin Park, “Papercut”

Lou Reed, “Street Hassle”

Marnie Stern, “The Crippled Jazzer”

Mayday, “Captain”

Meat Puppets, “Big House”

Metallica, “Enter Sandman”

MF Doom, “Mince Meat” *

Michael Jackson, “Dirty Diana” *

Nas, “New York State of Mind”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Far From Me”

Nina Simone, “I Ain’t Got No/ I Got Life” *

The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind?”  **

Postal Service, “Such Great Heights”

R. Kelly, “I Believe I Can Fly”

Regina Spektor, “The Consequence of Sounds” *

Regina Spektor, “Eet” *

Regina Spektor, “A Pound of Flesh”

Regina Spektor, “Musicbox” *

Rilo Kiley, “A Better Son/Daughter”

Robert Johnson, “Me and the Devil Blues” *

Ron B, “Stitch by Stitch” *

Ryan Adams, “The End”  *

Sage Francis, “Climb Trees”  *

Sam Cooke, “I’ll Come Running Back To You”

Saul Williams, “Amethyst Rocks” *

Saul Williams, “Scared Money” *

Seal (covering The Steve Miller Band), “Fly Like an Eagle”

Seu Jorge, “Changes”

Sibylle Baier, “Tonight”

Sigur Ros, “Hoppipolla”

Sigur Ros, “Svefn-g-englar” *

The Smiths, “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” *

Snow Patrol, “Somewhere a Clock is Ticking”

Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Rude Mood” *

Suicide, “Ghost Rider” *

The Sylvers, “We Can Make It If We Try”

The Supremes, “Baby Love”

The Strokes, “Under Control”

The Velvet Teen, “Chimera Obscurant”

Tom Waits, “Diamonds on My Windshield” **

Tom Waits, “Goin’ Out West”

Voxtrot, “The Start of Something” **

Wilco, “Jesus, Etc.”   *

Zapp and Roger, “More Bounce to the Ounce” *