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Mixtape: Christmas in July

It's that time of year again, friends: the Christmas playlist for Ray Ray. As much as moving to El Salvador has been a noteworthy change in our lives, the crowning moment of the year was the arrival of the little one, whom Ray Ray affectionately calls "Sweet Pea." Accordingly, you will see that song on this year-end collection.

The title says it all: his arrival was the greatest gift all year, and each day he shows us something new. The role change to parent has been especially jarring, in ways both good and bad. Unsurprisingly, perspective on just about everything has shifted dramatically and a thousand cares and worries were suddenly relegated to a subordinated status. I've tried to capture that shift with this group of songs.

When Luca was born, one of my very-musically-inclined uncles wrote me and suggested I play Beautiful Boy for the new family addition. I did and it was a special moment. If you have a child and listen carefully to the lyrics you'll understand why.

Along the more serious lines in this collection are the songs by Colin Meloy (frontman for The Decemberists), Billy Bragg, and Michael Franti. A surprise to no one, I called on Mellencamp to guide us through looking at how everyday small things in life create the bigger picture. And I took a lighter turn with Paul Simon and Loudon Wainwright, though the latter may be some of the most insightful parenting lyrics ever written.

I turned to our trusted friends Fitz and the Tantrums for their usual upbeat sound, and because their May concert at Wolf Trap was one of the last date nights we had before the baby came. I tossed in a nod to some Montana-based friends with a Steve Winwood track, and kicked in a great instrumental number by the True Loves because, well, dancing is good for the soul.

A few tracks on here are reserved just for Ray Ray. They're easy to pick out.

Paul McCartney once called God Only Knows "the greatest song every written." I'll admit, it's difficult to listen to this song and not fall to pieces now that we've got this new member of the team looking at us.

As always, you can find this playlist on our Spotify station.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

John Lennon - Beautiful Boy

Júníus Meyvant - Color Decay

Michael Franti & Spearhead - Never Too Late

David Bowie - Kooks

Paul Simon - That Was Your Mother (feat. Good Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters)

Bob Marley and the Wailers - No Woman No Cry

Leon Bridges - Beyond

Chris Stapleton - Tennessee Whiskey

Steve Winwood - Higher Love

Fitz and the Tantrum - A Place For Us

The True Loves - The Derp (live at KEXP)

Amos Lee - Sweet Pea

Billy Bragg - Brickbat

Cat Stevens - Father and Son

Colin Meloy - Wonder

Loudon Wainwright III - Bein' A Dad

John Mellencamp - Check It Out

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows



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