Coming to you in living color from the heart of the global communications network to the darkest recesses of your imagination, this is the Popdose Conceptual Theater of the Airwaves.
Pull down the screen inside your head. Open your ears.
Are you comfortable? Then let’s begin.
Close your eyes…
A long time ago, I threw together a one-shot playlist, sort of an imaginary soundtrack for the Harry Potter series — a selection of tunes that reminded me of particular characters or incidents from across the length and breadth of the seven books. It was fun to assemble, and people seemed to dig it, and it scratched a certain itch in my brain.
But, as always with the themed mixtapes, the biggest problem was that there were just so many great evocative songs, and I hated to winnow it down.
During 2012 my son started getting seriously into the Potter books, and we ending up reading a bunch of them together. This was my second go-round with them, since my older child read them years ago.
And I started to think, Man, wouldn’t it just be the most anal, ridiculous, obsessive-compulsive thing to make a themed mixtape for each one of these books, with songs hitting on particular plot points and characters? Seven mixtapes, one for each book. Man, you’d have to be some kind of sick, compulsive completist to do something like that. You’d have to be crazy.
. . .
It took me eight months.
And dozens of notebook pages, and countless hours on my MP3 editing program. Each of these mixes has been through at least a half-dozen iterations and revisions.
And now they’re done.
And I had to share them with someone. And I thought I might share them with you, the Popdose audience and staff. Because this is a safe place for pop culture-obsessed freaks like us. Because if anybody would understand the madness of this, it would be you.
So we’ll be sharing these mixes, one by one, over the next few months. We will revisit some of the tunes from the original playlist, but there will be much that is different and strange and new. Seven mixes, each containing over an hour of uninterrupted music, sometimes with sound montages, sometimes in homebrewed remixes and edits that you’re not going to hear anywhere else. You’ll find them here, a new one every fourth Thursday. You can give them a listen. If you want.
Or, y’know, stage an intervention. Either way.
Anyhow. Here’s the Popdose Conceptual Theater of the Airwaves, coming at you almost live…
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contains elements of Key To The Kingdom, Part One — Stephan Mathieu
Hedwig’s Theme [excerpt] — John Williams
Using something from the film soundtrack is a bit of a cheat, I suppose, but how could we not start off with this indelible tune? And has there ever been a composer with a repertoire of melodies quite so sticky?
Poor Innocent Boys — The Cazals
A kid living in a cupboard, and all his guardians can think of is how it reflects on them. Whatever will the neighbors say?
The Oaf — Big Wreck
That’s Rubeus Hagrid, to you.
Magic Place [excerpt] — Julianna Barwick
In which we get out first glimpse of Diagon Alley.
Doubleback Alley — The Rutles
There’s an alternate England, hidden behind the one you know, where things are similar, but twisted just to this side of strange.
Next Train — Miracle Fortress
Hogwarts Express, now departing from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
Red Haired Shake — Doug Cox
By the end of the series, virtually every character has been absorbed into the extended Weasley family. Here’s where we first meet them.
Clever Girls Like Clever Boys (Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls) — Pelle Carlberg
The everlasting dilemma of Miss Hermione Granger.
Witches Song — Julianna Hatfield
Welcome to Hogwarts. Welcome to the family. This is a cover of a Marianne Faithfull song; if you like movies about witches, you may remember it from The Craft.
Golden Lions — Johnny Warman
Here beginneth the Sorting. This one’s for Gryffindor — a little overblown, a little self-important, but a gutsy little rocker underneath it all.
The Badger [excerpt] — Connie Price
Fun fact: Badgers are funky, in the literal sense, and Hufflepuffs play as hard as they work.
The Twa Corbies — Steeleye Span
This folk song, written in broad Scots dialect, is a dialogue between two carrion-eating ravens as they ponder whom to eat next. That’s what being clever gets you.
Sombre Reptiles — Brian Eno
Slytherin House, of course. And it’s not a bad leitmotif for Snape, now I think of it.
Fly — Hilary Duff
When Harry first sits astride a broom and feels it tugging him off the ground.
Chemistry — The Butterfly Explosion
Well, alchemy, to be more precise.
Classroom Blues — Syd Dale
A vintage piece of fake jazz, from the soundtrack to the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon.
Theme from ”Harry’s Game” — Clannad
In this context, ”Harry’s game” would be Quidditch.
Hounds of Love — The Futureheads
A Kate Bush cover, here standing for the vicious three-headed dog that Hagrid calls ”Fluffy.”
Moves — New Pornographers
Dancing with the Moonlit Knight [excerpt] — Genesis
There’s an English tradition of dangerous night-time expeditions.
The Looking Glass — Dega Breaks
The Mirror of Erised.
Amethyst Magic [excerpt] — Portugal. The Man
For the finding of the Stone. This is part of a longer piece called It’s Complicated Being A Wizard, which could serve as a subtitle for the entire Harry Potter series.
Lose Face — The Fixx
What Professor Quirrell does, in the end.
The Teacher — Big Country
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin First Class, Hogwarts Headmaster.
Witchy Tai To — Harper’s Bizarre
It’s all nonsense, of course, except when it speaks to you.
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Zack will be back with you in two weeks’ time to cover William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”; I’ll see you next month. In the meantime, your comments and suggestions are always welcome.