Just over a year ago, Paul Miller came to my house for dinner. He already knew he was going to leave the internet for a year, though he hadn't announced it — to the internet — yet. We talked about music, something we've talked about a lot in the five or so years that I've known him. He was worried about, and excited by, the prospect of getting new music while off of the internet, which seemed understandable.
At some point, we started talking about music production, and I mentioned that one of my favorite songs production-wise is "In the Air Tonight," by Phil Collins. I won't go into all the reasons I love "In the Air Tonight," because there are so many we'd be here for a while, and nobody has that kind of time on the internet. But my favorite thing, far and away, about the song is that through the second verse, before the drums kick in, Phil recorded a quiet, almost unrecognizably low vocal, where he "talks" along with the lyrics. You have to be in the right place at the right time to hear it — I listened to the song for probably 20 years before I ever noticed it (tip: use headphones). When you do hear it, it's shocking and creepy, which is probably the desired effect. So there in my living room, Paul Miller laid down on the floor next to a speaker to see if he could hear it. I can't remember if he was successful or not.
Before he left that night, I promised to make him a playlist on Rdio of other favorite songs of mine. Making playlists used to be something I spent hours at in my bedroom as a teenager — back when making a CD was a seriously time-consuming process. So I went about making this playlist for Paul with care. I knew he'd only have a few days to listen to it before the internet was inaccessible to him, so I wanted it to be special. I had a big idea about posting it on The Verge, and burning it on a CD to mail to him, but for one reason or another that never happened.
Over the past year, I've sent Paul a letter or two, a postcard here and there. I've emailed him when bored. I've tweeted at him more than I should admit, because, like tweeting at Horse_ebooks, I knew there was no chance, not even 1 percent, of getting a reply. Tonight at midnight, Paul will return to the internet after one year away, and I'm happy to finally share the playlist that I made for Paul last year.
Welcome back, buddy. Now answer my email.
Check out Paul's return live, tonight.
- In the Air Tonight Phil Collins
- The 15th Wire
- No Tan Lines Pavement
- Andy Warhol David Bowie
- Constant Future Parts & Labor
- The Hoopers of Hudspeth Kaki King
- The She The Breeders
- Terrible Angels Charlotte Gainsbourg
- Now to War Guided by Voices
- I'm a Man Pulp
- Shake the Shackles Crystal Stilts
- Ironclad Sleater-Kinney
- In it for the Money Supergrass
- Back to Gray The Thermals
- Playgirl Ladytron
- Walk Away Renee The Left Banke
- Save the Last DanceThe Walkmen
- Taking Tiger Mountain Brian Eno