failures-in-life-boy-studying

That’s the low-pressure sales tactic on this 1950s reply card (for the Great Books of the Western World series) which has been kicking around among my possessions for years.

GreatBooksA

GreatBooksB

Since its original size was so reminiscent of a cassette tape J-card insert, I decided to reformat it into one as a gift to those of you who still make mixtapes. Click here to download it as a single-sided, 300 dpi jpeg.

Naturally my thoughts turned to what songs might belong on a mix with the theme of “How to Keep Your Children from Becoming Failures In Life.” But since songs about ultra-responsible parenting would probably cloy quickly (plus, let’s face it, such portraits are probably relatively rare in rock music) I’ve assembled—in two 45-minute suites, like a C90 cassette—a collection of cautionary tales: of parents and guardians who are trying their best in their very flawed way, who are failing outright, or who aren’t there at all; of children and charges who’ve been let down or damaged by the ones they depended on, who’ve not lived up to expectations, who’d restore frayed relations if they only knew how, or who’ve simply ended up as failures.

Of course the recently-deceased Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” was one of the first that sprang to mind (so long, Merle), so he’s up front by way of tribute; and I ended on a positive note, hopeful that the cautionary examples will have paid off to the burgeoning parent. Click the embedded player below in this post to play or to view the playlist on Mixcloud.

Side A:

  1. Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried”
  2. Ben Folds, “Still Fighting It”
  3. Pretenders, “Kid”
  4. Camper Van Beethoven, “When I Win The Lottery”
  5. The Temptations, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”
  6. XTC, “Hold Me My Daddy”
  7. Ramones, “We’re A Happy Family”
  8. Talking Heads, “Stay Up Late”
  9. Fun Boy Three, “Well Fancy That”
  10. Lost In The Trees, “We Burn The Leaves”
  11. Blur, “Jubilee”
  12. Prefab Sprout, “Moving The River”
  13. Harry Chapin, “Cat’s In The Cradle”

Side B:

  1. John Lennon, “Mother”
  2. De La Soul, “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”
  3. Michelle Shocked, “Prodigal Daughter (Cotton Eyed Joe)”
  4. Sondre Lerche, “I Cannot Let You Go”
  5. Steely Dan, “What A Shame About Me”
  6. French Frith Kaiser Thompson, “Killing Jar”
  7. Ben Folds Five, “Regrets”
  8. Joni Mitchell, “Little Green”
  9. David Bowie, “Kooks”

What songs would you include on the theme? Alternately, that title could just be a good excuse to make your kid a mixtape of really awesome music.