John McBlair is an English teacher and debate coach at M-A. Entering his classroom, students greet refreshing music playing through SMART Board speakers and a happily dancing McBlair. Dropping into see him at lunch one day, I discovered the music that inspires his martial arts moves, keeps him focused while grading papers, and even makes him eager to fold laundry. “It’s always in the background,” he said. So what’s the playlist that keeps him “energized, calm, contemplative” while cooking, driving, washing dishes, etc?

Cooking Dinner: “Mr. Magic (Through the Smoke)” by Amy Winehouse and “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis

Grading Papers: “Everything in its Right Place” by Radiohead

Reflecting on his playlist, McBlair remembers what “kicked off [his] love for music.” He was sixteen, and at his after school debate practice he discovered a CD called “Radiohead Amnesiac.”It took me about a minute to know it was the coolest thing I had ever heard,” he said. To this day, Radiohead’s “inventive, deep, angry, vulnerable” music make it his favorite band.

Falling Asleep Song: “Guilty Cubicles” by Broken Social Scene

“Listen to it about five times in a Zzzzzz.”

Doing Laundry: “Fashion Killa” by A$AP Rocky

If He Were Writing a Novel: “I’m Writing a Novel” by Father John Misty

Noisy Airplane: “1/2 – 2004 Digital Remaster” by Brian Eno

“I listen to this to help me keep my cool.”

Road Trip Song: “Africa” by Toto

Long drives can be a tedious task for McBlair. “I often get together a good playlist before I drive anywhere,” he said.

Martial Arts Song: “Killing in the Name-Remastered” by Rage Against the Machine

Best Sing Along: “Say it Ain’t So” by Weezer

Wake-up/Alarm: “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

Song That Defines Him Best: “Where is my Mind?” by Pixies

Stranded in the Middle of Nowhere: “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Bob Dylan

“I love music for its ability to transport me. Put on the right song, and I’m 17 again, in my first car, and on my way to the beach.”

Washing Dishes: “This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads

Taking a Shower: “Pizza Guy” by Touch Sensitive

Friday Night Party Song: “Colourblind” by Les Loups

Walking the Dog: “The Only Place” by Best Coast

“I’m convinced that when I play this song, my dog knows we’re going to the beach.”

Guilty Pleasure: “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus

Most Depressing Song He Has Heard: “Angel in the Snow” by Elliott Smith

“Perfect for when you’re feeling blue, and I love most all his music. But this song hurts particularly.”

Favorite Song: “Loro” by Pinback

Loro’s “subtle and interesting” melody makes it McBlair’s favorite song. The members of the band, Pinback, were also born in his childhood hometown, San Diego, by the ocean. “The first time I heard it was in the background of a surfing video my friend made for a class,” he recalled. “It reminds me of the ocean, and I can and have listened to it for hours.”

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