Guardians of the Galaxy is the box office hit of the year, and the soundtrack album “Awesome Mix: Vol. 1” is selling like crazy, putting one-hit wonders like “Hooked on a Feeling” back on the charts, all of which raises the obvious question: What’s on Volume 2?
(SPOILER) In case you’re one of the three people who hasn’t seen it yet, the movie ends with Peter Quill, AKA “Star-Lord,” in possession of a second mix-tape from his late mom.
We’ve done a little speculating here at the ol’ BCBT and kicked around a few likely candidates, so here are our best guesses as to what Peter’s mom was likely to have put on the cassette for her little boy.
First some parameters: Peter was nine when he was taken from earth in 1988; we’re guessing that Meridith, his mom, was close to 30 when she passed away, which means she was probably born around 1960, give or take a couple of years either way. She grew up in a somewhat rural area, so most of the music she heard would have come from the radio, TV in the form of American Bandstand, Soul Train, Midnight Special, and other such programs, and whatever LP albums and 45s made it to the local store. Maybe she joined the Columbia Record Club or some such; in any case, she probably wasn’t hearing a lot of really obscure or experimental music; everything in the first collection was pretty mainstream.
Meredith’s taste is pretty easy to pin down; she likes a good beat and mildly funky rhythms, has an enormous capacity for romance, and occasionally leans to the cheesy, as shown by her selection of Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (the Pina Colada Song).” She seems to prefer upbeat songs, not really being one for melancholy. Most of her selections were either one-hit wonders, B-sides, or big hits that have since fallen by the wayside. These are songs that were important to her for some reason or another, that she wants to pass on to her son.
The time-frame is pretty narrow; she probably started paying attention to music somewhere around age 10, keeping up with it until she got pregnant in 1979; having a kid tends to separate one from a lot of current pop culture, not to mention cutting into the entertainment budget. So that gives us a window of approximately 1970 to 1980, with a little wiggle room on either side for songs that might have stood out more to her; we can extend it to about the 1967-1984 range.
Taking all that into consideration, here are some of our choices. We expect that Groot will shake a limb to at least a couple of them.
1. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
Like “Hooked on a Feeling,” this song has one of the most contagious earworm choruses ever recorded. It actually falls quite a ways outside our guidelines, since it was originally recorded in the 1930s; this version was recorded in 1961, but it’s a song that pops back into the public consciousness every few years. I remember it being back on the radio for a while around 1967, possibly a result of having been featured on some TV show or movie. It might have even been a tangential connection to the popular nature film, Born Free, which was about lions.
2. Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes – Edison Lighthouse
A one-hit wonder from 1970, this song feels a bit similar to the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way,” which came out two years later; they share some “power-pop” traits.
3. Band on the Run – Paul McCartney & Wings
Meredith was a little too young for the Beatles (she would have been in Kindergarten during the “British Invasion”), but she was just the right age for Wings, and the song is thematically perfect for the band of space-rogues that surrounds her son.
4. ’39 – Queen
If we’re choosing music of the ’70s, we have to include Queen, but let’s face it, their big hits have been played out. This rather neglected little ditty from 1975’s “A Night at the Opera” is actually about space travel and relativity, and obliquely reflects the original Guardians of the Galaxy storyline from the comic, in which an astronaut travels for a thousand years to a distant planet, only to discover when he gets there that faster-than-light interstellar travel was developed in the meantime and an entire colony has already grown up on the planet he was meant to explore.
5. I’ll Take You There – Staples Singers
This song lands in the soul-pop box right between “Ooh Child” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
6. Arizona – Mark Linsday
Mark Lindsay was the lead singer of ’60s group Paul Revere & the Raiders, and “Arizona” is something of a companion to that band’s anti-drug song “Kicks.”
7. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
There has to be a ballad in here somewhere, and Otis Redding’s soulful delivery is timeless.
8. Stray Cat Strut – The Stray Cats
Released in the US in 1982, this song barely squeezes into our time-frame, but it was in constant rotation on MTV, so Meredith must have known it, and it’s definitely the kind of fun happy-time song her son would love. She could include it for him, knowing he wouldn’t grasp the subtext for several years to come. Retro rockakbilly is almost as fun as the R&B that featured so prominently in Volume 1.
9. Danny’s All-Star Joint – Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones’ 1979 debut album has a lot of great songs on it, but “Danny’s All-Star Joint” is easily the most infectious of the lot. Though not as iconic as “Chuck E’s in Love,” it’s nonetheless exactly the sort of finger-snapping song that Peter would get into.
10. Levon – Elton John
We went back and forth on this one; we knew we wanted an early Elton John song, but couldn’t settle on one. Terri liked “Levon,” while I favored “Madman Across the Water;” ultimately, we settled on her choice mostly because we felt Peter would identify with it, especially the verse “And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus / Leaving Levon far behind / Take a balloon and go sailing / While Levon, Levon slowly dies.”
We’ve stopped at ten, but a standard cassette tape lasted 60 minutes (the 90 and 120 minute ones used a thinner tape that tended to jam up in a Walkman), so there’s room for another ten songs, more or less (and yes, we understand that technically, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I Want You Back” were both on the Volume 2 tape in the movie).
What are your choices? Post them in the comments below.