In the Rotation: Professors’ Music Recommendations


Sometimes, it seems like professors and students are speaking different languages, but what about the “universal language” of music? In this edition of In the Rotation, Derek Beaven and John Wyatt talk to some of their favorite Centre professors to find out what they’re listening to these days.

Lisa Williams

Favorite artists: Cat Power, Heartless Bastards, Fiona Apple, Nina Nastasia, The Roots, PJ Harvey, White Stripes, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, Del McCoury Band, Amadou and Mariam, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole Trio.

Fond music memories: “I think my first concert may have been Iron Maiden. No, that’s not right; it was Rush. I was a sophomore in high school and was taken to it by a group of friends. Rush used to come to Nashville once a year or thereabouts … The best concert I ever saw was Jane’s Addiction on the “Nothing’s Shocking” tour. I still think that’s a sublime album. I feel lucky to have seen them at the time and place that I did.”

Currently listening to: “In the last six months or so I’ve loved new albums by Valerie June, Fatoumata Diawara, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Alt J, Shovels and Rope, Hard Working Americans, Warpaint, [and] Alsarah and the Nubatones.”

Recommendations: “If you’ve never listened to/heard of Portishead, I highly recommend them. They only have three albums, plus a live one … My favorites are the first two [albums]. There is nothing like their second album, just called Portishead.”

Christian Haskett

Favorite artists: The Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band.

Fond music memories: “A few big moments stick out in my memories of the Grateful Dead … My first show, at Madison Square Garden, in 1992. It was just magical. Then Edie Brickell sat in for the end of the second set, which was pretty special … A string of shows in Buckeye Lake, OH, in a total downpour, followed by a real winner in Palace at Auburn Hills, outside Detroit, and then Giants Stadium … Second date with my wife, Maggie, she showed me her collection of about 300 classic live shows on tape (this was before the internet took over) and I asked her, ‘So, do you wanna just go ahead and get married right now?’… I put my first two kids to sleep every night for about eight years singing them Grateful Dead songs. They now will perk up and sing along sometimes, and I’m always a little surprised. I’m looking forward to singing to Babyman soon, too.”

Currently listening to: “My two-year-old has crammed about $.50 in change into my CD player in my VW, so lately I have to whack my stereo Fonzie-style just to get the radio to work, and then I get to listen to NPR. Plus, I knocked my antenna off a few years ago putting a canoe on the roof, and then taped it back on with hockey tape, so my reception sucks. In the car, it’s NPR.”

Recommendations: “I think a playlist of my favorite songs, to which I can pay little attention but still enjoy, absolutely moved me through my dissertation. I’m not afraid to listen to Ellie Goulding or Taylor Swift, though I will blame it on my daughter. It also pays to be chummy with [junior] Logan Pauley; I was his advisor for about four days once, and every email he sent had a YouTube link to some weird band or other. He and [sophomore] Jacob Harrison are good for that kind of stuff.”

Stacey Peebles

Favorite artists: Paul Simon and Jack White.

Fond music memories: “[Paul] Simon’s album Graceland came out in 1986, when I was in fifth grade. I didn’t know much about music (or anything!) back then, but I loved it, and loved how different it sounded than anything else that I had heard before. I remember thinking that Graceland must be a place in Africa. When I figured out that it wasn’t, I was fascinated by how Simon was blending African and American music and stories.”

Currently listening to: “Lisa Williams turned me on to Shovels and Rope. They’re terrific.”

Recommendations: “I really hope Jack White plays a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville this summer. I’m sure Jack reads the Cento, so maybe this will convince him.”

Sarah Egge

Favorite artists: Shinedown

Fond music memories: “On my long drives between college and my parent’s house, I listened to Shinedown’s album Leave A Whisper so loud that my ears rang for awhile after I got home. In graduate school, I became a DJ for the university’s alternative radio station. I grew to enjoy bands like the Black Keys, Blitzen Trapper, the Dead Weather, Mumford & Sons, the Kills, and Fitz & the Tantrums. When I was writing my dissertation (and at the risk of revealing my weird musical tastes), I had to listen to pop music to keep writing. I listened to a lot of artists like Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Pink, and Lady Gaga. Actually, I still do. The last song that played on my iTunes radio was ‘#SELFIE.’ Wow.”

Currently listening to: “I listen to a lot of iTunes radio now. I enjoy the alternative station, but I switch around depending on my mood. I don’t have a favorite artist at the moment.”

Recommendations: “My musical tastes shift depending on what I’m doing (running, reading, driving, etc.), and I don’t limit myself to one type of musical style. I recommend, then, that we spend less time letting music define us according to narrow options and choose music that reflects us at a certain time or moment. My musical tastes have changed over time, and I’d like to think it’s a good thing that I have branched out and listen to a variety of styles.”

Kyle Anderson

Favorite artists: “Growing up, my favorite artists were They Might Be Giants and Green Day.”

Fond music memories: “Earliest memories are of protest and folk rock, Peter, Paul & Mary (which I still sing to my girls before bed).”

Currently listening to: “The National. I discovered them through my brother-in-law a few years ago.”

Recommendations: “For some grit: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. For some chills: Priscilla Ahn. For some thrills: ‘Lungi Dance’ by Honey Singh.”


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