Planner’s Playlist

By Jo Kwon

After the long Labor Day weekend, looking for some motivational playlist to get back to planning? Angles have created a Planner’s Playlist. All of the recommendations were from DCRP planners or soon-to-be planners. If you are not in the mood for music, check out some of our favorite urbanist (or urbanist-adjacent) podcasts and featured episodes from last week’s post.

1) Suburban Home by Descendents

I wanna be stereotyped
I wanna be classified
I wanna be a clone
I want a suburban home, suburban home

I like “Suburban Home” for its honesty. As planners, we talk about some very radical ideas sometimes, but most of us are ultimately going to be in the business of fostering stability for others. It reminds me not to take myself too seriously and to not be embarrassed by contradiction!

2) The Garden-City by Joel Ansett

Listen to her from the subway to the sky.
And telling you, that every roads a fork.
Leading tour, one Garden City or another.
The question stands – Which one is New York.

If this world never dies
It will all be blessed or cursed,
And if there’s any place worth saving.
Oh God, Save New York first

I like the song because it mentions Ebenezer Howard’s garden city movement and idealizes New York City. Listeners without knowledge of the garden city will still get to know that it is related to New York City, which also makes it educational.

3) Baltimore by Nina Simone
Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to
There ain’t nothin’ here for free

“City” is in the song. It’s a banger, and Nina Simone is a North Carolina native.

4) Brave New World by Iron Maiden

Dying to tell you the truth
You are planned and you are damned
In this brave new world

The most obvious part is the line that mentions, “You are planned and you are damned in this brave new world.” But it is more about planning societies than cities. The song is about social control and is based on Aldous Huxley’s book.

5) Katmandu by Cat Stevens

Katmandu, I’ll soon be seeing you

And your strange, bewildering time

Will keep me home

It’s about a city that’s mostly seen as an escape from life in other cities. Reminiscent of the hippie’s era. I like it because it’s a song that plays in my head when I go back home o the same city. Another similar song, a different style is Kathmandu by Bob Seger. Probably more popular. It’s also good, but I like the acoustic texture of the Cat Stevens song that feels more like the Kathmandu I know and have heard stories about.

6) Whiteys on the Moon by Gil Scott-Heron

The man just upped my rent last night.
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)

I wonder why he’s uppi’ me?
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
I was already payin’ ‘im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)

The song is a reminder of the sins of the postwar technocracy. I admire the confidence and power of planners and policymakers in general of that era, but it’s good to keep in mind who got mulched in the name of progress.

7) Spiral Architect by Black Sabbath

Laughter giving, love is showing
Me the way
Spiral building architect
I build, you pay

Of all the things I value most of all
I look upon my Earth
And feel the warmth
And know that it is good

I remembered this one so quickly because we did this exercise in college when I was studying architecture. I interpret it as explaining the thinking process of a futuristic architect/planner who is not happy with the current ways of the world and how it is very mechanical, so he believes his way is better and more humanistic. But, it also indicates that he is very sure of himself and knows best for everyone, which is also dangerous.

For the full playlist, please see below:

What else should be added to the playlist? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

Jo (Joungwon) Kwon is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of City and Regional Planning. She is interested in using visuals in plans, specifically in environmental planning. She has been a part of CPJ since 2019. With a background in Statistics and English Literature, she received her M.A. in Computational Media at Duke University. In her free time, she enjoys watching indie films, going to live performances, and drinking good coffee.

Featured image: Planner’s Playlist by ANGLES

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