Doctor David Lerner is an assistant professor for the Visual and Performing Arts, Television, and Media Department. His interest in music began, as most people’s does, by listening to what his parents would play in the house; in his case, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Then he began to develop his own taste in music with his greatest influence being his older sister. Accredited to her belonging to Generation X, Lerner’s sister would constantly introduce him to indie bands such as Tuscadero, Unrest and Liz Phair while she was in high school and she would always bring him signed memorabilia from any shows she attended. It was from this that his interest in music that “did not necessarily play on the radio” began.
Later, as a junior at the University of Maryland, Lerner became involved in his school radio show. While he never had a prime-time spot – at one point airing from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. — he loved the experience. Especially when he was able to be one of the first to listen to newly released albums. With this experience in mind and with a list of favorite music a mile long, Lerner had a difficult time selecting which music to recommend and decided to pick songs that fit the theme of ‘Escape.’ Songs that expressed the feeling of needing to leave a place and being unsure of what the future has in store or if a return trip would ever occur.
“Sloop John B”- Beach Boys (1966)
“When I was first listening to this song with my family, it came off as very innocent — a song about a boat trip gone wrong. Then I was listening to it later and noticed that under the bubblegum surface it was more complex with many subtle layers of darkness — including references to the counter culture in the line, ‘This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.’”
“Street People” – Bobby Charles (1972)
“This is a song about a wanderer. The speaker of the lyrics is wandering from town to town, commenting that there are people who would rather work and that society needs people to work, but that he does not want to. Instead, he is fine with continuing to walk and live his life on the streets with the other ‘Street People.’”
“Streets of Baltimore” – Gram Parsons (1973)
“This song is also very much about the counterculture. Just like ‘Sloop John B’ it seems very innocent on the outside — like any traditional western country song that you would hear. But if you listened closer it was not the normal song sung by a white guy in a cowboy hat. It has a darker message to it where it talks about drugs and sex and that was something that, during the time it was released, country music didn’t do yet.”
“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen (1975)
“This is my karaoke go-to. It’s about youth, passion and vitality. About escaping to an unknown destination with someone you love and living.”
“Don’t Let our Youth go to Waste” – Galaxie 500 (1988)
“This is a cover, the original was completely acapella. This song is about basking in youth, wanting more and about taking what the world has to offer.”
“Summer’s Here, Kids” – Grandaddy (1997)
“This song is a bit funny. It’s about kids who go on a vacation, but they hate it and just do not want to be there. One line is the kids on this trip reading a travel brochure which says that they’re going to have a ‘good time’ but they aren’t and the entire vacation is just horrible.”
“FloriDada”- Animal Collective (2016)
“This song has the campfire feel of a lot of the best Animal Collective tracks, with the vocalists in the group chanting the lyrics over each other in a rapid fire rhythm while drums pulse in the background. Unlike some of the others on this playlist, it’s not about escaping from home or to an unfamiliar world, but in transforming the diverse spaces of the world into one whirling tapestry – what they call the ‘everywhere world.’”