This week’s “Heard it through the GrapeVINE” spotlight is professor Shawn Rafalski, an associate mathematics professor here at Fairfield. In addition to the math classes that he teaches, Rafalski is involved in the Honors Program, co-lecturing one of the two sections of ‘Ideas that Shaped the West’ for this semester.

“Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd – He describes it as “a surround sound version of walking through a world we don’t understand.” Classic rock is a big influence on his life and he enjoys the song because it represents a time when rock ‘n’ roll cut loose and started to explore.

“String Quartet No.5” written by Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet – “It is simultaneously chaotic and calm. It’s mathematical and controlled, but beautiful. The genre of minimalist modern classical music is experimental and brilliant, pushing the boundaries of what we think of as pleasant and musical.”

“Love on a Real Train” by Tangerine Dream – Whenever he needs energy, be it for grading, finishing a task or working, the song’s energy and subtle passion help him in accomplishing his work. “Tangerine Dream scored so many movies from my youth.  Perfect mood music.”

“Tropicalia” by Beck – To him, Beck transcends genre; “Musically, he’s stellar. Lyrically, he is a genius.” He enjoys that the song references classical tropical jazz and other Latin and Cuban music.

“Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, performed by the New York Philharmonic – “This is one of the 20th century classical/jazz performances of all time. Whimsical, melodic, passionate and amazing. It’s about a journey through a fantasy and worth every minute.”

“Roxanne (Live)” by The Police – Rafalski enjoys the live version of The Police classic from the album, “Certifiable.” “The Police were huge when I was younger. This song, of course, is familiar to most people, but this version is a great example of what this band was like live; incorporating other songs of theirs into a cool jazz-like composition that goes on forever. Completely different and better than the radio hit everyone knows; this is 1980s rock, pure and simple.”

“Karmacoma (The Napoli Trip)” by Massive Attack – “This song is awesome, weird and rhythmic.” To him, Massive Attack is one of the progenitors of the trip hop genre. “The Italian in the song makes it fantastic.”

Check out Professor Rafalski’s playlist on The Mirror’s Spotify @thefairfieldmirror

Do you want to be featured in the GrapeVINE? Please email a list of 5-7 of your favorite songs and also a picture of yourself that we can use for the column to

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