Synesthetic Sound


Splotchy asked for contributors to another playlist, and I was able to volunteer in time to get my suggestions included in the official list.

He called it "ROYGBIV" for reasons explained here. The rules specified that the title of each selection had to contain a color, and that color could not be duplicated in any other song title.

Some participants followed the ROYBGIV color scheme rigidly. Not me--I tried to broaden the palette. The full list is here.

I sorta had a hard time with this, because I realized that a bunch of songs that do not have colors in the title still evoke colors for me. "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna is bright blue. "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince is bright orange. "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" by the Smiths is a very deep pink, occasionally bleeding into burgundy. This is the only tinge of synesthesia I have, a gift I have always envied. It made me feel slightly better about myself to realize that at least music is a multi-sensory experience for me.

Anyway. Here are my offerings:

Cocteau Twins--Pink Orange Red (who knows what it means? Most CT songs are incomprehensible)
Depeche Mode--Black Celebration (More doom and gloom from one of the world's best purveyors of it)
Spandau Ballet--Gold (Complete over-the-top 80s cheese, sung by a guy with a great voice)
Elvis Costello--Green Shirt (Had to go with this one over "Red Shoes")
The Real Tuesday Weld--On Lavender Hill (Sample lines: "hey babe, did you tell him about the time I was impotent?")
The Real Tuesday Weld--Dorothy Parker Blue (Sample lines: "Dorothy Parker found the truce, the alchemy of ink and booze.... Dorothy Parker lost the plot, ran out of words, but so what? Dorothy Parker made you feel like--someone")
Moody Blues--Nights in White Satin (God, the sheer operatic pathos of it all! It's so intense!)


Steely Dan--Deacon Blues
Elvis Costello--Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes
Tears for Fears--Who Killed Tangerine?
Trash Can Sinatras--Orange Fell
Book of Love--Yellow Sky
The Cure--Purple Haze (because I always love a good cover)
David Bowie--Red Sails
Tilly and the Wall--Black and Blue
Goldfrapp--Crystalline Green

My suggestion for making future playlists even more fun: offer some highly desirable but unspecified prize (like, vague praise and congratulations) for winning some competition involving vague and highly subjective rules (as in, you just decide what you like best, and then justify giving it a prize).

For instance, I think I deserve a prize for including a song that has THREE COLORS IN THE TITLE. I deserve a prize for having songs as cheesy but still marvelous as "Gold" and "Nights in White Satin." (And the videos! Don't miss the videos!) I deserve a prize for covering the black and white world, without including that E Costello song. And I totally deserve a prize for including the great songs by The Real Tuesday Weld, an artist everyone should rush out and support, though unfortunately I couldn't find decent versions of the songs to link to.

I also thought about doing an all Prince list. It would be easy:

Purple Rain
Little Red Corvette
Scarlet Pussy
Pink Cashmere
Computer Blue
Raspberry Beret
Cinnamon Girl

There are probably others not in my library.

I also couldn't help thinking of themes for playlists of my own. Given that the Oscars are tomorrow, I would have gone with a Red Carpet playlist--songs with the names of movie stars in them, or, in a pinch, just some famous person, in the title. But perhaps Splotchy has done that one already.

Still, I might be asking for suggestions for playlists here from time to time.


Brilliant ideas and colours! I'm still listening to the Real Tuesday Weld tunes and enjoying them oh arbiter of good taste!

Glad you like RTW, Dale. That's definitely an artist to pay attention to.

A nice thoughtful post regarding your selections, and colors in general!

Hmmm, a prize. I don't know. I'll haveta think about that one.

I'm not sure if you're aware, but participation in 3 of these mixes makes you a "Green Monkey Master", and entitles you to helm your own mix (your choice of theme, # of participants, etc.). It seems like you might have a lot of fun doing it.

Pretty cool how certain songs evoke colors for you -- I can't say that has ever happened to me, but it sounds like a neat experience.

I was reading and listening again, loved your inclusion of runners up. Fun, fun!

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on February 21, 2009 5:19 PM.

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