The Serpico Mixes: Names- Practical

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally  Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)

I've been seeing red this week and now you get to, too.

I've been seeing red this week and now you get to, too.


Mix #8

Theme: Names- Practical

For those not in the know, my wife and I are expecting are next child and Skip, as my weekday Bronx ally, offered this mix to help us get started on naming the soon to be scion. Do feel free to use them to name your child (or new pet!) as well.

No, no, not that Baby Boy. (picture from

No, no, not that Baby Boy. (picture from

Yes! That baby boy! (picture from 

Yes! That baby boy! (picture from 


Winston Tastes Good, A Winston Cigarettes Jingle- I’m really hoping Skip isn’t suggesting I name my child Winston purely because of the cigarette brand. Maybe as an homage to The New Girl’s best character, I could accept, but not because of the cigarettes.

Musically speaking, is it any surprise that people loved cigarettes way back when with jingles this catchy?

Possibility of being chosen as the baby’s name: Low. It violates a few of the “acceptable” names criteria that have been established by us.

Murray by Pete Yorn- When this one started I was convinced it was a Mellencamp song and I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly detached from their sockets.

(I kid. Mellencamp is great…if you’ve never heard of Springsteen and/or feel like most Americana isn’t nearly bleak and depressing enough as it is.)

However, it isn’t Mellencamp (Cougar to his friends) and it is good. It never stops recalling some the Coug’s offerings but the arrangements are much lusher and the content feels a bit…ugh, will you hate me if I just say better? Because it isn’t exactly deep, but the lyrics just strike me in a superior way.

Possibility of being chosen: Unless my son is born in his 70’s, this is a no go.

Roland by Interpol- Does this sound a bit like most other Interpol tracks? It sure does! Is that a bad thing? It certainly is not! As keeping in the proud Stevens tradition though, the musical noodling (dare I call it jamming?) that kicks in at 2:30 and lasts til around through the end is not appreciated. It just recycles the musical themes already laid out in the song and fails to offer a compelling reason to why it should be there adding another minute to what could’ve been a muscly under 3 minute offering.

Possibility of being chosen: Not high but not low either.

Jerome by Lykke Li- A classic torch song in structure and message. The team of Lyyke Li nicely sinks it into a nicely modern piece of music (complete with what has to be a woodblock!). Perhaps it does not break much by way of new ground but it just works.

It should be noted that this also ends in a bit of musical “exploration” that starts at 3:11 and runs through the end of the song, but I minded it far less as it stood better musically on its own and broke new ground within the context of the song.

Possibility of being chosen: See Murray above. Also, if we were going to go with a name that could be shortened to “Jerry” it would be Gerald after my Gramp.

Dudley by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs- I find myself wondering who is being sung to here. At one point, the lead singer intones to the unseen recipient, “Well love nearly beat us,” which makes it sound like she is commiserating with a fellow heartbroken individual. The rest of the song, however, seems to be directed to a heartbreaker. So…

Ok, ok, while I really do wonder about this, I am also just adding some lines so I don’t just end up saying, “I like it.” But, you know, I like it.

Possibility of being chosen: Unless my son will be born in his 70’s and old, this is a no.

Lewis (Mistreated) by Radiohead- I sometimes forget Radiohead made music like this. I wouldn’t mind them making it a little more often.

Possibility of being chosen: I don’t like the flow of Lewis Stevens, those royals just named this child Louis, and friends of ours have a child with the name too. Different spelling or not, it’s not happening.

Jamie by Weezer- This is definitely Weezer singing a tribute song to their attorney. I’m not sure on what criteria you judge that sort of thing, but I feel like, in this very small subgenre, they have probably produced the best offering.

Possibility of being chosen: No derivatives of James are in consideration.

Theodore by Ghostface Killah- It’s weird, my friend Tim’s personal motto is also “I’m a little dude but I hold guns the size of Europe.”

Yeah, that’s my favorite line.

Possibility of being chosen: Ted, maybe. Theodore, unlikely.

Jeremy by Pearl Jam- You don’t need me to tell you this is an awesome song, right?

Possibility of being chosen: It’s not bad.

Flynn by Ratatat- So…that hapenned.

Possibility of being chosen: I like it a lot. I suspect I’d be alone in this view at home though.

Malcolm by Ghostface Killah- A song that starts off with Denzel as Malcolm X has my attention. Of the two Killah songs, I prefer this one. The lyrics are not as adventurous, arguably, but the content is stronger, in my opinion.

Possibility of being chosen: Slim. But I don’t hate it…

Hudson by Vampire Weekend- Suggesting a name in a song when said name is linked to a dead man almost immediately is perhaps not the best argument for said name. On its own merits though, I like this Weekend offering. Different for them, definitely, and though I like their usual sound I also appreciate that they did a story song set over, predominantly, a rolling snare drum and intercut with the “moaning chorus.” Almost more Decemberists than themselves here.

Possibility of being chosen: I think Hudson is a good and unique but not too unique name that will not be in consideration.

Willie by Cat Power- Cat Power post-Eurythmics Annie Lennox is the first thought that I had with this one. It does not hold up over the course of the song but my affection for it did. A very pretty offering.

Possibility of being chosen: No. No diminutive forms of names, thanks.

Gilbert by Calexico- Even when the crowd is not cheering, this song feels live. There’s a sense of immediacy to it, the openness of the sound conveys the size of the venue. I cannot remember being as aware of a track being live without crowd noise as I was this one.

I don’t think I am familiar with Calexico, but I like this offering. Will definitely look out for them in the future.

Possibility of being chosen: No, no, no.

Tyrone by Erykah Badu- The album version of this song is fun. The live version, with the pop the audience gives certain favorite moments, is a blast. I don’t want to diminish the album version, but if someone ever wants to know which “Tyrone” they should seek out, it’s this one.

Possibility of being chose: Yes. Love it.

Ben by Michael Jackson- I like a lot of Michael Jackson’s music. I do not like this song. It’s cloying and childish and misses the opportunity to give it a little darkness which is especially odd given that Ben was a song written for a movie about a murderous rat. The lyrics indicate some pathos, at least, but the song does not sell it for me.

Possibility of being chosen: We just know too many.

Jonathan by Fiona Apple- A little dirge-y for my taste, it still has the benefits of Apple’s voice and songwriting. “Just tolerate my little fist tugging on your forest chest,” is so wonderfully evocative. It’s just too bad the song never seems to get out of second gear.

Possibility of being chosen: My dad’s name. I love him but we don’t want to favor any of our four father figures.

Abraham by Sufjan Stevens- I’m so used to Stevens Christmas songs that this song, especially given its biblical allusions, immediately put me in that mindset. To be clear, this is not a Christmas song. It just felt like one to me. There is a Jesus is coming reference too though so if you are short on your Christmas mix, you can maybe try to sneak this one in.

Possibility of being chosen: He almost killed his son, right? Yeah, that’s not gonna work for me.

Jim by Ryan Adams- Adams at his twangiest is not my kind of Adams and that’s what we have here.

Possibility of being chosen: See Jaime entry above. Also, rhymes with my name and that would suck.