Dead End Friends — a playlist by Mad Mad Mad
Vibe out to dreamy jams with Mad Mad Mad
featuring artists like
Miguel • Washed Out • Mark Ronson • The War On Drugs • Jai Paul • Ray Lamontagne • The 1975 • El Guincho
About this playlist
I made this playlist as a way to build up reference tracks for the song that would become “Dead End Friends.” The goal from the start was to pick songs that I loved, that I would want to listen to, and to write a song that would fit in among those. Many of these songs share the same dreamy qualities, electric guitars and open space between notes like the blue sky in between clouds, beauty and discontent, ambition and patience all wrapped into one. I make a lot of these playlists just to be sure I have a baseline sound when I am writing. That way I can’t wander too far from my influences, because I have excellent references keeping my writing in line. This is one of the rare playlists I came to love listening to on its own, because it never felt like work.
In many ways this playlist is as aspirational as the song I wrote to fit onto it. It contains songs by many of my longtime musical heroes, David Bowie and D’angelo, Frank Ocean and El Guincho, Mark Ronson and Funkadelic… “Dead End Friends” is a song that begs for belonging among the greats, and this playlist was the best (or only) way I could put it there. There is often a misconception among those waiting for success, that if you only knew the right people, if only you had better friends, you would be able to achieve the things you have always wanted to achieve. The misconception insists that success demands better friends, and that your dead end, or unsuccessful, friends will keep you stuck at the bottom. I set out to write a song that would challenge that idea, and point instead towards the idea that the bottom is a place you might miss someday. The people who love you when you are nobody are ones who will stand by you in spite of what you eventually become. And really, if you’re all stuck at the bottom, aren’t you all equal in being dead ends?
In the middle of COVID I went to celebrate a friend’s birthday at an outdoor picnic high up on a hill in East LA. It was late Autumn, and all of us were exhausted, from being inside for so many months, from loneliness, from staring at computer screens all day. Even among musicians, everybody was burned out on music. We felt like we had nothing to listen to with so many releases being cancelled that year. I put this playlist on that day. The skies were blue and the sun was warm through the thin November air. We drank champagne, ate cheeses and jams, and lay out in the grass. We wasted an afternoon, and I wouldn’t have traded that wasted afternoon for any number of successes. This playlist will forever take me back to that hilltop, watching gophers poke their heads out of their holes, laughing with friends for the first time in so long, watching the sun set behind the silhouettes of palm trees across the highway, going home to my little apartment with the smell of sunshine on my skin, and thinking of all of the people who could do nothing to help me but make me smile, and laugh, and feel at ease, like myself. There aren’t many deep cuts here, aside from “Dead End Friends” itself, but these are dreamy songs that you may love. I hope it will someday soundtrack one perfectly wasted afternoon.
follow Mad Mad Mad
about the artist — Mad Mad Mad
Mad Mad Mad is the artist project of LA-based music producer John Moran. John is a professional musician and artist, and loves sharing music with strangers. Do you want to share music? Please get in touch – he listens to everything. Here’s a snippet from his bio: “I started playing music as a little kid. I went to a Jewish preschool and a Catholic grade school, and I would sing little made-up songs into a plastic tape recorder about my nebulous mixed-up version of ‘God’ that all of my teachers would have surely thought were sacrilegious. I was obsessed with the beach boys and the beatles as a toddler, and driving to school, I’d make my dad listen through all the commercials on the oldies stations just to get to the songs that were overplayed when he was a kid. I hope to someday make an album of modern classics, new songs written in a style so outdated that nobody will like them, and market them to all three kids across the country that were just like me in the second grade, and had strong opinions about Phil Spector deciding not to switch to stereo.