My Very Own “Awesome Mix”

If you follow our social media feeds, you know that J and I are all about Guardians of the Galaxy. J has cosplayed as Rocket Raccoon one day of almost all conventions that we’ve attended. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 ten times before the premier of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and J has even curated his own “Awesome Mix” with his iPad on my Spotify account. To celebrate the digital release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, I was asked to create an “Awesome Mix” of songs that have shaped my life and have inspired me.

This playlist was hard for me to make because there are so many songs that have shaped my life. When I was a kid, I wanted a career in the industry as either a rock star or a talent scout for a record label. My parents raised us on every genre of music they could from country to rock and everything in between. We listened to show tunes, classical, mariachi, and banda. They had their favorites, but they wanted my brothers and I to develop our own taste in music. My playlist started as my top 10 favorite songs, it then stretched to 20 songs, and finally rounded out to a cool 30 songs.

I would like to think that after Peter listened to Awesome Mix Vol 1,  Meredith (his mother) sat down with him and explained her reasons for putting those specific songs on her mix. And, she probably would have done the same with Awesome Mix Vol 2 had she survived her cancer. So, like any parent wanting to share something they love, please click here to listen to the playlist and read along while I explain why I chose the songs for “James’ Awesome Mix”.

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  1. Superstition by Stevie Wonder: Superstition gets me to that place. Any time I’m feeling like something can’t be done, I turn on this track and just let the arrangement go straight to my veins. I always feel like I can accomplish anything after listening to this song.
  2. La Bamba by Ritchie Valens: Ritchie Valens was an inspiration for me as a young latino wanting to be a musician. He showed that at times when the racial divide was so great, a young latino man could cross a racial barrier and be successful.
  3. Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang: I’ve always loved Rapper’s Delight, but it became a special song in my life. I didn’t always have the greatest relationship with my step mom, and that was always on me. She always tried to make a connection, but I would just put up a wall. Long story short, those walls came down and my step mom and I have a great relationship. This song is on my mix because this is her jam.
  4. Oye Como Va by Carlos Santana: Carlos Santana, what can I say? Santana has been a major inspiration in me wanting to play guitar. This man is pure skill and I couldn’t have a mix without a Santana song.
  5. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix: One of the most influential guitarist of all time. Jimi broke down walls with his experimental sounds. Purple Haze was the first Jimi Hendrix song I learned how play on the guitar
  6. Spanish Caravan by The Doors: My oldest brother introduced me to The Doors. I immediately fell in love with Jim Morrison’s lyric style and with the music. Spanish Caravan is one of my favorite Doors song and had to be on my mix.
  7. Sunshine of Your Love by Cream: In my opinion, Sunshine of Your Love is one of the best rock songs in the history of music. Its simplistic melody and guitar riff brings you in and the rhythm just gets you to that special place.
  8. Come Together by The Beatles: The Beatles played quite often in our home when I was a kid. I remember my dad’s love for The Beatles music. He would turn on the music and just lose himself in the music. He’d sit in his chair and just close his eyes and I remember wanting to be just like him. So when I got a job, i bought a stereo with a record player, some headphones and a Beatles album and would just lose myself like I saw him do years earlier.
  9. Careless Whisper by George Michael: Carless Whisper is one of those songs that I never knew what it was about as a kid. I just loved the saxophone and melody. As an adult I love the song because of the passion of the lyrics, but I still love that saxophone.
  10. Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters: Under the Boardwalk was the first song I had the opportunity of singing a solo for when I was in my middle school “jazz choir”. Listening to this song takes me back to a time when I knew that I could face my own fears.
  11. Runnin’ Down a Dream by Tom Petty: Like “Superstition”, this song makes me feel like I can do anything. The rhythm makes you want to move and the lyrics inspire me to work hard on whatever project I’m working on.
  12. Yakety Yak by The Coasters: The Coasters were a fun group. They had imaginative songs and fun melodies. We would listen to The Coasters a lot on weekends when we were doing house work. Yakety Yak was one of those songs that reminded us that we could have fun while doing chores.
  13. Africa by Toto: I have so many memories of me just singing this song at the tops of our lungs. For me, Africa is a song that reminds me to not take myself seriously and always be ready to drop whatever you’re doing and start singing whenever this song comes on.
  14. Strutter by KISS: This is another song inspired by my dad. My dad was a huge KISS fan, he made KISS costumes for us one Halloween, and it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever. The first concert my dad took me to was a KISS concert in 1993. This one is for you dad!
  15. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen: You can’t have an “Awesome Mix” without Queen. One of the most influential groups of the 70s and 80s needs to be represented on this mix. While Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, and Another One Bites the Dust are fantastic songs, I have always been drawn to Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  16. The Cisco Kid by War: This is another song that would play often while we were doing chores. My grandpa used to watch reruns of The Cisco Kid when he was babysitting my brothers and I, and the 1994 remake movie with Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin was our family movie, next to Three Amigos.
  17. Heartland by George Strait: I grew up in the Colorado farm town known as Sterling. Before we got our first Wal-Mart your choice of employment was fast food or farm hand. This song reminds me of home. My mom is a big George Strait fan and when my parents were going through their divorce, I was pretty sure he was going to be my step dad. This one is for you mom!
  18. Lithium by Nirvana: Growing up in a farm town and not really feeling like I fit in was rough. Losing myself in Nirvana’s music made me discover that it was okay to not fit in and that everyone had struggles they were dealing with.
  19. Basket Case by Green Day: i firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without Green Day’s influence. While other kids were getting invited to parties, I was in my room with headphones listening to Green Day and playing along on my guitar. You’re probably thinking, “how sad”, but honestly I look at it as a god send. I wasn’t out getting in trouble, and I wasn’t sad.
  20. Girl’s Not Grey by AFI: It took me a while to really get into AFI. I started listening to them when I joined a band the summer going into my senior year of high school. I loved the guitar riffs and would try similar things in our music.
  21. Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New: The soundtrack to my senior year. This song reminds me of when I started getting invited to parties with kids in my grade. One of the funnest times I had at school was playing this song at the school talent show with one of my best childhood friends. Sterling High School Class of 2004, this one is for you.
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  22. Papercut by Linkin Park
  23. Numb by Linkin Park
  24. Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park
  25. One More Light by Linkin Park
    I have Linkin Park grouped together because of the importance of their music in my life. Like other people, I’ve dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in my life. One of those bouts of depressions came around the same time I discovered Linkin Park. Their songs spoke to me in a way that music never really did up to that point. I always saw music as speaking to me, and this was the first time that I felt like music was speaking for me. Chester was singing and screaming things that I wanted to say but that I didn’t have the courage to say. Linkin Park’s music was a life changer and I don’t know if I would have come out of some of those dark times without their music. Thank you Linkin Park. My heart is broken from the loss of Chester Bennington, but I think it’s a wake up call that we need to make sure that if we are feeling low that there is a way out. Please talk with friends and family. We can’t keep things inside anymore. If you need someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.             ______________________________________________________________
  26. Amie by Damien Rice: As I grew in my age, I found a love for acoustic music. Damien Rice’s music is so amazing. If I ever feel nerves rising, I can sit with my guitar, play some Damien Rice songs and just feel the tensions of the day melt away.
  27. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: All of the songs from Once are amazing and that story reminds me of my young dreams of wanting to be a musician. This song reminds me to keep following my dreams, even if circumstances change.
  28. A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz: This song helps to try and see the beauty in heartache. It has helped me get through the pain of losing my grandfather a week before my son was born. There is a beauty in looking at your situation and just stating, “we’re still here.”
  29. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers: The soul of this song is amazingly inspirational. The harsh reality of the lyrics taught me that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and that we have to make our own sunshine.
  30. I Caught Fire by The Used: My wife and I got married when we were pretty young. We were both fans of The Used when we were dating, and this became “our song.’ Whenever I listen to this song, it reminds me of the spouse I want to be, because my wife deserves every feeling this song shares. My partner in life and love, this one is for you.

There you have it! My very own “Awesome Mix” has been fully explained. I hope you enjoy the playlist and the peek into my life as you are listening to the music and reading this post. What would your “Awesome Mix” look like? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is now available on Digital and will be available on 4K/BluRay/DVD on August 22. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.

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***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for creating a playlist and writing this post. I chose all the songs for the playlist and all the thoughts in the explanations are my own.***

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Ant-Man

Not a lot of people were excited when Marvel announced Ant-Man, I honestly was on the fence about the movie. When the first teaser hit the internet, I thought that this movie was going to be amazing and in my eyes this movie was more than I thought it was going to be. Ant-Man has a script that is funny, smart, and the actors did an amazing job bringing the script to life.

Michael Douglas did a fantastic job of bringing Hank Pym to the big screen, although I was a little weirded out when they digitally removed about 30 years from his face.  Evangeline Lilly was amazing and made Hope van Dyne a strong female character for girls to look up to and to look forward to in future Marvel films (wink wink). Paul Rudd did what critics thought he wouldn’t be able to do, and he became Ant-Man. I am excited to see his Ant-Man progress through the MCU.

Michael Peña, T.I. (yes the rapper), and David Dastmalchian were the perfect supporting cast to Paul Rudd and IMO are probably the best supporting cast in the MCU. All three were hilarious and almost stole a few scenes throughout the movie. I also can’t leave out Abby Ryder Fortson. She plays Paul Rudd’s daughter and she also did an amazing job in the movie.

The movies is filled with easter eggs, so make sure you pay attention. Also if you haven’t seen Age of Ultron, you should because there are a few AoU references in Ant-Man. You also get an Avenger cameo, a mid credit scene, and an after credit scene, so stay in your seat until the very end. If you can, see it in IMAX 3D and/or ATMOS. There are so many audible and visual treats in Ant-Man that you really don’t want to miss out on. If I were to grade movies on the regular, I would give Ant-Man an A. It’s in between Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy on my favorite Marvel movies list (Guardians being #1 of course).

GO SEE ANT-MAN!!!!