Private Playlist: Gabe Goodman longs for the sound of live musicians in a room

Gabe Goodman. Photo by CJ Moy

Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments.

Gabe Goodman is a relative newcomer to LA, having narrowly avoided another Eastern winter after decamping from New York in late 2020. But his blend of pristine pop and sunny melancholy is a perfect fit for California winters. His latest EP, “New Things,” was recorded back east, but Goodman is feeling right at home here, despite the strangeness of pandemic times. Goodman was a co-founder of Future Teens with Daniel Radin, in addition to his tenure in Boston-area bands like Magic Man and Photocomfort. Prior to his relocation, he also co-produced “Giver Taker,” the debut album by Boston’s Anjimile.

For this edition of Private Playlist, Gabe Goodman reflects on the musical masters he’s studied in quarantine, from Paul Simon to Tune-Yards.

“Especially in these pandemic times, without shows or other ways of sharing community, it's been nice to think about other ways to cultivate that. ” — Gabe Goodman

GABE GOODMAN: I've launched this funny little charity project called "Gabe's New Things Consignment Shop." Think of a thrift store, but stocked only with random detritus from artists that you knew, or maybe you didn't know, but would come to know. And all the money went to The Trevor Project, which is a really great organization. Especially in these pandemic times, without shows or other ways of sharing community, it's been a nice distraction to think about other ways to cultivate that. [It's a way to] connect with friends of mine that I'm not seeing and collaborate on something that can be positive. And if people find out about my music or their music through it, then that's awesome, too.


Paul Simon is one of the artists I've started to dig a bit deeper into in quarantine. This song is not a deep cut by any means, but that first chord has some deeply calming effect on me, in a way that almost no other song does. I have these very vivid memories of walking around New York, dealing with personal things and being a little bit stressed out. And this song [has been] a real refuge for me.


I don't know if this will ring a bell, but there was a period of time where people would share MediaFire or YouSendIt or Megaupload links to albums. I'm pretty sure someone sent me a Mediafire link to the first tUnE-yArDs album. I was in high school, and for me and my group of friends at the time, it really blew my mind. A specific part of the narrative around it was that [Merrill Garbus] made it in [audio editing program] Audacity, which is free recording software that I started making music on when I was pretty young. Hearing this album that was made on that software, you [can] kinda hear it in some ways, the way things were chopped up. And she had this really visionary approach to using this rudimentary tool.

For "Sunlight" in particular, when you're listening, I recommend thinking about how simple the parts are, and how much energy and dynamics are created with so few parts. There's a really nice drum loop, there's bass, and then there's all these crazy things happening with the ukulele. It's so simple, but it's so huge. It just totally feels ahead of its time, in terms of maximizing what's available to you. and having a really creative and visionary approach to production. She's a huge influence, I love her music, and I love this song.


My roommates in New York and I were really into Japanese city pop, which has become a trendy thing in the past few years. But this was the first song that caught my ear in that world. If you read the lyrics, which are kinda obscured because it has a vocoder effect [on the vocals], it's a breakup song, but it's really nice. The chorus is: "Say goodbye, my dear /  Don't believe it's easy / And when the air is clear / Hope you'll want to see me." It's very wholesome, like, "It's not working out right now. Hopefully one day we'll be able to hang out." On top of just being disco-y and fun, it all sounds amazing.


I started playing guitar when I was four. And throughout my younger years and my teens, I had many phases of getting into the guitar heroes: obviously the Hendrixes and stuff like that, but even moments of the Joe Satrianis and the real shredders. And as I got to my teens, I got some friends who were like, "that stuff's not cool," and turned me on to Pixies or whatever. And I moved away from that world of thinking about guitar heroes. As I got older, and especially during quarantine, I've tried to revisit some of that music, and I've been digging back into some guitar players.

Ry Cooder's "Poor Man's Shangri-La" came up, and it's similar to the Paul Simon song, where the first few notes really grab you. It also has that live [feel]; it gets cacophonous, and almost feels like you're hearing a band play in a room. It makes you a little bit sentimental for a time when that was possible. There's a ton of great songs, and it's been cool to rediscover that, and to rediscover and re-appreciate guitar playing at its finest. But this was just a fun one to me.

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