In Which Would You Rather Be Yourself Or Ben Gibbard


the iTunes playlist: Ben Gibbard

There is a challenge we are faced with every day of our lives. For some people it’s whether they would rather be themselves or Jay Leno, or would they rather be themselves or Jennifer Aniston. For me first it was would I rather be myself or Kevin James, and then would I rather be myself or lottery winner Hurley on Lost. Hurley won every damn time. There was a brief period there where I couldn’t decide whether I’d rather be myself or Ben Gibbard. If I opted for the latter, the prospect of angry interludes with the guy who plays Jim on The Office wouldn’t help matters. Enjoy Ben Gibbard’s taste in music, it is better than mine.

“Strange Powers” – The Magnetic Fields

Stephin Merritt may hate our band name, but I love his music just the same. This is my favorite song of his.

“Faking the Books” – Lali Puna (mp3)

Markus and Valerie of Lali Puna can do no wrong in my book. The first time I heard this song, I listened to it on repeat for almost an hour.


“Men of Station” – 13 & God (mp3)

Speaking of Markus, thankfully we have this project to tide us over until the next Notwist album drops.

“Your Hill” – Dntel

I made a record with my friend Jimmy a couple years ago that people can dance to. Sometimes Jimmy gets the courage to step up to the mike and sing and it sounds like this.

“A Happy Medium” – Malcolm Middleton (mp3)

This song has possibly the most beautifully depressing hook ever. I also wish I’d written that guitar line.

“On Peak Hill” – Stars (mp3)

Stars are an amazing band that we’re touring with this fall. I want them to play this song when we do (hint, hint).

“Bitter Things” – Christian Kleine (mp3)

This is a perfect song for long drives through the middle of nowhere. A daydream soundtrack, if you will.

“Gold in the Air of Summer” – Kings of Convenience

This is my friend Erlend’s band. He is a very smooth operator.


“I Will Never See the Sun” – Great Lake Swimmers (mp3)

I love the simple structure and drumming in this song. It’s proof that if you’ve got a great song with an amazing chorus, you don’t need to get too fancy with the arrangement.


“Aaron & Maria (Her Space Holiday remix)” – The American Analog Set (mp3)

The AmAnSet are some of our best friends from back in the day. They continue to impress and inspire me with every record they make.

“St. Swithin’s Day” – Billy Bragg (mp3)

This is by far my favorite Billy Bragg song. It’s my vote for the saddest song ever written.

bonus: “St. Swithin’s Day” – Ben Gibbard (mp3)

“You Must Build a Fire” – Crooked Fingers

I had the honor to play with Eric Bachmann for a couple solo benefit shows earlier this year and this tune destroyed every time he played it.


“Chicken Payback ” – A Band of Bees

It’s about time someone tried to start an old-school, 60s dance craze. Hats off to a A Band of Bees for the effort.

“Autograph” – The Movies (mp3)

Someone should do a performance art piece to this song.

“5+1” – A Gun Called Tension

The hook of this song is so sick it should be illegal.

“Alcoholiday” – Teenage Fanclub (mp3)

Teenage Fanclub is my favorite band of all time. Picking just one song was very difficult.

“With a Girl Like You” – The Troggs (mp3)

This is a song that comes on in a bar and you end up spending the next 15 minutes trying to figure out who it is. As I determined by that exact method a couple years ago, it’s The Troggs.

“Bike” – Pink Floyd (mp3)

While I’ve got my fingers crossed for a full, original 70s era Pink Floyd reunion tour in the wake of Live 8, I will always be be bummed about Syd. Walla introduced this song to me almost ten years ago and it remains my favorite Syd Barrett-era song.


Death Cab for Cutie’s new album is called Narrow Stairs, and you can listen to the new single here


Bringing you the music you can’t really afford.

Ellen Page

Gnarls Barkley

Wes Anderson

Vince Vaughn

Jason Schwartzman

Michael Cera

Kanye West



Michelle Obama, we hardly knew ye.

Dave Eggers really did it this time.

We made The L Word our betch.

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