A Selection of 4:20 Songs to Soundtrack 4/20

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Last week, we amused ourselves with a thought experiment that was doing the rounds on Tumblr — marking 4/11 by picking out the best songs in our iTunes library that were precisely four minutes and 11 seconds long. It turned out that there were heaps, and the idea got us thinking: when better to do something similar than 4/20? So we thought we’d limit ourselves to making our annual stoner mixtape for today out of songs that are precisely four minutes and 20 seconds long. (Disclaimer: these songs are all 4:20 on our iTunes — your mileage may vary, and all that, but let’s not split hairs, eh?)

The Flaming Lips — “It’s Summertime”

Ah, if only it were. But still, this is a suitably blissful piece with which to kick off proceedings — it’s quiet, peaceful and reflective, and also full of the existential contemplation that characterizes much of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: “When you look inside all you’ll see/ Is a self-reflected inner sadness/ Look outside/ I know that you’ll recognize/ It’s summertime.” Indeed. Don’t get too introverted just yet, kids.

Iggy Pop — “Sister Midnight”

The opening track to Iggy’s classic 1977 record The Idiot fits beautifully here — it’s dark, seductive, and underpinned by a decidedly narcotic groove (it’s more opiated than toasted, to be honest, but still, that pulsing bass is still pretty great for zoning out on the couch.)

Fugees — “Fu-Gee-La”

If the Iggy action is all a bit too dark and creepy, then you can let the light back into the room with this classic cut from The Score. It’s a track that pretty much defines the sound of smoking it up on a summer day, an activity to which the band weren’t exactly averse, either: “I sit 90 degrees underneath palm trees/ Smokin’ beadies as I burn my calories.” It’s better than going to the gym.

Ice Cube — “It Was a Good Day”

Also on the positive vibing front: a rare moment of levity from Ice Cube, wherein he rhymes “fanny” with “punani,” celebrates his prowess on the basketball court, and rejoices in the fact that he didn’t have to use his AK for a change. We’re hoping your day is similarly, um, full of peace and light. (See also here.)

Radiohead — “Lucky”

Maybe something obtuse and difficult from Kid A or Amnesiac would fit better here, but then again, maybe not — the keening, yearning air of “Lucky” is actually pretty great if you’re starting to feel a bit emotional at this point. Let’s all hold hands and breathe deeply.

At the Drive-In — “One-Armed Scissor”

HEY EVERYONE! WAKE UP!

Talking Heads — “Once in a Lifetime”

On a more upbeat and less intense note, here’s David Byrne’s ode to existential confusion and the general abiding weirdness of life, all of which probably starts to seem very apposite indeed at this point. You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? Everything made so much more sense about half an hour ago.

Kid Cudi — “Marijuana”

Well, this is topical, isn’t it?

Grimes — “Be a Body”

We imagine Grimes isn’t averse to some 4:20 action now and then, and this song slots in rather seamlessly here. Its cryptic lyrics seem to allude to the disconnection between the consciousness and the body that consciousness inhabits, which is a pretty great topic to discuss when you’re reaching for the corn chips.

Leonard Cohen — “The Faith”

And finally, you can move on to even more profound topics with this, just as the sun starts to fade in your window and everyone’s getting awfully mellow and sleepy. This song is based on an old Canadian folk tune, and discusses the nature of faith and mortality. And the last verse, where Cohen stops singing entirely, leaving his backing singers to talk about “how time itself unwinds,” is one of the most languorously beautiful things you’ll ever hear. Until next year.