Master Playlists

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover": This is a song that I advise people to listen to. —RZA Photo: Bob Levey / Getty Images

The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA has ridden the Staten Island Ferry thousands of times. His new solo album, Digi Snacks, comes out this Tuesday, and he plays at Webster Hall on July 5.

“Wake Up Everybody”
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes I remember listening to this as a little kid. I was really poor, and this song made me feel like there was hope.

“Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me”
Peter Brown
This is for when you’re heading to the ferry—I used to ride the dollar van, now I walk or ride the bus.

“More, More, More”
Andrea True Connection
Listen to this when you go to the concession stand.

“Tender Love”
Force M.D.’s
The ferry can be a very romantic place. Take it up to the third deck, you might get lucky and see a pretty woman sitting there alone, right when you pass the Statue of Liberty.

“My Melody”
Eric B. & Rakim
This is for the hip-hop side. In the old days of the ferry, there were guys hustling loose joints downstairs. I can see me back then, getting my smoke on, listening to Rakim.

“My Adidas”
There was nothing like coming back to Staten Island fresh with your new Adidas on. I loved Adidas, and shit, I felt so cool when Run-DMC made this song.

“Fly Robin, Fly”
Silver Convention
This reminds me of standing outside at the back of the boat, watching the bubbles blow up, seeing the pigeons fly up, maybe throwing them some food.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
Paul Simon
When the Wu-Tang got popular, I would ride the boat just to get serenity. This is a song that I advise people to listen to. “Hop on the bus, Gus.” Now, he didn’t say get on the Staten Island Ferry, but that’s another way to do it.

Wu-Tang Clan
You gotta represent Staten Island. Also, it’s how to prepare yourself for New York City. This city’s all about the money.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
Elton John
As the Wu-Tang Clan, we needed to get off of Staten Island to find our real life. We used to meet on the ferry on our way to see Russell Simmons. Me and Ol’ Dirty got arrested on the ferry three or four times. I remember fighting cab drivers. Fighting Brooklyn niggas. Hitting on somebody’s girl, and then her boyfriend comes.

“Native New Yorker”
This is when you’re approaching Manhattan. I really feel the Yankees, the mustard—I really feel New York when I hear this song.

“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”
McFadden & Whitehead
Now you get off the boat, you’re on your way to the real world. You should have this idea in your head—ain’t no stopping us now.

"Rhapsody in Blue" has a quirky feel to it, especially when played really loudly while driving.
Albert Hammond Jr.
Photo: Hal Horowitz / WireImage

The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. releases his new solo album, ¿Cómo Te Llama?, on July 8. He just bought a house upstate; here’s what he listens to on the way there.

“Goodbye Horses”
Q Lazarus
You want to start a weekend trip without stress, and this has a smooth sound to get a drive going. And it’s a fun sing-along if you have friends with you.

“Monkey Man”
The Rolling Stones
Some people see it as a dark song, but when you play it during the day, it has a great rock-and-roll feel.

“A Life of Illusion”
Joe Walsh
When a friend played this for me, I liked it so much I couldn’t believe it was Joe Walsh.

Let’s get a little literal with our drive. This has honking, which could confuse you, keep you on your toes.

“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
Neil Young
This feels like wanting to get out of something you’re in and going somewhere you’d rather be.

“Failure 33 Object”
John Frusciante
Some people hate this song. It gets kind of creepy. But anything that comes after it sounds like a relief.

“Janie Jones”
The Clash
I didn’t know about this when I first got into the Clash because it’s not a single. But I think it should be.

“Ça Plane Pour Moi”
Plastic Bertrand
Long drives require pick-me-ups. What’s more exciting than a French power-punk pop song?

“Tea for the Tillerman”
Cat Stevens
It’s only one minute, and it starts off so light, but you get into a huge chorus at the end. You might even play it a few times.

“Absolutely Cuckoo”
The Magnetic Fields
I love when Stephen Merritt says, “Don’t fall in love with me yet / We only recently met / True I’m in love with you but / You might decide I’m a nut.”

“Come Softly to Me”
The Fleetwoods
This takes you to the fifties—having a cigarette, rolling the window down.

Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin
For some reason this song has a quirky feel to it, especially when played really loudly while driving.

"Upside Down" is made for lying down in a field.
The Jealous Girlfriends
Photo: Bryan Miller /

The Jealous Girlfriends’ debut LP came out last month, and they perform in Prospect Park on July 26. Band members Alex Lipsen, Mike Fadem, Holly Miranda, and Josh Abbott each select songs for a picnic mix.

LIPSEN: “Rides the Rails”
The Besnard Lakes
Everyone’s really into the Beach Boys, and the Besnard Lakes combine the Pet Sounds influence with a Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin kind of rock.

“House Clouds”
They are very experimental and sometimes hard to listen to, but I’m always impressed when a band like this does a really catchy song.

FADEM: “Soldier’s Grin”
Wolf Parade
I picture a bunch of people hanging out in the park, and this song has lots of sections with different sounds going on.

“House of Cards”
This is a simple song for them, really mellow and introspective.

MIRANDA: “To Be Loved”
Joan As Police Woman
I’ve been obsessed with this song since I first heard it a few months ago.

“Upside Down”
Scott Matthew
I can imagine listening to this song while lying down in a field, watching the clouds make faces.

ABBOTT: “Map Ref 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W”
This is one of the only bands I’m always listening to. This is one of their most poppy songs, and it’s probably on their darkest album.

“Chocolate Rain”
Tay Zonday
We always have to put a non sequitur in the mix, and this is just too perfect not to include.

Panda Bear
This is for the end of the picnic, when people are relaxing and stomachs are full.

"Newbury Port" is blasting in the club before we take the stage.
Free Kitten
Photo: Andrew Kesin 2008 / Courtesy of Ecstatic Peace

Free Kitten, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Pussy Galore’s Julie Cafritz’s post-punk pet project, released their album Inherit last month. The band hits the highway this summer. Cafritz shares what they’ll listen to on the drive.

“Here Come the Warm Jets”
Brian Eno
If I could dive into the production of one song like it was a pool, this song would be the one.

“Golf Girl”
Their whole CD In the Land of Grey and Pink could be on tour with us. But this song in particular, well, it’s about a guy flirting with a girl on a golf course. It feels summer-appropriate.

“Tengo Amore”
Michael Nesmith
I’m always impressed when a gringo sings Spanish. And perhaps this is revealing too much, but I think this song is the closest that Free Kitten is going to get to a Jimmy Buffett vibe.

“Nuvem Cigana”
Milton Nascimento
I secretly like this one because it reminds me of the Weather Report songs of my childhood.

“Futures & Folly”
Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper have that sort of hillbilly rock vibe—something to smoke pot on the bus to. If we smoked pot, this is the song we’d do it to.

“Shining Star”
Earth, Wind & Fire
This band screams proms and graduations, and all those types of things that I didn’t actually attend. But as long as I don’t have to see white people dancing to this song, it makes me very happy.

“Mr. Bellamy”
Paul McCartney
I happen to think this is very good. We’ll put it on in the background and pretend we’re drinking cocktails in the Hamptons with him and his New York socialites.

“Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”
Every band is brought together by a little musical-theater number. I imagine us all standing up and singing while the bus driver is trying to park.

“Automatic Husband”
The Fiery Furnaces
I think one day Eleanor will drive a stake through her brother’s heart. He puts every word in her mouth, like she’s his slave puppet! He might get away with that with a girlfriend. But between brother and sister, that’s going to end in violence.

“I Got You”
Split Enz
Toward the end of any mix I tend to add songs that are kind of forgotten, that other people don’t seem to appreciate nearly as much as I do.

“Newbury Port”
Scout Niblett
This is the redeeming last song—the one that’s blasting in the club before we take the stage.

Pistolera’s new album, En Este Camino, comes out August 5; they will be playing SummerStage on August 9. Lead singer Sandra Lilia Velásquez makes the band’s block-party soundtrack.

Welcome to Jamrock”
Damian Marley
When you hear this, you automatically think, “Where the party at?”

“Cumbia Sobre el Río”
Celso Piña
I’ve never been to a party with Latinos where this song is not on the iPod mix—for a good reason.

"Duele Le Le": Pass the caipirinha. —PistoleraPhoto: M. Sharkey / Courtesy of Pistolera

“Sound System Municipal”
El Gran Silencio
These guys know how to rock the accordion and the cowbell.

“Los Lunaticos (El Manicomio Está en Manos de los Locos)”
Los de Abajo
A staple in the Latin alternative-music scene. They make you want to dance with your fists in the air!

“Si Señor”
Control Machete
From Mexico’s best hip-hop band.

“Déjate Caer”
Café Tacuba
One of their more mellow songs, but makes me feel like being outside in the sunshine.

“Sin Ti”
Very Be Careful
The ultimate vallenato jam, so much that Pistolera does a cover. Instant dance party.

“La Vida Es un Carnaval”
Celia Cruz
I know we hear it all the time, but it’s a damn good song!

“Quítate Tú”
Fania All-Stars
Classic Fania tune.

“La Vida Continua”
The Spam Allstars
Kick back and let life continue.

“Duele Le Le”
Zuco 103
Brazilian electronic dance groove. Pass the caipirinha.

“La Boa”
La Sonora Santanera
Old-school classic. You can’t deny La Santanera.

Bonus playlists from The Harlem Shakes’ Kendrick Strauch and Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth on Vulture.

Reporting by Amos Barshad, Rebecca Milzoff, Denise Penny, and Nina Weiss.

Master Playlists