[mix tapes] Behind the Music Box Set – Paul Sommerstein and Marc Goodman

June 17, 2009

There are people who influence your life.  Some of these people you’ve met.  Some of these people you aspire to be.  Some you can’t quite place into categories.

These mixes are from, inspired, and made possible by two people who usually stand behind the scenes in the music industry, Paul Sommerstein and Marc Goodman.  So, screw VH1.  We’re celebrating the real people behind the scenes.


Paul Sommerstein is an attorney in New York City who specializes in entertainment law.  His bio from his website states this about him:

Paul is an entertainment attorney in private practice in New York. Prior to his career in law, he worked professionally in the music business for many years. He started his career as Showcase Manager for the College Music Journal, and was responsible for booking bands for its annual convention, as well as writing and editing for its weekly trade magazine. After two conventions, he worked as a publicist at Nasty Little Man, an independent firm in New York whose clients at the time included the Beastie Boys, Helmet, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr., Luscious Jackson, Sleep, Tortoise, Kyuss, New Bomb Turks, Sick of It All, Shudder To Think and Candy Machine. While at Nasty Little Man, he became an assistant editor for Ego Trip magazine (which has gone on to release two books, and is currently producing shows for VH1). After Nasty Little Man, he was briefly an A&R scout for American Recordings. Finally, he was a publicist at Matador Records working with artists such as Pavement, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cat Power, Come, Chavez, Silkworm and Guitar Wolf before attending Brooklyn Law School. While at law school, he interned in the legal department of Polygram Records. In his teenage years and extended adolescence, Paul was a tour manager, driver and merch seller for Skunk, New Bomb Turks, Corrosion of Conformity and published the New Jersey fanzine, No Name Press.

In other words, he is LIVING the dream (well, the dream for anyone who loves music and is an attorney – a small niche, perhaps).  He’s also living proof that there are cool lawyers.  And, judging by our e-mail exchanges – he’s even more living proof that not all lawyers are twiddling their thumbs waiting for layoffs in this economy.  (I guess it helps that he’s self-employed.  But, again, that’s besides the point.)

Because he obviously has better music taste than most people on this planet – we here at nonpretentious asked him to make a mix for us.  (We’re so happy he said “yes!”)  How many songs on this mix do you know?  If it’s more than two (our score), you’re good in our book.




And, we also decided to make a mix of a few of his clients – just to give you musical proof about why he’s so cool!



Marc Alan Goodman is an owner and engineer at Strange Weather recording studio in Brooklyn NY. By himself and along with his studio partner Joel Hamilton he’s worked on records with Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Soulive, Lettuce, Talib Kweli, Mike Patton, Michel Gondry, Marc Ribot, Zeena Parkins, 2 Foot Yard, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Alfonso Velez, Deradoorian, Lou Reed, Beauty Pill, Colin Stetson, and tons more. He also has played in a number of touring bands over the last decade including illuminea, Circle and Square, and his current project Model Barbers.

More importantly, Marc Alan Goodman was my first crush ever (…a girl knows how to pick ‘em…). AND, this nonpretentious contributor/editor distinctly remembers when Marc Alan Goodman called her out for having her first crush ever. It was at the pencil sharpener. In a Hebrew school classroom. In fourth grade.

HE (in all of his infinite fourth grade wisdom): My mom said you were mean to me because you secretly like me.

ME (in all of my infinite fourth grade wisdom): No way! I am mean to you because you are a(n ever so dreamy!) dork!

(Note: That’s definitely not how the conversation went. I only remember the “he” part and I don’t even remember that part too well. I only remember how embarrassed I felt when that little tattletale called me out! From that day forward, I swore I’d never admit my feelings for someone. He scarred me for life – that’s why I am pretending here and now – in this revised version – that I called him a dork. Anyway, I’ll get over it.)

Marc Alan Goodman continues to impress me. He is less than thirty years old but he’s been passionate about this recording stuff for as long as I can remember.¹ The folks at nonpretentious are excited for his mix tape, which we’ll present to you without further ado.



Artist – Song – Album²

Chavez – Break Up Your Band – Gone Glimmering
Something all good bands should do at some point. Chavez then took their own advice.

Jolie Holland – Corrido por Buddy – The Living and The Dead

I never thought that within three years I’d go from listening to Jolie Holland every day to recording her most recent album. Jolie couldn’t even play this song without crying the first few times we tried. I still hear it in her voice.

Deradoorian – High Road – Mind Raft EP

Angel is a musical prodigy. It was an honor to get to record the drums for this song, and I’m hoping she can find time to keep working on her own stuff while touring with the Dirty Projectors

Alfonso Velez – Plymouth Barracuda – The Weather

The third and final song that I recorded on my playlist. Alfonso is one of those people who you just know is going to be a legend in twenty years. If there’s any record to buy someone as a gift this is it.

Bran Van 3000 – Couch Surfer – Glee (N/A on iTunes, Amazon link)

James Di Salvio’s bored affectation was always a treat for me. And having spent my own years as a couch surfer since I can finally understand his understated annoyance. What a bunch of jerks we are.

Nina Simone – It Be’s That Way Sometimes – Silk and Soul

Of all Nina’s records this one comes out of the box the hardest. The drums make almost no sense but she’s never been one afraid to take things in a whole new direction.

Jon Guez – Tired of These Butterflies – Compassionately Drawn (N/A on iTunes, myspace)

Super-genius Jon Guez’s tireless tirade against indecision will always stand up amongst my favorite music of all time. I just wish other people would hear it. Not available on itunes, but you can get it on vinyl. Just ask.

The song that’s title inspired my studio. Not his greatest song of all time, but one few people have heard. Though originally written for Marianne Faithful I still thing Tom’s version is better.

Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine – Just As I Am

Speaks for itself

Nina Simone – Don’t Smoke in Bed – Little Girl Blue

Advice you can’t turn down. She’s leaving, you’re leaving, anyone’s leaving. Just remember…

Kate Bush – The Sensual World – The Sensual World

A lot of people seem to consider this album the end of Kate Bush’s career. If you ask me it’s a high point. When denied the rights to use a pasage from Ulysses as the lyrics she wrote her own. And they’re just as good.

Brainiac – Hot Seat Can’t Sit Down – Hissing Prigs in Static Couture

If Tim Taylor had never died in a car crash in 1997 I’d like to believe that we’d all know who he was. But from the reaction of people I’ve spoken to at least the ones who do seem to appreciate it.

Dirty Projectors – Temecula Sunrise – Bitte Orca

David Longstreth is the most valid and prolific artist I’ve heard of who’s as of now still seemingly undiscovered. But people have taken notice. His recent colaberations with David Byrne and Bjork should help bring some recognition to this beatiful work in a time when nothing seems to sell.

The Modern Lovers – Someone I Care About – Precise Modern Lovers Order

I don’t want just a girl to fool around with. I don’t want just a girl to ball. What I want is a girl that I care about. Or nothing at all. This live record is my personal highlight of Jonathan Richman’s career. Too bad it was so early.

The Kinks – Arthur – Arthur
Perhaps the most heartbreaking album finale of all time. I still cry every time they break into the chorus at the end.

There you have it.  It’s still Wednesday in some time zone, right?

¹ In his archives, there may or may not be a video that he produced with me and this red head kid, both of us dressed in black tights, singing a Spanish song explaining how to conjugate “gustarse” – red head kid: Me gustan tus ojos, me: Me gusta pelo rojo – to the tune of “What a Feeling.”

² I really appreciated that he included the album.  When I create these mixes and there are a number of different versions, especially versions with different track lengths, I’m always scared that I picked the wrong one.  (If I did this to you http://www.seanbonner.com/, http://www.twistedphysics.typepad.com/, http://manbartlett.com/, or http://pulpandcircumstance.blogspot.com/, please feel free to send me nasty e-mails.  Plus, I can always go back and change it for anyone who comes across your mixes now.  <– BTW, if you haven’t come across their mixes, I highly recommend them – feel free to listen on our last.fm station – we only play mixes from nonpretentious.)  Point is, I’m sad to say that even with Marc Alan Goodman’s effort, some of his album choices were not available and I had to go with what was there.  I’ve kept his album picks in the playlist in case you’d like to find those tracks on your own.

nonpretentious publishes mix tapes every Wednesday.   Our goal is to create a digital version of trading mixes, sharing music, etc. AND also publicize the work of “common people” (i.e. not superstar celebs but celebs nonetheless) who are doing cool things around the globe.  Check out the [mix tapes] archives to hear more.

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5 Responses to “ [mix tapes] Behind the Music Box Set – Paul Sommerstein and Marc Goodman ”

  1. revisingproust on June 18, 2009 at 8:02 am

    must listen: Route to Palm – White Williams. Loved it.

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    Rosette Trovato

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