[mix tape] Spend Labor Day Down the Shore with Jen A. Miller

September 7, 2009

When Starbucks started offering its Pumpkin Spice Lattes last week, I almost started to cry.  Fine, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration but not by much.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the fall.  And, it’s not only because my birthday is in October.  No other season brings the enjoyment that comes with stepping on a pile of crinkly leaves.

However, even I recognize Dear Autumn’s downFALLs.  (Couldn’t resist.)  Back to school, the morning commute, the hectic bustle of the office once the Big Guns return from their summer homes…. To ease the transition process from summer to fall, I’ve come up with a daily mantra that you’re free to steal: 10 pm sunsets may be delightful but it really sucks when saltwater gets in your eyes.

Anyway, today is not the day to dwell on impending turtleneck sweaters.  Today must be filled with sun, relaxation, BBQs, and flip flops!  All of which are practically mandated by the Federal government.  In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the home base of quite a few nonpretentious contributors – the local government practically mandates that we enjoy this holiday down the shore.  (That’s no typo.  It’s how we talk in Philadelphia.  Just ask Philly Boy Roy.)

We’re nothing here at nonpretentious, if not upstanding, law-abiding citizens.  Without sounding sarcastic, we were psyched when Jen A. Miller, a successful – and inspiring! – freelance writer, agreed to create this shore-inspired mix.  (To say she knows a thing or two about the subject matter is an understatement.)

Jen is the author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May and she publishes a blog called Down the Shore with Jen.  She writes pieces for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, USAirways Magazine, Go!, New Jersey Monthly Magazine, and National Geographic, to name a few.

More importantly, Jen’s good taste and her approachable style supersede any and all jokes about Jersey girls and hairspray.  I’ll tell you from experience that it’s hard to read Book a Week with Jen, her properly titled second blog, without opening Goodreads or Amazon in a second tab.  (See: this post and this one.  See also: her trend insights.  Male English majors should read here.)  Also, she recommends/references some pretty awesome tunes and artists on both of her sites.  (See also: her love of indie music stores.)  In case you haven’t noticed, we here at nonpretentious love dilettantes, who we define as well-rounded folks who like to share the good stuff with others.  Jen definitely fits our description.

As you can see, Jen’s mix does justice to the Garden State.


Unlike the other export for which Jersey is famous – (fake) tanning – her mix brings a sense of euphoria without any risk of melanoma.  Better still, it serves as a token reminder of the future laid-back days and nights we’ll enjoy again once the planet makes a full rotation around the sun.

And, now, from Jen Miller herself….

This mix is a combination of shore-y songs and tunes that have a shore placeholder in my head. Hopefully the liner notes will help explain.

“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. Yes, I’m starting with the obvious one, but how can you write a Jersey Shore inspired mix without the Boss? I spent a lot of time in Asbury Park this spring for an article I wrote about new shore bars for the New York Times, and cued up the boss on my ipod during Asbury runs. The song is about busting out of Asbury, but it’s still something you have to listen to if you visit.

“Big Casino” by Jimmy Eat World. “Casino” is in the title, and one of the lines is “I’m a New Jersey success story.” Need I say more?

“Golden Days” by the Damnwells. What a beautiful song. Summer is all about golden days, so I always think of long days down the shore when I hear this one.

“Cranberry Lake” by Ari Hest. Even though the song is about a lake, there’s a very light, summer quality to the song. I spent my Jersey Shore summers in the woods by the shore, so lakes were part of my summer memories, too.

“We All Belong” by Dr. Dog. The kind of music I WISH I heard at Jersey Shore bars. There’s a very laid back, breezy quality to this song that makes me think of summer.

“Surfer Girl” by the Beach Boys. My dad called me his littler surfer girl and held my hand every time this song came on, which happened a lot when I was a kid.

“This is Not a Test” by She & Him. It has that retro feel like the Damnwells song and — obviously — the Beach Boys, which is something I crave when I’m down the shore. It’s a nice driving song, too. It’s also one of the less twangy songs on the album, which I appreciate.

“June” by Pete Yorn. You have to play this song in June. Yorn’s a Jersey boy, too, and does a great cover of Springsteen’s “Your Own Worst Enemy” this summer, too.

Last spring, I sang this to someone who didn’t stay until June, who was also down the shore a lot. A bittersweet memory.

“Homecoming King” by Guster [MUST be the live version from Portland, Live on Ice]. I listened to Guster on Ice: Live from Portland 25 times in the last month before my book was due to the publisher. Guster was also one of the few concerts I got to that summer because I was so busy. It was a show at the Festival Pier in Philly where it rained, so anyone who wasn’t a big fan ran and hid. There’s nothing like dancing in the rain to a favorite band when you’re a complete stress ball.

“So Much Trouble” by matt pond pa. This comes from one of my “perfect” albums, and I listen to it through the fall and winter. Why on a shore list? Because the shore’s best season is the fall. I’m done the big pre-summer writing rush, and the summer crowds have gone away. Fall feels like a time of rebirth and renewal to me. “How the fall is coming down, the light is leaving and it’s hard to breath, buried in a pile of leaves.”

Jen A. Miller is a freelance writer and the South Jersey Bureau Chief for New Jersey Monthly Magazine.   She pens “Southern Scene” at njmonthly.com as well as her two personal blogs Down the Shore with Jen and Book a Week with Jen.  Her book, The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May, was published in 2008.

http://nonpretentious.com publishes mix tapes in its [mix tapes] column. 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. New mixes are usually posted on Wednesdays.

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One Response to “ [mix tape] Spend Labor Day Down the Shore with Jen A. Miller ”

  1. bucky_katz on September 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jen! As a gal who spent many, many summers down at the shore, it was a pleasure to be taken back to such a carefree time when the only thing that mattered was getting to the beach during the couple of hours between my morning camp counselor job and my evening job on the OCNJ boardwalk. Cheers :)

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