Mix Playlists, Mix'd Bag

Music Mix | Whistle While You Work

3 Comments 14 | June | 2011

Given the fact that everyone is equipped to whistle, it’s a wonder there isn’t more whistle-driven music out there.  One possible explanation is that while it is relatively easy to whistle for the sake of making noise, it is very difficult to whistle for the sake of making decent music.  The former usually results in a ragged and bleating distress signal used to get the attention of a:

  • Wayward child
  • Drunk friend
  • Drunk member of the opposite sex
  • A wayward drunken friend of the opposite sex
  • Bear at the zoo*
  • Lost pet
  • Peanut vendor at a baseball game
  • Race horse that you will physically “put down” if it doesn’t start running faster
  • Star (insert position) of (insert local sports team) to let him know you approve of his on field performance…but aren’t so sure about his questionable procreation practices/marijuana use/haircut/spousal abuse.

*I highly encourage you to visit a zoo in the near future and listen to the sounds that people make in order to get the attention of the animals.  Snapping, whistling, weird mouth clicking…all accompanied by some form of gesticulation, imploring the animals to smile for the Kodak moment.   It’s frightening to think that if they are right, I spent a fair amount of my childhood summoning bears to eat dog food in the garage.

Another reason whistling ranks so low in popularity is there are few rewards for perfecting the craft and even fewer references on the art itself.  Trust me, I’ve looked and this is about the best I found.  Nobody out there gets paid the big bucks for whistling, just ask this guy…or these people…or this little Japanese girl who’s destined to have her dream of “going pro” crushed, just like my dream of humming Buddy Holly hits for a living.  (But I spent so much time sitting in front of a reel-to-reel learning them all!!)

The harsh reality is that if whistling were a currency it would be a ??ng ($1 = 19,487 Vietnamese dong).  Yes, a dong.  Lookitup.

But whereas whistling lacks star-power on its own, it can be a powerful addition to a song.  Nevertheless, it is rarely found in modern music because it carries the following risks that preclude its use on a widespread basis:

  • It almost automatically discounts the seriousness of the song.  There is no such thing as a hard core whistle.  Rather, it’s light and airy and screams, “Hey!  Listen to our song.  It’s cornier than a Nebraskan turd!  You’ll love it!!”  Similarly, have you ever heard the flute part of a gansta rap track?   I rest my case.
  • As mentioned above, there aren’t too many resources available to the up-and-coming whistling phenom.  So why ruin a perfectly good song by adding the sound of a parakeet with laryngitis?
  • Whistling live is like trying to find Waldo at a barber pole factory…difficult if not impossible.

Despite these sizable hurdles, a few artists have implemented this skill to great effect and I feel that their work deserves recognition.  Yet, when I first began researching this topic I was disappointed with the generic list that seemed to be copy-pasted from site to site with very little variation.  Thus, I set out to explore my entire library for relevant contenders.  Scrolling through over 25k songs I had to go on “hunches” more than direct memory.  The result below is a list of my favorite “whistling songs” as defined by me to be “songs that have a significant whistling element.”  I won’t bother to define “significant.”

It is worth noting that Andrew Bird is far and away the best whistler I have ever heard; the Michael Jordan of whistling.  He’s so flawless that I didn’t believe it was real until I saw him live.  There are countless songs that could have been included on this list, but you only get one!  Check the video above.

And now, the playlist for…

Whistle While You Work:

  1. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros | Home
  2. The Black Keys | Tighten Up
  3. The Bangles | Walk Like An Egyptian
  4. The Drums | Let’s Go Surfing
  5. J. Geils Band | Centerfold
  6. Scorpions | Winds Of Change
  7. TV On The Radio | A Method
  8. Foster The People | Pumped Up Kicks
  9. Peter Bjorn & John | Young Folks
  10. Nurses | Caterpillar Playground
  11. Noah & The Whale | 5 Years Time
  12. Paul Simon | Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
  13. Menomena |Boyskouts Sweetboyskouts
  14. Meligrove Band | Grasshoppers In Honey
  15. Suckers | Roman Candles
  16. Pixies | La La Love You
  17. Guns N’ Roses | Patience
  18. Andrew Bird | Masterfade
  19. Otis Redding | (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay

…and a BIG Honorable Mention to the theme music from Robinhood (the animated Disney version).  Such a classic!!

Take a look and take a listen!!  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!!  If you like what you hear, download the entire playlist.  If you need help, check out this download tutorial.  The songs will appear under the Artist:  Sean’s Compilations and Album:  Whistle While You Work

…and as comprehensive as I made my search seem, there are at least a bajillion-million songs I missed.  What is your favorite whistle-along song?  Let me know and maybe there will be a Volume II!!  Now That’s What I Call Whistling.

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TALKING POINTS
What song(s) did I miss?!?

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  • I don't know if I care, but you might want to check with Julio.

  • I don't know if I care, but you might want to check with Julio.

  • Antony

    Very enjoyable! Some very excellent choices here. Andrew Bird is just incredible live (just thinking about it – oh my). To me the weirdest part is that this is the second time in five days that “Me and Julio Down the Schoolyard” has come up in conversation. Is it wrong that I just don't care?

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