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Joe Levy X Birchbox Man: The Playlist

The first thing we noticed when we met Joe Levy: The guy’s summer-weight scarf game is without rival. The second and third things, respectively, were that the he presses a mean cup of Stumptown (with which he’s quite generous), and possesses a depth and breadth of music knowledge that would make even the geekiest of rock historians quiver in their Chelsea boots. On the eve of Coachella, we asked the Billboard editor to share some of his favorite songs and a bit of sartorial advice for surviving music festival season while still looking like rock royalty.

Festival Survival

“There are only three things you need: water, earplugs, and sunscreen. One is available for purchase on site. If you think you can skip the other two, talk to me in 40 years when you’re having moles removed and wearing a hearing aid.”


“There are only two ways to go. Cue ball or long hair. You either look like you’re in Minor Threat, or you look like you’re in the Bad Seeds. Anything else, you look like you have a job.”


“I like pointy boots. Pointy enough to kill a cockroach in a corner. And I like Cuban heels. Maybe you like something less delicate, more combat ready. Your call. Just buy good boots and wear them until they fall apart (at which point: duct tape).”


“I used to think belts were unimportant. Then I bought one with ridiculous silver embroidery. The first night I wore it, a beautiful British girl with blond hair leaned over to trace the embroidery with her index finger. Belts, it turns out, are important. Get an upgrade.”

The Ramones

“When in doubt, adhere to any aesthetic choice mapped out by the Ramones on their first four records. Warning: This does not include actually beating on a brat with a baseball bat. Otherwise, go for it.”

And here’s Joe Levy’s full “Turn It Up” song list (track listing is below and the YouTube playlist here):

The Rolling Stones, “She Said Yeah”
“In the late-‘50s original by Larry Williams, she’s saying yeah to a wedding ring. In the frantic Stones cover, Jagger’s in a race to get past the wedding ring right to the bedroom. Totally unhinged.''

The Beatles, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”
“Another Larry Williams song. Marriage comes up again, along with fever and the dizziness Miss Lizzy causes whenever she does the stroll. The raw power vocals from John Lennon may be his finest ever.''

Larry Williams, “Bad Boy”
“This song, also covered by the Beatles, is about a kid who doesn’t want to go school, he just wants to rock & roll all night. Williams—a friend (and drug connection) to Little Richard—was indeed too bad for this world: He died in LA of a gunshot wound to the head in 1980.''

King Tuff, “Bad Thing”
“A whole different kind of bad. Bright, bashing, and glammy. The sound of one Vermont dude reinventing the whole universe in his garage.”

The Breeders, “I Just Wanna Get Along”
“Cool girls making fuzzy ‘90s guitar noise that sets up this put down: ‘If you’re so special, why aren’t you dead?’ Shattering.”

Iggy and the Stooges, “I Got a Right”
“After many years of trying, I still can’t figure out if this is the closest these knuckle-dragging libertines got to the Stones, or the closest they got to Motown.”

The Libertines, “I Get Along”
“Answering the question: ‘Can some guys from London play the Strokes first album faster, messier, more desperate, and as if their whole lives depended on getting the attention of every girl within earshot?’”

The Heartbreakers, “Can’t Keep My Eyes on You”
“Seventies New Yawkers who can’t tell the difference between seduction and destruction get lost in their own vicious guitar boogie. The live version is filthier. And therefore better.”

April March and the Makers, “Try to Cry”
“Turns out it’s not possible to make a modern garage rock song as mean as Van Morrison and Them’s ‘I Can Only Give You Everything.’ But sure is fun to try.”

Devo, “Be Stiff”
“Twitchy robo punk from Ohio, still astounding 36 years later.”

Deap Valley, “Gonna Make My Own Money”
“Two girls from LA who love denim cut-offs and loud, distorted blues riffs. Really, what more needs to be said?”

The Rolling Stones, “So Young”
“A 35-year-old Mick Jagger meets a French girl with spots on her face who barely speaks English and drives her dad’s car (“it was just jammed with teenage crap”), offers to share some popcorn with her (“it’s not a federal offense”), takes her to Barneys and buys her some boots, then tries to put his **** back on a leash before big trouble starts. Left off of ‘Some Girls’ presumably because it’s essentially reprehensible. Also one of the best blues they ever cut.”

Low Cut Connie, “Boozophilia”
“One guy bangs a piano in a style between the Pentecostal church and a gay cabaret while his partner mistreats a guitar until it bends to his will. Together, they search for love, truth, sex, or another drink. Their battle cry: ‘I don’t care what we do. We can go to the beach. We can go get stoned. I’m hungry.”

Jemina Pearl, “Looking for Trouble”
“How awesomely badass is this girl? ‘My hands smell like cheeseburgers and cigarettes. On the tips of my fingers I count my regrets.’ Case closed.”

Follow Joe Levy on Twitter here.

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