January 31st, 2013 9:53 am | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Media, PDX News, Business

Steve Novick Made Portland a Phone-Hold Music Mixtape

alicia_keys_2011Like Bob Dylan, Steve Novick has been thinking 'bout Alicia Keys - Wikimedia Commons

City Commissioner Steve Novick wants Portland to change its phone-hold music. So he made the city bureaus a playlist.

In this week's cover story on changes at City Hall, WW reported that Novick, who took office Jan. 2, has heard frustration from the Water Bureau's customer-service team. Some citizens have complained about the "Listen Local" program played by the city when customers are on hold.

Novick wants to scrap the local indie rock, instituted to great acclaim in 2010 by former Mayor Sam Adams, and replace it with songs custom-picked for each bureau.

Wednesday's story mentioned a couple of Novick's picks. But he also sent WW an email with a lengthy potential mixtape.

Here it is, bureau by bureau:

Water – “Once in a lifetime,” Talking Heads (many references to water); maybe “Sons and Daughters” by the Decemberists; “Waterfalls” by TLC  
Fire – “We didn’t start the fire” by Billy Joel; “Hang Fire” by the Rolling Stones; Alicia Keys, “Girl on Fire”  
Police – “I Fought the Law” (Clash version)
Planning and Sustainability – Joni Mitchell’s “Paved Paradise” song; Pretenders, “My city was gone”
Auditor – “Every breath you take” by The Police
Transportation – pretty much anything by Springsteen; “Something happened to me yesterday” by the Stones, because of Mick’s odd reference to bike safety at the end; “Get up and go” by the Go-Gos
Parks – “Strawberry Fields”
BES – Theme to The Honeymooners (because of Ed Norton who worked in the sewers)
Housing – “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones; “Shelter from the Storm” by Dylan
BOEC – “Call me” by Blondie

By comparison, the current "Listen Local" program that plays on all city hold lines consists of 15 Portland bands. Local soundtrack company Rumblefish, which curates the "Listen Local" playlist, says the following artists are now in rotation:

Will West
Phillip Emilio Baker
Barry Brusseau
Keegan Smith
Otis Heat
Tu Fawning
Dr. Theopolis
Apollo Chamber Ensemble
Tom Grant
Blue Cranes
Scrambled Ape
Portland Youth Philharmonic
The Harvey Girls

So there's certainly a contrast.

For what it's worth, that "Paved Paradise" song Novick mentions is Joni Mitchell's mournfully chipper "Big Yellow Taxi." It could also be utilized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services.

(Plus, Portland is the rare city that actually has a tree museum.)

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