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Groundhog Day: 12 songs we’re listening to on repeat

Andrea Warner

Today, tiny rodents all over North America will pop their heads out of holes in the ground and cast shadows to call forward the next six weeks of our seasonal fortunes.

Early spring or long winter, either way we’re happy to celebrate the real gift of Feb. 2: the 1993 film Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray's character is forced to live the same day over and over again. It's a perfect excuse to think about the music we’d happily listen to on repeat if we were stuck in an almost never-ending loop, too.

From Nina Simone and Patrick Watson to Jethro Tull and Laura Mvula, CBC Music hosts and producers write about their forever songs and what makes them magical.



Zager and Evans, ‘In the Year 2525’

This 1960s musical anthem is more doom-laden than a shelf full of Margaret Atwood books. It is a speculative pop song about the future of the human race. Starting with the titular year, "In the Year 2525" makes bold and stark predictions about where we are headed, jumping in 1010-year intervals as each verse goes along.

By the year 9595 things are looking pretty bleak. There's no chorus, but a very cool structure: after each verse, the key of the song shifts up half a step until the end, when the tune comes back to its original key and, lyrically, the duo of Zager and Evans return to the year 2525, only to start all over again as the song fades out. It's completely cyclical, just like the destructive cycles of the human race. This is the most perfectly depressing, never-ending apocalyptic pop song for Groundhog Day. Now hit the auto-repeat button, kick back and enjoy the end of the world time after time.

— Pete Morey (@CBCPeteMorey)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor

It is never not interesting, always exciting and never fails to tell a story that somehow fits with your life on that day. Fate is always knocking at the door, anyway. Beethoven just lets it in.

— Tom Allen (@CBCR2Shift)

Nina Simone, ‘Feeling Good’

This unforgettable Nina Simone track is at once soulful, hopeful, powerful and bittersweet — and the evocative lyrics paired with a lush big band and Simone's inimitable vocals never grow tired, no matter how many plays.

— Jennifer Van Evra (@jvanevra)

Jill Scott feat. Anthony Hamilton, 'So in Love'

This song is so perfect, I find myself wondering if Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton — both formidable solo artists — were actually put on this Earth to sing it with their amazing chemistry. Over a surprisingly simple (but danceable) groove, it distills that amazing feeling (is there any better?) when you can't bear to be apart from the person you love: "Can't wait to see you lookin' lovely/ I hope you're thinkin' of me." It infatuates me as much today — more! — as it did when it dropped in 2011.

— Robert Rowat (@rkhr)

Iron & Wine, ‘Grace for Saints and Ramblers’

The song that has the most plays in my iTunes library — more than double the second most-played track — is Iron & Wine’s “Grace for Saints and Ramblers.” It’s a jaunty, quirky pop tune full of layers that keep unfolding as the driving rhythm propels you forward. On repeated listens you discover the deep brass beats, playful string hooks, hand claps, sleigh bells and lovely call-and-response vocals, all set to the idiosyncratic poetry of singer Sam Beam in a sometimes breathless delivery.

The song builds in a joyful urgency, and just as the song crescendos, it fades out, with lingering refrains of “it all came down to you and I,” compelling you to start the track again, where you’re greeted with the same line, and the circle continues.

— Jeanette Cabral (@JeanetteCabral)

Jethro Tull, ‘Thick as a Brick’

If I'm going to listen to one song on repeat for the rest of eternity it had better be a long one. In 1972, Jethro Tull decided to take on the new trend of overweening rock concept albums by making Thick as a Brick, a record that was just one gigantically long song, stretched across two album sides. Mathematically, its 44-minute duration will keep me sane for nearly 15 times longer than "I Got You Babe."

— Matthew Parsons (@MJRParsons)

Alejandra Ribera, ‘I Want’

In "I Want," Alejandra Ribera asks what is it that makes you feel alive. For her, the answer is connection — to the physical world, to music, to others. The aching of a melody; the feeling wind on your skin; sharing your life with people you love. Ribera calls this a song about hope, joy and gratitude — emotions it inspires in me every time I hear it. A beautiful harmonic and melodic circle I could listen to and contemplate for a very long time.

— Katherine Duncan (@CBCkd)

Dorothy Moore, ‘Misty Blue’

Soulful, sexy, and full of longing — just let it surround you, surrender totally to Moore’s incredible voice and give your body to the music. Like fingers gently tracing a path from the inside of your wrist up your arm, it’s all electricity and fire and skin tingling at the memory of someone you simply cannot quit — even if you should. This song is exquisitely layered, tender and torn, and intoxicating, and I happily fall under its spell over and over and over.

— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner)

Patrick Watson, ‘Big Bird in a Small Cage’

If you're gonna listen to a song on repeat forever, it has to treat you kindly. It can't be too brash, but it can't be too quiet. It's gotta lift you up, and set you down softly. Patrick Watson's "Big Bird in a Small Cage" ticks off all the boxes: with its mix of guitar, banjo, a little percussion and some soft keys, it becomes a sunny-day song, a rainy-day song, a morning song, a nighttime song, a whenever-you-need-it song. And with a pair of perfectly matched voices — Watson's with Katie Moore's — drawing it all together, it's gosh-darned gorgeous, too.

— Emma Godmere (@godmere)

Laura Mvula, ‘Phenomenal Woman’

The pure joy of this song is so addictive that I can’t stop listening to it, especially when I need a bit of a pick-me-up.

— Andrea Gin (@andreagin)

The Civil Wars, 'Tip of My Tongue'

Whenever I need some room to take a breath, I hit play on the Civil Wars' first (non-label) album, Live at Eddie's Attic. Recorded during a show at the titular space in Decatur, Georgia, it's filled with the clink of dishes and the warmth of two artists who were finding their footing together (before a public break-up and years of not speaking). "Tip of my Tongue," the fifth song in, is usually what I'm looking for: it's playful and sexy, a back-and-forth of beautiful lines and voices. "You're my favourite song/ always on the tip of my tongue," Joy Williams sings, while John Paul White strums on a key lower than they've rehearsed (which she jokingly points out after the song is over).

It's the best version of the song that they released, but you'll have to buy it to hear it. The Sessions Factory video, below, is a good Groundhog Day replacement, though.

— Holly Gordon (@hollygowritely)

Brian Eno, 1/1 from Ambient 1: Music for Airports

This leaps to mind as a good candidate for eternal listening partially because I already know what it feels like to be seduced by the languorous unfolding of Brian Eno's ambient musical spell. In fact, this music saved me once. I suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ear). These days I'm mostly able to ignore it, but when I first noticed it, it was terrifying. I couldn't sleep through the night without having this track on repeat in the background, just loud enough to distract me from the buzzing in my own head, just quiet enough to allow me to sleep.

Nowadays, I think it might be the perfect antidote to a world that's weighed down by too much noise: a kind of societal tinnitus, you could say. This just might be the thing to drown out the noise of a world gone mad.

— Paolo Pietropaolo (@paolopp)

More to explore:

Missy Elliott to Lizzo: 7 songs you need to hear this week

First Play Live: Alejandra Ribera, This Island

k.d. lang’s Ingénue: 25 things you need to know about her breakout album