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THE RIGHT TRACK: A peek inside the playlist of Phoenix’s most influential people | Rosemarie Dombrowski


Rosemarie Dombrowski is Phoenix’s first poet laureate. She is a poetry professor at ASU and a linchpin in Phoenix’s literary community. She is also a sucker for sappy ‘80s love ballads.

Get acquainted with Dombrowski through the music that motivates and inspires her.


1. “Suzanne,” Leonard Cohen
“This is about to become a predictable, lovelorn list, but Cohen was everything to me in college, from the discography to the poetry to the experimental novel. As for the song, the melody is haunting, and the narrative grounds you in the spiritual wellspring of Suzanne before it analogizes the unworthy man to a broken Jesus-sailor. The homage he pays to her translates into the highest form of art, and when it ends, you feel as though you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

2. “Kathy’s Song,” Simon and Garfunkel
“I became an S & G aficionado in grad school, and the narrative of this song is torturously beautiful, so I guess the poet in me is compelled to return to it over and over again. I saw them in concert about a decade or so ago, and it was even more magical live.”

3. “It Ain’t Me Babe,” Bob Dylan
“Again, nearly everything by Bob Dylan should be on this list, and the influence he had on me in college was profound, but since I’m sticking with love/lovelorn songs, I’m going with the ultimate song of self-outing and brutal realism – i.e. it ain’t [him she’s]looking for. I love the honesty of the sentiment. And I love that harmonica.”

4. “We Both Go Down Together,” The Decemberists
“I must’ve heard this song about a decade ago, and it’s one that I immediately memorized and find myself returning to when I’m in need of a truly metaphysical (and well-crafted) narrative set to indie-folk music. They’re some of the most masterful storytellers of the genre and the age, so loving their discography helped make this an easy choice.”

5. “Somebody,” Depeche Mode
“A guy played this one for me in high school, and the freakishly vulnerable nature of it makes it too good not to include. Also, it’s Depeche Mode, so yes.”

Runner-Up: “In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel
“I love John Cusack, and I especially love his character in Say Anything, and that scene with the boom box blasting ‘In Your Eyes’ was everything to me when I was a teenager… and it kind of still is.”

“I still listen to CDs in my beloved ’99 Mercedes, but outside of the car, I’m all about Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube, given their superior sound quality and convenience.”

“Back in the day, it was ‘Crazy for You’ by Madonna, and ironically, it’s just lovelorn enough to fit perfectly into this list. I think I used to sing it weekly at The Vine in Mesa. Thankfully, that was too long ago for anyone to remember!”


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