Fresh off their VHS Tour, contemporary rock renegades X Ambassadors share the songs that spark nostalgia for their hometown with us here at Billboard.
“It’s a mix of songs that remind us of the winters back home in Ithaca — songs that we used to listen to while driving around in my mom’s old Volvo station wagon and some new songs that we listen to now when we’re feeling homesick — which is a lot, lately,” the lead singer, Sam Harris, told us. Take a listen to the band’s picks below.
1. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Things Done Changed”
I remember when I first got this record. It was one of the 3 CDs I had in my car at ALL times. Blasting that in my car, I felt like it contrasted so drastically with my surroundings, that it was able to transport me far away from where I was.
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2. Bob Dylan – “Hard Times in New York Town”
My buddy Sam Farhi and I used to trade songs back-and-fourth, giving each other new gems that we’d discovered. He had all the Dylan bootlegs and showed me this one. The turnaround he does in the chorus is so awesome, it still gets me every time.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scar Tissue”
This was the first song that Noah and I ever played together. We were sitting on the edge of his bed in his room, and he’d just learned how to play it. I started singing along, and it felt like magic. We were probably like 12 years old.
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4. Coldplay – “Parachutes”
My high school girlfriend gave me a mix that had this song on it, and I remember loving how short and sweet it was. It’s a nice reminder of that time in my life, being in love for the first time.
5. Otis Redding – “Try a Little Tenderness”
There was a winter dance recital for the Ithaca Ballet program that some of my friends were in. A girl I knew (who I had a huge crush on) did a dance to this Otis Redding song, and I thought it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen.
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6. Bruce Springsteen – “Atlantic City”
Quite possibly the greatest song ever written, in my opinion. Just that chorus “Everything dies baby, that’s a fact, but baby everything that dies someday comes back.” It’s matter-of-fact and sad, but uplifting at the same time. And the whole story about the couple trying to get their shit together and escape their hometown — gets me every time.
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Cotton Fields”
The Creedence Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was another one of those 3 CDs I had in my car at all times. During free periods (or gym class), we would drive to Noah’s girlfriend’s house and smoke weed in her driveway, blasting this record the whole time.
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8. Kings of Leon – “King of the Rodeo”
I remember when Kings of Leon first came out, and I was immediately transfixed by Caleb Followill and his voice. It was exactly what I wanted a lead singer to sound like, and yet like nothing I could’ve ever dreamed of. This song off their second record became my theme song. As much as I love Caleb’s vocals on this, the drums are actually my favorite part of this song.
9. Bon Iver – “Flume”
This album came out when we had already moved to New York and were in college, but whenever I go home now, I always listen to this record. It feels like it was written for winter in upstate New York.
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10. Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away”
I’ve been obsessively listening to this album over the past couple weeks. Chris Stapleton is someone who I would’ve gone CRAZY over if he had put this album out when I was in high school. I can’t wait to go back home to Ithaca and listen to this whole album on my front porch. This track is a personal fave.
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