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Miley Cyrus Goes Deep on Her 10 Favorite Flaming Lips Songs

Pop superstar breaks down essential tracks by her creative new collaborators

May 13, 2014 3:45 PM ET
Miley Cyrus, RS Issue 1209
Miley Cyrus
Illustration by Jody Hewgill with Balvis Rubess

"Once you listen to the Flaming Lips, it's hard to listen to anything else," says Cyrus, who recently hit the studio with her psychedelic-rock heroes to record some Beatles covers. "I've been listening to them for the past three months, to the exclusion of all other music – literally, I've erased everything else on my phone. My entire world is wrapped up in this collaboration and magical friendship."

The Evolution of Miley Cyrus

1. "Try to Explain" (2013)
This makes me think about how we're tiny little specks in a universe full of change that we have no control over and will never understand. Life is unpredictable, and whatever happens happens, no matter what.

2. "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" (1999)
This song makes me think about love and loss – how both are equally mysterious and inevitable.

3. "Free Radicals" (2006)
I'm waiting for the day this gets added to Guitar Hero. It makes me wish I could fucking shred.

4. "Thirty-Five Thousand Feet of Despair" (1997)
Zaireeka is complicated, but it's worth all the effort. The album is an experience – it's designed for a party. This song is about a pilot losing his shit, but on the first and second CDs, he's still sane. (If you wanna trip out, listen to just the fourth CD.)

5. "Money" (2009)
Steven Drozd once told me, "The Lips take the Floyd very seriously."

6. "In the Morning of the Magicians" (2002)
"What is love and what is hate? Why does it matter?" Understanding isn't the point of love. All that matters is the fact that it exists. Love is all that matters.

7. "There You Are" (1990)
This song has a hopelessness that makes me laugh and, oddly, think of my granddad. Pappy used to always say, "No matter where you go . . . there you are."

8. "Evil" (2009)
This song is telling the world humans can be anything they want to be – including evil, if they decide. Evil is equally powerful to love.

9. "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" (1999)
When it's played live, Wayne Coyne asks everyone to hug their loved ones they came to the show with. This song is about love and connection, humans healing humans. No matter what happens in life, loving each other never goes to waste. Wayne told me, "We are here and we are in this thing together. That's what 'A Spoonful' is."

10. "Once Beyond Hopelessness" (2008)
This song is dedicated to my dog Floyd, who is forever my "Alien Super-Being."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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