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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Playlist of My Life, Tattoo Tour Edition: Krista Spies `24

Zack Walsh
Krista Spies `24 poses in front of her “Barbie” poster with a vinyl copy of The Runaways’ self-titled record.

As of Nov. 5, 2023, my Spotify liked songs include 15,679 tracks and 400 playlists. My record collection spans about 600 vinyl records, 50 CDs and 20 cassette tapes. Nina Simone, Lil’ Kim, and Avril Lavigne are just a few of the faces that adorn my laptop covers. To permanently imprint my dedication to music, I decided to literally etch myself with representations of the art I love. 

The first non-stick-and-poke tattoo I got came from a shop I impulsively searched for when I was roaming the streets of an unfamiliar city. I knew I wanted a music-themed sleeve, and the first image I thought of was the record player gracing the album cover of “The Singles” by Bikini Kill.

Spies flexes her muscles and her sick tats, which reference musicians including Woody Guthrie, The Runaways, and Bikini Kill. (Zack Walsh)

It’s difficult to pick a favorite from the compilation, but “Rebel Girl” stands out as important to highlight because of its reputation as an anthem of the Riot Grrrl movement, its lyrics a love letter to gritty feminist revolution. One of my favorite musical eras, 90s Riot Grrrl exposed me to a basis of political thinking that I carry with me today, and “Rebel Girl” lyrically and instrumentally reminds me of that. 

The next tattoo paints my arms red as one of my only three color tattoos — a lit bomb in the form of a cherry. I’ve always had a crush on Joan Jett, and I remember the song and band that launched her career, from when I would really only listen to music on the car radio to and from grade school. Both the song itself and my memory of hearing it when I was younger represent rough girlhood.

An artist I hold dear to my heart, Xavi — @xavicastillo.tattooart on Instagram — created eight of my tattoos while I spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, where I was lucky to receive one to three tattoos a week and discover new music.

Not to be ignored in the music world are the places we gather, whether they be venues, clubs, record shops or whatever else. One of my favorite spaces for music in Spain was a museum-bar called Madrid Me Mata dedicated to La Movida Madrileña, a new wave countercultural movement of the 1980s that featured an underground punk rock scene and a sexually liberatory politic.

A Madrid artist known as Alaska y Dinarama sings “Mi novio es un zombi,” which I think both exemplifies the time and space of La Movida Madrileña while also providing a genuine, fun tune. I must have listened to this song at least 100 times this past summer.

One of the first tattoos Xavi gave me was a flower. I definitely wouldn’t call myself the biggest Nirvana fan, at least not anymore, but their B-side track “Marigold,” originally by Dave Grohl, appealed to me in high school when I was trying to branch out in my music taste. After the fact, I found out that the marigold happens to be my birth month flower — fate!

 Viewers often misinterpret the next one down my arm — which I understand because I created the messy template for it on Google Drawings — a little cartoon for Audrey Hepburn’s “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I watched that movie one night when I stayed up too late in middle school and everyone else in the house was asleep. Listening to Hepburn’s melodic original of a song that has so many other renditions put me in a trance and helped me to appreciate cinematic music. 


To represent my tattoo of legendary music venue CBGB, I wanted to pick a song by Blondie, as they are probably my favorite band that performed regularly at the Manhattan punk/new wave club. They probably did not play “Once I Had A Love (AKA The Disco Song),” a chiller, earlier version of the hit “Heart of Glass” that shows off lead singer Debbie Harry’s lilting voice, but I’ve definitely played it in my head enough times to make up for it. 

The television series “One Tree Hill” — a show with some ridiculous teen drama plots — also plays a part in my deep connection with music. One powerful scene involves the song “Pictures of You” by The Cure, along with the full album it’s featured on, “Disintegration,” shown in vinyl form in the episode. Because of that scene, I brought myself that record and would lie on my bed listening to “Pictures of You” on repeat.

Andrew Thompson `23 gave me my two wraparound arm tattoos, one of them being in honor of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, a song written by June Carter. Love songs, in my opinion, are the pinnacle of art.

My most recent addition to the sleeve is a portrait of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century composer — and saint! — who claimed to receive religious visions. Her “Antiphon, O quam mirabilis est” stunned my ears the first time they heard the choral piece. 

The first tattoo I got that appears on this list is thanks to a high school friend’s stick-and-poke skills. FIDLAR — a band name whose acronym stands for “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk,” which is an exceptional life motto — adorns a part of my body most people probably will not get a chance to see.

I enjoy posting my silly little Spotify links on my social media stories, and I want you to know that I enjoy seeing yours, too, dear reader, whether the song comes from a 17th century classical composer or from an early 2000’s boy band of nostalgia. No matter who you are, I’d love to talk to you about music!

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About the Contributor
Krista Spies
Krista Spies, Arts Editor
Krista Spies is a fourth-year English and Spanish major from St. Louis, MO. She loves writing about the arts almost as much as getting tattooed, and she hopes to turn going to concerts into a full-time job.
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