By Kyle Anderson
Updated October 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

The Civil Wars

  • Music

On the hit ABC drama Scandal, Bellamy Young plays cutthroat First Lady Mellie Grant, and though that show is full of classic R&B and funk tunes, Grant would probably prefer listening to the icy grooves of Kraftwerk or Berlin-era David Bowie.

But Young’s taste runs the gamut — from fellow North Carolinans the Avett Brothers (she’s originally from Asheville) to the New Wave worldbeat of Peter Gabriel. Here’s a smattering of what can be found on her iPod.

The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars

“I think songs find you. I feel the same way about people or animals—you’re sort of magnetizing and co-creating your life. I’m open to all suggestions. I listen to KCRW a lot. But also Twitter. Sweet Eric Stonestreet tweeted about the Civil Wars album, and the second I listened to any of it, I bought it and have tucked in on a rainy day with a quilt and a cup of tea and an amazing book. That album is so transporting.”

Matisyahu, “Jerusalem”

“I was in Israel this summer and had known about Matisyahu for a while but suddenly it was more alive to me. We played ‘Jerusalem’ as we were pulling into Jerusalem. You can’t unlive that moment. It’s timeless and epic and you won’t forget it your whole life. It was a phenomenal trip. I went with Katie [Lowes] and Guillermo [Diaz] from Scandal and my friend Lana [Parrilla] from Once Upon a Time. We were guests of America’s Voice in Israel, and we were introduced to the country in an astounding way. It’s so complicated and inspiring and thriving and historic. What would you say about Matisyahu? That’s where words fail. Music is experiential and transporting. To talk about it is sort of difficult and flattens out a little bit. It’s not just cerebral, it’s visceral.”

Avett Brothers, “Kick Drum Heart”

“I’m from North Carolina, originally. From Asheville, in the mountains. Of course James Taylor is the first thing you think of. But the Avett Brothers kill me. ‘Kick Drum Heart’—you cannot be sad, angry, self-indulgent, grudge-holding—you can’t hold negativity and hear ‘Kick Drum Heart.’ It beats it out of you. It elevates you into some sort of happy happy plane. They’re my North Carolina babies.”

Heart, “Alone”

“Road trips feel like the ‘80s to me, so if you can channel some Heart. You can’t go wrong with the ‘80s. You want to drive to the ‘80s. If you’re going to Vegas for the weekend, ‘Alone’ will get you there in 45 minutes. Oh my God. Bless her heart, she just seems like a big rock and roll bird. I don’t understand how she was making those sounds. They’re glorious.”

Fitz & the Tantrums, More Than Just a Dream

“My friend Mikey is the frontman for Fitz & the Tantrums. I feel like they’re the ’80s reanimated, though now they’ve reinvented themselves. Mikey makes me think of Darryl Hall a lot. His voice is really gorgeous like that. I’m digging the whole new album. I’m an album girl. I like to take a walk to an album or take a drive to an album. The new Fitz & the Tantrums album is something your really tuck into. You really go on the journey with the album.”

Bonnie Raitt, “I Don’t Want Anything To Change”

“I used to do Broadway, and I’m working on an album because I want people to remember I can sing. It’ll be cover songs because I’m not gifted enough to write them. The song I’ve been loving to sing lately is a Bonnie Raitt song called ‘I Don’t Want Anything to Change.’ It’s been haunting me lately. It has a message, and I’m listening and I don’t know what the message is yet. Or I’d love to sing ‘Grapefruit Moon,’ because I love that song, but I’m not sure. I think that song might just need to be sung by Tom Waits. I’ll give it a go, but there are some songs you love that maybe you shouldn’t touch. Maybe I’m three bourbons shy, or 33.”

XTC, Skylarking

“My college boyfriend was [comic singer-songwriter] Jonathon Coulton. We dated for like five and a half years in college. And out of college. He has wicked smart taste in music, and he got me into XTC. I don’t know if I got to Skylarking first or Oranges & Lemons or where I got on the bus. I’m sure it wasn’t in chronological order, but once you’re on the bus, you have to ride it wherever it’s going. I surrender completely. I like an album that tells a story. I think Skylarking was the first time I thought, ‘Oh, this has something to say in a narrative.’ Music is the best drug in the world, and the best therapy.”

Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”

“A truly soaring epic experience was Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl with an orchestra of children. This was about three years ago. That night was everything. It was huge. If I had to pick a favorite song of my whole lifetime, ‘In Your Eyes’ is probably it. That or ‘I’ll Be Your Lover,’ but I think it’s ‘In Your Eyes.’ It was absolutely ineffable. That night at the Bowl should not be described. It was big.”

Glenn Gould, Two and Three Part Inventions

“This episode that I’m going into is really hard and enormous. I’ve never had an opportunity like this myself, and poor Mellie has never gone through what she’s about to, so I’ve been really scared and excited and grateful. So I’ve been listening to Glenn Gould’s Two and Three Part Inventions. I know he’s such a genius, but when you have a lot of worries on your mind, to listen to his mind is sort of comforting. I’ve been lost in that this week. That’s not a catchy note to end on, but it’s so beautiful. I use music a lot, and what will get me through the week is that whole Glenn Gould album.”

Episode Recaps

The Civil Wars

  • Music