Maple leaf rendering

Milwaukee artist Jill Sebastian designed this sculpture of a maple leaf to replace the speaker's podium on the Library Mall. She was inspired by the atmosphere of change at the campus, the waves on Lake Mendota and the passing of the seasons.

Jill Sebastian

The federal government is back, and so is the Cap Times playlist. Welcome to the second edition of our musical feature inspired by the news of the week.

The easiest way to listen to the playlist is through Spotify, which offers both a free program and a free web-based streaming service — but you can also track down the songs on your own and listen to them in your music player of choice.

As always, if we didn't include a song you think belongs on the list, let us know in the comments.

Now that the U.S. government is back to business, we think everyone involved could use a smooth jam to encourage positivity and — well, why are we still talking? Al Green can say it better than we can. After all, before the president ever sang it, The Reverend Al Green did: "Let's Stay Together."

Next up, a question posed by Feist: Is Sen. Ron Johnson hiding something in his "Secret Heart"? Some right-wing pundits thought that might be the case when they attacked him for not being conservative enough. Johnson's detractors included talk show host Mark Levin and blogger Erick Erickson after the senator criticized Sen. Ted Cruz's purported strategy to defund Obamacare as “intellectually dishonest."

We found out early in the week that 35-year-old Amar Kaleka plans to challenge eight-term U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Janesville, in 2014. 

"There's a fever in the nation, and specifically in this district, for our leaders to stop playing politics and do their jobs," Kaleka told the Associated Press.

And with that quote, we introduce a two-for-one (that's two songs for one news item). Obviously, we can't have a "fever" quote without the Peggy Lee classic, so that's first up. But next on the list is the other "fever" classic — that is, the one made famous by Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken in the cowbell-licious SNL sketch. We've got a fever, and the only cure is… you know the rest. Cue "Don't Fear the Reaper."

The old adage might be to starve a fever and feed a cold, but if you're feeling hungry, you're in luck. Madison's foodies will get some love from the Food Network when Heartland Table airs its "Roadtrip: Madison" episode this weekend, and later, when journalist Allen Salkin reads from his new book, "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network" as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. For these delicious events, we ring the "Dinner Bell," by They Might Be Giants.

Our playlist takes a more serious turn for a moment, and we suspend our snark and frivolity to mention this week's cover story: a look at the alarming rise in binge drinking among young women in Wisconsin and nationwide. To mark the story's place on the playlist, we choose Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" — written about a family's struggle with alcoholism from the perspective of a young teen.

Later in the week, the city was abuzz with discussion about Wisconsin artist Jill Sebastian's proposed design for a "memorable and iconographic" sculpture to anchor the State Street Library Mall: a sugar maple leaf.

Could it be the warning sign of an impending Canadian takeover, or is it just just a symbol of personal transformation? Let's listen to Five Iron Frenzy's "Canada" and see if it gives us any clues.

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What's that you hear, next? Don't get too excited — it's not the beginning of "Ice Ice Baby"; it's the other song that starts that way. Democratic legislators in Wisconsin felt "Under Pressure" to vote in favor of Gov. Walker's property tax cut, even though many spoke against it.

“The freedom that comes along with announcing you’re not running for reelection is that you can vote against crap like this,” said Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, about the bill.

We'll end the list with something we think everyone can get excited about — so excited, in fact, that we'll do another two-for-one.

The Wisconsin Book Festival is this weekend, organized for the first time by the Madison Public Library. With free events for all ages, there's really something for everyone. If you're looking for something to do, there are plenty of opportunities to get, as Belle and Sebastian sang, "Wrapped Up In Books."

And while you're browsing the festival, you might just get inspired and think to yourself, "I Could Write A Book." If you do, be sure to listen to Harry Connick, Jr.'s tune by the same name, and read Rob Thomas's interview with the crooner before Connick, Jr.'s show at Overture Hall on Monday, Oct. 21.

Listen to the playlist here: