Playlist #61: Mom’s Birthday, Take 2

Last year, I posted a playlist for my mother’s birthday that really didn’t reflect her favorite musicians or bands. This year, I make up for that. I present to you Version 2.0 of my Mom’s Birthday Playlist!

  1. Supertramp, “Take The Long Way Home”: One of the few CDs mom had when we were young was a Supertramp greatest hits collection. We listened to it a lot on car trips.
  2. Simon & Garfunkel, “A Hazy Shade Of Winter”: She also had a Simon & Garfunkel CD. This song was not on it, but it’s still a good song.
  3. The Eagles, “Take It To The Limit”: Mom likes the Eagles. I like the Eagles. My wife hates the Eagles with a fierce, fiery passion.
  4. Electric Light Orchestra, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”: Who doesn’t love ELO? Commies, that’s who.
  5. The Moody Blues, “Ride My See-Saw”: I mean, they have that one song where they spend the last couple minutes just talking, but this song doesn’t do that. It’s just a fun, uptempo bop.
  6. Huey Lewis & The News, “It’s All Right”: I had a Huey Lewis button on my jean jacket growing up. It was awesome.
  7. Carole King, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”: This woman writes a song better than damn-near anybody. I will fight you on this.
  8. Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”: You probably think this song is about you. It’s not.
  9. The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”: I heard this song in the doctor’s office earlier this week. I then recalled that a coworker had me learn how to play this song for our school talent show several years ago.
  10. Don Henley, “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”: And make romance.

Playlist #60: Road Trip!

Happy Monday! I’m currently in Oklahoma, preparing to leave tomorrow for Utah with my mother to visit a number of national parks. So this is being written before I head out west, since I’m not sure I’ll have the time to write one the week of. Make sure to follow me on Patreon! I would appreciate the love, and you’ll appreciate the music!

  1. Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”: I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years. I haven’t been everywhere, mind you, but I’ve been to lots of places around the US. The last time I was in Utah was 1996, the year I won the coveted Cottrell Hiker of the Year award.
  2. John Mellencamp, “Rumble Seat”: Cars don’t have rumble seats anymore. We should bring them back, because I’m sure they’re super practical and not at all dangerous or anything.
  3. John Fullbright, “Jericho (Live)”: An Okie with a damn good ear for a good tune.
  4. David Gray, “Fugitive”: I happen to love David Gray’s Draw the Line album. It’s my favorite of his post-White Ladder work.
  5. Dawes, “A Little Bit Of Everything”: This song talks about making potatoes at one point. It’s weird and cute and I kinda love it.
  6. Deer Tick, “Easy”: I really enjoy this song and the harmonies in it, though you wouldn’t think the lead singer was capable of harmonizing with anyone.
  7. Uncle Tupelo, “No Depression”: After the school year I’ve had, I could use a vacation, especially one in a land that’s free from care.
  8. The Who, “Going Mobile”: It’s one of the most ridiculous Who songs out there (trumped only by “Eminence Front”). I love it anyway.
  9. Young Dubliners, “Last House On The Street”: My uncle’s band used to cover this song all the time. I like it.
  10. Willie Nelson, “Highwayman”: Who doesn’t love a song that goes from swashbuckling highway robber to starship captain in, like, four verses?

Playlist #59

Happy Tuesday, folks! It’s officially summer break time! That doesn’t mean I’ve slacked off over on Patreon, though. There’ll be a new song each month, just like usual. Anyway, here’s this week’s playlist.

  1. Old 97s, “Holy Cross”: It’s just such a bleak song with such a great rhythm.
  2. The Wallflowers, “Sleepwalker”: “Now, Cupid, don’t draw back your bow/Sam Cooke didn’t know what I know.”
  3. The Minus 5, “Wasted Bandage”: Favorite line is, “dear physician, won’t you heal yourself?”
  4. Golden Smog, “Until You Came Along”: Love the jangly twelve string in this one. It’s an alt-country Byrds song, essentially.
  5. Gin Blossoms, “Just South Of Nowhere”: Early Gin Blossoms stuff is just so damn good.
  6. Justin Townes Earle, “Flint City Shake it”: A song that calls GM out on the carpet for its treatment of the auto workers in Flint, Michigan. Gotta love it.
  7. Jesse Malin, “Addicted”: I will never not love Jesse Malin, and this song – about the problems of modern society and its addiction to smart phones and Instagram – hits a lot of good points.
  8. Josh Ritter, “Getting Ready To Get Down”: “If you wanna see a miracle/Watch me get down.”
  9. Glen Phillips, “Men Just Leave”: I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Glen Phillips’ first solo album, and this song – about how men often suck – still hits too real.
  10. Wilco, “You Are My Face”: I love the middle part of this song, where the band really cuts loose. It’s awesome.

Playlist #58: End of the School Year

It’s the last week of school finally. It’s been a difficult year, to say the least. But I keep posting new stuff on Patreon and I keep coming up with new playlists here.

  1. Alice Cooper, “School’s Out”: Yeah, of course this song was gonna be on here.
  2. The Mountain Goats, “Fall of the Star High School Running Back”: Who hasn’t gone from being the star player on the football team to selling acid to cops?
  3. Paul Simon, “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard”: Ever have one of those troublemaker friends that your parents just couldn’t stand? Yeah, I did, too.
  4. Pearl Jam, “Education”: “I’m questioning my education.” Me too, Eddie. Me too.
  5. Sting, “History Will Teach Us Nothing”: I mean, maybe you just didn’t learn from your history class, Sting. Ever think it was you, not history?
  6. Sam Cooke, “(What A) Wonderful World”: I think I teach several Sam Cookes. “Don’t know much about history,” he sings. Yeah, my kids could sing that, too.
  7. Chuck Berry, “Schooldays”: “RIng, ring, goes the bell.”
  8. Nirvana, “School”: Kurt Cobain recognizes the need for recess and laments the lack of it in the modern educational schema.
  9. Belle & Sebastian, “We Rule The School”: The number of students in Belle & Sebastian who probably got beat up in high school on a daily basis is a nonzero number.
  10. Pink Floyd, “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2”: The use of the double negative in the chorus indicates you do, in fact, need education, Mr. Floyd.

Playlist #57: ’90s Dance Party!

Happy Monday Tuesday, everyone! I was off yesterday for Memorial Day here in the US, so here’s this week’s playlist. It’s sponsored by the fact that the Wife and I watched the new Kids in the Hall season, which was quite good (and featured far more old man dong than I anticipated). You can also support me on Patreon, where I just released May’s new song!

  1. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, “Having An Average Weekend”: The theme song from Kids in the Hall! Still slaps.
  2. Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand”: The song title is too long, there’s no more time to say anything else about this song! Other than it features a B.B. King sample.
  3. Shawn Mullins, “Lullaby”: This song was completely inescapable for like a month in 1998. Looking back, one has to wonder why. Was it the novelty of the spoken-word verses, or the Inside Baseball nature of the way it pokes at Hollywood? Or did we just not have high expectations for music in 1998? I think it’s maybe that one.
  4. Polaris, “Hey Sandy”: For a hot minute, I thought about making this playlist 100% great TV show theme songs from the ’90s, but it was really just this one and the one from KITH that I had for that list.
  5. Wilco, “A Shot In The Arm”: Wilco put out a new album last week! It’s pretty good. Here’s another pretty good Wilco song from over 20 years ago.
  6. Matchbox Twenty, “Mad Season”: Why do I enjoy listening to Matchbox Twenty so much? They’re so middle of the road, tailor made inoffensive that it’s hard not to enjoy their stuff, I guess.
  7. Barenaked Ladies, “It’s All Been Done”: Damn, that chorus gets really, really high at the end. I can never sing it right.
  8. Ben Folds Five, “Kate”: “She plays Wipeout on the drums/The squirrels and the birds come/Gather round and sing the guitar,” the song begins. And only gets better from there.
  9. Foo Fighters, “Everlong”: Have I included this song on a playlist already? Probably. It’s still so damn good.
  10. Gin Blossoms, “Hold Me Down”: Why have I come to love the Gin Blossoms so much? Is it this song specifically, or New Miserable Experience in general? I can’t say for certain.

Playlist #56

Another school year is winding towards a close. Here in Northern Virginia, seniors are taking their final exams this week, and they graduate next week. Week after that, school’s over for everyone else. It’s been a…challenging year, to say the least. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

Support me on Patreon! I’m about to release the song for May, and it’s a good one, if I do say so myself.

  1. Maria McKee, “Never Be You”: This song was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, and man, does it sound like it. Classic late ’70s/early ’80s Heartbreakers tone and style, through and through. I’d never heard this song before this weekend, but it’s good.
  2. The Black Keys, “Burn The Damn Thing Down”: Bluesy? Or Bloozy? It’s good, either way.
  3. Mike Doughty, “Fort Hood”: It takes some chutzpah to totally lift the coda from “Age of Aquarius” and use it as your chorus, but Mr. M. Doughty pulls it off.
  4. The National, “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”: They don’t usually do guitar solos, but they do one here, and it makes you wish they did them more often.
  5. Wilco, “The Thanks I Get”: Still the best Rod Stewart song Rod’s never sang.
  6. She & Him, “This Is Not A Test”: Fun and poppy. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I still go back to this album. It’s just fun.
  7. Franz Ferdinand, “Do You Want To”: I’ll never understand how these guys aren’t bigger than they are. They do great, straight-ahead rock numbers with lots of arch humor and and nudging asides.
  8. Bruce Springsteen, “Radio Nowhere”: Even on later Boss albums, you can still usually find a good track or two. This one’s pretty solid. Avoid the remake of “Ghost of Tom Joad” he did with Tom Morello on 2013’s High Hopes. Those two are two great tastes that don’t taste great together.
  9. The Jayhawks, “I’d Run Away”: Love me some two-part harmony.
  10. Mark Knopfler, “Speedway at Nazareth”: I just love how this song builds. Not just in terms of the music – though the build to that coda is fantastic – but lyrically as well. Just a master class in how to write a great song.

Playlist #55: Bob Dylan Cover Band

This week’s playlist is all Bob Dylan covers! Because I love me some Bob Dylan covers. Don’t forget to support me on Patreon.

  1. The Byrds, “My Back Pages”: Yeah, the Byrds make a bit of a career covering Dylan songs, and this is their best one.
  2. Faces, “Wicked Messenger”: Rod Stewart & Co. take an acoustic song from John Wesley Harding and make it rock.
  3. The Band, “This Wheel’s On Fire”: I mean, when you are Dylan’s backing band for several albums and use that as a jumping off point for your own separate career, you’re gonna borrow a couple of songs from the man. It only makes sense.
  4. George Harrison, “If Not For You”: I’ve always preferred Harrison’s version of this song to Dylan’s. That’s probably true of a lot of Dylan covers.
  5. The Gaslight Anthem, “Changing Of The Guard”: I have a soft spot for Street Legal, the album this song is off of, and the Gaslight Anthem provide a suitably raucous interpretation.
  6. Neko Case, “Buckets Of Rain”: You know how some folks seem to be made explicitly for certain songs? I think this is one of those cases.
  7. The Turtles, “It Ain’t Me, Babe”: The Turtles manage to pump quite a lot of energy into this song.
  8. My Chemical Romance, “Desolation Row”: It’s a tough song to cover, but they manage it in typical MCR style.
  9. The Hollies, “Mighty Quinn”: Did you know this song needed banjo? Because the Hollies did.
  10. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “All Along The Watchtower”: I mean, you knew this one had to be on here, right? It’s the quintessential Dylan cover. Of course it’s on here.

Playlist #54

Good Monday Morning, folks! Follow me on Patreon. I’m super excited about May’s song there. Meanwhile, here’s this week’s playlist:

  1. Dream Wife, “Hey Heartbreaker”: The chugging guitar is great, and I love the overlapping vocals at the end.
  2. Drive-By Truckers, “Outfit”: “Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit,” the narrator’s father admonishes him, and I can admit that I have done that on numerous occasions. Oh well.
  3. Wilco, “Say You Miss Me”: A heartbreaker of a song. Love it.
  4. Tom Waits, “Goin’ Out West”: “Well, I’m goin’ out west/Where the wind blows tall,” Tom Waits begins, and things only get weirder from there. Because of course they do, this is a Tom Waits song.
  5. Spoon, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”: A reverb-drenched shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.
  6. SaraoMusic, “Coming Home”: Sunny So-Cal indie pop at its finest.
  7. The Rolling Stones, “Factory Girl”: Always imagined this as the mid-70s version of that Shakespearean sonnet, “My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun.”
  8. The Beatles, “Two Of Us”: If there’s a better song on Let It Be, make your case in the comments.
  9. Rhett Miller, “The El”: Who doesn’t love rattling along on the El in Chicago?
  10. Josh Ritter, “Hopeful”: Taking those first few tentative steps out into the wild after a relationship collapses can be terrifying, but you gotta stay hopeful.

Playlist #53

If I were a more clever person than I am, I’d have made this playlist all songs from the second album by bands. But alas, it’s a Monday morning, and cleverness can only take one so far. In other news, I did just drop the April song over on Patreon, which you should sign up for and follow me on for a song a month!

  1. Bill Small, “This Old House”: Where did I first hear this song? I think was at the Mansion on O Street, back when I was still playing there on Sundays. It’s a simple song with a nice gimmick (a house reminding the singer of all the times he had there but now the only reason to stay is gone).
  2. The Black Keys, “Unknown Brother”: I like the Black Keys. I know it’s kinda popular amongst certain music aficionados to pooh pooh them, but I always kinda liked their energy and songwriting.
  3. Radiohead, “Ill Wind”: I’m not as familiar with this song as I am with most of the songs I put on my playlists. And latter-day Radiohead is always kinda hit and miss for me anyway. But it’s an interesting song.
  4. Roy Orbison, “You Got It”: Roy Orbison + Jeff Lynne = stuff I will listen to on repeat.
  5. Elliott Smith, “Christian Brothers”: Did I originally put the Heatmiser version of this song on a playlist? Or was it this version? And why am I too lazy to comb through 52 other playlists to find the answer?
  6. Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls”: They do indeed make the rockin’ world go ’round. More to the point, though, the first Queen CD I ever owned (an import from Hong Kong), a greatest hits collection, had the edited version of this song on it. The only difference between the two versions is there’s less Brian May guitar solo on the edited version. I ask you, dear reader, who in their right mind would want less Brian May guitar on a song? Not I. Not I.
  7. REM, “Nightswimming”: It’s just a beautiful song. Love the piano.
  8. David Gray, “What Am I Doing Wrong”: I’ve been listening to David Gray a lot this week, and digging through his older albums reveals a treasure trove of excellent songwriting (if not always excellent or interesting execution).
  9. Don Henley, “I Will Not Go Quietly”: Yeah, it’s another artist that it’s popular to shit on. I still like a lot of Henley’s stuff. He can be overbearing and preachy at times, but when he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s pretty great.
  10. Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, “Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy”: My Grandma Betty has a saying: “Nothing’s Easy.” The way she says it, you can hear the capital letters in each word. This song kinda reminds me of that.

I’m currently almost 40,000 words into Book 7. It’s coming along and I’ve found my groove again! Maybe it’ll be finished by this summer? Fingers crossed!

Playlist Metrics

So I sat down and created a list of every single artist included on one of the 52 playlists so far. Here are some of the more interesting numbers.

Three songs were repeated: Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” (just repeated this very week, in fact), Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and Linda Ronstadt’s “When Will I Be Loved?” Why those three? No idea.

Coming as no surprise, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tied for most songs on playlists at 15 each. If you include the solo Tom Petty song with the Heartbreakers pile, that would bring him to 16, but that seems disingenuous.

Behind Dylan and the Heartbreakers, the numbers drop off quite steeply. Tom Waits, The Rolling Stones, The National, and the Beatles all had six songs each. The Wallflowers came in at 5, as did Van Morrison.

Overall, there were approximately 346 different musical acts featured on the 52 playlists. Considering that three of those playlists were exclusive to a single band/musician, that’s pretty fantastic.

I’ve purposely left myself out of these calculations, even though I did the whole 8-song EP a couple of months ago, but that would’ve put me just ahead of the groups that did 6.

What have I learned from going through the data? There’s a fairly wide variety of musicians and bands on display. Do I have the most eclectic taste ever? No. Most of the stuff I listen to can be broadly categorized as classic rock, alternative, or Americana. You’ve got the occasional Lizzo or some soul and 50s/60s R&B thrown in for fun, but nothing I’ve put on a playlist particularly surprises me.

My favorite playlist was probably either Playlist #5, created for my friend Lauren’s birthday, or Playlist #14, created for my dad’s birthday. Both of these playlists had me playing around with themes and I really enjoyed how they hung together as a list of great songs. I also really enjoyed the recent Romeo and Juliet Playlist, #46. I like themes. They’re fun and sometimes challenging to build around.

Any regrets? I wish I’d put more time and thought into the playlist for my mother’s birthday, #10. I mean, not even one Supertramp song on there? What was I thinking?

I’m going to keep doing the playlists and writing about them each week. It brings me joy and makes me write, two things that I think are important. I hope you enjoy them, too.