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.

Playlist #52

This marks the one-year anniversary of me starting this playlist project. It’s kept me writing here for the whole year, which I like. I’ve even gotten back into working on Novel #7 (I’m well-past the halfway point, I think).

For this playlist, I thought about doing a retrospective, selecting my favorite songs from other playlists. But I decided against that. I’ll do another post later this week where I examine the playlists as a whole, looking at who got played the most and how many songs I repeated (I think just one? I’m not sure, but I’ll find out!).

Anyway, remember there’s the Patreon. I’m about to post April’s song. I’m pretty proud of it. Anyway, without further ado, here’s this week’s playlist:

  1. Dr. Dog, “Lonesome”: I love the guitar in this one. Pretty sure it’s a dobro or resonator.
  2. Andrew Bird, “Atomized”: Andrew Bird has a new album coming out this summer. I’m stoked. If this song is any indication, it’ll be a great one.
  3. Jorge Orozco, “Gran Vals”: Orignally composed by Francisco Tarrega, this is the song that Nokia got its ringtone from. It’s a very pretty song.
  4. Langhorne Slim & the Law, “Put It Together”: I’m a sucker for a shout-along chorus.
  5. The Doubleclicks, “This Is My Jam”: I like jam. Who doesn’t like jam? Commies, that’s who.
  6. Dolly Parton, “Jolene”: This is the slowed down version, the one from the 45 played at 33 1/3 RPM. It’s haunting.
  7. Aimee Mann, “Phoenix”: What is it about the way Aimme Mann writes and plays songs that just captivates me? I just love everything about her sound.
  8. Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”: Some days, you just need to let Sam take you home.
  9. Santana, “Evil Ways”: The way they add the, “baby,” to the end of certain lines in this song amuses me to no end.
  10. Bob Dylan, “Paths Of Victory”: My love for Dylan is no secret at this point. Someday, I’ll figure out an arrangement of this song for the guitar (rather than the piano he plays in this version). Until then, I’ll just have to sit and marvel at how well that man puts words together.

Playlist #51

Happy Tax Day, America! Happy regular ol’ Monday after Easter! Happy, um, April 18th, everyone else? Don’t forget to join my Patreon, where I’m making new music every month for your listening enjoyment (actual amount of enjoyment may vary. Please see your doctor if you receive too much enjoyment from listening to my music)! Anyway, here’s this week’s playlist.

  1. The Beatles, “Taxman”: Like I wasn’t gonna do this today. “My advice to those who die/Declare the pennies on your eyes.”
  2. Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”: Only started listening to him this morning, but the line, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/You gotta kick in the darkness till it bleeds daylight” is just one of the all-time best.
  3. The Ink Spots, “Java Jive”: Like most music from the first half of the 20th century, my exposure to this song was through a cartoon when I was a small child. Little Lulu, I think?
  4. Lizzo, “About Damn Time”: Here comes Lizzo with another summer jam. God, where did she find that bass player? That bassline slaps.
  5. Ten Years After, “I’d Love To Change The World”: With a chorus that literally says, “I’d love to change the world/But I don’t know what to do/So I’ll leave it up to you,” this is the quintessential Boomer song. “Eh, I’d love to do something about it, but I’m not gonna. Tough luck, future!”
  6. XTC, “Across This Antheap”: Another song with so many good lines just tossed off all casual-like. And that trumpet? So good.
  7. The Wallflowers, “Bleeders”: Included simply because of the way that organ sounds at the very beginning of the song.
  8. Ben E. King, “Stand By Me”: You know what always aggravates me about the John Lennon cover of this song? It adds absolutely nothing to it. You might as well just go back and listen to the Ben E. King version instead. Which is why this version is on the playlist.
  9. Otis Redding, “That’s How Strong My Love Is”: Listening to this song, I’m reminded of how very much in-touch with that ’60s R&B Stax sound CCR (or really, John Fogerty) was. This coulda been a CCR song. Or any CCR song coulda been an Otis Redding song.
  10. Josh Ritter, “Old Black Magic”: This song just chugs along and gets downright fiery towards the end.

Playlist #50

Happy Monday, folks. I’m back at work after a lovely and relaxing Spring Break. Over the break, I worked on the next song for Patreon, which you should join if you haven’t already. Anyway, here’s this week’s playlist:

  1. Pink Floyd, “Hey, Hey, Rise Up (featuring Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox)”: A song recorded in conjunction with Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk, who cut short his American tour with his band Boombox to go back and fight against the Russians. The lyrics are from an old anti-war song from 1914 called, “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow.”
  2. Whiskeytown, “Jacksonville Skyline”: The more I listen to Ryan Adams’ lyrics, the more I realize the dude doesn’t really write coherent stories. What the hell is a “hopeless streetlight,” anyway?
  3. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Alabama Pines”: The loneliness and isolation this song’s narrator goes through is palpable, and the little details – like the only liquor store on the north side of town – add the perfect amount of realism and sincerity to the song.
  4. Mott the Hoople, “All the Young Dudes”: A David Bowie song in all but name. He produced their album and wrote this particular song.
  5. Neko Case, “Hold On, Hold On”: “In the end I was the mean girl/Or somebody’s in-between girl.”
  6. Norah Jones, “Creepin’ In”: Did you know Norah Jones recorded a song where she dueted with Dolly Parton? She did. It’s this song. It’s fun.
  7. Paul Revere & the Raiders, “Kicks”: I originally heard this song when it was covered by the Monkees, of all bands, on an old greatest hits tape my mom had. It’s a damn fine song.
  8. Tonic, “If You Could Only See”: The ’90s called, and it said you can have this song. They overplayed it already, thanks.
  9. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Straight Into Darkness”: Yeah, the album Straight Into Darkness isn’t the most essential Tom Petty release. Most of the songs are inconsequential and nowhere near the heights of Damn the Torpedoes or even Hard Promises. But even mediocre Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers can still kick the crap outta most other bands on their best days.
  10. Soul Coughing, “16 Horses”: I would love to write a song like this someday. I’d love to be able to play a song like this someday.

Playlist #49

Whoops, it’s Thursday and I totally forgot to post this week’s playlist. My bad. In my defense, it’s been Spring Break all week, and I’ve been trying my damnedest to relax the whole time. Don’t forget to give me a follow on Patreon!

  1. Bon Iver, “Blood Bank”: I remember, many years ago, sitting down in my classroom with a coworker to record him doing a selection of songs. This was one of them, and it’s been one of my favorite Bon Iver songs since even before then.
  2. Cake, “Comfort Eagle”: “He is now accepting callers for these pendant keychains.”
  3. Camper Van Beethoven, “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”: Back at Accotink, I occasionally taught a Humanities class. We spent a quarter on art, a quarter on poetry, a quarter on theater, and the final quarter on the history of popular music. I’d put together short playlists for each genre of music we covered, and then I had the kids research a genre of their choice and put together a playlist for it. One of my coworkers put together a playlist that I can’t recall the genre for, and this song was on it.
  4. The Clash, “Train In Vain (Stand By Me)”: I do dig the album London Calling, and this is one of the best songs on their best album.
  5. Traveling Wilburys, “Heading For The Light”: I used to play this song on the guitar all the time. I should relearn the chords for it.
  6. Laurie & John Stirratt, “Juniper”: Someday, I’ll put together that list of songs by bands related to Wilco. These two will appear on that list, since John Stirratt is the bass player for Wilco (and one of the musicians in The Autumn Defense).
  7. Tom Waits, “Cold, Cold Ground”: “Lay down together in the cold, cold ground.” Beautiful and weird, Tom.
  8. Mark Knopfler, “The Trawlerman’s Song”: A song about a fisherman who has to keep going out and fishing because he owes money on his boat? Classic Knopfler.
  9. Counting Crows, “Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes To Hollywood)”: One of my favorite songs off of Hard Candy, which is otherwise a pretty great album as well.
  10. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop The Rain”: Still just one of the best CCR songs out there, which is saying a lot.

Playlist #48: Cover Songs

Happy Monday after my birthday! It’s a chilly one here in northern Virginia, where they apparently turned off the heat in my school building a wee bit too early this year (don’t worry, I am quite comfortable). Anyway, don’t forget you can support me on Patreon, and here’s a list of fun cover songs to get you through the last week before I go on Spring Break and don’t have to think about anything for a whole week!

  1. Postmodern Jukebox, “Rude (featuring Von Smith)”: Tried listening to the original version of this song by the band Magic! (the exclamation mark is a vital part of the name), and just didn’t dig it. Not a fan of the reggae vibes, I guess.
  2. The Rolling Stones, “Not Fade Away”: A rough and tumble cover of the Buddy Holly classic and a classic in its own right.
  3. The Clash, “I Fought The Law”: The damn law won.
  4. Hem, “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”: This song was what made me a fan of both the band Hem and Elvis Costello’s songwriting.
  5. Spoon, “Held”: Apparently they used to play this one in their live act, and if it was anything like this rendition, it must’ve blown the doors off.
  6. Patty Griffin, “Stolen Car”: I love me a Bruce Springsteen cover, and this one is damn-near as iconic as the original.
  7. The Decemberists, “Think About Me”: A band with zero interpersonal squabbles/drama covering the band best known for its interpersonal squabbles/drama (Fleetwood Mac)? Yes, please.
  8. The Highwomen, “The Chain”: More Fleetwood Mac. Because more Fleetwood Mac.
  9. The Eagles, “Ol’ 55”: It’s a ballsy move, covering a Tom Waits song, when you’re a band as known for being smooth and unoffensive as the Eagles were.
  10. Pomplamoose, “Maneater”: “Whoa-oh, here she comes…”

Playlist #47: Happy Birthday To Me

So this coming Sunday, March 27th, is my 42nd birthday. I am getting older, as are we all, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to do a couple of things that benefit me and, possibly, you.

As you may or may not know, I like music. Not just listening, but creating. And over the past weekend, I put up an EP of songs I’ve been working on over the past couple of years: The Three Chords And Some Compelling Lies EP! It’s available through your favorite music streaming service (Spotify, iTunes, or AmazonPrime Music). Here’s the songs, along with some of my thoughts on them:

  1. Intro (Sunrise In The Badlands): The whole song is done with an E chord. It’s a bit drone-y and ambient and I did it for funsies.
  2. Unanswered Prayers: My brother Clif did the first couple of notes on the slide guitar (I did the rest of the slide stuff) and played electric on this one. Everything else was me. It’s still one of the songs I’m proudest of.
  3. Narhwal V. Unicorn: A goof of a song that I still kinda love. I like the marimba in it. Clif did his own version of the song, but left off two lines in the bridge, for which I will never forgive him.
  4. Saint Joan: An acoustic number that I’ll probably get around to going full-band electric on someday. I’m still not 100% sure on the piano bit during the verse, though it sounds great (and a little eerie) without vocals.
  5. Native Son(g): I have a complicated history with my home state. This song maybe explains part of why that is.
  6. Earthquake Weather (Acoustic): I’ve been fiddling with this song for as long as I’ve been recording my own songs. I think this is the version I’m happiest with. It’s a really simple set of G variations that I totally swiped from George Harrison.
  7. This Town Ain’t Big Enough: Written and recorded during the pandemic, it’s me dealing with anxiety and feeling cooped up for a year and a half straight. And it slaps, especially with the guitar solo from my Uncle Gert.
  8. The Quarantine Blues: Another song written and recorded during the pandemic. I started it about a month into things back in 2020, and finished it middle of last year and put it onto digital tape. It’s quiet and simple and a perfect way to end the EP, I think.