So this weekend, I was listening to an album by pianist Alan Clark. He played with Dire Straits back in the ’80s (as well as acts like Bob Dylan), and it was an album of solo piano versions of mostly Dire Straits songs. One of them was the song “Romeo and Juliet,” which is a tune I absolutely adore, and so I decided to put together a playlist this week built around that pair of star-crossed lovers. Also remember that I do have a Patreon, and I’m working on not one but two versions of March’s song!
- Dire Straits, “Romeo and Juliet”: “Finds a streetlight/Steps out of the shade and says somethin’ like/You and me, babe, how ’bout it?” is just one of the best lines in any song anywhere ever. And that guitar figure Knopfler picks out on what sounds like a resonator? Gorgeous.
- Tom Waits, “Romeo is Bleeding”: Alas, poor Romeo, he got shot while knifing a cop and is slowly dying while everyone around him remains oblivious.
- The Buzzcocks, “Ever Fallen In Love?” “Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t fallen in love with?” they snarl, and if that ain’t Romeo and Juliet, I don’t know what is.
- Duke Ellington, “The Star-Crossed Lovers (aka Pretty Girl)”: Yes, switching from the punky Buzzcocks to the jazzy Duke Ellington is a bit of tonal whiplash, but I think that’s why I like it so much.
- You + Me, “Love Gone Wrong”: We all know Romeo and Juliet isn’t really a love story, right? It’s about a couple of pubescent teens dumbstruck with infatuation who end up destroying both of their families (and themselves) in the process.
- M. Ward, “Poison Cup”: Sure, Hamlet was the play with the poison cup in it, but poison plays a major role in the final scene of this one, too, remember.
- Mates of State, “A Duel Will Settle This”: Mercutio vs. Tybalt is one hell of a fight, though I’m not sure it settled anything beyond that Mercutio will even use his own death to be the sassiest mofo ever.
- Cutting Crew, “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”: What could match the overdramatic reaction of Romeo and Juliet? An ’80s song!
- Indigo Girls, “Romeo and Juliet”: A cover of the Dire Straits song we started the playlist with. Almost as good as the original.
- Ben Harper, “Verona”: Slow, bluesy slide guitar is always some of my favorite, and it’s such a quiet, sweet song to end on.
It’s a classic rock sorta Monday. Make sure to follow me on Patreon, where I’m starting work on March’s exclusive song!
- Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, “Carry On/Questions”: I love the bassline in this song. And that wah pedal solo in the latter part of the song.
- Cream, “Badge”: This is clearly a George Harrison song and I won’t be taking any questions.
- The Animals, “Gonna Send You Back To Walker”: Who doesn’t love the Animals? No one. And if they do, cut them out of your life. You don’t need that kind of negativity.
- Jackson Browne, “These Days”: “Yeah, I’ve been out walking/I don’t do that much talking these days,” the song starts. And just gets better from there. I’ve always preferred the Jackson Browne version to the Nico version. Your mileage may vary.
- Led Zeppelin, “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”: This song does stomp.
- Paul McCartney, “Junk”: “Buy, buy says the sign in the shop window/Why, why says the junk on the lawn.”
- The Rolling Stones, “Far Away Eyes”: Yeah, it’s goofy and clunky and not even a little bit authentic, but it’s a helluva good time.
- The Eagles, “After The Thrill Is Gone”: Over Winter Break, while I was back home in Oklahoma, I played this song with my Dad. He’d never played it on the guitar before somehow.
- Grand Funk Railroad, “Some Kind Of Wonderful”: Someone I follow on Twitter was saying yesterday that everyone should have a shout-along song. This one might be mine.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Rosalia (Come Out Tonight)”: Or maybe it’s this one. I dunno.
Happy Monday! I’m actually back to work today, after a month away taking care of the Wife. She’s improving every day, slowly but surely, and she’s well enough I’m comfortable leaving her home alone while I come toil away in education mines. A reminder that, if you want to support me making my own music, I’ve got that Patreon you can contribute to! I actually drop February’s song today!
- Genesis, “Turn It On Again”: I recently downloaded the album this song came from, Duke, and while this is definitely my favorite song off the whole record, the rest of the songs ain’t too shabby, either.
- Steve Winwood, “Back In The High Life Again”: “All the doors I closed one time/Will open up again.” Yes, they will.
- Aerosmith, “Back In The Saddle”: A bit of my anthem this morning.
- Andrew Bird, “Orpheo Looks Back”: Every playlist could benefit from some Andrew Bird, and I love this song.
- Bob Dylan, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”: “Beyond here lies nothin’/But the mountains of the past.” Maybe not Dylan’s most profound work ever, but I still dig the rhythm of this song and the guitar work.
- Gorillaz, “DARE”: I could dance this morning, I think.
- Glen Phillips, “Duck And Cover”: A more stripped-down version of a song that appeared on his Winter Pays For Summer album off of Tornillo.
- The Gaslight Anthem, “Stay Lucky”: Someday, I’ll put together a playlist of songs that I love to play on the guitar. This song will also appear on that list.
- Frank Turner, “The Way I Tend To Be”: I love this song for the mandolin mostly.
- CCR, “Midnight Special”: Another that I love to play on the guitar and howl along to at the top of my lungs, as one does with CCR songs.
Happy Presidents’ Day, ‘Murica! Here’s some executive branch love in aural form. And hey, don’t forget I’ve got a Patreon, where February’s song is about to drop!
- They Might Be Giants, “James K. Polk”: Educational, entertaining, and a banger. Yup, it’s a TMBG song, alright.
- The Presidents of the United States of America, “Lump”: I get exhausted just typing out the name of the band. Thank goodness the song title is so short.
- Hamilton, “History Has Its Eyes On You”: The only song from the show I can play on the guitar, and a great vocal delivery from Christopher Jackson.
- Mark Knopfler, “Don’t Crash The Ambulance”: A changing of the guard. A handing over of the keys to the kingdom. And a brief explanation of just how things work around here.
- The National, “Mr. November”: “I was carried in the arms of cheerleaders.”
- Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Jesus Christ For President”: We could do worse, honestly.
- Molly Lewis, “Our American Cousin”: A three-part look at Mr. Lincoln’s infamous trip to the theatre. Funny and dark and heartbreaking.
- XTC, “Here Comes President Kill Again”: The ’80s? Subtle? No.
- Drive-By Truckers, “The President’s Penis Is Missing”: A damn tragedy, to be sure.
- Over The Rhine, “If A Song Could Be President”: Again, we could do worse. And I have a whole murderer’s row of talent in mind for the Cabinet.
Happy Valentine’s Day, folks! Here’s some songs about love that anyone can enjoy, whether you’re single AF this year or happily married or anything in between.
- The Beatles, “I’m A Loser”: Back when I was in college, I put together anti-love playlists every Valentine’s Day. This one was a recurring feature.
- Sting, “She’s Too Good For Me”: It was true 15 years ago when I married the Wife, and it’s true today.
- Jesse Malin, “She Don’t Love Me Now”: I think it’s the guitars on this one that really do it for me.
- The Hold Steady, “You Can Make Him Like You”: “You don’t have to go to the right kind of schools/Let your boyfriend come from the right kind of schools/You can wear his old sweatshirt/You can cover yourself like a bruise.”
- The Grass Roots, “Things I Should Have Said”: Is there ever a bad time for a Grass Roots song? No. No, there is not.
- Placebo, “You Don’t Care About Us”: I swear, I had at least three friends who listened almost exclusively to this album during high school/college. If you didn’t do that, you probably also have at least one or two of those friends as well.
- Beck, “Loser”: When you can’t just say it in English, say it in Spanish as well: “Soy un perdador.”
- Barenaked Ladies, “One Week”: When you fight, you should always make up afterwards. Maybe don’t wait a whole week for it, though.
- Hank Williams, Sr., “You Win Again”: The resignation in his voice is just…damn, Hank.
- The White Stripes, “The Denial Twist”: “If you think that a kiss is all in the lips/C’mon, you got it all wrong, man.”
Another week, another playlist! Also, please join me on Patreon, where I’m making new music every month!
- John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, “Did You Say Such a Thing”: I swear, this song could’ve come off of any Mellencamp album since he was going by John Cougar.
- Green Day, “Brain Stew”: I feel like mine’s been a bit of a soup lately. Being ADHD and taking care of someone suffering the aftereffects of a rough case of Covid is hard, yo.
- Greg Brown, “In The Dark With You”: It’s weird hearing Greg Brown songs with more than just his guitar and maybe a bass. But it’s good.
- Radiohead, “The National Anthem”: I learned the bass line for this song a few months ago. It’s fun and surprisingly easy.
- The Rolling Stones, “Rip This Joint”: Heroin must’ve been a helluva drug, if songs like this are any indication.
- The Spencer Davis Group, “Gimme Some Lovin'”: If I could sing the way Steve Winwood did at 16, I would’ve pursued a career as a musician, too (I am making songs on Patreon though, hint hint).
- Temple of the Dog, “Hunger Strike”: Who doesn’t love a little proto-grunge by the band that really kinda started that whole thing.
- Two Gallants, “Incidental”: One of ’em should’ve called himself Goofus. Just sayin’.
- U2, “Love Rescue Me”: Ever wanted to hear U2 and Bob Dylan sing together? Well, here you go!
- The Fray, “Over My Head (Cable Car)”: I like the first, like, three songs on this album, then it all sorta goes wishy-washy and meander-y and I lose interest every time. But this song is good.
Sorry, this one won’t be going up on Spotify, nor will future playlists, because screw those guys.
- 40 Watt Sun, “Behind My Eyes”: I have a tendency to play every song on the guitar at about the same speed. These guys play slower than anything I will ever be capable of playing, and I kind of love it. Maybe I’ll try to write a song that goes this slow? But definitely not this long. It’s a very long song.
- Lana Del Rey, “Tomorrow Never Came”: Why does every female singer of a certain style sing like their mouth is full of cotton? I mean, I dig this song, don’t get me wrong, but she sounds like someone numbed her mouth for a dentist visit and she stopped halfway through to sing.
- Soul Asylum, “Growing Into You”: Never really listened to them back when they were big back in the early ’90s, but this is a fun song.
- Cat Power, “Paths of Victory”: Again with a song so very slow. But very pretty.
- Counting Crows, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”: This one cranks the tempo up a bit. There’s something about the drum sound from this song that I dig.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Effigy”: This is a fun song to play. I especially love hitting the low E string to get that grungy “bwam” sound out of it.
- The Who, “A Quick One, While He’s Away”: Sing it with me: “Cello, cello, cello, cello…”
- Sparklehorse, “Sick Of Goodbyes”: A band I imagine my brother might enjoy.
- Josh Ritter, “Right Moves”: The first Josh Ritter song I really loved, and still one of my favorites.
- The Head and the Heart, “Lost In My Mind”: I think we all sometimes get lost in our mind.
Happy Monday, folks. Does the Wife get to come home this week? Who knows! Her doctor, possibly. Anyway, here’s a new playlist of songs to get you through the week.
- Andrew Bird, “Tin Foiled”: “What is moving will be still/What is gathered will disperse/What’s been built up will collapse/All of your dreams, they’re all fulfilled.”
- Bo Diddley, “Bo Diddley”: I hope to someday have the brass balls to write a song and just give it my name as a title. I doubt I ever will, though.
- Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”: “There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.”
- Les Paul and Mary Ford, “How High The Moon”: Les Paul just tears it up on this song.
- Tom Petty, “This Old Town”: There you go, Dad. A Tom Petty song from Highway Companion.
- Sean Lennon, “Would I Be The One”: Feels much like a song his dad would’ve written (admittedly, so does most everything else on this album. It’s a good album).
- The Rolling Stones, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”: Sometimes, you just need a rootsy Rolling Stones rocker in the playlist. Here’s this one’s.
- Ray Charles, “Unchain My Heart”: And sometimes you need some Ray Charles.
- The Mountain Goats, “Going Invisible 2”: Don’t look for “Going Invisible 1,” as there isn’t a song called that. This is rather a D&D reference to Invisible 2, a spell. I’m now going to go crawl back into my cave.
- Ronnie Spector, “Be My Baby”: I would die to have written the drum part for this song. Or the lyrics. Or the guitar. Or literally any part of it. It’s a damn fine song.
Did you know I don’t just write about music I like to listen to, but that I also write music? It’s true, and you can support me on Patreon in this endeavor! I’ll be releasing a new song there every month this year, so check it out!
Last week was a rough week, if I’m being honest. I was mostly over my case of covid, but still couldn’t return to work, and my wife…well, we had to take her to the hospital on Thursday because her O2 sats dropped dangerously low frighteningly quick. It’s only been in the past day or two that we’ve come to find out just how bad off she was. If we hadn’t taken her to the hospital when we did, she would not have survived the night.
So, she’s still at the hospital (in a covid isolation room where I cannot visit her), but thankfully on the mend. On Saturday, my old college advisor passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm, which…yeah, still haven’t processed it. All of that probably explains the slower tempo and more downbeat list of songs on this week’s playlist.
- The Horrible Crowes, “Sugar”: I always thought it was more than a little daring to open the album with this song, which is by far more downbeat and subtle than what follows.
- Iron & Wine, “Hard Times Come Again No More”: I don’t know how I found this particular recording. I think it’s from the TV show Copper, if anyone remembers that (I never actually saw it, but still somehow heard this version of the song).
- Jars of Clay, “Faith Enough”: A song filled with contradictions and paradoxes.
- Jason Isbell, “Cover Me Up”: Beautiful and heartfelt and far more subtle than most of the songs I prefer by him, but no less glorious for it.
- The Wallflowers, “Up From Under”: If Breach isn’t the best Wallflowers album, it’s definitely top two. And while this isn’t my usual go-to song from that record, it’s still simple (for a song with a string arrangement) and beautiful.
- Willie Nelson, “The Rainbow Connection”: A voice and a song that I’m surprised it took so long to put together, though I have to ask – aside from this one and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” just how many songs are there out there about rainbows?
- The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”: “Sometimes I feel very sad.” Sometimes Brian Wilson just cuts right to the damn chase.
- The National, “I Need My Girl”: I would like my wife home from the hospital now, please.
- The Flaming Lips, “Do You Realize??”: The happiest song about death that I know.
- Glen Phillips, “Train Wreck”: This one just sorta…feels right at the moment? That’s probably not good, is it?
So, as must come to pass eventually for all, I’ve gotten sick. I’ve gotten Covid. I blame Tennessee. But I have not forgotten you, and in my fever-hazed mind, I have put together a playlist for this week.
- Neko Case, “Fever”: So actually, I had a fever late last week, but it broke pretty quick and I’ve been fine since then. The Wife, on the other hand, keeps getting fevers of upwards of 103.
- MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This”: Please keep your distance, I might still be contagious.
- The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”: Did you not hear what I just said? Stay at least six feet away at all times. Further, honestly, if you don’t mind.
- AC Newman, “Miracle Drug”: I’ll admit, I think the vaccines are pretty damn amazing and I’m glad I got them. If there were something I could take right now to get rid of feeling like garbage, I would.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Something In The Air (Live)”: What, another Tom Petty song, after last week? Yes. It’s on-theme.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Something’s Always Wrong”: I’ve felt like crap since last Wednesday. It’s always something new.
- They Might Be Giants, “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die”: There’s still lots I want to do before I’m ready to kick the bucket, and I hope I get old enough to do at least most of them.
- Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, “The Pharmacist v. The Secret Stars”: I’ll be honest, I really like Ted Leo and I mostly chose this song because his backing band is called the Pharmacists.
- Spoon, “Everything Hits At Once”: I was fine last Tuesday. Woke up Wednesday feeling kinda meh. By Thursday, I was spending the entire day asleep because I felt absolutely awful.
- Van Morrison, “And The Healing Has Begun”: Given Van’s recent bizarre rants about Covid and lockdowns and whatnot, it seems a little silly to include him on this playlist, but I do feel like I’m on the mend now. Still definitely not 100%, but improving every day.