Happy Tuesday, folks. Got sick over the weekend, and took yesterday off to recover. Still feeling under the weather, but good news! It’s not Covid this time.
- Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill”: We finally got around to starting Stranger Things season 4 over the weekend, and it’s quite good. The use of the Kate Bush song is perfect. I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t listened to much Kate Bush over the years; her stuff always struck me as too weird for my tastes. But this song slaps and deserves the attention it’s getting.
- Glen Phillips, “Held Up”: Sorta went through a Glen Phillips thing over the weekend, and this song especially spoke to me. Sung to me. Whatever.
- Bear Cub, “Hey B”: My brother used to play with this guy way back in the day (back when both of us had full heads of hair). He and his current singer, Kelly, did a cover of it about eight years ago. It’s quite good.
- Michael Penn, “No Myth”: Man, does this guy know how to write a bad song? No, no he does not.
- The Mountain Goats, “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome”: Speaking of great songs, this one’s title tells you everything you need to know about it and then some.
- Paul McCartney, “Beautiful Night”: I rather liked McCartney’s Flaming Pie album, with its Beatles allusions and smooth early aughts production values and him obviously playing most every single instrument on the thing. Plus, it frequently featured Steve Miller (Mr. Space Cowboy himself), who is coincidentally still alive and still touring, God bless ‘im.
- Rhett Miller, “Terrible Vision”: I dig the Old 97s, and actually found them through the backdoor of lead singer Rhett Miller’s first solo album, The Instigator. This is the closer from that album, and it’s beautiful and flawed and wonderful.
- Jars of Clay, “Frail”: The re-recorded version of this song from the Furthermore collection. Their second album left me rather underwhelmed, compared with their debut and their third album, If I Left the Zoo.
- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Hope The High Road”: I don’t think anyone else out there writes songs like this right now, and that’s a shame. Isbell is great at the hopeful, rocking anthem, and we could use more of those in these dark days.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Enough”: Sounds like a classic Toad song with modern production, which is exactly what new Toad the Wet Sprocket albums should sound like.
First, news! I published a new short story that you can buy, right now! It’s a Halloween-themed Eddie Hazzard short story where he hunts a werewolf and is generally a curmudgeon about things. Go check it out! Without further ado, here’s this week’s playlist.
- Donovan Woods, “Lonely People”: “Lonely people/Wrote every song you ever loved.”
- Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama, “Take My Hand”: Sometimes, you need a gospel-tinged get-down. This song won’t disappoint.
- The Black Keys, “Burn The Damn Thing Down”: “She said, ‘I hate my job, I’m gonna burn this place down!’ And I said, ‘You better not!'” “She said it was an electrical fire.” “Oh.”
- Radiohead, “Lotus Flower”: Included mostly because I find Thom Yorke’s dance in the video hilarious.
- Tom Waits, “Down, Down, Down”: Do I feel a certain way this week? I dunno, maybe. Music can be a reflection of one’s feelings at the time. That’s a disconcerting thought, if this song is any indication, thoguh.
- The Gaslight Anthem, “Mama’s Boys”: “‘Cause there’s no room in heaven/For New York girls or mama’s boys.”
- Neko Case, “Hold On, Hold On”: First Neko Case song I ever fell in love with, but far from the last.
- Parker Millsap, “Truck Stop Gospel”: Reminds me of home and I-40. Doesn’t hurt that Millsap is an Okie.
- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Man On Fire”: Please, if you see me caught on fire, put out the fire. I do not enjoy being on fire. No one should.
- Eklipse, “Cry Me A River”: For the life of me, I cannot remember where I originally heard this song, but I Shazam’d it and it downloaded onto my phone without me even knowing that’s what Shazam was doing (it’s not a big deal, but a heads up would’ve been nice, Shazam). It’s good. Has a dark edge to it that I don’t usually associate with orchestral music.
While I haven’t been talking about it here lately, I’ve quietly been working away on Book 7 behind the scenes for a while now. There was a long period where I didn’t get anything written, sadly, but that has given way to a burst of activity over the past few weeks. And so, it is with great relief that I announce that Book 7, The Armageddon Seed, has a completed first draft!
Of course, now I have to set about getting it edited and having a cover made. I already know what I want the cover to look like, and I already have an editor, so it shouldn’t take too long to get those things knocked out once I have the cash to pay those fine folks. With luck, maybe I’ll be able to have this book ready for a Christmas release.
Anyway, I’ll keep folks updated as more things develop with this book. I’m really excited to get it out there for everyone to enjoy. I also still have the short story collection that’s just about ready to go (it just needs a cover), so I’ll probably try to get that released before this book.
The Queen is dead, long live the King.
- The Clash, “I Fought The Law”: Man, never fight the law. The law always wins, the jerk.
- Sex Pistols, “God Save The Queen”: Too soon?
- Oasis, “She’s Electric”: I swear, this sounds like a Bob Dylan song, I just don’t know what one.
- Queen, “Killer Queen”: Originally, this whole list was gonna be Queen songs, but even I felt bad about the fact that I’d have put “Another One Bites the Dust” on here if I did that, so you’re welcome.
- The Police, “Masoko Tanga”: Sting just mumbles gibberish for the entire runtime of the song. Good times.
- Pink Floyd, “Fearless”: I love this song for the use of the football fans singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of the song, if nothing else.
- Jeff Lynne, “Lift Me Up”: Jeff Lynne at his Jeff Lynne-iest.
- The Who, “The Seeker”: “I asked Bobby Dylan/I asked the Beatles/I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn’t help me, either.”
- The Animals, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”: One of the few riffs I can play on the guitar is the one from this song. Most of it, anyway.
- The Beatles, “And Your Bird Can Sing”: Mmm, harmonies.
Happy Tuesday! We enjoyed our Labor Day weekend, and I came up with this new playlist for you! Aren’t you lucky?
- Cory Branan, “When In Rome, When In Memphis”: Became obsessed with this song over the weekend. Jason Isbell and Brian Fallon (of Gaslight Anthem) add guest vocals, and the repeated refrain of “When I go, I ghost” just gets me.
- The National, “Weird Goodbyes (feat. Bon Iver)”: I’m a sucker for any new song by the National.
- Bob Dylan, “What Was It You Wanted”: Unofficial ADHD anthem, for the line “What was it you wanted/Tell me again, I forgot,” if nothing else.
- Jakob Dylan, “Will It Grow”: Is it gauche to follow up one Dylan with another? I don’t care. I like the song.
- Jars of Clay, “Age Of Immature Mistakes”: Well, if this isn’t just the song that ought to soundtrack most of my life choices.
- Pure Prairie League, “Amie”: There exists a version of this song sung by me, my father, my Uncle Randy, and Cousin David, and if there is any God it will never see the light of day. It is bad.
- Paolo Nutini, “New Shoes”: One of my students, many years ago, was absolutely obsessed with this song. I saw the music video for it. Did you know they were still making music videos in 2007?
- Nouvelle Vague, “Ever Fallen In Love”: The world needs more bossa nova covers of DC punk songs.
- Juliana Finch, “This Year”: You know I love me a Mountain Goats cover.
- John Prine, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”: Prine recognized the idiocy of this stuff back in the 1970s. Dude knew what was up with performative patriotism.
We spent the weekend up in New York, attending a funeral for my wife’s grandfather who passed suddenly late last week. It got me thinking about things like when I die and, me being me, the music I’d like played at my own funeral. This list is by no means exhaustive; a true funerary playlist would have to be at least three times this long. But these are the top ten songs I’d like played when I die.
- Iron & Wine, “Hard Times Come Again No More”: Funerals are often somber affairs. They don’t have to be, but they often are. This song carries that tone well.
- The Beatles, “Let It Be”: Preferably one of the versions with a George Harrison guitar solo, because I like George Harrison guitar solos.
- Harry Nilsson, “Many Rivers To Cross”: Sure, Nick Hornby may prefer the Jimmy Cliff version, but this is the one for me.
- Van Morrison, “Caravan (Live)”: Again, much like Nick Hornby, I love the live version of this song from the Too Late To Stop Now double live album, even if it does have the unfortunate circumstances of including band introductions halfway through. But all those guys will probably be dead by the time I die, and I’m willing to share the spotlight a bit.
- Bob Dylan, “I Shall Be Released”: I mean, it’s more about getting out of jail than getting out of this life, but I think it still works.
- Sean Watkins, “Let It Fall”: This song always felt like it belong over the closing credits to some heartfelt romantic drama. Or the end of one’s life.
- George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”: No one does the transitory nature of existence better than George Harrison.
- Gin Blossoms, “Pieces Of The Night”: Life could just be one long night at the bar, trying to find someone, anyone, to spend just a moment with, a moment that might mean something. Or maybe I’ve already had too much gin.
- The National, “Gospel”: “Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden.”
- Wilco, “What Light”: This song is very simple. Many Wilco songs are. But it’s also transcendent. And I think it’d be nice to have a choir of my friends sing it.
I was this close to just making it all songs about sex. But aren’t all songs about sex, when you get right down to it? Anyway, give me a follow on Patreon and support your local author/songwriter. Anyway, here’s the first playlist of the new school year!
- The Mountain Goats, “Training Montage”: “I’m doing this for revenge!” John Darnielle cries out at the start of the chorus, and damn if that isn’t just the best line in a song I’ve heard this year.
- Iggy Pop, “The Passenger”: Is it the most relentless chord progression you’ve ever heard? Maybe. Are Iggy and David Bowie’s yelped “la”s in the chorus earwormy? Definitely.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Ain’t Good Enough For You”: I’ve featured this song on a playlist before. It still slaps.
- Calexico, “Cumbia De Donde”: Did you know cumbia is a type of Latin American dance music that originated in Colombia? Because the guys in Calexico sure do, and they want you to know they do.
- Spoon, “Don’t Make Me A Target”: I don’t know what it is about the way this band breaks down a song and then rebuilds it using the same basic instruments as every single rock and roll band that has ever existed that kicks me in the ass every time, but it kicks me in the ass every time.
- ZZ Top, “La Grange”: Back when I worked at a private school, I taught one of my students how to play this on the bass (it’s only three notes that even I could figure out). It’s fun.
- Pearl Jam, “World Wide Suicide”: Even late into their career, Pearl Jam can still pull out all the stops and offer a rocker that rips the doors off.
- John Mellencamp, “Right Behind Me”: Meanwhile, John Mellencamp has resorted to recording in hotel rooms with equipment from the 1950s to get that sound just right.
- Jay Farrar, “Feel Free”: Jay Farrar’s songs have gotten more esoteric and inscrutable as time passes, but this one is still early enough in his solo career that the lyrics make some sense. And it references “non-profit radio,” which is what I thought NPR stood for for far longer than I’d care to admit.
- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Be Afraid”: “Be afraid, be very afraid/But do it anyway,” is just some of the best damn advice you can hear right now, I think.
Happy Monday! I’m back in the school building, or at least adjacent to it in one of the “learning cottages” (what they’re calling the portable buildings) where our classes will be held this year. In the meantime, I am still doing the Patreon thing.
- Jimi Hendrix, “Fire”: Brother Clyde was telling me a story from Woodstock ’99 yesterday, about how they handed out candles to everyone and everyone immediately started setting things on fire. They asked the Red Hot Chili Peppers, of all people, to calm the crowd, but instead the band ripped into this song.
- Buddy Guy (Featuring Jason Isbell), “Gunsmoke Blues”: Too topical. Far too timely. It’s always too timely when you’re talking about gun violence in America, but Buddy Guy does it beautifully.
- The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”: Poor Andalucía.
- Colin Hay, “Beautiful World”: Yes, I originally heard this acoustic version on Scrubs, like so many other people. Doesn’t matter, it’s still amazing and beautiful.
- Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, “The Ballad of Speedy Atkins”: Psychobilly at its finest.
- Tom Waits, “No One Knows I’m Gone”: I’m still waiting to hear the version of this song my brother recorded, but I think it probably still needs vocals from his vocalist on it.
- Andrew Bird, “Not A Robot, But A Ghost”: Either way, Mystery Inc is on the case!
- Paul McCartney, “Try Not To Cry”: A McCartney rave up, because why not?
- Frank Turner, “Silent Key”: We’re fairly certain at least a couple of the astronauts from the doomed Challenger space shuttle survived the explosion that destroyed the shuttle, because their personal egress air packs (PEAPs) were used. There is no indication they radioed to let anyone know they were still alive in freefall, but it’s still a touching song.
- Loose Fur, “Laminated Cat”: Please do not laminate your cats. They do not like it.
Monday Thursday, everyone! Sorry about this week’s list being late. Stuff happened. Feel free to follow me on Patreon, though! This week’s list is courtesy of Don Henley of the Eagles, where he lists his eleven favorite country songs. Here they are:
- Buck Owens, “Act Naturally”: The Beatles covered this one. It was a Ringo song! This version, the original, is quite a bit different, and far more twangy, than the Beatles’ version.
- Merle Haggard, “Silver Wings”: I mostly know Merle from songs like “Living With The Shades Pulled Down” and “Okie From Muskogee,” so this softer, more tender side of his is interesting to hear.
- Matraca Berg, “If I Had Wings”: Beautiful and haunting. Love this one.
- Trisha Yearwood, “Dreaming Fields”: I didn’t expect such a light touch from Trisha Yearwood. I was pleasantly surprised.
- Ray Charles, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”: I loved when this was used in the anime movie Metropolis, as the city is destroyed and everything comes crashing down.
- Patsy Cline, “Crazy”: Man, how amazing and wonderful is Patsy Cline’s voice? That woman had such control over her instrument.
- Willie Nelson, “Always On My Mind”: I always dig Willie Nelson’s stuff, and this is one of his best.
- Jamey Johnson, “Good Times Ain’t What They Used To Be”: The chicken pickin’ in this one is just phenomenal.
- Emmylou Harris, “Together Again”: Love her voice. It’s always amazing.
- Linda Ronstadt, “Silver Thread And Golden Needles”: This woman can shred, and while she doesn’t necessarily cut loose on this particular song, she still plays the hell out of it.
- Glen Campbell, “By The Time I Got To Phoenix”: Lovely and referenced by the Old 97s in “The Other Shoe.”
Happy Monday and welcome to August, everyone! As always, you can back me on Patreon, and there’s still that GoFundMe for my wife. We’re woefully underfunded for the month of August, so any little bit helps.
- Simply Three, “Dance Monkey”: The podiatrist my wife goes to always has some interesting music playing in the waiting room. This was playing there last week, and I kinda dig it.
- Jackson Browne, “Jamaica Say You Will”: Jackson Browne is just hands down one of the best songwriters of the 20th century, and this song – which opens up his self-titled album – is a good example of his songcraft.
- Aerosmith, “Big Ten Inch Record”: Aerosmith are the masters of what Nanny Ogg would call “single-intenders.” They’re not quite double entendres, because there is no subtlety to them whatsoever. But my, are they fun.
- The Wallflowers, “I’ll Let You Down (But Will Not Give You Up)”: Oh, Jakob. You know what a Wallflowers song sounds like, and you hit so close on most of this album. Letting Rami Jaffe go was a mistake, though.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, “I’ll Bet On You”: The chord changes and melody for this song are based on a Lapdog song (made up of half of the band while Toad was on hiatus back in the early oughts), but then Glen Phillips came in and said, “Hey, this sounds great, but you know what would sound greater? If I wrote new lyrics for it and sang on this one instead of one of you other yokels.” And then they did that.
- Three Dog Night, “Shambala”: Shambala is a mythical place, rather like El Dorado or that Tibetan monastery where the Iron Fist trained. It’s also a pretty good song.
- Billy Bragg & Wilco, “When The Roses Bloom Again”: Yeah, the third volume of Mermaid Avenue was a collection of diminishing returns, but even in among all the fair-to-middling stuff on there, you find the occasional gem such as this one. It’s a gorgeous song and Jeff Tweedy’s vocals are perfect.
- Radiohead, “Ill Wind”: It’s an ill wind blows no man good, or something like that. Hey, I wrote a book with a title very similar!
- The Regular Joes, “Restless”: Found an email from my uncle the other day that he wrote back when I first moved out to Virginia (some 17 years ago now). It has the chord changes for this song in there, ’cause I wanted to learn to play it on guitar. It’s a very simple song, chords-wise, so I’ll probably be playing it later today.
- The Allman Brothers Band, “Midnight Rider”: They are just determined not to let the midnight rider catch them. Nosiree, not those Allman boys.