Playlist #10

This past weekend was my mother’s birthday! Now, it is to my great shame that I really do not know much about my mom’s musical tastes. I know growing up that she listened to Simon and Garfunkel and Barry Manilow (ew), but beyond that? It’s just a big ol’ shrug emoji from me. So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list for this week that contains songs I think my mom would appreciate. It’s mostly Swedish death metal (kidding!).

  1. Alexi Murdoch, “All Of My Days”: So if I’m completely honest here, I first heard this song in a commercial. And really liked it! I like the guitar work especially. It’s a very simple song, but quite lovely despite (or maybe because) of that.
  2. Greg Feldon, “Incoming”: Strummy acoustics? Check. Heartfelt, earnest singing? Check. Semi-country-ish tone and style? Check. Yup, this song checks a lot of boxes for me.
  3. Sara Bareilles, “Armor”: “You think I am high mighty, mister?/Wait ’til you meet my little sister” is just a badass line.
  4. The Shins, “Gone For Good [Alternate Version]”: I like this stripped down version of the song, possibly even more than the usual album version. Sure, it lacks the pedal steel and the high and lonesome harmonies, but it makes up for it with a more subdued reading of the lyrics.
  5. Simon & Garfunkel, “Cecilia”: I can’t tell you if this is my mom’s favorite Simon & Garfunkel song. It probably isn’t. But it’s fun and I dare you to not sing along with the chorus. You can’t, can you? Of course you can’t.
  6. Tracy Lawrence, “Time Marches On”: This is the sort of song country music does best. The lyrical content is simple, tells a story, and focuses on a family as it ages through the years. I really dig it.
  7. Lake Street Dive, “Bad Self Portraits”: I’ve been drawing and cartooning for decades now. Every single drawing I’ve ever done of myself is a bad self portrait, so I can relate to this song.
  8. case/lang/viers, “Best Kept Secret”: Yeah, I could’ve gone with the soaring “Atomic Number” instead, but I really like this song and the whole “guitar teacher saves the world” vibe it has going.
  9. David Gray, “Stella the Artist”: Is my mom an artist? Not with pencil or paintbrush or chisel. But that woman can bake a batch of cookies that’ll make you see God.
  10. Semisonic, “Gone To the Movies”: A sad song about a sad man in a snowbound apartment who was just listening to the Wallflowers and thinking about a girl. Haven’t we all felt that way at some point? Okay, probably not, but still, it’s a good song.

Playlist #9

Kickin’ back, takin’ it easy, sleepin’ in until way later than I should…these are all things I am doing right now. Here’s this week’s list:

  1. MILCK, “Quiet”: We watched a neat documentary series about pop music on Netflix last week, and this song was featured on the episode about protest music. It’s a #metoo song about refusing to remain silent about sexual abuse, and it’s a damn good song.
  2. Parker Millsap & Sarah Jarosz, “Your Water”: Millsap is an Okie! And this song coulda just been pumped straight into my veins and I would’ve been mighty fine with it.
  3. Angels & AIrwaves, “Everything’s Magic”: A student of mine years ago turned me onto this song. It’s not a band I’m particularly familiar with, nor a style that I’d usually go for, but it’s fun and bouncy and the album cover looks like a Star Wars poster.
  4. Augustines, “Cruel City”: Can a city be cruel? The Augustines seem to think so, and it’s a pretty damn good song, so we’ll go with “yes.”
  5. Bahamas, “Lost in the Light”: When I think of the Bahamas, I think of ocean breezes and strummy guitars. I don’t usually think of choirs, though, but this song has one of those as well.
  6. Ben Lee, “Catch My Disease (That’s the Way I Like It)”: I’m not particularly sure what disease Ben Lee wants people to catch, but if he’s a carrier for something he should really see a doctor and stop singin’ about it.
  7. Yeasayer, “Rome”: I first came across this band on the Dark Was the Night project. This song sounds nothing like the song they did on that album, but it’s still very catchy and fast and I like the little electronic squiggles.
  8. Stone Temple Pilots, “Dancin’ Days”: Many years ago, my father picked up a CD that was a collection of bands doing Led Zeppelin covers. It was called Encomium. This song is off that collection, It’s on this list specifically to remind you that you could, in fact, be listening to Led Zeppelin instead of this particular cover. Why aren’t you doing that?
  9. Spacehog, “In the Meantime”: Someday, I will put together a list of songs by ’90s bands with weird-ass names. This song will be on there, because c’mon, Spacehog? Spacehog? Was there not a second round of voting on the band name before y’all picked that one?
  10. Sheryl Crow, “Mississippi”: Another cover?! Well, yes. I like covers. And this one of a Bob Dylan tune (released before Dylan released his own version of the song on Love & Theft) is actually pretty darn good.
See what I mean about it looking like a Star Wars poster? Seriously, imagine the guy on the bike had a lightsaber.

Playlist #8

I put the playlist together earlier this week, but totally forgot to post it. So, y’know, here it is:

  1. Lucero, “On My Way Downtown”: I’ve liked these guys for a long time, and this is a fun homage to asking a woman in a bar to give a loser a shot.
  2. The Low Anthem, “The Horizon is a Beltway”: That thumping bass drum and the heavy-handed banjo strumming gets me every time.
  3. Moxy Fruvous, “Earthquakes”: I spent a good chunk of my college years just listening to these guys. I don’t regret it.
  4. Greg Brown, “Hey Baby Hey”: Such a beautiful, melancholic song, even if the chorus just ends with “hey baby hey baby hey baby hey.”
  5. U2, “Staring at the Sun”: Reminds me of the new songs off the Beatles Anthologies, though nowadays it mostly just reminds me of this:
Seriously, how did this man end up as President?

6. A Tribe Called Quest, “Can I Kick It?”: Yes, you can.

7. The Walkmen, “Four Provinces”: I think this song might be responsible for my current love affair with reverb.

8. Franz Ferdinand, “No You Girls”: I love these guys and how catchy they are. I haven’t heard a song by them I didn’t enjoy.

9. EL VY, “Happiness, Missouri”: There is no happiness in Missouri. It’s fuckin’ Missouri.

10. The Dodos, “Going Under”: I really dig the drums in this song. They’re simple but very effective.

Playlist #7

Happy Monday! And happy Flag Day! And happy birthday to my middle brother, Clyde (not his real name, but it’s what we all call him)! Today’s playlist is made up of songs he’d like.

  1. Hank Williams, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”: Ol’ Hank Sr. does things his way, which involves writing songs about jambalaya and gumbo apparently.
  2. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, “Faded Love”: A beloved Okie who made a name for himself with a buncha Texans. Used to play the Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa a lot back in the 1920s, I believe. This is some good ol’ fashioned sad dancin’ music.
  3. The Elected, “Sun, Sun, Sun”: More recent sad dancin’ music from one of the guys who was in Rilo Kiley (the guy who used to date Jenny Lewis, specifically).
  4. Feist and Ben Gibbard, “Train Song”: A few years ago, my brother and the young woman who sings with him, Kelly, did a cover of this song and put it on Youtube. Note that the song is (correctly) attributed to Vashti Bunyan, who did it originally, rather than as a Feist/Ben Gibbard joint, which would’ve gotten them many, many more views, I’m sure. C’est la vie.
  5. Van Morrison, “I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative)”: Best Van Morrison song. Period.
  6. Iron & Wine with Calexico, “Prison on Route 41”: The last concert Clyde and I got to go to was back in February 2020, and it was to see these guys. They’re damn good. I’m ready to see concerts again.
  7. Merle Haggard, “Living With the Shades Pulled Down”: When he was courtin’ his wife, Clyde asked me to put together a mix CD for her (this is our love language). This song was on there. It’s good.
  8. M. Ward, “To Save Me”: When I was up in Pennsylvania visiting my brother a couple of weekends ago (for the first time since the Pandemic started), he played this song and asked what I thought of it. “I think M. Ward owes Jeff Lynne some royalties,” I replied, because this just sounds like an ELO song. A damn good ELO song, but an ELO song.
  9. Skee-Lo, “I Wish”: Clyde had this CD when he was a kid and he really liked it. He also had Bone Thugs ‘n’ Harmony and Blackstreet. What I’m saying is that my brother had slightly more street cred than I did in middle school, when I was mostly listening to the Beatles and Pink Floyd.
  10. Rolling Stones, “Tumbling Dice”: Included for the explicit reason that he absolutely hates this song. Detests it. And what kind of brother would I be if I didn’t give just a little nudge now and again?

Playlist #6

I had some trouble putting together this week’s playlist. At first, I wanted to do all delta blues-type stuff, but I kept adding songs that weren’t in that style/genre. Then I finally deleted all of that playlist and put together what you see below, an R&B/soul set that I think is pretty good.

  1. Aaron Neville, “Everybody Plays the Fool”: Dude’s voice is very distinctive, and I like this song mostly for the little keyboard flourish at the end of the chorus.
  2. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: This song just rules, plain and simple. The vocal delivery from both Gaye and Terrell is magnificent, and this is just one of the best R&B/soul songs ever.
  3. Aretha Franklin, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Love You)”: Aretha is the queen, and this song is just one of many reasons why. Honestly, I could’ve put any Aretha Franklin song on this list and it would’ve slapped. She’s just that good.
  4. Nina Simone, “Strange Fruit (Live)”: Shivers. Every damn time. This woman…just…damn.
  5. Ike & Tina Turner, “Proud Mary”: No one does a rave up like Tina Turner. Ike can go to hell, though.
  6. Jackie Wilson, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher”: Damn, but this guy’s voice. Just listen to him hit those high notes. It’s great.
  7. James Brown, “I Feel Good”: You can’t help but sing along with the Godfather of Soul when this one comes on.
  8. Ray Charles, “Hallelujah I Love Her So”: Ray just knocks it out of the park on this one. And every one. He’s just so good.
  9. Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come”: This man. This voice. This song. God damn.
  10. Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”: The repeated, “I know,” over and over, long past when you’d think he’d run out of breath…so good. And fun to play on the guitar, too.

Playlist #5

Monday was our friend Lauren’s birthday, so here’s a Lauren-centric playlist to help her celebrate!

  1. Sarah Donner, “With Pride”: A song about acceptance and unicorns (or Pegasi, which I’m pretty sure is the plural of Pegasus).
  2. Waxahatchee, “Sparks Fly”: I like the simplicity of their arrangements. And the lyrics. And I think Lauren might be the only other person I know who listens to them.
  3. Cyndi Lauper, “She Bop”: I originally chose “The Goonies Are Good Enough,” but I feel Lauren would approve of this choice more.
  4. Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”: This one also goes on my Philosophy Playlist, which I’ll hopefully someday find more than four songs for (current list includes this song, that one Edie Brickell song, the Ben Folds Five’s “Philosphy,” and the Monty Python song about drunk philosophers).
  5. k.d. lang, “Constant Craving”: Did you know the Rolling Stones totally ripped this song off for their song “Has Anybody Seen My Baby”? It’s true! And also not as good a song as this one.
  6. The Doubleclicks, “Sensitive Badass”: Because Lauren is sensitive and she is a badass.
  7. Velvet Underground, “Candy Says”: I’m not super-familiar with the Velvet Underground, but this is a mellow tune and it’s probably about drugs. Or sex. Or sex and drugs.
  8. Dresden Dolls, “Shores of California”: There aren’t many songs that reference Oklahoma, let alone in their chorus. This one does, though.
  9. Lizzo, “Good As Hell”: I dare you to listen to this song and not want to sing along. I defy you to not dance to it. You can’t not dance to this song. This song is, in fact, good as hell.
  10. Bikini Kill, “Rebel Girl”: A thrashy, punky middle finger to the establishment and a lesbian love song for the ages. I think Lauren would approve.

Playlist #4

The end of the school year is fast approaching. Here’s some songs to ride out this week:

1. The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind”: The Wife loves the Pixies. I’m pretty okay with them most of the time.

2. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Inside”: Most ridiculous name for a band ever? It’s definitely in the top ten. Awesome song? Also definitely.

3. 2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up”: Uplifting rap about respect for women. A good ‘un.

4. XTC, “Stupidly Happy”: It’s a goofy song that I just love to pieces.

5. William Elliott Whitmore, “Diggin’ My Grave”: This guy does more with a banjo and a stomp box than most bands do with a full ensemble. He also sounds like he’s had a few packs of cigarettes too many.

6. Traffic, “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”: If there’s a stinker on the list this week, it’s probably this song. It’s too long and pretty repetitive. The only reason I put it on is because I read that one of the Mussel Shoals Rhythm Section (who play on the album this is from) passed away this weekend.

7. Tom Waits,”Sixteen Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six”: If there’s a more sinister line than “I’m gonna whittle you into kindlin’,” I don’t think I’ve heard it.

8. Tom Lehrer, “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”: First heard it many years ago on the Dr. Demento Show, and the tune holds up. Can’t help giggling every time I get to the line, “And maybe we’ll do in a squirrel or two.”

9. Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”: Sure, it’s predominantly about how awful the blue collar worker’s life is, but there’s also that verse about how you shouldn’t mess with him because he’ll kill you. And that’s pretty baller.

10. Filter, “Take a Picture”: For about two months during my freshman year of college, I was completely obsessed with this song. I even bought the CD that it was on (this is what we had to do back before you could just download whatever songs you wanted onto your phone, back in the distant 1990s). It was…not at all like the rest of the album.

Playlist #3

A little less of a downer this week. Let’s gooooo:

  1. Hunters & Collectors, “Throw Your Arms Around Me”: Apparently Australia’s unofficial national anthem? So says one of my coworkers who told me I should learn the song. It’s only three chords, so that will be pretty easy.
  2. Nur-D, “Brighter Day”: Rapper out of Minnesota who decided last year to shift from rapping about nerd culture (Superman, Power Rangers, etc.) to discussing Black Lives Matter and issues near and dear to his community. He still slips in stuff about superheroes and nerdy stuff, though.
  3. Hozier, “Take Me to Church”: Someday I’m gonna put together a playlist of songs relating sex to religion (this one, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” and Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven,” just to name a few) and write an essay about the concept.
  4. The Replacements, “Alex Chilton”: Back in the day when the sister-in-law and I played Rock Band every day, we loved playing this song. It took us forever to five star it at the hard difficulty, but the rush when we finally did…awesome.
  5. Savage Garden, “I Want You”: Did you know there were actual words to this song? I mean, more than that whole “chickey-cherry cola” line? It’s true!
  6. Violent Femmes, “American Music”: “Everytime I look at that ugly moon/It reminds me of me” is one of the best self-deprecating lines ever. Fight me.
  7. The Wallflowers, “Misfits and Lovers”: I know my brother doesn’t like the album this song is off of, but I absolutely love this track (and that whole album, Glad All Over). Again, fight me.
  8. Fiona Apple, “Extraordinary Machine”: I just love the way she works her words and phrases in this song. It’s just perfect, as is the church bell.
  9. The Flaming Lips, “Fight Test”: Best Flaming Lips song. Fight me (it’s appropriate this time).
  10. Fleetwood Mac, “Gypsy”: My wife hates Fleetwood Mac. Hates them. But this song is my jam. She won’t fight me, but that’s probably for the best.

Playlist #2

Here’s this week’s playlist. I was feeling a little more melancholy this week than last, which I feel is reflected in the selections.

  1. Josh Ritter, “Come and Find Me”: Pretty sure most of this song is just a G chord with little variations to keep it interesting.
  2. The Lemonheads, “Into Your Arms”: One of my team teachers loves the Lemonheads (she’s seen them in concert dozens if not hundreds of times) and I learned how to play this song on the guitar for her. It’s a good and simple song.
  3. The Low Millions, “Eleanor”: Did you know Leonard Cohen’s son had a band? And it was this band? And they never put out another album other than the one this song is on? It’s all true.
  4. The Marshall Tucker Band, “Can’t You See”: I’m a sucker for songs with a real simple chord progression, and this one is just D, C, G, D the entire way through. That’s it. No variation, no chorus, nothing but those three chords.
  5. The National, “90-Mile Water Wall”: My favorite part of this early song from the National is that you can hear the lead singer breathing into the microphone if you listen for it.
  6. Neko Case, “Margaret and Pauline”: Such a beautiful song and character sketch. The juxtaposition of the two characters is sad and gorgeous.
  7. Sturgill Simpson, “Keep It Between the Lines”: Part of the album Simpson wrote ostensibly as advice to his newly-born child, this one advises the listener to, “Stay in school/stay off the hard stuff and/keep it’ tween the lines.” Good advice for anyone, really.
  8. Uncle Tupelo, “High Water”: There was a time in graduate school where I became more than a little obsessed with everything even tangentially related to the band Wilco, which included Jeff Tweedy’s original band Uncle Tupelo. This song, from their fourth and final album, is a good indicator of why I liked them so much if not really representative of what they did as a band (think “punk country” or “alt-country,” if you will).
  9. Van Morrison, “Wonderful Remark”: Specifically, the version from the Philosopher’s Stone collection of outtakes and rarities. The original version is awesome, too, though this one somehow feels more striped down without the overwhelming piano of the original (and this one has flute).
  10. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, “Friends”: Ryan Adams, I think we can all agree, has some problems. Dude is terrible to women and suffers from diarrhea of the recording studio (remember those times he put out three albums in a single calendar year? Yeah, I said times, plural, ’cause he’s done it more than once). But this song, from the double-album Cold Roses (which I still insist would have made one of the finest single albums of his career if he’d just cut some of the fat from the two-disc set), is still one of the best he’s ever written or committed to tape.

Playlist #1

I’ve started creating weekly playlists, ten songs each. Trying not to repeat artists from week to week or on a playlist. Don’t want to replicate songs from week to week. Here’s last week’s playlist.

  1. Bruce Springsteen, “Ain’t Good Enough For You”: Uptempo and fun, a joyful bop to start us off.
  2. Johnny Cash, “Out Among the Stars”: Could anyone other than Johnny Cash write such a cheerful, uplifting song about a kid committing suicide by cop? No, they could not. And that chorus is awesome.
  3. Dog’s Eye View, “Everything Falls Apart”: You could have told me this song could have been written and performed by any of a few dozen guitar-based alternative rock groups from the ’90s and I would have believed you. It is so completely generic that you could replace the lyrics with gibberish and folks would still bounce around to it.
  4. Bob Dylan, “Positively Fourth Street”: The meanest kiss-off song in the business, even sixty or so years later. No one lays down a sick burn like a scorned Dylan.
  5. The Interrupters, “She’s Kerosene”: Who doesn’t like a little skank in their music? Commies, that’s who.
  6. Madonna, “Like a Prayer”: Remember how controversial this song and video were back in the ’80s? All those burning crosses and the Black Jesus! It’s a damn good song, though.
  7. Phoebe Bridgers, “Kyoto”: I dunno, I like the keyboards.
  8. Redbone, “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee”: Native American band telling it like it is.
  9. Aimee Mann, “Great Beyond”: I absolutely adore the work of Aimee Mann and I’m kicking myself for the “no back to back songs from the same musician/band” rule I established for myself already.
  10. Hem, “Great Houses of New York”: Every song by this band feels like it belongs with a film. It’s all very cinematic. This song is no exception, except it’s exceptionally amazing. Like all of Hem’s work.