Playlist #75

It’s a dreary, rainy Monday, but that does not stop the rock! Here’s this week’s playlist, hot off the presses.

  1. John Fullbright, “Paranoid Heart”: Okie singer/songwriter who just released a new album last Friday. It’s pretty damn good. The man knows how to write a song, and his backing band is strong.
  2. Wilco, “Remember To Remember Me”: Speaking of new albums, Wilco released a 20th anniversary edition of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that contains loads of previously-unreleased stuff, including this early version of what later became “Hummingbird.”
  3. Jonathan Coulton, “Je Suis Rick Springfield”: Aren’t we all, just a little bit, Rick Springfield?
  4. David Gray, “Nemesis”: One of the more subdued songs from Draw the Line, but still a good one.
  5. Bon Iver, “Blood Bank”: Years ago, one of my coworkers asked me to help him record a little demo EP. We did it in my classroom at school. This was one of the songs we recorded (along with a Wilco tune and one by Trampled by Turtles. It was . . . eclectic).
  6. Modest Mouse, “Fire It Up”: Gotta get the blood pumping somehow.
  7. Moby, “Extreme Ways”: “Then it fell apart like it always does.”
  8. The Gaslight Anthem, “Placeholder”: This song is very evocative of the Anthem’s sound and style circa The ’59 Sound, and I am here for it.
  9. The Rolling Stones, “Play With Fire”: Maybe crotch fire. God only knows what venereal diseases Mick Jagger and the boys had back then.
  10. Peter Gabriel, “Intruder”: Hey, we hear you like gated reverb. Have a lot of it.

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 #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 #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.

Tunes!

If you’re like me – and you should all be so lucky – then writing is a process that involves music.  Lots of music.  But not just any music!  No, you must listen to specific songs or specific styles to help set the mood for your protagonist’s adventures.  Or misadventures.  Or what have you.

I have a constantly-evolving playlist on my phone of the songs I listen to while writing.  Some are on there because they fit a specific scene, while others are more about describing the characters or the mood.  The following playlist was developed while I was writing The Invisible Crown and another novel that will appear later in the series, tentatively called Death and the Dame (that one’s a love story.  Sort of).

1. Anita Kelsey, “Sway”: There have been times I’ve just written to the Dark City Soundtrack.  This is still one of my favorite songs off that collection.

2. Sting, “Perfect Love…Gone Wrong”: On there because of the smoky, steamy city jazz feel, and also the extended metaphor where Sting is a disgruntled dog amuses me to no end.

3. John Mellencamp, “The Full Catastrophe”: Perfect summation of my protagonist, Eddie Hazzard.  His life is a bit of a rolling catastrophe, and there is a minor chance he was accidentally loving your wife while you were loving his.

4. Soul Coughing, “Fully Retractable”: One that’s on there for tone/mood.  There’s a dark undercurrent, a sinister feel to this song that’s just really fitting.

5. Muddy Waters, “Rolling Stone”: Life in a blues song always sounds like it sucks.  I imagine Eddie’s life is much the same way.

6. Bob Dylan, “What Was It You Wanted”: Either the narrator is stuck in a world that makes no sense, or the guy took a shot to the head.  Either way, a Dylan song is a must-have on pretty much any playlist I put together.

7. Gorillaz, “M1A1”: Fight scene song!  Love the energy, the staccato burst of the snare, the spiky guitars…great soundtrack to a fistfight.

8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand”: Another mood setter.  Creepy, dark alley vibe that I dig.

9. EL VY, “Happiness, Missouri”: Like I said, a lot of songs I stick on these for the general mood they set.  This one fits with the general feel of the city of Arcadia: dark, slightly mysterious, vaguely threatening and sinister.

10. Arcade Fire, “My Body is a Cage”: The contemplative, protagonist considers his actions and his destiny before launching into the story’s climactic scene song.  Love the build of it, the sense of determination and all that.

11. The Dead Weather, “Hustle and Cuss”: Basically the Eddie Hazzard theme song.  He has to be out there hustling, working his tail off, because his enemies are always a few steps ahead of him.  And cussing…well, you have to express your frustration somehow.

12. David Gray, “Dead in the Water”: While The Invisible Crown might be the first of Eddie Hazzard’s cases, it certainly won’t be the last.  I’ve got three other novels already written in the series, I’ve started working on the fifth novel, and I have plans for the sixth.  The core idea for the sixth book came from a short story I wrote a couple years back about Eddie and a particularly disturbing case and a mis-remembering of a lyric from this song.  Expect to see that book in…um…2022 or so, maybe?  I dunno.

13. Adele, “Rumor Has It”: A private detective works with whatever information he can get.  Sometimes, that information is merely rumors.  Sometimes, those rumors turn out to be true.

14. Tom Waits, “Way Down in a Hole”: Tom Waits sounds too ludicrous to even be one of my characters, and I have one antagonist who’s a head in a jar named The Fish.  Honestly, when developing characters, I just ask myself, “What would Tom Waits do?” and go from there.  It’s served me pretty well so far.

15. Modest Mouse, “Bukowski”: This always struck me as driving music, the sort of thing you’d hear on the soundtrack if TIC was turned into a movie/TV series and they had a scene of him driving from the office to an informant or chasing down a lead.

That’s my playlist!  What do you listen to when you’re writing?