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.
Happy Tuesday, folks! It’s officially summer break time! That doesn’t mean I’ve slacked off over on Patreon, though. There’ll be a new song each month, just like usual. Anyway, here’s this week’s playlist.
- Old 97s, “Holy Cross”: It’s just such a bleak song with such a great rhythm.
- The Wallflowers, “Sleepwalker”: “Now, Cupid, don’t draw back your bow/Sam Cooke didn’t know what I know.”
- The Minus 5, “Wasted Bandage”: Favorite line is, “dear physician, won’t you heal yourself?”
- Golden Smog, “Until You Came Along”: Love the jangly twelve string in this one. It’s an alt-country Byrds song, essentially.
- Gin Blossoms, “Just South Of Nowhere”: Early Gin Blossoms stuff is just so damn good.
- Justin Townes Earle, “Flint City Shake it”: A song that calls GM out on the carpet for its treatment of the auto workers in Flint, Michigan. Gotta love it.
- Jesse Malin, “Addicted”: I will never not love Jesse Malin, and this song – about the problems of modern society and its addiction to smart phones and Instagram – hits a lot of good points.
- Josh Ritter, “Getting Ready To Get Down”: “If you wanna see a miracle/Watch me get down.”
- Glen Phillips, “Men Just Leave”: I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Glen Phillips’ first solo album, and this song – about how men often suck – still hits too real.
- Wilco, “You Are My Face”: I love the middle part of this song, where the band really cuts loose. It’s awesome.
Monday Tuesday, everyone! I was off yesterday for Memorial Day here in the US, so here’s this week’s playlist. It’s sponsored by the fact that the Wife and I watched the new Kids in the Hall season, which was quite good (and featured far more old man dong than I anticipated). You can also support me on Patreon, where I just released May’s new song!
- Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, “Having An Average Weekend”: The theme song from Kids in the Hall! Still slaps.
- Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand”: The song title is too long, there’s no more time to say anything else about this song! Other than it features a B.B. King sample.
- Shawn Mullins, “Lullaby”: This song was completely inescapable for like a month in 1998. Looking back, one has to wonder why. Was it the novelty of the spoken-word verses, or the Inside Baseball nature of the way it pokes at Hollywood? Or did we just not have high expectations for music in 1998? I think it’s maybe that one.
- Polaris, “Hey Sandy”: For a hot minute, I thought about making this playlist 100% great TV show theme songs from the ’90s, but it was really just this one and the one from KITH that I had for that list.
- Wilco, “A Shot In The Arm”: Wilco put out a new album last week! It’s pretty good. Here’s another pretty good Wilco song from over 20 years ago.
- Matchbox Twenty, “Mad Season”: Why do I enjoy listening to Matchbox Twenty so much? They’re so middle of the road, tailor made inoffensive that it’s hard not to enjoy their stuff, I guess.
- Barenaked Ladies, “It’s All Been Done”: Damn, that chorus gets really, really high at the end. I can never sing it right.
- Ben Folds Five, “Kate”: “She plays Wipeout on the drums/The squirrels and the birds come/Gather round and sing the guitar,” the song begins. And only gets better from there.
- Foo Fighters, “Everlong”: Have I included this song on a playlist already? Probably. It’s still so damn good.
- Gin Blossoms, “Hold Me Down”: Why have I come to love the Gin Blossoms so much? Is it this song specifically, or New Miserable Experience in general? I can’t say for certain.
Back in the day, I used to play on Sundays at a place up in DC called the Mansion on O Street. It’s a neat museum/hotel that features loads of nifty musical keepsakes. I sat in with a band that used it as a practice space on Sundays, having been invited by the flautist/singer of the group. It was loads of fun, and I’m kind of sorry I stopped playing with them after a while (mostly, they wanted to turn it into real rehearsal time, and I wasn’t a member of the band, so…). Anyway, here are some of the songs we used to play there.
- Brandi Carlile, “Turpentine”: Having recently re-discovered Brandi Carlile (due in large part to her involvement in the Highwomen), I have to say this song is a fun one to play. As with many of the songs we played, it was an easy one, with just a few chords, but the harmonies in the chorus were always great.
- Ethan Hipple and Podunk Road, “Cakewalk”: The other guitar player (who was actually a bass player by inclination and training) sang this one. It’s a fun country blues number.
- Bonnie Raitt, “Angel From Montgomery”: A John Prine cover. Beautiful. Another one where the harmonies really came through.
- 4 Non Blondes, “What’s Up?”: Like I was gonna put this song in any position other than number four.
- Gin Blossoms, “Until I Fall Away”: They were always impressed that I knew all the backing vocals to this song.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Breakdown”: You know me, I love a Tom Petty tune.
- The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun”: I have never been able to sing this one to my own satisfaction. The singer in the band, though, she could do it.
- Kate Wolf, “Across the Great Divide”: I prefer the version the band did to this version. This one is too polished and too ’80s-sounding. Our version was better.
- Linda Rondstadt, “When Will I Be Loved?”: The country covers band my uncle used to play in played this one every night, so I was pretty damn familiar with it when this group broke out in it and I was able to contribute to backing vocals.
- The Mystiqueros, “Good”: The band introduced me to this song, as to so many others. It’s beautiful, in large part due to the backing harmonies, which the band always killed.
Week three of the school year rattles on. Here’s some tunes to carry you through.
- Gin Blossoms, “Just South of Nowhere”: The Gin Blossoms have become one of my favorite bands from the 90s, and this is one of my favorites by them. Pre-New Miserable Experience.
- Electric Light Orchestra, “Daybreaker”: An instrumental from the Jeff Lynne-led band. It’s off of On the Third Day, where ELO really became ELO.
- Rhiannon Giddens, “Better Get It Right the First Time”: This woman can write a damn song, lemme tell you. She also plays a mean banjo, though that’s not present on this track. This is more of an old-school R&B number, with a rap break that actually really works well.
- Robert Earl Keen, “The Road Goes On Forever (Live)”: “The road goes on forever/and the party never ends,” he sings, and I’m still not sure if that’s a statement of undeniable fact or a plea to never let go.
- The Who, “The Seeker”: Any song that references the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Timothy Leary in the same verse is some kinda wonderful.
- Patti Smith, “Because The Night”: When Bruce Springsteen gives you an unfinished song, you take it and you rock it out. Patti Smith definitely did.
- Paul McCartney, “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”: Shortly after his first wife, Linda, passed away, Paul got into the studio with a bunch of buddies (including guitarist David Gilmore) to record a bunch of old 50s rockers and a few new tracks written in the same vein. They slap. They all slap. This one especially.
- Dawes, “That Western Skyline”: The first song off their first album is filled with so much promise. So much. Those Laurel Canyon harmonies are just perfect. The rest of the album – and honestly, everything they’ve put out since – feels like a failure of that promise.
- fun., “Some Nights”: Another band that falls flat right after their first song or two. Maybe what I expected from this song and what the band actually want to do are two very different things.
- Elliott Smith, “Either/Or”: It strikes me to this day that Elliott Smith died far too young. If I can be half – hell, even a quarter – of the guitar player or musician or songwriter that he was, I’d be perfectly happy with that.