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?
Happy Monday after Thanksgiving, AKA “Online Consumer Armageddon.” I posted a list of stuff you can buy that benefits me back on Friday, for those who are curious. And now here I am with this week’s playlist, a set that features songs that are all about being long (but most of them are actually quite short).
- The Beatles, “Long, Long, Long”: Off the White Album, this quiet George Harrison gem is gorgeous and simple.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Long Time Comin'”: Features two of my favorite Boss lines: “Let your mistakes be your own” and “I ain’t gonna fuck it up this time.” Good stuff.
- Counting Crows, “A Long December”: With one of the best opening lines in any song, “A long December/And there’s reason to believe/Maybe this year will be better than the last.” Your lips to God’s ears.
- The Doobie Bros., “Long Train Runnin'”: My brother and I used to try to perform this one back in college. I…could not sing it then, and maybe sorta kinda can now, just not the way they do it.
- Green Day, “Longview”: I love how this song is mostly about the bass.
- The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)”: That one song that you always kinda thought was CCR but you weren’t 100% sure.
- Jars of Clay, “The Long Fall”: I’ve been a fan of these guys since I was back in high school dating a preacher’s kid. I kinda fell off for a few years, but their most recent stuff is still pretty darn good.
- Little Richard, “Long Tall Sally”: How do you not include Little Richard on this playlist, hmm? That’s the real challenge here.
- Bob Dylan, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”: I originally had a different Dylan song here (“The Man In The Long Black Coat”), but I think this one fits the general vibe and intent of the playlist better.
- Charlie Sexton, “It Don’t Take Long”: The train horn at the beginning of this song always throws me off, but it’s still lovely and all that.
It’s popular across the internet to bag on Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” as the worst Christmas song ever. It sounds like it was written in ten minutes on a dare with a Casio keyboard as the only instrument allowed. And it is, objectively, a terrible song. I myself have used it on multiple occasions to torture students.
But there are worse holiday songs out there. Oh, so much worse. I’d personally like to nominate “Little Drummer Boy” as the worst of the worst. It’s got it all: ridiculous repetition of the “pa-rum-pa-pum-pum” nonsense, a kid who thinks a woman who just gave birth needs to listen to a drum solo, and a slow, plodding tempo that leaves me wanting to pa-rum-pa-pum-punt the songwriter right into the Magi.
In fact, there’s only one version of the song I can stand: one done by Jars of Clay, the Contemporary Christian band famous for the song “Flood,” did as a charity single back in 1997.
The band sped things up a bit, turned the drums into a beat loop, and added some lovely folky acoustic instrumentation to the song. It’s still crap, but it’s listenable crap.