Playlist #30: “Poor, Hard-Working Televangelist”

Happy Turkey Week, folks! Just two days of work for me this week, then it’s off to Ohio to visit some family and stuff myself with more food than is advisable because, hey, Thanksgiving. Before that, though, we have this week’s playlist, which features songs about religion!

  1. Jeremy Messersmith, “Jim Bakker”: The song that inspired this list all about the life of that “poor, hard-working televangelist.” If you don’t know, Jim Bakker was a snake-oil salesman of the worst sort and fleeced his lovely old congregants for every dime he could.
  2. Genesis, “Jesus He Knows Me”: Could also be about Jim Bakker, for all I know. I just remember how tongue-in-cheek this song sounded when I first heard it, and it still resonates with its strong anti-bullshit message even today.
  3. The Doobie Bros, “Jesus Is Just Alright”: I mean, he’s okay, I guess.
  4. Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit In the Sky”: How confident do you have to be in your soul’s eternal destination to write and record this song? Confident enough that Greenbaum, who is Jewish, said he had a friend in Jesus. That’s ballsy.
  5. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”: Admittedly, George was the most spiritual of the Beatles. While Paul was tossing out pop songs like most people breathe and John was pushing avant-garde art on anyone who came to close (and Ringo was…um…Ringo), George was the one who got into Transcendentalism and Eastern religions and the sitar and all that. “My Sweet Lord” isn’t the end result, it’s a symptom.
  6. The National, “Gospel”: What does this song actually have to do with anything related to the Gospel? Nothing, as far as I can tell. But it’s a beautiful song and lovely and I really like it, okay?
  7. Bob Dylan, “With God On Our Side”: Dylan’s a man who knows what’s up. This song was written in like ’64, which is damn-near peak Cold War (or near enough as it doesn’t matter), and he’s coming out so strongly anti-war that I’m surprised the FBI didn’t have a file on him a foot thick.
  8. Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Blood of the Lamb”: I love me some Mermaid Avenue, and this one – off the second collection – is a stompy, apocalyptic slice of what made the collaboration great.
  9. Aretha Franklin, “Son of a Preacher Man”: Damn, if this don’t just send tingles down your spine, I think you might be dead.
  10. Blind Faith, “Presence of the Lord”: More for Steve Winwood than Eric Clapton, really, ’cause Clapton’s finally shown his true (rather hateful) colors and eff that guy.

Playlist #24: Dance Dance Revolution

Happy Monday morning and Happy Indigenous Persons Day! Today, I feel like dancing.

  1. Elliott Smith, “XO (Waltz #2)”: “Here it is, the revenge to the tune/You’re no good” is just one of the best lines ever.
  2. Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing In The Dark”: Who doesn’t want to drag Courtney Cox up onto stage to dance with the Boss?
  3. ABBA, “Dancing Queen”: Oddly enough, not the first song I thought of when I came up with this theme.
  4. Frank Turner, “Four Simple Words”: This is the song that inspired the playlist. “I want to dance/I want to dance/I want lust and love and a smattering of romance/But I’m no good at dancing/But I have to do something.” C’mon, that’s a great chorus.
  5. Van Morrison, “Moondance”: Van has gotten progressively weirder and more irascible as he’s aged, but this song (and the whole album of the same name) remains solid gold.
  6. jeremy messersmith, “It’s Only Dancing”: Dude decided a couple of years ago to decenter his ego by no longer capitalizing his name, which…that’s not how proper nouns work, Jer. That’s not how they work at all. Still a good song, though.
  7. John Mellencamp, “Dance Naked”: Excellent advice, as long as nobody’s watching.
  8. Dire Straits, “Walk Of Life”: I’m pretty sure the walk of life is a dance. If it isn’t, it ought to be.
  9. Calexico, “Sunken Waltz”: Any excuse to include a Calexico song on a playlist is fine by me.
  10. Tom Waits, “Tom Traubert’s Blues”: Included due to the “Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda/You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me” in the chorus. It’s sad and sweet and touching and heartbreaking all at once.

Playlist #11

Happy Tuesday, folks! Here’s the latest playlist:

  1. Amanda Shires, “Pale Fire”: I love how simple and evocative this song is. I also love that name drops Oklahoma. Someday, I will put together a playlist entirely of songs that do that.
  2. The Autumn Defense, “Estate Remains”: I always dig the mellow sound these two Wilco sidemen make on this side project. The cello is my favorite part of this particular song.
  3. Big Red Machine, “Gratitude”: “Well, I better not fuck this up,” the refrain says. A lot. And I can empathize with that.
  4. 10,000 Maniacs, “These Are Days”: When 9,999 maniacs just aren’t enough.
  5. J.J. Cale, “Call Me The Breeze”: Breezy indeed, J.J. Cale is an Oklahoma tradition and a national treasure.
  6. Jack Johnson, “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”: I’ve always liked the thumpy fingerpicked style Jack Johnson uses. This song has it in spades.
  7. Jeremy Messersmith, “Tourniquet”: Saw this guy in concert at Jammin’ Java several years ago at the behest of my good friend Jamie. I have not regretted that decision.
  8. Joe Walsh, “Rocky Mountain Way”: Joe Walsh songs are just fun to play on the guitar, even if you’re like me and can’t play the lead stuff.
  9. The Minus 5, “I’m Not Bitter”: “I walk around the block to avoid you/And that’s when I’m in a social mood.” That…while it’s a damn good couplet, it’s probably also a sign you should go to therapy.
  10. Peter Gabriel, “Secret World”: The closer to Us, where Peter Gabriel shows us what is up and how to end a record.

Halloween Playlist

Are you like me, and find yourself wanting to enjoy Halloween but struggling because of a dearth of decent songs associated with the holiday?  I mean, in terms of inspiring music, it’s not Christmas, that’s for sure.  I just find that I can’t stand listening to the Monster Mash and the Addams Family theme and the Munsters theme again and again on repeat this year.  I need some actual, non-novelty music.

And we’re in luck!  There are actually plenty of real, pretty awesome songs that have a stealth-Halloween theme to them.  Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.

1. The Eagles, “Witchy Woman”: Sure, it’s easy to rag on the Eagles as being the dad-est of Dad Rock, but they did some fun songs.  This one carries the witch metaphor throughout pretty strongly, and fits right in with our “real song but Halloween-y” theme.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “I Put a Spell on You”: Yeah, I know, the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version is probably better, and certainly more Halloween-y, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to include a CCR song on a playlist.

3. The Beatles, “Devil in Her Heart”: Not even a little bit of the right tone, barely even mentions anything Halloween-related (the titular devil in her heart, which is more metaphorical than actual), but it’s the Beatles, and it’s my playlist, so nyah.

4. Warren Zevon, “Werewolves of London”: There was a 0% chance I wasn’t going to include this.  An obvious but classic choice.

5. Tom Petty, “Zombie Zoo”: “Sometimes you’re so impulsive/You shaved off all your hair/You look like Boris Karloff/But you don’t even care” is probably the best line in any song ever, and I will fight you if you say otherwise.

6. Josh Ritter, “The Curse”: A love song about a mummy told as sincerely as this is proof this world is sometimes better than we deserve.

7. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand”: Honestly, you could just put a Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album on for Halloween it’d be fine.  If I have to go with one song, though, this is the one.  The Pete Yorn version from the first Hellboy movie isn’t half-bad, either.

8. Jeremy Messersmith, “Ghost”: A haunting beautiful (get it?) song about disappearing out of someone’s life.

9. The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1”: War of the Worlds, if it was fought between a Japanese pop singer who knows karate and giant pink robots that want to eat people.

10. The White Stripes, “Walking with a Ghost”: I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one.  I just wanted another song about ghosts on here.

Happy Halloween, everyone!