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 #41

Another week, another playlist! Also, please join me on Patreon, where I’m making new music every month!

  1. John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, “Did You Say Such a Thing”: I swear, this song could’ve come off of any Mellencamp album since he was going by John Cougar.
  2. Green Day, “Brain Stew”: I feel like mine’s been a bit of a soup lately. Being ADHD and taking care of someone suffering the aftereffects of a rough case of Covid is hard, yo.
  3. Greg Brown, “In The Dark With You”: It’s weird hearing Greg Brown songs with more than just his guitar and maybe a bass. But it’s good.
  4. Radiohead, “The National Anthem”: I learned the bass line for this song a few months ago. It’s fun and surprisingly easy.
  5. The Rolling Stones, “Rip This Joint”: Heroin must’ve been a helluva drug, if songs like this are any indication.
  6. The Spencer Davis Group, “Gimme Some Lovin'”: If I could sing the way Steve Winwood did at 16, I would’ve pursued a career as a musician, too (I am making songs on Patreon though, hint hint).
  7. Temple of the Dog, “Hunger Strike”: Who doesn’t love a little proto-grunge by the band that really kinda started that whole thing.
  8. Two Gallants, “Incidental”: One of ’em should’ve called himself Goofus. Just sayin’.
  9. U2, “Love Rescue Me”: Ever wanted to hear U2 and Bob Dylan sing together? Well, here you go!
  10. The Fray, “Over My Head (Cable Car)”: I like the first, like, three songs on this album, then it all sorta goes wishy-washy and meander-y and I lose interest every time. But this song is good.

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 #14

This week is my father’s birthday! For the playlist, I chose songs from bands we’ve seen play live. Going to concerts was how my father and I bonded (rather than sports, or cars, or reading interests, or stuff like that. I don’t think he was particularly ready to have an indoor son), and we’ve seen some great shows over the years.

  1. The Doobie Brothers, “Black Water”: The first concert I went to was in the 5th grade, and it was to see these guys. In hindsight, I think this show was more for my dad than for me; I mean, I liked “China Grove,” but I wasn’t really familiar with much of the rest of their stuff. It was still a good time, though.
  2. Genesis, “I Can’t Dance”: We saw Genesis on the tour for the We Can’t Dance album down in Dallas, TX. I remember us trying to walk to the stadium where the show was held, then deciding it would work better to drive ’cause it was just too damn far.
  3. Eric Clapton, “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues”: We caught Clapton on the tour for Me and Mr. Johnson, where he did a bunch of old Robert Johnson tunes. Billy Preston played keyboards on the album and the tour. It was pretty fantastic.
  4. John Mellencamp, “Rain On The Scarecrow”: Mellencamp was touring for his greatest hits album when we caught him. He did a little acoustic set in the middle of the show, and this was one of the songs they played during that part.
  5. The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Women”: Caught them in Norman when I was in high school. Nearly got crushed trying to get to our seats by the press of drunk Boomers. Good times.
  6. ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man”: Dusty Hills, the bass player, just passed away last week. These guys put on a damn good show.
  7. Crosby, Stills, & Nash, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”: Caught them at the Civic Center Auditorium in Oklahoma City back in high school. These guys can harmonize, and Stephen Stills may be one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen, hands down.
  8. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Do Me Like That”: Tom Petty was one of my favorite artists growing up. I only had a couple of his albums when he went on the Into the Great Wide Open tour, but we managed to get front row center tickets to the show. I sang along at the top of my lungs to every song, and Tom Petty gave me his guitar pick at the end of the show. Just awesome.
  9. Chicago, “I’m A Man”: Now, I haven’t ever seen Chicago in concert. Not sure I wanna see a Terry Kath-less Chicago anyway. But I know they’re one of my dad’s favorite bands, and I know he saw them back in the ’70s, so i really couldn’t resist putting at least one Chicago song on the list.
  10. The Beatles, “Norwegian Wood”: Again, I’ve obviously never seen the Beatles in concert. They were done a good decade before I came along. But we grew up listening to them. Dad and I used to go see a Beatles cover band called Tribute 1964 every time they rolled into Norman (which, when I was in high school, was an annual occurrence). I would have been remiss in not putting a Beatles song on this list, and I know dad likes to play this one on the guitar.

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?