Playlist #82: Give Thanks!

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a short week here, as Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A two-day work week? How will I ever survive? With a new, Thanksgiving-inspired playlist, that’s how!

  1. Neil Young, “Harvest Moon”: What is Thanksgiving if not a harvest festival? One without sacrifice to the harvest gods, that’s what. And you can’t tell me that’s right. The old gods grow hungry and angry. Hangry old gods. Don’t ignore them this year, I beg you.
  2. Alanis Morissette, “Thank U”: I’m not 100% sure why Alanis is thanking India and disillusionment, or quite what she’s thanking them for, exactly, but it’s a good song anyway.
  3. Wilco, “The Thanks I Get”: Yeah, this one was just featured a few weeks ago on another one of my playlists. It still slaps. What else do you want?
  4. Dido, “Thank You”: Remember when this song was everywhere for, like, a month in 1999? Man, turn of the millennium was a weird time. We were all pretty sure society itself was gonna collapse when January 1, 2000 rolled around, so we just listened to damn-near anything.
  5. Glen Phillips, “Thankful”: I always really enjoy Glen Phillips songs. They’re quirky and catchy and I just really dig them, okay?
  6. John Mellencamp, “Thank You”: I was listening to Mellencamp for most of the weekend (the newly-released extended version of Scarecrow, which is alright), so it only seemed appropriate to include one of his tunes on this list. Thematically appropriate, too.
  7. The National, “Sailors In Your Mouth”: It’s a Thanksgiving song, I swear.
  8. The Flaming Lips, “Thank You Jack White (For the Fiber-Optic Jesus)”: It’s truly, deeply weird, as all good Flaming Lips songs are.
  9. The Beatles, “Thank You Girl”: Sure, this is less about giving thanks in the traditional Thanksgiving sense of the word, and more “thanks for the sex stuff, lady friend.”
  10. The Band, “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)”: And to round things out, here’s another song about harvesting. I’m pretty sure King Harvest is some sort of simulacrum, a wicker and cornhusk concoction – or maybe even abomination – brought to life to bring the horror of the new harvest straight to you.

Playlist #79: George Harrisongs

Over the weekend, I listened (and re-listened) to the new reissue of the Beatles’ Revolver, and damn if that isn’t a great album. That sent me down a little Beatles rabbit hole, leading me to re-listen to the reissue of Let It Be and even some other, random Beatles albums (like the Yellow Submarine soundtrack). And it got me thinking about my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, and how John Lennon (and Paul McCartney, to a lesser extent) used to shit all over his songs. And that annoys me, because George wrote some bangers. Here’s a list of some of them, minus all the really obvious songs.

  1. The Beatles, “It’s All Too Much”: The real impetus behind this playlist. This song is crazy in all the best ways. It’s got feedback and a bizarre keyboard/organ track, weird vocal chants, and those hand claps . . . it’s as weird and noisy as the Beatles ever got, honestly, and I don’t understand why more folks don’t talk about this song and how great it is.
  2. The Beatles, “For You Blue”: I do rather love Lennon’s lap steel in this one.
  3. The Beatles, “Long, Long, Long”: Such a melancholy, downbeat song. So beautiful, though.
  4. The Beatles, “Blue Jay Way”: “There’s a fog upon LA,” this song begins, and it just gets weirder from there. Everyone always talks about how experimental Lennon was, but let’s not forget that George did stuff like this and introducing the western pop music world to the sitar.
  5. The Beatles, “I Want To Tell You”: One of George’s Revolver offerings (the other being the obviously great “Taxman”); I feel this one gets overshadowed by its better-known brother.
  6. The Beatles, “Old Brown Shoe”: Only officially released as a single and on the Hey Jude album here in the US. I always loved this song; the old vinyl record my dad had of the album had a scratch in this particular track and so it always skipped at one point in the song.
  7. George Harrison, “Bangla Desh”: Okay, so without this song, we wouldn’t have stuff like “We Are the World” and “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas?” and yeah, the world would be better off without those sanctimonious circle jerks, but this song is pretty great and spawned the equally awesome Concert for Bangladesh.
  8. George Harrison, “Not Guilty”: Low-key and mellow, and I love that keyboard part. The little between-line riff that he plays on the guitar is pretty great, too.
  9. George Harrison, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues”: Originally written for Jesse Ed Davis, George released his version in ’73 and it’s a sarcastic, sardonic “fuck you” to Paul McCartney in particular and the rest of the Beatles in general (except for Ringo. Everyone loved Ringo).
  10. George Harrison, “Crackerbox Palace”: Everyone always talks about how funny the Beatles were. John had the zany wit, McCartney had your dad’s sense of humor, and Ringo was a loveable goofball. But George? George was the dry, sarcastic, sardonic one, the one with the gallows humor, the guy who would have been great to watch a political debate with and spend the whole time slagging off on the candidates and their obviously hollow promises and posturing. And this song is a great example of all that.

Playlist #72

The Queen is dead, long live the King.

  1. The Clash, “I Fought The Law”: Man, never fight the law. The law always wins, the jerk.
  2. Sex Pistols, “God Save The Queen”: Too soon?
  3. Oasis, “She’s Electric”: I swear, this sounds like a Bob Dylan song, I just don’t know what one.
  4. Queen, “Killer Queen”: Originally, this whole list was gonna be Queen songs, but even I felt bad about the fact that I’d have put “Another One Bites the Dust” on here if I did that, so you’re welcome.
  5. The Police, “Masoko Tanga”: Sting just mumbles gibberish for the entire runtime of the song. Good times.
  6. Pink Floyd, “Fearless”: I love this song for the use of the football fans singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of the song, if nothing else.
  7. Jeff Lynne, “Lift Me Up”: Jeff Lynne at his Jeff Lynne-iest.
  8. The Who, “The Seeker”: “I asked Bobby Dylan/I asked the Beatles/I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn’t help me, either.”
  9. The Animals, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”: One of the few riffs I can play on the guitar is the one from this song. Most of it, anyway.
  10. The Beatles, “And Your Bird Can Sing”: Mmm, harmonies.

Playlist #70: Death At A Funeral

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The Beatles, “Let It Be”: Preferably one of the versions with a George Harrison guitar solo, because I like George Harrison guitar solos.
  3. Harry Nilsson, “Many Rivers To Cross”: Sure, Nick Hornby may prefer the Jimmy Cliff version, but this is the one for me.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”: No one does the transitory nature of existence better than George Harrison.
  8. 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.
  9. The National, “Gospel”: “Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden.”
  10. 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.

Playlist #64

Another week, another playlist! Don’t forget to support me making music over on Patreon. I’m posting a mix of one of my songs done by my brother next Monday, so be sure to check it out!

  1. Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, “Mysterious Power”: This guy does a lot of the music for a tv show called Sex Education on Netflix. It’s a funny show, you should check it out. And the music is pretty solid, too.
  2. Jesse Malin, “Crawling Back To You”: Saw this song on a Jesse Malin album I downloaded over the weekend. “Oh, it has the same name as that Tom Petty song,” I thought to myself. Folks, it is that Tom Petty song, and it’s a pretty good cover of it.
  3. The Beatles, “You Really Got A Hold On Me”: You can’t go wrong with the Beatles covering a doo-wop number. You just can’t.
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop The Rain”: There’s just something about CCR songs that always get me in a good mood.
  5. Tom Waits, “The Earth Died Screaming”: The Wife wants me to put together a playlist of weird songs. I told her it’d just be a Tom Waits playlist, then.
  6. The Gaslight Anthem, “Biloxi Parish”: I think The Gaslight Anthem may be one of my top five bands of the past fifteen or so years.
  7. Fleetwood Mac, “Rhiannon”: Just how common is the name Rhiannon, anyway? I can’t imagine there are too many of them wandering around.
  8. Jack Johnson, “Banana Pancakes”: I hate bananas.
  9. Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell, “This Must Be The Place”: Features the line, “Sing into my mouth,” which is probably the grossest thing I’ve ever heard Sam Beam sing.
  10. Neil Young, “Down By The River”: Neil Young gives me hope that even my crappy guitar solos aren’t so bad. “Solo? You mean play the same note 32 times in a row, right?”

Playlist #63 – Doomed Love

I am returned to the East from my vacation! 5800 miles later and (mostly) none the worse for wear. I am still doing music over on Patreon, where I’ll be unveiling July’s song of the month shortly. Today’s playlist comes courtesy of my brother, Clif, who not only suggested the theme but most of the songs on the list. Let’s jump in!

  1. Bruce Springsteen, “Loose Ends”: Sure, a lot of Springsteen’s songs feature characters stuck in relationships that seem doomed to end in abject failure, but only this one likens the relationship to a tightening noose.
  2. Mo Kenney, “Ahead of Myself”: I don’t know who hurt you, Mo, but you should stay away from them for your own good.
  3. The Fratellis, “For the Girl”: For such an upbeat, poppy band, they sure can turn in a downer of a song.
  4. Goodnight, Texas, “Dearest Sarah”: Based on an actual soldier’s letter to his wife back home, telling her that he felt he was going to die in an upcoming battle and she ought to live out the rest of her life as she would. More than a little dark and sad.
  5. Crowded House, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”: Can you believe some folks play this song at their wedding? That’s almost as weird and disconcerting as playing the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.”
  6. Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, “Talking In Code”: A relationship ending always strikes me as sad, though a number of relationships are less than stellar and probably shouldn’t have existed in the first place. No one should have to hear someone sing them sad songs to keep them awake.
  7. The Decemberists, “O Valencia!”: There’s always something about the way Colin Meloy sings that always makes a Decemberist song seem like it’s set in the 1860s, even when he makes mention of things like cars.
  8. The Elected, “It Was Love”: As Clif said, “the relationship is probably doomed if you can’t even figure out if you were in love or not.” He ain’t wrong.
  9. The Beatles, “Run For Your Life”: I’m half convinced any relationship involving John Lennon is probably doomed from the start, mostly because of songs like this one.
  10. Old 97s, “The Other Shoe”: If you’re hiding under the bed, waiting for your spouse and her lover, and then you drive out to the central Texas desert to bury their dead bodies, I’m pretty sure that romance is doomed. Very doomed.

Playlist #54

Good Monday Morning, folks! Follow me on Patreon. I’m super excited about May’s song there. Meanwhile, here’s this week’s playlist:

  1. Dream Wife, “Hey Heartbreaker”: The chugging guitar is great, and I love the overlapping vocals at the end.
  2. Drive-By Truckers, “Outfit”: “Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit,” the narrator’s father admonishes him, and I can admit that I have done that on numerous occasions. Oh well.
  3. Wilco, “Say You Miss Me”: A heartbreaker of a song. Love it.
  4. Tom Waits, “Goin’ Out West”: “Well, I’m goin’ out west/Where the wind blows tall,” Tom Waits begins, and things only get weirder from there. Because of course they do, this is a Tom Waits song.
  5. Spoon, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”: A reverb-drenched shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.
  6. SaraoMusic, “Coming Home”: Sunny So-Cal indie pop at its finest.
  7. The Rolling Stones, “Factory Girl”: Always imagined this as the mid-70s version of that Shakespearean sonnet, “My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun.”
  8. The Beatles, “Two Of Us”: If there’s a better song on Let It Be, make your case in the comments.
  9. Rhett Miller, “The El”: Who doesn’t love rattling along on the El in Chicago?
  10. Josh Ritter, “Hopeful”: Taking those first few tentative steps out into the wild after a relationship collapses can be terrifying, but you gotta stay hopeful.

Playlist #51

Happy Tax Day, America! Happy regular ol’ Monday after Easter! Happy, um, April 18th, everyone else? Don’t forget to join my Patreon, where I’m making new music every month for your listening enjoyment (actual amount of enjoyment may vary. Please see your doctor if you receive too much enjoyment from listening to my music)! Anyway, here’s this week’s playlist.

  1. The Beatles, “Taxman”: Like I wasn’t gonna do this today. “My advice to those who die/Declare the pennies on your eyes.”
  2. Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”: Only started listening to him this morning, but the line, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/You gotta kick in the darkness till it bleeds daylight” is just one of the all-time best.
  3. The Ink Spots, “Java Jive”: Like most music from the first half of the 20th century, my exposure to this song was through a cartoon when I was a small child. Little Lulu, I think?
  4. Lizzo, “About Damn Time”: Here comes Lizzo with another summer jam. God, where did she find that bass player? That bassline slaps.
  5. Ten Years After, “I’d Love To Change The World”: With a chorus that literally says, “I’d love to change the world/But I don’t know what to do/So I’ll leave it up to you,” this is the quintessential Boomer song. “Eh, I’d love to do something about it, but I’m not gonna. Tough luck, future!”
  6. XTC, “Across This Antheap”: Another song with so many good lines just tossed off all casual-like. And that trumpet? So good.
  7. The Wallflowers, “Bleeders”: Included simply because of the way that organ sounds at the very beginning of the song.
  8. Ben E. King, “Stand By Me”: You know what always aggravates me about the John Lennon cover of this song? It adds absolutely nothing to it. You might as well just go back and listen to the Ben E. King version instead. Which is why this version is on the playlist.
  9. Otis Redding, “That’s How Strong My Love Is”: Listening to this song, I’m reminded of how very much in-touch with that ’60s R&B Stax sound CCR (or really, John Fogerty) was. This coulda been a CCR song. Or any CCR song coulda been an Otis Redding song.
  10. Josh Ritter, “Old Black Magic”: This song just chugs along and gets downright fiery towards the end.

Playlist #42: Love Stinks!

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks! Here’s some songs about love that anyone can enjoy, whether you’re single AF this year or happily married or anything in between.

  1. The Beatles, “I’m A Loser”: Back when I was in college, I put together anti-love playlists every Valentine’s Day. This one was a recurring feature.
  2. Sting, “She’s Too Good For Me”: It was true 15 years ago when I married the Wife, and it’s true today.
  3. Jesse Malin, “She Don’t Love Me Now”: I think it’s the guitars on this one that really do it for me.
  4. The Hold Steady, “You Can Make Him Like You”: “You don’t have to go to the right kind of schools/Let your boyfriend come from the right kind of schools/You can wear his old sweatshirt/You can cover yourself like a bruise.”
  5. The Grass Roots, “Things I Should Have Said”: Is there ever a bad time for a Grass Roots song? No. No, there is not.
  6. Placebo, “You Don’t Care About Us”: I swear, I had at least three friends who listened almost exclusively to this album during high school/college. If you didn’t do that, you probably also have at least one or two of those friends as well.
  7. Beck, “Loser”: When you can’t just say it in English, say it in Spanish as well: “Soy un perdador.”
  8. Barenaked Ladies, “One Week”: When you fight, you should always make up afterwards. Maybe don’t wait a whole week for it, though.
  9. Hank Williams, Sr., “You Win Again”: The resignation in his voice is just…damn, Hank.
  10. The White Stripes, “The Denial Twist”: “If you think that a kiss is all in the lips/C’mon, you got it all wrong, man.”

Playlist #32

New week, new playlist!

  1. Pearl Jam, “Black”: I learned to play this song last week, only 20-some years too late for it to be relevant.
  2. Jonathan Edwards, “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”: Also learned this one last week. It’s fun and folky.
  3. Sting, “Shape Of My Heart”: I just really like the guitar figure in this one.
  4. The Decemberists, “Sucker’s Prayer”: I mentioned this one the other week, and then just put a different Decemberists song on the playlist instead. Here’s this one now.
  5. Big Red Machine, “Renegade (featuring Taylor Swift)”: Am I sucker for recent Taylor Swift? Yes. Is this song really gorgeous? Also yes.
  6. The Beatles, “For You Blue”: I dig George Harrison songs, and this one is just so much fun. John’s slide playing is gleeful and too much fun.
  7. The Avett Brothers, “Ain’t No Man”: I dig these guys, and this song is tub-thumpin’ good times.
  8. Wilco, “Everyone Hides”: I like how Wilco has eased into their dad rock years and are just hummin’ along, making laidback music and having a good time.
  9. Yael Naim, “New Soul”: Pretty sure this was a song featured in an iTunes commercial back in the day? I don’t remember. But it’s cute and lovely.
  10. The Horrible Crowes, “Mary Ann”: Sometimes, you just need Brian Fallon shouting someone’s name in the chorus.