Playlist #73

First, news! I published a new short story that you can buy, right now! It’s a Halloween-themed Eddie Hazzard short story where he hunts a werewolf and is generally a curmudgeon about things. Go check it out! Without further ado, here’s this week’s playlist.

  1. Donovan Woods, “Lonely People”: “Lonely people/Wrote every song you ever loved.”
  2. Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama, “Take My Hand”: Sometimes, you need a gospel-tinged get-down. This song won’t disappoint.
  3. The Black Keys, “Burn The Damn Thing Down”: “She said, ‘I hate my job, I’m gonna burn this place down!’ And I said, ‘You better not!'” “She said it was an electrical fire.” “Oh.”
  4. Radiohead, “Lotus Flower”: Included mostly because I find Thom Yorke’s dance in the video hilarious.
  5. Tom Waits, “Down, Down, Down”: Do I feel a certain way this week? I dunno, maybe. Music can be a reflection of one’s feelings at the time. That’s a disconcerting thought, if this song is any indication, thoguh.
  6. The Gaslight Anthem, “Mama’s Boys”: “‘Cause there’s no room in heaven/For New York girls or mama’s boys.”
  7. Neko Case, “Hold On, Hold On”: First Neko Case song I ever fell in love with, but far from the last.
  8. Parker Millsap, “Truck Stop Gospel”: Reminds me of home and I-40. Doesn’t hurt that Millsap is an Okie.
  9. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Man On Fire”: Please, if you see me caught on fire, put out the fire. I do not enjoy being on fire. No one should.
  10. Eklipse, “Cry Me A River”: For the life of me, I cannot remember where I originally heard this song, but I Shazam’d it and it downloaded onto my phone without me even knowing that’s what Shazam was doing (it’s not a big deal, but a heads up would’ve been nice, Shazam). It’s good. Has a dark edge to it that I don’t usually associate with orchestral music.

Playlist #56

Another school year is winding towards a close. Here in Northern Virginia, seniors are taking their final exams this week, and they graduate next week. Week after that, school’s over for everyone else. It’s been a…challenging year, to say the least. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

Support me on Patreon! I’m about to release the song for May, and it’s a good one, if I do say so myself.

  1. Maria McKee, “Never Be You”: This song was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, and man, does it sound like it. Classic late ’70s/early ’80s Heartbreakers tone and style, through and through. I’d never heard this song before this weekend, but it’s good.
  2. The Black Keys, “Burn The Damn Thing Down”: Bluesy? Or Bloozy? It’s good, either way.
  3. Mike Doughty, “Fort Hood”: It takes some chutzpah to totally lift the coda from “Age of Aquarius” and use it as your chorus, but Mr. M. Doughty pulls it off.
  4. The National, “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”: They don’t usually do guitar solos, but they do one here, and it makes you wish they did them more often.
  5. Wilco, “The Thanks I Get”: Still the best Rod Stewart song Rod’s never sang.
  6. She & Him, “This Is Not A Test”: Fun and poppy. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I still go back to this album. It’s just fun.
  7. Franz Ferdinand, “Do You Want To”: I’ll never understand how these guys aren’t bigger than they are. They do great, straight-ahead rock numbers with lots of arch humor and and nudging asides.
  8. Bruce Springsteen, “Radio Nowhere”: Even on later Boss albums, you can still usually find a good track or two. This one’s pretty solid. Avoid the remake of “Ghost of Tom Joad” he did with Tom Morello on 2013’s High Hopes. Those two are two great tastes that don’t taste great together.
  9. The Jayhawks, “I’d Run Away”: Love me some two-part harmony.
  10. Mark Knopfler, “Speedway at Nazareth”: I just love how this song builds. Not just in terms of the music – though the build to that coda is fantastic – but lyrically as well. Just a master class in how to write a great song.

Playlist #53

If I were a more clever person than I am, I’d have made this playlist all songs from the second album by bands. But alas, it’s a Monday morning, and cleverness can only take one so far. In other news, I did just drop the April song over on Patreon, which you should sign up for and follow me on for a song a month!

  1. Bill Small, “This Old House”: Where did I first hear this song? I think was at the Mansion on O Street, back when I was still playing there on Sundays. It’s a simple song with a nice gimmick (a house reminding the singer of all the times he had there but now the only reason to stay is gone).
  2. The Black Keys, “Unknown Brother”: I like the Black Keys. I know it’s kinda popular amongst certain music aficionados to pooh pooh them, but I always kinda liked their energy and songwriting.
  3. Radiohead, “Ill Wind”: I’m not as familiar with this song as I am with most of the songs I put on my playlists. And latter-day Radiohead is always kinda hit and miss for me anyway. But it’s an interesting song.
  4. Roy Orbison, “You Got It”: Roy Orbison + Jeff Lynne = stuff I will listen to on repeat.
  5. Elliott Smith, “Christian Brothers”: Did I originally put the Heatmiser version of this song on a playlist? Or was it this version? And why am I too lazy to comb through 52 other playlists to find the answer?
  6. Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls”: They do indeed make the rockin’ world go ’round. More to the point, though, the first Queen CD I ever owned (an import from Hong Kong), a greatest hits collection, had the edited version of this song on it. The only difference between the two versions is there’s less Brian May guitar solo on the edited version. I ask you, dear reader, who in their right mind would want less Brian May guitar on a song? Not I. Not I.
  7. REM, “Nightswimming”: It’s just a beautiful song. Love the piano.
  8. David Gray, “What Am I Doing Wrong”: I’ve been listening to David Gray a lot this week, and digging through his older albums reveals a treasure trove of excellent songwriting (if not always excellent or interesting execution).
  9. Don Henley, “I Will Not Go Quietly”: Yeah, it’s another artist that it’s popular to shit on. I still like a lot of Henley’s stuff. He can be overbearing and preachy at times, but when he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s pretty great.
  10. Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, “Ain’t Nobody Got It Easy”: My Grandma Betty has a saying: “Nothing’s Easy.” The way she says it, you can hear the capital letters in each word. This song kinda reminds me of that.

I’m currently almost 40,000 words into Book 7. It’s coming along and I’ve found my groove again! Maybe it’ll be finished by this summer? Fingers crossed!

2019 (Music) In Review

Hey, I’m only a couple of weeks into 2020, so this isn’t too late, right? Right.

Anyway, here’s my favorite ten albums from 2019, in no particular order…

Gary Clark, Jr. – This Land

This guy just shreds, man. Plenty of chunky distortion and great guitar riffs, and his lyrics are pretty great, too.

The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons

A concept album built loosely around Dungeons and Dragons? By the Mountain Goats? Sign me up for that gaming session!

The National – I Am Easy to Find

If this album only gave us “Rylan,” it would still be one of the best albums of the year. That the whole album is fantastic, start to finish, is just gravy.

The Highwomen – The Highwomen

My god, these harmonies! An update on the Highwaymen concept from back in the ’80s (that of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristopherson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings fame) with a scad of kickass women grabbing music by the horns and it like it. I want more of this.

The New Pornographers – In the Morse Code of Break Lights

Is there such a thing as a bad New Pornographers album? I’ve yet to hear one. Weird that it didn’t have a Dan Bejar-led song on it, though.

Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet

Bird continues to put out challenging, engaging music consistently with each release, and this one is no exception to that. “Bloodless” was one of my favorite songs of the year.

Wilco – Ode to Joy

A mostly-acoustic affair, but it finds the Chicago band writing some of their best songs in years. It’s cozy, comfy, rainy Sunday afternoon music. And Jeff Tweedy still keeps my dream of chunky guitar hero alive.

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Didn’t expect this one, did you? Well, I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that guy who really likes to listen to Lizzo play the flute like a badass.

J.S. Ondara – Tales of America

Sometimes, you say it best with just an acoustic guitar and minimal backing. That’s Ondara’s debut, Tales of America, which I found through NPR. The previous sentence is the whitest sentence I have ever written, and I used to write term papers about English religion and society during the theatrical reformation period.

The Black Keys – Let’s Rock

What? Sometimes, I just like straight-ahead bluesy rock. This is not an interrogation. Go away.