Playlist #74

Happy Tuesday, folks. Got sick over the weekend, and took yesterday off to recover. Still feeling under the weather, but good news! It’s not Covid this time.

  1. Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill”: We finally got around to starting Stranger Things season 4 over the weekend, and it’s quite good. The use of the Kate Bush song is perfect. I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t listened to much Kate Bush over the years; her stuff always struck me as too weird for my tastes. But this song slaps and deserves the attention it’s getting.
  2. Glen Phillips, “Held Up”: Sorta went through a Glen Phillips thing over the weekend, and this song especially spoke to me. Sung to me. Whatever.
  3. Bear Cub, “Hey B”: My brother used to play with this guy way back in the day (back when both of us had full heads of hair). He and his current singer, Kelly, did a cover of it about eight years ago. It’s quite good.
  4. Michael Penn, “No Myth”: Man, does this guy know how to write a bad song? No, no he does not.
  5. The Mountain Goats, “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome”: Speaking of great songs, this one’s title tells you everything you need to know about it and then some.
  6. Paul McCartney, “Beautiful Night”: I rather liked McCartney’s Flaming Pie album, with its Beatles allusions and smooth early aughts production values and him obviously playing most every single instrument on the thing. Plus, it frequently featured Steve Miller (Mr. Space Cowboy himself), who is coincidentally still alive and still touring, God bless ‘im.
  7. Rhett Miller, “Terrible Vision”: I dig the Old 97s, and actually found them through the backdoor of lead singer Rhett Miller’s first solo album, The Instigator. This is the closer from that album, and it’s beautiful and flawed and wonderful.
  8. Jars of Clay, “Frail”: The re-recorded version of this song from the Furthermore collection. Their second album left me rather underwhelmed, compared with their debut and their third album, If I Left the Zoo.
  9. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Hope The High Road”: I don’t think anyone else out there writes songs like this right now, and that’s a shame. Isbell is great at the hopeful, rocking anthem, and we could use more of those in these dark days.
  10. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Enough”: Sounds like a classic Toad song with modern production, which is exactly what new Toad the Wet Sprocket albums should sound like.

Playlist #66

Happy Monday and welcome to August, everyone! As always, you can back me on Patreon, and there’s still that GoFundMe for my wife. We’re woefully underfunded for the month of August, so any little bit helps.

  1. Simply Three, “Dance Monkey”: The podiatrist my wife goes to always has some interesting music playing in the waiting room. This was playing there last week, and I kinda dig it.
  2. Jackson Browne, “Jamaica Say You Will”: Jackson Browne is just hands down one of the best songwriters of the 20th century, and this song – which opens up his self-titled album – is a good example of his songcraft.
  3. Aerosmith, “Big Ten Inch Record”: Aerosmith are the masters of what Nanny Ogg would call “single-intenders.” They’re not quite double entendres, because there is no subtlety to them whatsoever. But my, are they fun.
  4. The Wallflowers, “I’ll Let You Down (But Will Not Give You Up)”: Oh, Jakob. You know what a Wallflowers song sounds like, and you hit so close on most of this album. Letting Rami Jaffe go was a mistake, though.
  5. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “I’ll Bet On You”: The chord changes and melody for this song are based on a Lapdog song (made up of half of the band while Toad was on hiatus back in the early oughts), but then Glen Phillips came in and said, “Hey, this sounds great, but you know what would sound greater? If I wrote new lyrics for it and sang on this one instead of one of you other yokels.” And then they did that.
  6. Three Dog Night, “Shambala”: Shambala is a mythical place, rather like El Dorado or that Tibetan monastery where the Iron Fist trained. It’s also a pretty good song.
  7. Billy Bragg & Wilco, “When The Roses Bloom Again”: Yeah, the third volume of Mermaid Avenue was a collection of diminishing returns, but even in among all the fair-to-middling stuff on there, you find the occasional gem such as this one. It’s a gorgeous song and Jeff Tweedy’s vocals are perfect.
  8. Radiohead, “Ill Wind”: It’s an ill wind blows no man good, or something like that. Hey, I wrote a book with a title very similar!
  9. The Regular Joes, “Restless”: Found an email from my uncle the other day that he wrote back when I first moved out to Virginia (some 17 years ago now). It has the chord changes for this song in there, ’cause I wanted to learn to play it on guitar. It’s a very simple song, chords-wise, so I’ll probably be playing it later today.
  10. The Allman Brothers Band, “Midnight Rider”: They are just determined not to let the midnight rider catch them. Nosiree, not those Allman boys.

Playlist #37: Covid Edition

So, as must come to pass eventually for all, I’ve gotten sick. I’ve gotten Covid. I blame Tennessee. But I have not forgotten you, and in my fever-hazed mind, I have put together a playlist for this week.

  1. Neko Case, “Fever”: So actually, I had a fever late last week, but it broke pretty quick and I’ve been fine since then. The Wife, on the other hand, keeps getting fevers of upwards of 103.
  2. MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This”: Please keep your distance, I might still be contagious.
  3. The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”: Did you not hear what I just said? Stay at least six feet away at all times. Further, honestly, if you don’t mind.
  4. AC Newman, “Miracle Drug”: I’ll admit, I think the vaccines are pretty damn amazing and I’m glad I got them. If there were something I could take right now to get rid of feeling like garbage, I would.
  5. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Something In The Air (Live)”: What, another Tom Petty song, after last week? Yes. It’s on-theme.
  6. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Something’s Always Wrong”: I’ve felt like crap since last Wednesday. It’s always something new.
  7. They Might Be Giants, “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die”: There’s still lots I want to do before I’m ready to kick the bucket, and I hope I get old enough to do at least most of them.
  8. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, “The Pharmacist v. The Secret Stars”: I’ll be honest, I really like Ted Leo and I mostly chose this song because his backing band is called the Pharmacists.
  9. Spoon, “Everything Hits At Once”: I was fine last Tuesday. Woke up Wednesday feeling kinda meh. By Thursday, I was spending the entire day asleep because I felt absolutely awful.
  10. Van Morrison, “And The Healing Has Begun”: Given Van’s recent bizarre rants about Covid and lockdowns and whatnot, it seems a little silly to include him on this playlist, but I do feel like I’m on the mend now. Still definitely not 100%, but improving every day.

Playlist #26 – Spooooooky Tunes

Happy Monday, folks! As you probably known, this coming Sunday is Halloween, so for this week’s playlist I’ve put together songs from (mostly) 90s horror and Halloweenish movie soundtracks! I mostly wanted an excuse to put Toad the Wet Sprocket’s cover of “Hey Bulldog” on a playlist.

  1. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Hey Bulldog”: From the I Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack. Who doesn’t love a good Beatles cover?
  2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Red Right Hand”: From the Scream soundtrack. Who doesn’t love a song about the devil?
  3. D Generation, “Helpless”: From The Faculty soundtrack. This was the band Jesse Malin was in before he went solo. They’re very punk and snarly and sneering. It’s fun, but it’s not a Neil Young cover.
  4. Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble, “Willie the Wimp (And His Cadillac Coffin)”: From the From Dusk Till Dawn soundtrack. Vampires and Texas electric blues go together better than you’d think.
  5. Nine Inch Nails, “Dead Souls”: From The Crow soundtrack. Part of the impetus for this playlist was just a glut of fantastic 90s soundtracks. This one is more specific than it could’ve been, since I could have added stuff from Empire Records, or Reality Bites, or any other seminal Gen-X soundtrack.
  6. Stabbing Westward, “Torn Apart”: From the Spawn soundtrack. Y’know what’s super-nineties? Spawn. Like, the comic, the movie, the whole thing. So 90s.
  7. Danny Elfman, “What’s This?”: From The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. It’s classic Danny Elfman from a movie that, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve never actually seen.
  8. Roger Daltrey, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”: From The Lost Boys soundtrack. Now, this one is a bit of a cheat, since The Lost Boys came out in 1987, but it’s Roger Daltrey and it’s my playlist, so deal with it.
  9. The Wallflowers, “Heroes”: From the Godzilla soundtrack. Soundtracks in the 90s were often an opportunity for a band to play cover songs. This isn’t the best David Bowie cover out there, but it is pretty solid.
  10. Heather Nova, “I Have The Touch”: From The Craft soundtrack. Who doesn’t love a Peter Gabriel cover? No one, that’s who.

Playlist #4

The end of the school year is fast approaching. Here’s some songs to ride out this week:

1. The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind”: The Wife loves the Pixies. I’m pretty okay with them most of the time.

2. Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Inside”: Most ridiculous name for a band ever? It’s definitely in the top ten. Awesome song? Also definitely.

3. 2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up”: Uplifting rap about respect for women. A good ‘un.

4. XTC, “Stupidly Happy”: It’s a goofy song that I just love to pieces.

5. William Elliott Whitmore, “Diggin’ My Grave”: This guy does more with a banjo and a stomp box than most bands do with a full ensemble. He also sounds like he’s had a few packs of cigarettes too many.

6. Traffic, “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”: If there’s a stinker on the list this week, it’s probably this song. It’s too long and pretty repetitive. The only reason I put it on is because I read that one of the Mussel Shoals Rhythm Section (who play on the album this is from) passed away this weekend.

7. Tom Waits,”Sixteen Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six”: If there’s a more sinister line than “I’m gonna whittle you into kindlin’,” I don’t think I’ve heard it.

8. Tom Lehrer, “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”: First heard it many years ago on the Dr. Demento Show, and the tune holds up. Can’t help giggling every time I get to the line, “And maybe we’ll do in a squirrel or two.”

9. Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”: Sure, it’s predominantly about how awful the blue collar worker’s life is, but there’s also that verse about how you shouldn’t mess with him because he’ll kill you. And that’s pretty baller.

10. Filter, “Take a Picture”: For about two months during my freshman year of college, I was completely obsessed with this song. I even bought the CD that it was on (this is what we had to do back before you could just download whatever songs you wanted onto your phone, back in the distant 1990s). It was…not at all like the rest of the album.