Playlist #88

Happy New Year! In addition to the playlist this week, I have CD’s for sale! That’s right, I put together the EP that I released last January and the two singles I released over the course of the year. For $10, you can have a copy of it all for yourself! Email me at crookedhalo42 [at] gmail dot com and we can set it all up.

And now, on with the playlist!

  1. The English Beat, “Save It For Later”: Who doesn’t love some second-wave ska? I know I do.
  2. Loreena McKennitt, “The Mummer’s Dance”: Celtic electronica? In this economy?
  3. Jason Isbell & Elizabeth Cook, “Pancho & Lefty”: Gotta love a Jason Isbell cover of a Townes Van Zandt song.
  4. Fleetwood Mac, “Little Lies”: Only recently discovered that this song was a Fleetwood Mac song.
  5. America, “Ventura Highway”: I just want to drive along the coast with this song cranked way up.
  6. XTC, “Dear God”: A song that demands God explain why bad things happen to good people.
  7. Wilco, “Say You Miss Me”: The yearning and pleading in this song get me every time.
  8. Van Morrison, “I Love You”: I’ve had a difficult time listening to Van Morrison the past few years. His weird anti-vaccine views and his persecution complex have kinda gotten on my nerves. But this song is still tremendously sweet.
  9. Tom Waits, “Jockey Full Of Bourbon”: I’m not really sure what good a jockey full of bourbon would do, unless this is really a song about peeing ’cause you had too much bourbon.
  10. Semisonic, “Never You Mind”: I love this song for nothing else if not the reference to Spock’s brain.

Playlist #84: Covers!

Happy Monday! It’s December now, somehow, and as usual I have a new playlist for you. But this one is all cover songs!

  1. The National, “Ashamed Of The Story I Told”: They don’t even really change all that much about the song, except the drum pattern is completely different and it somehow manages to totally change the feel and nature of the song.
  2. Johnny Cash, “Hurt”: It’s downbeat, somber, and a little harrowing. It’s also one of those covers that I would argue is better than the original.
  3. Old 97s, “Mama Tried”: The original Merle Haggard version is damn good (as are most Merle Haggard songs), but this one has the slightest edge on it, I think.
  4. The Byrds, “My Back Pages”: The Byrds could have easily just been a Bob Dylan cover band and I’d have been happy with that. They manage to transform every single Dylan tune they cover into a jangly, poppy slice of ’60s joy.
  5. Pomplamoose, “Maneater”: Watch out, boys, she’ll break your heart, huh? I’m more concerned with being eaten, personally.
  6. Spoon, “Held”: I just love the grit and thump of this song. So good.
  7. The Dirty Knobs, “Rumble”: Mike Campbell (formerly of the Heartbreakers) and some buddies got together to form this band, and they covered Link Wray’s ode to distortion and fuzz here. I love everything about the story of how this song got created, from Wray punching holes in his amplifier’s speaker with a pencil to radio stations refusing to play it because they thought it might incite juvenile delinquency.
  8. Jesse Malin, “You Can Make Them Like You”: Malin has been using this Hold Steady track as his closer for years, usually just him and an acoustic guitar. It’s pretty great.
  9. Tom Waits, “The Return of Jackie And Judy”: The Ramones were pretty ballsy. Case in point: they reference the two main characters in this song going to a Ramones show in the song. The chutzpah.
  10. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “I Put A Spell On You”: Fogerty and Co. had a good ear for an excellent cover song, and this rendition of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic is no exception.

Playlist #83

Happy post-Thanksgiving Monday, folks. I know we’re all still waking up from the Turkey Coma and preparing to buy all the things (it is Cyber Monday, after all), but in the meantime I whipped up a new playlist for your aural enjoyment.

  1. Neil Young, “Rockin’ in the Free World”: The anti-consumerism, anti-capitalism of the song – especially the video – just hits the exact right spot for late-80s Neil.
  2. Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”: Is there a more famous song about an event that sorta, kinda, maybe sorta actually happened? It’s one of the best shaggy dog stories ever.
  3. Stephen Stills, “Wooden Ships”: I love this solo acoustic version of the song. It’s just gorgeous.
  4. Tom Waits, “I’ll Be Gone”: “Tonight I’ll shave the mountain,” Tom begins, and it just gets weirder from there. But it’s a Tom Waits song, what did you expect?
  5. The Gaslight Anthem, “Boxer”: “You’ve got your pride and your prose/Tucked just like a Tommy gun,” the song begins, and I have a little point of contention to raise with Brian Fallon: who, exactly, tucks a Tommy gun under their arm or their jacket or wherever? Are Tommy guns really that common anymore? I wouldn’t think they are.
  6. Soul Coughing, “True Dreams of Wichita”: One of my favorite songs ever. Can’t really explain why.
  7. Jackson Browne, “Fountain of Sorrow”: No one writes a sad, bittersweet song like Jackson Browne. No one.
  8. The National, “Lucky You”: In my mind, this is the song where the National became the National. It’s the final track on their second record, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers, and it perfectly encapsulates what (especially early) the National was all about.
  9. Peter Gabriel, “San Jacinto”: I can’t explain what it is about this song that appeals to me. It’s probably the build to the end and the refrain of “I hold the line.”
  10. Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”: Early last week, we sat and watched a series of videos on the Polyphonic Youtube page about most of the songs off the Wish You Were Here album. They’re the reason we listened to the album on our way to Ohio Wednesday. It still reigns as one of the best albums ever, and this song is the keystone to the whole thing. Everything else revolves around this one track, either building to it or coming back down from its height.

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 #68

Happy Monday! I’m back in the school building, or at least adjacent to it in one of the “learning cottages” (what they’re calling the portable buildings) where our classes will be held this year. In the meantime, I am still doing the Patreon thing.

  1. Jimi Hendrix, “Fire”: Brother Clyde was telling me a story from Woodstock ’99 yesterday, about how they handed out candles to everyone and everyone immediately started setting things on fire. They asked the Red Hot Chili Peppers, of all people, to calm the crowd, but instead the band ripped into this song.
  2. Buddy Guy (Featuring Jason Isbell), “Gunsmoke Blues”: Too topical. Far too timely. It’s always too timely when you’re talking about gun violence in America, but Buddy Guy does it beautifully.
  3. The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”: Poor Andalucía.
  4. Colin Hay, “Beautiful World”: Yes, I originally heard this acoustic version on Scrubs, like so many other people. Doesn’t matter, it’s still amazing and beautiful.
  5. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, “The Ballad of Speedy Atkins”: Psychobilly at its finest.
  6. Tom Waits, “No One Knows I’m Gone”: I’m still waiting to hear the version of this song my brother recorded, but I think it probably still needs vocals from his vocalist on it.
  7. Andrew Bird, “Not A Robot, But A Ghost”: Either way, Mystery Inc is on the case!
  8. Paul McCartney, “Try Not To Cry”: A McCartney rave up, because why not?
  9. Frank Turner, “Silent Key”: We’re fairly certain at least a couple of the astronauts from the doomed Challenger space shuttle survived the explosion that destroyed the shuttle, because their personal egress air packs (PEAPs) were used. There is no indication they radioed to let anyone know they were still alive in freefall, but it’s still a touching song.
  10. Loose Fur, “Laminated Cat”: Please do not laminate your cats. They do not like it.

Playlist #65 – Stranger Things

Monday was the Wife’s birthday! In her honor, you could contribute to her GoFundMe. Covid hit her hard and our finances harder, so every little bit helps. And I’m doing my usual thing over at Patreon, where a new song will drop this Friday! This week’s playlist is inspired by my Wife, who – when hearing the Tom Waits song on last week’s playlist – said, “Why not do a whole playlist of weird songs?” To which I replied, “You mean a Tom Waits playlist?”

  1. Tom Waits, “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)”: I dunno, Tom. Your words are more than a little slurred here. I have my doubts about the veracity of your claim.
  2. The Magnetic Fields, “Epitaph For My Heart”: The Wife’s favorite Magnetic Fields song. It starts with a recitation of a warning on a door that threatens electrocution if you open it and gets weirder from there.
  3. Marcy Playground, “Sex & Candy”: Every time I hear this song, I think of that time I was working at the YMCA the summer after my first year of college, and when this song came on the bus, all the little children (like, 10 year olds) sang the first three words of the chorus – “I like sex” – and nothing else.
  4. Melanie, “Brand New Key”: Do roller skates even need keys anymore? It’s been so long since I wore a pair, but I’m pretty sure they don’t. Kids these days will never understand this song (not that I necessarily understand it myself, mind you).
  5. The Mountain Goats, “Cadaver Sniffing Dog”: Now, this playlist could have also just been a Mountain Goats playlist, and this song is a good example of why.
  6. REM, “Swan Swan H”: Does anyone ever know what Michael Stipe is singing about, including Michael Stipe? I’d wager the answer is “no.”
  7. Tom Lehrer, “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”: This man takes a certain glee from killing pigeons in the park. He might be a serial killer.
  8. America, “A Horse With No Name”: Hint: you can give the horse a name, dude. You can call it whatever you want. It’s a horse, it don’t care.
  9. The Presidents of the United States of America, “Peaches”: Again, another band where I could have made a playlist just out of their songs and it would have fit right in.
  10. Carl Douglas, “Kung Fu Fighting”: As the t-shirt says, surely not everyone was kung fu fighting.

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 #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 #49

Whoops, it’s Thursday and I totally forgot to post this week’s playlist. My bad. In my defense, it’s been Spring Break all week, and I’ve been trying my damnedest to relax the whole time. Don’t forget to give me a follow on Patreon!

  1. Bon Iver, “Blood Bank”: I remember, many years ago, sitting down in my classroom with a coworker to record him doing a selection of songs. This was one of them, and it’s been one of my favorite Bon Iver songs since even before then.
  2. Cake, “Comfort Eagle”: “He is now accepting callers for these pendant keychains.”
  3. Camper Van Beethoven, “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”: Back at Accotink, I occasionally taught a Humanities class. We spent a quarter on art, a quarter on poetry, a quarter on theater, and the final quarter on the history of popular music. I’d put together short playlists for each genre of music we covered, and then I had the kids research a genre of their choice and put together a playlist for it. One of my coworkers put together a playlist that I can’t recall the genre for, and this song was on it.
  4. The Clash, “Train In Vain (Stand By Me)”: I do dig the album London Calling, and this is one of the best songs on their best album.
  5. Traveling Wilburys, “Heading For The Light”: I used to play this song on the guitar all the time. I should relearn the chords for it.
  6. Laurie & John Stirratt, “Juniper”: Someday, I’ll put together that list of songs by bands related to Wilco. These two will appear on that list, since John Stirratt is the bass player for Wilco (and one of the musicians in The Autumn Defense).
  7. Tom Waits, “Cold, Cold Ground”: “Lay down together in the cold, cold ground.” Beautiful and weird, Tom.
  8. Mark Knopfler, “The Trawlerman’s Song”: A song about a fisherman who has to keep going out and fishing because he owes money on his boat? Classic Knopfler.
  9. Counting Crows, “Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes To Hollywood)”: One of my favorite songs off of Hard Candy, which is otherwise a pretty great album as well.
  10. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop The Rain”: Still just one of the best CCR songs out there, which is saying a lot.

Playlist #46: Romeo and Juliet

So this weekend, I was listening to an album by pianist Alan Clark. He played with Dire Straits back in the ’80s (as well as acts like Bob Dylan), and it was an album of solo piano versions of mostly Dire Straits songs. One of them was the song “Romeo and Juliet,” which is a tune I absolutely adore, and so I decided to put together a playlist this week built around that pair of star-crossed lovers. Also remember that I do have a Patreon, and I’m working on not one but two versions of March’s song!

  1. Dire Straits, “Romeo and Juliet”: “Finds a streetlight/Steps out of the shade and says somethin’ like/You and me, babe, how ’bout it?” is just one of the best lines in any song anywhere ever. And that guitar figure Knopfler picks out on what sounds like a resonator? Gorgeous.
  2. Tom Waits, “Romeo is Bleeding”: Alas, poor Romeo, he got shot while knifing a cop and is slowly dying while everyone around him remains oblivious.
  3. The Buzzcocks, “Ever Fallen In Love?” “Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t fallen in love with?” they snarl, and if that ain’t Romeo and Juliet, I don’t know what is.
  4. Duke Ellington, “The Star-Crossed Lovers (aka Pretty Girl)”: Yes, switching from the punky Buzzcocks to the jazzy Duke Ellington is a bit of tonal whiplash, but I think that’s why I like it so much.
  5. You + Me, “Love Gone Wrong”: We all know Romeo and Juliet isn’t really a love story, right? It’s about a couple of pubescent teens dumbstruck with infatuation who end up destroying both of their families (and themselves) in the process.
  6. M. Ward, “Poison Cup”: Sure, Hamlet was the play with the poison cup in it, but poison plays a major role in the final scene of this one, too, remember.
  7. Mates of State, “A Duel Will Settle This”: Mercutio vs. Tybalt is one hell of a fight, though I’m not sure it settled anything beyond that Mercutio will even use his own death to be the sassiest mofo ever.
  8. Cutting Crew, “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”: What could match the overdramatic reaction of Romeo and Juliet? An ’80s song!
  9. Indigo Girls, “Romeo and Juliet”: A cover of the Dire Straits song we started the playlist with. Almost as good as the original.
  10. Ben Harper, “Verona”: Slow, bluesy slide guitar is always some of my favorite, and it’s such a quiet, sweet song to end on.