Good morning, playlist people. We’re well into May now, and the end of the school year is in sight! Apparently my wife’s school got robbed over the weekend, which is exciting and frustrating and led me to create this week’s playlist (though I criminally left off Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century,” which I hadn’t realized until I gave this playlist that title just now).
- The Decemberists, “The Perfect Crime #2”: “A heist? A heist! No one will ever suspect us, the goofy band that sings about Victorian women swooning on the moors, of being bank robbers.” That’s how I imagined the conversation went.
- Genesis, “Home By The Sea”: A song about a dude trying to sneak into a house and getting trapped there by some supernatural entity for all of eternity. As one does.
- Sting, “After The Rain Has Fallen”: I only came here to steal your jewelry, not you, m’lady.
- Hem, “The Fire Thief”: Ah, the theft of fire, the prototypical thief with a heart of gold story. And the song’s by Hem, which means it sounds beautiful and wistful and ever so slightly sad.
- Iron & Wine, “Arms Of A Thief”: I dunno, Sam, maybe the arms of a thief aren’t as safe as you’d have us beleive.
- Uncle Tupelo, “Steal The Crumbs”: I feel like my cat does this, only she doesn’t just go for crumbs. She’d take the whole sandwich, given half a chance.
- Van Morrison, “Steal My Heart Away”: I always like to imagine that every thief is really just there to steal your love more than anything else. All the jewels and cash are just a bonus.
- The Beastie Boys, “Rhymin & Stealin”: Just rockin’ it old school, or Old Skool, if you will.
- LEN, “Steal My Sunshine”: I am not sorry.
- Ben Harper, “Steal My Kisses”: Poor Ben. Maybe it’s time to find a new ladyfriend who is more giving with her smooches.
Good afternoon, guys, gals, and enby pals! It’s another week, so here’s another playlist.
- Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “That’s All”: The woman who really ought to receive more credit for creating rock and roll.
- Spoon, “My Mathematical Mind”: Anyone who knows me knows my mind is not mathematical at all.
- Uncle Tupelo, “Moonshiner”: Never was a song about bootlegging and making your own whiskey up in a still in the woods so melancholy.
- Joe Walsh, “Rocky Mountain Way”: “And we don’t need the ladies/Crying ’cause the story’s sad.”
- Jesse Malin, “Addicted”: You gotta be real careful listening to this song while driving, or you’ll find yourself doing 90.
- Robert Johnson, “Cross Road Blues”: Does it get any better than Robert Johnson? No, it does not. This man was taken far too young.
- Chris Isaak, “We Let Her Down”: I played a song for my wife that I wrote and recorded the other day. “It sounds like Chris Isaak,” she said. And I agreed and was happy about that.
- The Minus 5, “Dear My Inspiration”: Had this song stuck in my head all morning. That’s not a bad thing. Scott McCaughey writes a damn catchy tune.
- T. Rex, “20th Century Boy”: C’mon, guys, it’s the 21st century now. Aren’t we due for an update?
- Townes Van Zandt, “Pancho And Lefty”: Is there a better story song about desperados trying their damnedest to escape their own sins, only to fail because of human frailty and the desire to get out a little bit ahead and yet still find yourself isolated and alone and incapable of feeling anything?
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- John Fullbright, “Jericho (Live)”: An Okie with a damn good ear for a good tune.
- David Gray, “Fugitive”: I happen to love David Gray’s Draw the Line album. It’s my favorite of his post-White Ladder work.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Who, “Going Mobile”: It’s one of the most ridiculous Who songs out there (trumped only by “Eminence Front”). I love it anyway.
- Young Dubliners, “Last House On The Street”: My uncle’s band used to cover this song all the time. I like it.
- Willie Nelson, “Highwayman”: Who doesn’t love a song that goes from swashbuckling highway robber to starship captain in, like, four verses?
Did you think I’d forgotten? That I had decided to stop posting weekly playlists? No! I’ve just been visiting family in Oklahoma, and not everyone has reliable wi-fi. Anyway, here’s last week’s and this week’s lists. *EDIT* Now with links to the playlists on Spotify!
- Jelly Roll Morton, “Black Bottom Stomp”: There are legends (likely started by Jelly Roll himself) that he created jazz and that this is the first recorded jazz song. I’m not real sure on all that, but it is a good song.
- The Hotdamns, “Gina Lynn”: Our friend Danielle was in this band back in the day, and they’re really good. Y’all should check out their two releases available on iTunes.
- The High Kings, “Galway Girl”: I think I have this song because an after-school jam group I was playing with was doing it. It’s Irish and fun, as those things tend to be.
- Healthy White Baby, “Strong Reactor”: Great band, terrible name. Part of my web of Wilco-related groups (the bassist, Laurie Stirratt, is sibling to Wilco’s bassist John Stirratt). Ask me and I’ll gladly tell you. of how almost a dozen bands are all connected via the band Wilco.
- Faces, “Three Button Hand Me Down”: A fun story song about the suit that the orphan kid got when he left the orphanage and how it’s served him well all these years.
- Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, “Good Light”: A rootsy tune by a dude with an amazing beard.
- Dire Straits, “The Man’s Too Strong”: Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the Dire Straits album cuts are a little weak sometimes. For every “Sultans of Swing,” there’s a “Les Boys.” But this one slaps, folks.
- Spoon, “Do You”: I could just listen to the album this song is off of, They Want My Soul, over and over again, and frequently have.
- Monsters of Folk, “Say Please”: A collaboration between the likes of Connor Oberst, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, M. Ward, and Mike Mogis should be pretty damn good, but the album this song is off of falls pretty short of the God-tier supergroups like the Traveling WIlburys. This song is alright, though
- The Offspring, “Self Esteem”: A couple weeks back, I was playing guitar at my dad’s house, and my step-brother’s son, Bryson, apparently really like this song by the Offspring. It’s just three chords, so it was easy to learn. Hard to sing, though.
- Van Morrison, “The Great Deception”: I’ve been borrowing my father’s Mustang Mach 1 while I’ve been visiting (a very fun car to drive, let me tell you), and Van’s Hard Nose the Highway was one of the few CDs I borrowed from him to listen to in the car. I’ve heard “The Great Deception” about a dozen times in the past two weeks, and I’m still not tired of it.
- Lizzo & Cardi B, “Rumors”: It slaps. Lizzo drops what the young folks might refer to as knowledge on ya, and it’s just a really well-done pop/rap song.
- Shania Twain, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”: Is it possible to not sing along with this song when it comes on? I posit that it is, in fact, impossible not to sing along.
- Neil Young, “Harvest”: My brother played the dance remix version of this song for me last night. I now question everything I ever thought I understood about music.
- Placebo, “You Don’t Care About Us”: The ’90s were a wild time, weren’t they? Yes, yes they were.
- Uncle Tupelo, “Whiskey Bottle”: “Whiskey bottle over Jesus/Not forever, but just for now.” Chills, man.
- Zoe Keating, “Optimist”: I don’t usually listen to strictly instrumental music. I make an exception for Zoe Keating, a cellist who can make that thing sit up and beg if you want her to.
- The Killers, “Somebody Told Me”: Clyde maintains this is the best band (and their best album) of the 21st century. He might be right.
- Linda Ronstadt, “When Will I Be Loved?” I heard my uncle play this particular song so many times back in college and graduate school when he was playing in a country cover band. It is not recommended that you try to two-step to this one.
- Old Crow Medicine Show, “Wagon Wheel”: The bane of open mics across the southwest, but still a fun and easy song to rock out to.
Here’s this week’s playlist. I was feeling a little more melancholy this week than last, which I feel is reflected in the selections.
- Josh Ritter, “Come and Find Me”: Pretty sure most of this song is just a G chord with little variations to keep it interesting.
- The Lemonheads, “Into Your Arms”: One of my team teachers loves the Lemonheads (she’s seen them in concert dozens if not hundreds of times) and I learned how to play this song on the guitar for her. It’s a good and simple song.
- The Low Millions, “Eleanor”: Did you know Leonard Cohen’s son had a band? And it was this band? And they never put out another album other than the one this song is on? It’s all true.
- The Marshall Tucker Band, “Can’t You See”: I’m a sucker for songs with a real simple chord progression, and this one is just D, C, G, D the entire way through. That’s it. No variation, no chorus, nothing but those three chords.
- The National, “90-Mile Water Wall”: My favorite part of this early song from the National is that you can hear the lead singer breathing into the microphone if you listen for it.
- Neko Case, “Margaret and Pauline”: Such a beautiful song and character sketch. The juxtaposition of the two characters is sad and gorgeous.
- Sturgill Simpson, “Keep It Between the Lines”: Part of the album Simpson wrote ostensibly as advice to his newly-born child, this one advises the listener to, “Stay in school/stay off the hard stuff and/keep it’ tween the lines.” Good advice for anyone, really.
- Uncle Tupelo, “High Water”: There was a time in graduate school where I became more than a little obsessed with everything even tangentially related to the band Wilco, which included Jeff Tweedy’s original band Uncle Tupelo. This song, from their fourth and final album, is a good indicator of why I liked them so much if not really representative of what they did as a band (think “punk country” or “alt-country,” if you will).
- Van Morrison, “Wonderful Remark”: Specifically, the version from the Philosopher’s Stone collection of outtakes and rarities. The original version is awesome, too, though this one somehow feels more striped down without the overwhelming piano of the original (and this one has flute).
- Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, “Friends”: Ryan Adams, I think we can all agree, has some problems. Dude is terrible to women and suffers from diarrhea of the recording studio (remember those times he put out three albums in a single calendar year? Yeah, I said times, plural, ’cause he’s done it more than once). But this song, from the double-album Cold Roses (which I still insist would have made one of the finest single albums of his career if he’d just cut some of the fat from the two-disc set), is still one of the best he’s ever written or committed to tape.