My distractions and escape usually come through obsessions and organization. I have been heavy at work on other things, big things, and so jotting notes about the music that comes up on the iPod as the week goes on, is an odd way to relax myself, and to also keep myself expressive, to keep writing. It works for me. I always was a list-maker and a compiler, ever since I was little. This week was atrocious. This Shuffle in no way is meant to express the past week, or reflect it, or be a commentary on it in any way. It has nothing to do with anything other than my desire to keep a list of my damn Shuffle and share it, because I like hearing people’s responses, it’s always fun and interesting.
And one last thing: the last time I put up one of these Shuffle posts – a couple of people made comments such as: “How come no [insert artist’s/band’s name here]?” Or “I am disturbed at the lack of [insert artist’s/band’s name here].” I don’t mean to be rude, but the Shuffle on an iPod is, by nature, RANDOM. I have almost 9,000 songs on my iPod, and when I press “Shuffle”, it picks songs out of the 9,000. This is not a curated list. And even if it was, I hate the “but what about …” thing that happens any time you put up a List. But here, where the Shuffle is RANDOM, it makes ZERO sense to ask such a question. (Unless you don’t have an iPod and therefore do not know about the Shuffle function. If that is your reasoning for asking a question like that, I’ll give you a pass. But otherwise, NO.)
So. Without further ado. A Shuffle.
“Americano” – Lady Gaga. You know what? This rocks. No apologies.
“Golden Coins” (takes 3 and 4) – Elvis Presley, from Harum Scarum. You can hear him clearing his throat in between takes, gearing up for this ridiculous song. He sings it gorgeously, though, and actually validates the song’s existence, merely by giving it his attention.
“Comedy (Impersonations)” – Frank, Dean, and Sammy doing impressions as an audience roars. My favorite is Dino doing Cary Grant: “Judy Judy Judy you can’t take a baby out of a man’s life and expect him to go on living the way he has been …” Hilarious.
“Blue Jay Way” – the “Secret Machines” covering the Beatles song, in Julie Tambor’s Across the Universe, which I really liked. This song still, unfortunately, has the ghost of the Manson murders hovering around it. Fuck you, Charlie.
“I Heard the News (Jesus Is Coming)” – the glorious Wynona Carr
“They Remind Me Too Much Of You” – Elvis, from It Happened at the World’s Fair. Not a particularly interesting song, but it’s used in a really interesting way in the film. Elvis and the little girl ride the elevated train back to the car. She sleeps. The song plays over the scene, and Elvis does NOT lip synch. He just sits there and thinks. It’s eerie, and unique in Elvis’ films.
“Resolve” – Foo Fighters. I love them, but this feels a bit stock to me.
“The Drunkard’s Room” – the awesome Louvin Brothers. I mean … listen to the lyrics. The song is so pretty, the harmonies so perfect, that you may be distracted. Do not be distracted. Listen to the lyrics.
“Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)” – Lady Gaga, her sort of inspirational Cher-ish anthem.
“Little People” – Gavroche, from Les Miserables. Boy am I sick of hearing about Les Miz right about now.
“The Yellow Rose of Texas” – Elvis, from Viva Las Vegas, you know, when they go into the Texas bar looking for Ann-Margret. There’s a strange little echo on him here, which makes it sound … retrospective. He’s not quite present, or his voice isn’t. They did all these weird things to his voice in the mix of the soundtracks and it still pisses me off. It’s Elvis fucking Presley: get out of the way of his voice, dammit.
“Jennifer” – Eurhythmics. Such a feel-good song, huh?
“End It On This” – No Doubt. One of my favorites of theirs.
“Sympathetic Character” – Alanis Morissette. One of her interminable “list” songs. Alanis is “afraid” of a lot of things here! I make fun, but only because I love. I do love how big it gets at the end, almost a droning chant.
“Friend of a Friend” – The Foo Fighters. Melancholy. Simple. Quiet.
“I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby” – Elvis, from the mid-70s album Good Times. He sounds a bit wavery, the way he sometimes got near the end. It’s like his breath fails him. Unlike other singers who kill their voices with abuse (smoking and drinking), Elvis’ voice and power remained intact. But sometimes the breath gets shallow (the entire Alhoa from Hawaii concert is a perfect example). But I like this, because you can hear the way his career was going at the time … it was moving into very interesting areas, a funky place with deep country roots. This doesn’t sound much like other Elvis and it’s very interesting.
“Sheila Franklin / I Believe In Love” – the cast of Hair, the Broadway revival. This is adorable.
“Fuzzy” – Bleu. Hey, look who’s on the Shuffle! His chord changes are piercing.
“Sad But True” – Metallica. Classic. Very heavy stuff.
“Blue Hawaii” – Elvis and his buddies, hanging around at home (1966), singing “Blue Hawaii”, and horsing around. Beautiful three-part harmonies, though. Lots of helpless laughter, too, which is fun to listen to.
“Somewhere That’s Green” – Ellen Greene, from Little Shop of Horrors. This woman is a genius. I’ve been listening to this recording since the movie first came out (I mean, not every day, but, you know, it’s always been somewhat in rotation). And I still get goosebumps at some of her notes. It’s incredible.
“I Am Enough For Myself” – Sinéad O’Connor. This is from Gospel Oak, with lovely piping near the end. One of her sweeter contemplative songs.
“Monkey Business” (alternate takes 4 & 10) – Elvis. Elvis fans are familiar with this particular session. Elvis was in a rowdy and somewhat cantankerous mood (rare for him). He starts singing the song, and he cannot stop making fun of it, and the entire session grinds to a halt as Elvis roars with laughter. It soon overtakes him, and he can’t stop fooling around (“too much monkey business” indeed), and he has such a great laugh, so free and unselfconscious, that I always laugh too when I hear him. Finally, when he decides to get down to work, he warms up with an over-the-top operatic version of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” (he blows the top of the roof off), and you can hear all of the musicians guffawing in the background.
“Take a Chance On Me” – ABBA. You know what? This shit works.
“Gentle Annie” – Kate McGarrigle, Linda Ronstadt,Anna McGarrigle. Absolutely heart-cracking harmonies. So melancholy. From the amazing album The McGarrigle Hour. By the way, there’s a new movie out called Sing me The Songs That Say I Love You, directed by my Facebook friend Lian Lunson, documenting a concert celebrating the recently deceased Kate McGarrigle (mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright). It had a screening here in New York but it was in the wake of Sandy when everything was chaos and I couldn’t go. I will definitely be seeing it. What an amazing family!
“Trasna Na dTonnta” – by The Cassidys. So beautiful. Again, so melancholy Put this song next to “Gentle Annie”, and you feel like you’re at an Irish wake.
“Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line” – The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. From the swing craze of the 90s, which I was very very into. I still love those guys.
“I’ll Drown In My Tears” – Sonny Thompson – with awesome vocalist Lula Reed. Of course the most famous version of the song was Ray Charles’ released in 1956 (what a year). But this was the first version. I love it. It’s slow and sad, with a horn and a piano.
“Heaven” – Eurythmics. From my favorite of their albums, Savage. This is a bizarre conglomeration of sounds and whispers and trills. I love her.
“The Lights Go Down” – ELO. From Time, one of my favorite albums of all time. It is the first album I bought with my own money at age 12. It not only holds up, it’s still just flat out awesome.
“Next Year” – The Foo Fighters. Live version. This is a beautiful song, with an ache at the heart of it.
“Angel” (take 5) – Elvis, from Follow That Dream (one of his best performances, and yet another forgotten film). This is a sweet ballad, a bit boring, and Millie Kirkham does her crazy soprano echo throughout the film. Elvis liked her. There’s a funny story about her coming in to record, into that normally all-male environment, and she was pregnant, and nobody gave her a chair to sit in, and Elvis scolded everybody for that. The man was not a saint, but he was a Southern gentleman. Pregnant lady walks in the room, you don’t give her a chair? What in the Sam Hill is wrong with you boys?
“Polk Salad Annie” – Elvis. To go from the saintly gentle “Angel” to the truly dirty swamp-funk of “Polk Salad Annie” is one of the many many reasons that I love this man. This song is so nasty that it’s damn near indecent. He’s in top form. This is live (I don’t think he recorded it in a studio, the only versions I have are live versions). He goes apeshit.
“The Struggle Within” – Metallica. Man, this goes fast when it gets going.
“The Room” – Good Rats. This guy has one of the best rock voices I have ever heard. It rivals Robert Plant’s. I am so thankful to the movie Roadie (my review here), starring Ron Eldard (my interview with him here) for introducing me to the Good Rats.
“Kids” – Robbie Williams, live at Knebworth. That insane huge concert with a crowd the likes of which England had never seen, believe it or not. This isn’t my favorite one of Robbie’s, but the guy is a huge rock star. No doubt about it.
“Something Blue” – Elvis Presley. From his brilliantly titled album …… Pot Luck. WTF? They couldn’t get themselves up for one of the biggest stars the world has ever seen to come up with a better title? The second he hit, people started taking him for granted. Oh well, they knew it would sell, whatever it was titled. This song is boring, but Elvis sings it beautifully. How often can I say that? I’ll never stop.
“(Now and Then) There’s a Fool Such As I” – Elvis. This is a jaunty loose rehearsal for his Vegas opening in the late 60s. Elvis is sketching it in, he can’t remember the lyrics, but it’s so much fun to listen to him. You can hear the musicians loosey-gooseying it through the bridge. You can hear Elvis crack up. This is included on the great That’s The Way It Is album.
“Not So Sure” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. I love this guy (he collaborates often with Bleu). Two of the best songwriters of their generation.
“Holocene” – Bon Iver. I have to be in the mood for him. But his stuff is very beautiful. It reminds me of that heartbreaking Peter Gabriel album about his divorce.
“And He Slayed Her” – the great Liz Phair. I’ll buy her albums, whatever she puts out, until the day I die.
“Savoy Truffle” – The Beatles. I mean, honestly. It still doesn’t really sound like anything else. It’s so …. creative. Dumb word, but appropriate. I love this song.
“Time On My Hands” – the great Chaim Tannenbaum. This is also from the wonderful album “The McGarrigle Hour”. Please check it out if you haven’t already!
“Turnaround” – Nirvana, from the 1990 BBC John Peel Session. Creaky squeaky guitars, very hot, very sexy.
“The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” – XTC. What a great album. The songs are all so unique.
“We Are the Champions” – Queen. Melodramatic, heartfelt, just like I like ’em.
“Sliver” – Nirvana. One of my favorite Nirvana songs. My childhood is in it. It’s a very late 70s/80s childhood he’s describing.
“Cancer” – My Chemical Romance. The manic boys calm down and get heartfelt. Which makes them even more ridiculous. I don’t take them seriously, but I enjoy them very much.
“Mr. Blue Sky”- ELO. I have such mixed feelings about this song. The beat is so happy and insistent, and the lyrics are quite ominous to me. “Here comes Mr. Night.” Shivers. This song is name-checked in my script. Like I said, I have strong feelings about this song.
“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – The Whirling Dervishes. Ridiculous. Awesome.
“Yesterday” – Elvis, live, August 24, 1969. It’s strange: there’s a part of Elvis that just needs to show up. He doesn’t need to do too much to be interesting. He never did. Even as a young man trying to prove himself. Once opportunity knocked, boom, there he was, in full bloom, and for the next 20 years, nobody could get enough of him. I imagine it was frustrating at times for him (“Jesus, I can just phone it in and nobody would even notice” – Brando had similar challenges). And then, of course, when he did push himself – forget about it. The reverb still echoes today. “Yesterday” is a great example, though, of Elvis’ ease with just “showing up”. He doesn’t try to own the song. He doesn’t try to do something different with it from the original. He’s not in competition with the original. Whatever, it’s a great song, and I’m me, so I’ll just sing it straight. No need to do more. Not that I think the song needs more, not that there is anything lacking. There rarely is, with him. It’s just an interesting and unique thing: to have someone be so much “enough” as is, and to have that continue … for 20 years … I suppose that’s just the depth of his talent and gift. I wonder his deeper feelings about this. I know he got bored.
“Winter Kills” – Yaz. Perfect to play as you lie in your tub and open a vein.
“I Got a Woman” – Elvis, live in Tennessee, May 6, 1975. The recordings from this concert are nuts. The crowd, at times, veers out of control. Here, he starts off asking his band, “Have we been here before? I can’t remember.” Haha. It also puts to rest the lie that Elvis was somehow diminished as he approached the end. If this is diminished, then I fear to see what he was like in top form. It would be an explosion. If he “went down”, as he did, it was a quick and steep fall. This version of the song, with “Amen” tacked onto the end of it, is ferocious. I still like his 50s version better, without the big chorus in the background and the huge orchestra- but still: here is how you re-imagine one of your first hits. Here is how you do it.
“City of Blinding Lights” – U2 – an exhilarating concert from 2005 in Milan. The crowd is insane, it sounds like a religious gathering.
“Jerkwater County” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. He kills me.
“Gentle On My Mind” – Elvis Presley, from his incredible From Elvis in Memphis album. He sounds so damn good. This is sophisticated Elvis, grown-up complex Elvis. This album (double album really) still blows me away.
“The Parting Glass” – The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, from their concert at Carnegie Hall. One of the defining albums of my childhood. My parents had on vinyl.
“Fixing a Hole” – The Beatles. Love the echo on the voice. Such a good song. Betsy and I loved this one in grade school, during the period of our friendship when we spent our recesses huddled over a turntable listening to the Beatles Greatest Hits, the album with the green apple in the center circle.
“What Goes Around … / Comes Around Interlude” – Justin Timberlake. So hot. I’m with Mitchell. I love that JT is doing the acting thing, and loved Friends With Benefits, but I’m dying for him to come out with another album.
“Carried” – Ebba Forsberg. I can’t even remember how this singer came to my attention. I bought her album on cassette tape, while I was in grad school, if I recall correctly. Some of the stuff I didn’t really care for, it was a bit generic, but two songs off this album really spoke to me, and “Carried” was one of them. Melancholy, jazzy, with a killer chorus: “I ask my God why He’s abandoned me … and now I know He’s been there all the time …” I wondered what happened to this woman.
“About a Girl” – Nirvana, from their eerily serious MTV Unplugged concert. I love this song, and Kurt introduces it with, “This is off our first record. Most people don’t own it.” You can hear all of his influences here. The chord changes are classic rock and roll chord changes, the chord changes that helped change the world.
“Suicide & Redemption” – Metallica. Crazy exciting. Blows the back walls out.
“Easy Street” – Cliff Eberhardt. I’ve written about him before. Me and Cliff go way back. A million years ago, I was living with my boyfriend at the time in Philadelphia. We were huge Christine Lavin fans. We bought tickets to go see her. A guy named Cliff Eberhardt was opening for her. My boyfriend and I went out for a romantic dinner beforehand and were so wrapped up in each other that we almost blew off the opening act. “Who the hell cares about Cliff Eberhardt?” But we ended up making the show in time to see him. And thank God we did. Lavin was awesome, and I am still a fan, but Eberhardt got under my skin in a way that few singers ever have, before or since. I’ve seen him a bunch. He’s got a big ol’ Bruce Springsteen rock star in him, but when he sings about heartbreak, he cannot be touched. There are some songs that are so painful for me to listen to, to this freakin’ day, that I always skip them when they come up on Shuffle. “Good Night” is one of them. Yup. Never need to hear THAT again. And “Your Face” is an absolute masterpiece. His work meant so much to me and my boyfriend that after we broke up, I couldn’t listen to Eberthardt for years. Literally: years. I finally worked my way back into listening to him, although that particular album (his only one with a major label) is still something I shy away from. Don’t want to be ambushed. That’s how powerful he is.
“Grey Seal” – Elton John. This is my favorite Elton John album. In college, my friend Betsy won tickets to Elton John playing in Providence, including a limo ride to the venue. She invited me to come with.
“My Way” – Elvis Presley, from his Aloha From Hawaii concert. What is eerie about him choosing to sing this song is that … he was in his late 30s. This is clearly the song of a man near the end, looking back over his life. May have seemed an odd choice, but now prescient knowing how close to the end Elvis actually was. I’m not crazy about this concert. Elvis seems underwater. He looks magnificent, but there’s something about him that seems like he’s sketching it in. His voice sounds amazing here, almost operatic. He lives this song. It’s a true song for him. Killer last note. Brave.
“My Name Is” – Eminem. This may be the brattiest song ever recorded. I love it.
“Without Me” – Eminem. Boy, remember The Eminem Show? That album TOOK OVER THE WORLD. It was one of THOSE albums that would just not die. This song was the dance hit of the year. You could be having a boring quiet evening in a club, this song would come on, and suddenly everyone would be going apeshit on the dance floor. And of course he bitches about Elvis in it. Good boy.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day. Ouch.
“In My Life” – Bette Midler. One of the rare moments when a cover of a Beatles song almost (almost) surpasses the original. Bette’s version stands alone. She owns it.
“It Won’t Be Long” – The Beatles. I could be sinking into my grave and a song like this would revive me for a moment. How many times have I listened to this song? Could it even be counted?
“In the Misty Moonlight” – Dean Martin. He makes it sound easy. And for him, it was.
“Somebody Told Me” – Eurythmics. Lots of Eurythmics in this Shuffle! They were so huge to us in college, and Annie Lennox is still huge to me now. I love her Christmas album!
“Why Do I Keep Counting?” – The Killers. Gorgeous, satisfying. I love it when musicians think BIG. Like David Bowie big. They may not reach those heights, but I love those who grab for that brass ring.
“Hella Good” – No Doubt. This song is pretty bad-ass (it’s that musical phrase that comes after her singing. It’s relentless. Very good.)
“I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” – Matt Nathanson, singing the song Fozzie Bear sings in The Muppet Movie, off of the Muppet tribute album. The whole album is fantastic, joyous, the meaning of a Tribute. Mr. Nathanson (not familiar with him) sings this song as a slow bluesy ballad, which is perfect.
“I Want You Back” – The Civil Wars. My cousin Mike introduced me to these guys, as possible accompaniment to my script, whenever it reaches production. A duo, with heartbreaking ballads. My brother informed me they are no longer singing together (I suppose their name would make this no surprise). They’re amazing though. Check them out.
“Greystone Chapel” – Johnny Cash. “This song was written by a man right here in Folsom Prison. Hope we do your song justice, Glenn.” says Cash. While Cash is incredible here, one of the things that elevates this album into the mythic is the CROWD listening to him. Even when they are silent, you can FEEL them.
“Back to Black” – the Glee version of the already-classic Amy Winehouse number. You can’t wreck this song. Nothing can compare to Winehouse, but the song itself stands on its own two feet.
“You Learn” – Alanis Morissette. I’ve mentioned before the love/hate thing I have with her. I’ve been a fan from the beginning, the Alanis explosion. I am not an earnest New Age-y type person, but I understand that that is all very important to her. I don’t scorn it, even though it doesn’t work for me. I like her angry songs the best, though (no surprise). And someone who puts something like this together? Not only do I love you forever, but I also want to hang out with you because you seem HILARIOUS.
“Sweet Little Sixteen” – The Beatles. Rocking. Early Beatles. Jamming out!
“I Got a Woman” – Elvis Presley. This is the original. It still has the power to make you stop in your tracks and think, “Good Lord, who is THAT singing?”
“Cold Day in July” – The Dixie Chicks. Chick can SING.
“Proud Mary” – the Glee cast. No. Stop it.
“Please Don’t Drag That String Around” – Elvis Presley. Silly song, but adorable and enjoyable.
“Never Been to Spain” – Elvis, from his Madison Square Garden concert in 1972. This is such a sexy song, and Elvis is deep deep in his Sex-Beast mode when he sings this song. It doesn’t have the nastiness of “Polk Salad Annie”, this is more of a wallowing in the sexual possibilities of life, and enjoying the wallowing. And when he goes up the octave? CHILLS. You keep thinking he can’t get more powerful, more thrilling … and then he freakin’ does. I can’t express how thankful I am to Elvis Presley for just existing. Sound corny? I don’t care.
“Ego a Go Go” – the great Robbie Williams, and I say that with zero shame.
“Pinball Wizard” – Elton John. I should get rid of this. No need to have any but the original.
“Reciprocal Feelings” – Tracy Bonham. I love her. She’s a maestro. The song is seemingly simple, there’s a piano, a violin … and yet it’s vast.
“Put Your Cat Clothes On” – Carl Perkins. Hot sexy rockabilly. Perkins is awesome, and listen to the piano beneath him. There’s some seriously awesome playing going on there.
“Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd. Classic, and yet why do I never ever ever feel like listening to it?
“She’s the One” – Robbie Williams, live at Knebworth. The moment in the concert (you can see it on Youtube) is very touching. There are 350,000 people there, maybe more. And he sings this song for a young couple in the front, who got a babysitter and are celebrating their anniversary. He’s so sweet about it, and clearly makes them feel like he is singing it only to them. He’s the real deal, a real rock star.
“Maybe” – Alison Krauss. Heartcrack. She has one of my favorite singing voices today.
“Your Love’s Been a Long Time Coming” – Elvis Presley, from the great Promised Land album. He’s marvelous here, melancholy, thoughtful, sincere. A song for a grown man.
“On Any Other Day” – The Police. Boy, I was so into them back when they were huge. They were magical, crazy, we studied the liner notes as though they were scholarly documents. I loved this album, Regatta de Blanc.
“White Man” – Queen. I was wondering when they would show up! From Day at the Races. Fantastic. Every song a journey, an anthem, with an emotional arc.
“Snow Day” – my new favorite Bleu song. This is from a Christmas album he put together a couple years back with a bunch of artists. It’s so much fun. This is a pop anthem about the glory of snow days when you’re a kid, with a chorus of little kids screaming “SNOW DAY HEY HEY” in time in the background. Best played loud.
“All Apologies” – Nirvana, MTV Unplugged. One of their best songs.
“What a Wonderful Life” (takes 3, 4, 5, 6) – Elvis Presley. I just love this song and love Elvis in it. It’s one of my favorites of his performances, it’s so openly joyous. Here, the band has a hard time gelling. You can hear Elvis running things, “Okay. Let’s go.”
“Not Your Fault” – AWOLNATION. I don’t remember buying this, but it’s quite catchy.
“Go East, Young Man” – Elvis Presley. From Harum Scarum. The song’s a bust, and – typical to the soundtrack mixes – his voice is pushed so far out in front of the accompaniment that it just sounds “off”. You can barely hear the instruments. Elvis was, rightly, frustrated at how they mixed him, and he fought a couple of battles about that until finally giving up. When it came to projects he was passionate about, his gospel, his country, he fought hard battles, throwing tantrums, throwing things across the room. He would keep the masters himself, and then compare it to what he heard on the radio, and go apeshit. This was his music. “They” had no right to mess with his music. This helps put to rest the lie that Elvis was some “idiot savant”. He knew exactly what he was doing, was the ultimate professional, and cared deeply about the music he put out there.
“How Peculiar” – Robbie Williams. I hope he keeps recording forever.
“Kissin’ Cousins” – Elvis Presley, the title song for the movie. This is clearly an attempt to make Elvis cute and family-friendly. Poor guy. But I love how he puts his all into whatever the hell he’s asked to do. This was his ace in the hole, although he gets flak for it. I can’t imagine many other serious artists would handle the things he was asked to do with as much grace as he did.
“I’ll Tell Me Ma” – Sinéad O’Connor. I love it when she gets traditional Irish! Here, we’ve got a lilting pipe, beautiful harmonies, and a traditional melody. It’s beautiful.
“Edges” – Lucy Kaplansky. She’s so awesome. I’ve seen her a bunch of times. My sister Siobhan took me to see her at City Winery this past year for my birthday. Great songwriter, and really fun live. Check her out!
“I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby” – Elvis Presley. Funky. This is from Good Times, another late album that has a lot to recommend it. So much for diminishing powers. Love the female chorus behind him here.
“A Lil Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place” – Dolly Parton. I had been hoping Dolly would show up in the shuffle. This is from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
“My Husband Makes Movies” – Marion Cotillard, from the movie Nine. I saw the Broadway production when I was in high school, with Raul Julia (it was amazing). This is one of the best songs in the show. Cotillard is a wonder.
“Quando Quando Quando” – Fergie, from the movie Nine. Weird. A Nine cluster. Random.
“We Go Together” – the cast of Grease. Rama lama lama!
“If … ” – Bleu. This is an example of the kind of stuff Bleu does best. Heartfelt achey ballads, with the heart of a showman. He’s big, he’s not afraid, he’s out there, he puts his heart out there. It’s in his voice.
“A Farruquiña” – Milladoiro. From a great double album I have, of selections from albums put out by Green Linnet Records. Great traditional Irish music from all different bands. Milladoiro are huge. They’re compared to the Chieftains, and rightly so.
“Poison Ivy League” – Elvis, from Roustabout. This is interesting because this song is supposedly what passes for a “throw down” in the unreal Elvis Land that his 60s movies take place in. This is the song he sings to a bunch of frat boys and then there’s a fight, and Elvis is run out of town. You can really see the attempt here to take someone who was truly dangerous, at least in terms of his art and what it unleashed, and make him … manageable.
“Money Burns a Hole In My Pocket” – Dean Martin. There aren’t too many things you can say are perfect in this world, but Dean Martin is one of them.
“You Make Me Feel Like a Whore” – Everclear. I’m a big big fan. They’re a bit ruined for me, because I had them on eternal repeat during the horrible year of 2009, so I sometimes associate them with that. But I love them.
“Hold On, Help Is On the Way” – Whitney Houston at her very very best, in the phenomenal The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack.
“Harlem Pas De Deux” – from the Broadway cast recording of Ragtime. I’ve never seen this musical and I can’t believe that, I love it so much. What an accomplishment.
“Loving You” – Elvis Presley. The very very slow version from the movie Loving You. He is marvelous here, oozing with sincerity. Beautiful. You can totally understand why the hearts of a million teenage girls cracked. And probably thousands of teenage boys, too. I mean, remember John Waters comment that he realized he was gay when he was a kid seeing Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. That’s the power of this man.
“It’s a Miracle” – Barry Manilow. Oh, hell YES.
“Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)” – Ashlee Simpson. I feel no shame. This is a good song.
“The Rising” – Bruce Springsteen. What an album. This song is amazing. A catharsis, a national catharsis is in it. Grief and loss and the reaching for hope.
“4 Minutes” – the cast of Glee doing the Madonna/Justin Timberlake duet. I love this arrangement because they have a giant school marching band doing the accompaniment.
“Everyday is Xmas” – Pat McCurdy. Has he shown up yet on this Shuffle? I don’t think so. A funny song, a live recording.
“Stupidity Tries” – Elliott Smith. A painful album to listen to, because we all know his end. But it’s an incredible album, and this is one of the best tracks. Despair runs through every note.
“Chokin’ the Gopher” – Pat McCurdy. The title says it all. The man is a goofball.
“Shake That Thing” – Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks. Oh, you know I will!!
“Cigarette” – Ben Folds Five. Ouch, man.
“Petunia, the Gardener’s Daughter” – Elvis Presley. From Frankie and Johnny. Oh, Elvis, I know this is tough, I know you hate it, and I’m sorry. Your time singing such songs is almost over. It’s going to be okay.
“Till Death Do Us Part” – Madonna. From the great Like a Prayer album. Love this song.
“Step By Step” – Whitney Houston, again from the wonderful Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. This song MOVES.
“All I Do Is Dream Of You” – Michael Bublé. No shame. Here, he has a Jordanaires-type backup group doo-woopping for him in the background.
“New Religion” – Duran Duran. OMG.
“Mama He’s Crazy” – The Judds. That Wynonna Judd can SING. I can hear the Elvis influence, but I guess you can hear his influence everywhere.
“Now I’m Here” (live) – Queen at Wembley Stadium. Mind-fucking-blowing. The crowd becomes so much a part of the show in Queen’s live concerts. They sing along, en masse, thousands and thousands of people. It’s chilling.
“Is It So Strange” – Elvis Presley, singing the sweet Faron Young song. June Juanico writes in her wonderful book that this was “their” song as they were dating in the summer of 1956. He hadn’t recorded it yet at that point. He eventually recorded it in early 1957 and by that time the relationship had gone south, breaking June’s heart (and, sounds like, Elvis’ too). You just know Elvis was thinking about her as he sang it. So imagine being June, driving around, and hearing this song come on the radio, post breakup. I mean, that’s just a bit TOO painful.
“Quartet (A Model of Decorum and Tranquility)” – from the Broadway recording of Chess. My father loved this musical so much. I always think of him when it comes up on Shuffle.
“Old Before I Die” – Robbie Williams. Will never get sick of this song. Ever. Best played loud, in the car, on the way to someplace fun and summery.
“Sparkling Diamonds” – Nicole Kidman, from Moulin Rouge. She is so wonderful in this film, and I love this scene. She’s fierce!
“Nobody’s Girl” – Bonnie Raitt. This song is about me.
“Maybe, Maybe Not” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. I am thankful for Mike Viola and his music. He soothes my raw-edged soul. He’s been there, he knows pain.
“Make the World Move” – Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green, from Christina’s latest album, which is pretty damn rocking. This is an anthem. Dance it up, bitches!
“Truly Scrumptious” – the kids from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the movie). For God’s sake. Do I need this? I guess I do.
“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” – Elvis Presley, from the great That’s the Way It Is album. Live in Vegas. (I wrote about the rehearsal of this song here. Unfortunately, the clip is no longer active.) This song is quite challenging, and Elvis worked hard to perfect it.
“I Saw the Light” – the great Wanda Jackson. She sang this Hank Williams song when we saw her at Maxwell’s. A rousing gospel number about finding Jesus. It’s a toe-tapper! You must clap along to it. You absolutely must!
“Le Temps Qui Passe” – Stephen Warbeck. This is included on the Polisse soundtrack (my review of the film here). I think I liked the music best about that film.
“Beautiful” – the gorgeous Glee version of Christina Aguilera’s beautiful song. When the chorus kicks in … Yes.
“Chinese Torture” – Queen. FANTASTIC. What the HELL is going on here? I have no idea but it is thrilling.
“Closer Than Ever” – from the musical Closer Than Ever. Gorgeous four-part harmony. I was so into this musical back in the late 80s, early 90s. It is the thirtysomething of musicals. Not at all my demographic, it’s really a Baby Boomer musical, and therefore somewhat annoying in concept. But the music!! And the singers!
“You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” – Dean Martin. You must snap your fingers as you listen to this song. It is a moral imperative.
“Come On Home” – Franz Ferdinand. I was really into them for about 2.4 seconds.
“Summertime Blues” – The Who, live at Leeds. Goosebumps. All over my freakin’ body.
“Heaven from Here” – Robbie Williams. Why do I find him so ultimately satisfying on an emotional level? He just delivers.
“Commissioning A Symphony In C” – Cake. I have my brother-in-law Pat to thank for introducing me to these guys.
“Nervous” – Pat McCurdy. One of his standby songs. This is a live version (I don’t think he ever recorded it formally.) I am IN this song because I gave him the suggestion for “F. Murray Abraham” for one of the “things that make him nervous”. My legacy lives on. I am eternal.
“Carnival Midway” – Pat McCurdy. His song about the Wisconsin State Fair. Funny.
“I Got a Woman” – Elvis Presley, from That’s the Way It Is, live in Vegas. This is when he started re-working those early hits to fit a newer more mature Elvis, playing Vegas. The pace is picked up, there are horns, he has a giant backup of men and women singing with him, and Elvis here is absolutely on FIRE. In a funny way, even though a young man may have more sexual craziness than a man in his 30s – Elvis has MORE to bring to the song as a grown man. He “goes there”, man. Thrilling. He’s out of breath at the end when he greets the audience.
“Chrysanthemum” – Everclear. Beautiful.
“Let’s Have a Party” – Wanda Jackson. Her voice could peel the paint off the walls.
“I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” – Tony Burgos & His Swing Shift Orchestra. Don’t we all, Tony, don’t we all.
“Loving You” – Elvis Presley, singing this at home, 1959. Just him and his guitar. A poor recording, but sweet. Just him, at home, hanging around.
“In My Way” (take 2) – Elvis Presley, from Wild in the Country. Sooo pretty, so sweet.
“The House is Rockin'” – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. What a loss. I adore him.
“Take Cover” – the great Bleu.
“Jilted” – The Puppini Sisters. These gals are so much fun, and are ironic as well as sincere in their art, hearkening back to the Andrews Sisters. This one is awesome. “Jiiiiiiiilted again …” “I made myself sit through fooootball games, mm-hmm …”
“You Take My Breath Away” – Queen. And Queen takes MY breath away, so we’re even.
“Chim Chim Cher-ee” – Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, et al, from Mary Poppins. How much did I want to be a chimney sweep when I was a kid because of this movie.
“La Vie Boheme” – from Rent. Quite an accomplishment but I can’t help but think: “Kids. Paying rent is not oppression. Get a job.” Good music, though.
“Danny Boy” – Elvis Presley. Killer. Recorded in The Jungle Room. Elvis was determined to get those high notes. He worked hard on this song, and he was not well at the time. It’s heartbreaking. He had loved this song for years.
“Stranger In the Crowd” – Elvis Presley, from That’s the Way It Is. Great mature Elvis song, great imagery, and a real sense of vibrancy, as Elvis started a new chapter in his life. You can hear the freedom in this song.
“Together” – The Raconteurs. Hm, this is the first time I have listened to this song. I bought a bunch of their stuff a while back, and then it kind of disappears into oblivion on the iPod, unless it shows up on Shuffle. Of course, The Raconteurs are made up of, among others, two of my favorite peeps in the music business today: Jack White and Brendan Benson.
“If I Didn’t Love You” – Squeeze. Squeeze really IS college to me. It has no other context in my life. Freshman year, specifically.
“Mystery Train / Tiger Man” – Elvis, live. Wow, lots of tracks from That’s the Way It Is in this Shuffle and this makes me happy. That album is so alive and electric. I think Elvis’ original “Mystery Train” can’t be beat, recorded back in the early days. It has such an eerie strangeness to it, a myth being born between the notes. Here, the band rocks out, but it’s more professional, understood, a given that Elvis is who he is. When Elvis first recorded “Mystery Train”, nothing was a done deal. He was in the process of thrusting himself out in front of the pack, so far out that nobody could ever catch up. You can hear that in the original “Mystery Train”.
“Had a Dream (For the Heart)” – The Judds. I was so into them while I was in Chicago. I have kind of moved on, but it is good to re-visit them from time to time.
“Oh Great God of Power / Manchester England (Reprise)” – the cast of the Broadway revival of Hair. I love the ensemble numbers in this musical.
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” – The Beatles. My love for this song goes way way back, also to those days in grade school recess when Betsy and I would huddle by the turntable, playing Beatles records. And this was NOT in the 1960s.
“An American Trilogy” – Elvis, live, in Madison Square Garden, June 10, 1972. (This is from the newly released re-mastered version of this groundbreaking and recordbreaking concert, Prince From Another Planet, sent to me by Troy, from Mystery Train. So nice!) The sound is superb. This “trilogy” was very personal to Elvis. He did it at every concert. It is patriotic, religious, secular, powerful, contemplative, elegiac, celebratory, transcendent, sometimes all in the same moment. You can hear the audience absolutely losing their minds. Elvis sounds amazing. Just amazing. Afterwards, Elvis: “It’s really fantastic being back in New York … now that you’ve had a look at us, I’d like to turn the house lights up and look at you …” Mayhem. Elvis: “Nice to see ya.”
“Peace in the Valley” – Elvis, and Carl Perkins, and others, singing at Sun Studios in Dec. 1956 (the Million Dollar Quartet day). Elvis is leading here. Others are humming along in harmony.
“The Worst In the World” – Russell Crowe, with his band. Haven’t seen Les Miserables yet. I like his album, sent to me by my friend Emily.
“Sleep On” – Alison Krauss. So piercingly sweet.
“Have It All” – The Foo Fighters. I love when Dave Grohl screams on tune. It’s thrilling. Not too many people can do that. He does it repeatedly.
“Into the Fire” – Bruce Springsteen. I have a lot of Bruce, but so far we’ve had two tracks here from The Rising. How comforting in shitty shitty times.
“Bells On a Leper” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. This is from his small EP “Live at la Bonbonniere”. Clearly a tiny place, you can hear people ordering coffees before the song starts. “Heaven knows, but hell knows better. I wear my heart like bells on a leper.” Me too, Viola.
“Sixty Years On” – Elton John, live in Australia, playing with the Symphony Orchestra. This is actually, of all the things Elton John has recorded, my favorite song of his, and my favorite recording. It’s really something else.
“Killing Floor” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. Wow! More Viola! If you don’t know him, please check him out! He and Bleu have recorded a lot of things together.
“Polk Salad Annie” – Elvis Presley, live, August 13, 1970. He says, before they begin, “Let’s get dirty.” Yes, sir. This is the dirtiest Elvis ever was. The live clips of him doing this song are out of control. Ronnie Tutt on drums is hilarious here. He said after Elvis died that playing drums for Elvis was like playing in a strip club, where your drumming has to go along with the bumps and grinds of the gal on the stage. Elvis hired him because at his audition he never took his eyes off Elvis, and drummed to go along with Elvis’ movements.
“She Loves You” – The Beatles. That diverging harmony breakup on the fourth “Yeah” is surprising, no matter how many times (thousands by now) I have heard it.
“Soundtrack of My Summer” – Mike Viola. Okay, Viola, you’re a bit bossy now!! But this is beautiful!
“Folk Song Medley” – The Raunch Hands. This album, scratchy, was a huge part of my childhood. Part of my parents’ record collection. These guys were from Harvard, I believe, 5 or 6 of them, and they came out with an album. My brother and sisters and I listened to this album TO DISTRACTION. A couple of Christmases ago, my mother went to some techie joint that turns vinyl into CDs and gave a copy to each of us. It had been years since I had been able to listen to it. It’s clearly rare, and hard to find. Here, they track the history of folk music in the country. The guys were very tongue in cheek, not really earnest. Jokey. Boy, we loved these guys.
“Hold Out” – Jackson Browne. I loved this album so much in high school, and haven’t listened to it in years. This past month I bought it off iTunes, and it’s been fun to remember and re-visit these old well-loved songs.
“I Am Stretched On Your Grave” – Sinéad O’Connor, live at Iceland Airwaves Festival 10.14.11. Totally a capella. This is from her latest album, which is pretty damn great. Her voice, I mean there really isn’t another voice out there like that one. Love you, Sinéad, you crazy broad!
“Stand Up Comedy” – U2. Pretty rousing, I must say. The electric guitar is especially awesome.
“All I’ve Got To Do” – The Beatles. The song is in my DNA.
“The Beautiful People” – Scala & Kolacny Brothers (the all-female chorus from Belgium) covering Marilyn Manson’s classic. What they do with it is so eerie. You feel like you are about to be murdered and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
“Hungarian Folk Song” – the cast of Chess (Broadway). I have three versions of this musical: Broadway, the London recording, and then the “in concert” version with Josh Groban and other luminaries. All have their good points. This is a gorgeous choral number.
“Hello” – Evanescence. What a voice this woman has. Cuts right through the bullshit.
“Lawdy Miss Clawdy” – Elvis Presley, jamming around/rehearsing for his 1968 TV special. Even in rehearsal, the guy gives his all. We see this time and time again. He was constitutionally incapable of sketching something in, “marking” it, or phoning it in. This is awesome.
“Only Son” – Liz Phair. I’m shocked there isn’t more Liz in this Shuffle, she usually shows up more often. She is so good.
“Lonely Man” (takes 11, 12) – Elvis Presley, again from the Wild in the Country soundtrack. A rambling country-inspired song. You can hear someone say, in between takes, “The tempo’s getting too slow …”
“Come Back From Yesterday” – Bleu, yet again, in his Blizzard of 05 album. An angry song, with angry drumming. This is a great example of how he floats easily in between chest register and falsetto – something that is very difficult for singers, and even more difficult for men who don’t normally even go into their falsetto. Bleu is all about the falsetto. It’s interesting to hear the falsetto with the angry drumming accompaniment.
“Tough, Tough, Tough” – Andy Anderson. A rough rockabilly song (lots of fun), recorded at Sun Studio (on a compilation I have of Sun artists, excluding Elvis, who tends to skew the sample. You need to get him out of the way to see what a vibrant scene was going on there, both before him, and after him).
“Ode to Billie Joe” – The Fifth Dimension, live, covering the Bobbie Gentry classic. Moaning harmonica in the background. This song HAUNTED me as a child. I was tormented by it. What did they throw off the bridge? What happened???? These songs haunted me as well.
“My Darling” – Eminem. Phoning it in, darling. Step it up.
“I Wanna Be Your Man” – The Beatles. From the great Meet the Beatles. It still leaps out of the speakers at you like an assault, a beckoning.
“Makin’ Whoopee” – Marlene Dietrich, live. This makes me so happy to listen to that I can’t even describe it.
“Headwires” – The Foo Fighters. They are on a short list of bands/artists where I count the days until they release something new.
“Ensemble” – Scala & Kolocny Brothers. Again, with the awesome Belgian choir. I first discovered them because I saw the trailer for The Social Network, which had their creepy eerie version of Radiohead’s “Creep” playing behind it. I thought: “WHO IS THAT?” A quick Google search revealed the culprit. Unfortunately, it was not available on iTunes, and neither was a lot of their stuff. I had to content myself with listening to their “Creep” by watching the trailer for Social Network on Youtube. Finally, though, iTunes has caught up and a lot of their stuff is now on there. Check them out!
“Coalhouse Demands” – the cast of Broadway’s Ragtime, with Brian Stokes Mitchell as Coalhouse. Pretty exciting stuff, especially when the song finally turns into a ragtime song at the end. Suddenly, in that context, ragtime begins to sound like a demand, as indeed it is.
“Money Is a Problem” – Dean Martin. Exquisite. I could listen to him all day. He regulates my blood pressure.
“Grease (Reprise)” – Frankie Valli, from, you know, Grease. Hours of childhood taken up listening to this double album, and dancing around in various dens with plaid couches and shag rugs, pretending we lived in the 1950s.
“Whip It” – Devo. Talk about memories. Senior year in high school. The entire high school dance floor whipping in unison, losing our collective minds. I’m so glad I grew up when something so … hip … was in vogue.
“Oh, It Is Love” – Hellogoodbye. This song really helped me get through a rough time. It’s hard to listen to it now. A lot of hopes and dreams wrapped up in this song.
“Fishnet Stockings” – The Stray Cats. Pretty rocking. We loved them in high school and I still love them now. Still buy whatever Brian Setzer puts out.
“I Want To Be the Boy” – The White Stripes. They were so cool.
“Take Me To the Mardi Gras” – Paul Simon. Beautiful. My parents had his greatest hits on vinyl (as well as all Simon & Garfunkel). I grew up listening to him.
“Under the Influence” – Eminem. Another bratty anthem. From the brilliant Marshall Mathers LP.
“Rumour Has It” – Adele. I love it when young women allow themselves to get angry. There’s hope for humanity then. This song vibrates with righteous anger.
“Soul Free” – George Michael, from Listen Without Prejudice. He’s honest. We were so into him in college. This album is him breaking the chains that bind. It holds up.
“I’m Okay” – Pat McCurdy, live. The audience claps along manically the entire time. He is a cult leader.
“Ain’t That Loving You Baby” (take 3) – Elvis Presley. From the inspiringly productive and raucous 1958 sessions before Elvis left for Germany. This take is only a couple of seconds long, and the musicians mess up and Elvis bursts out into laughter, that laugh that makes you laugh just from hearing it.
“Toast” – Pat McCurdy. Another live performance. For those of you who are wondering, “Who the hell is Pat McCurdy and why has he taken over Sheila’s shuffle?” He’s a legend in the Midwest, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, LaCrosse, Madison, and thereabouts. He plays about 300 sold-out shows a year. He’s a friend. I performed with him at Milwaukee Summer Fest once upon a time. I sing a duet with him on one of his albums. He was a huge huge part of my life in the misty snows of yesteryear.
“Connection” – Elastica. The only reason I own this song is that when I was doing Gertrude Down, a new play I loved, with an all-female cast, we would blast this in our warm-up room before going onstage. It’s loud and obliterates all thought. I don’t know who first brought the song in. It was an ensemble piece so along with our separate preparations we needed to really gel as a group. This song, blasted at full volume backstage before the audience came in, helped us do that.
“Misguided Ghosts” – Paramore. Wow, forgot I had bought this. I bought the album after reading an article about the band, and her, on Slate. I don’t remember when. I found the article intriguing and liked the snippets of their music that I heard. I haven’t even listened to it in its entirety. This is the fun part of Shuffle!
“I Can Cook Too” – Sally Mayes. She is a fantastic current singer, and if it were the 1940s she would be a movie star, starring in brilliant fizzy musicals. As it is, she has come out with a couple of solo albums. Her voice is delicious. Mitchell and I love her.
“Walking In Space” – the cast of Hair (the Broadway revival). This drip of a song picks up when the chick takes over. I’m sorry I don’t know her name. I haven’t seen the show. She’s fabulous.
“How Do You Do It” – The Beatles. This song was never released until the giant Anthology came out. It had been a hit for someone else. Lovely harmonies, as always. And I love how everything pauses, dramatically and repeatedly, along the way.
“How Did We Get From Saying ‘I Love You’?” – Russell Crowe. Russell gettin’ all heartbroke.
“That’s All Right” – Elvis, in the informal “sitdown session” section of his 1968 special. Elvis introduces it, and sounds awkward and shy, making jokes along the way – “it was called … what was it called …” The song MOVES. The audience slowly starts to lose their minds, you can feel it happening. Elvis is in charge and how emotional it is to hear this 33 year old man tear up his first single, brought out when he was 19 years old? The song that altered the world forever. Pretty cool.
“Turn It Off” – Paramore. Okay, that’s just flat out weird. This one I am familiar with. Girl has some major pipes. Big belter!
“Aquavia” – Bleu and Mike Viola, in one of their joint albums, Aquavia. To see those two names together spells out HEAVEN to me. “Back in 1925 we were drinking bathtub gin, we were making movies long before the talkies … and we danced all night long … on the shores of Wrights Pond – back in 1925 … it was good to be alive …”
“White Lightning” – Cliff Eberhardt (see note far above somewhere) and Shawn Colvin. This was the album that introduced Cliff Eberhardt to me. Killer. Every song is unbelievable.
“Elevation” – U2. Great dance tune.
“One Big Love” – Patty Griffin. I love this little lady with the big red hair and the huge soulful voice. She is an awe-inspiring songwriter, too.
“Dear Prudence” – The Beatles. Perfect. And better than that: exciting. Still.
“Then We Are Decided” – from Jesus Christ Superstar, the movie. “We’ve been sitting on the fence for far too long …”
“Hawaiian Sunset” – Elvis Presley, from the phenomenally successful Blue Hawaii soundtrack. Elvis loved Hawaii, and loved Hawaiian music. He is gorgeous here. Like buttah!
“Blood Brothers” – Bruce Springsteen. Listen to that picking. It’s heartcracking. The whole song is heartcracking: loss, nostalgia, regret, love.
“River Deep, Mountain High” – the cast of Glee. Again, no. Love you guys, but stop it with Ike and Tina. You can’t do it.
“An American Trilogy” – Elvis Presley. I must have 10 versions of this Trilogy from various concert albums. This one is from February 25, 1972. The Stamps singing with him, giving the whole thing an elegiac and personal majesty. Elvis poured his heart into this trilogy. It’s moving to hear him.
“I See Jesus” – Wynona Carr. Now I’m Catholic, so my religious musical background has nothing to do with passionate declarations like Wynona Carr specialized in. But it is impossible to listen to the pain and joy and faith in that rough piercing voice and not be moved … to pray, or to at LEAST have some respect for the act of prayer, as displayed by people like Ms. Carr.
“You’re the Only One” – the one and only Dolly Parton.
“I’m a Pilgrim Traveler” – Wynona Carr. See that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
“This Is My Heaven” – Elvis Presley. From the abysmal Paradise Hawaiian Style. The movie has no heart. The movie is tired. The movie gives the best song to an annoying 10 year old child. The movie tries to neuter Elvis Presley (and what was the POINT of that?? And please recognize an annoyed rhetorical question when you see one. It is very annoying otherwise.) This song is exhausted. Elvis can barely get it up for it, and Elvis could get it up for anything. Disgraceful to treat such a unique star in this way.
“Beyond Belief” – Elvis Costello & The Attractions. I listened to Elvis Costello one too many times in the late 80s and have never been able to really listen to him again. It was like the day I gorged on French Dressing when I was 11 years old, and I will never ever eat French Dressing again. I’ve had enough. I love Elvis C. I just … burnt out on him. This, however, was always one of my favorites of his songs.
“Stronger Than Me” – Amy Winehouse. Shit, I miss her.
“Make No Mistake” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. Well, Mike V. is MORE than well-represented in this Shuffle. Normally I wish he would show up more. Here, I can’t go two songs without tripping over him. I’m fine with that!
“Let the Good Times Roll” – the indispensable Link Wray. Ever since this post, I always think of Kim when I hear Link Wray.
“East Jesus Nowhere” – Green Day. White-hot rage. Not sick of this one yet and it’s been on eternal repeat ever since I first heard it.
“I Hope I Never” – Split Enz. Memories! This album was huge to us at the tail end of high school and into college. “Shark Attack”, “Nobody Takes Me Seriously”, “I Got You”, “What’s the Matter With You”! And this, the achey ballad. Whatever happened to these guys? There’s not a bad song on this album.
“She’s a Machine” – Elvis Presley. From Easy Come, Easy Go. The song is barely 2 minutes long and you get the sense that even that is too long for Big E.
“Now That I’m Free” – Wynona Carr. Here, this glorious forgotten lady, moves out of gospel and sings some rhythm & blues. I can’t believe she is not more well-known.
“You Gotta Sin To Get Saved” – Maria McKee. I have been listening to her for years, and am so happy that we have become friends in the last two years or so. She came to the reading of my script in Los Angeles at my cousin Mike’s house, with her husband, filmmaker and musician Jim Akin. She was an awesomely supportive and listening and thoughtful presence at my reading. I was honored to have her there. She’s got some fierce pipes, and this song is a raucous joy to behold, filled with sin and saving, with Maria, and her giant voice, at the helm.
“Catch Hell Blues” – The White Stripes. Should be played at night, on the Bayou, when nobody is up to any good. Or something like that.
“I Will” – The Beatles. I have a personal association/memory with this song, of hearing a certain someone’s voice singing from afar, over loudspeakers, and I was trying to find him, and I was filled with feeling for him, and all I had to do was follow his voice and I thought of: “Your song will fill the air. Sing it loud so I can hear you” and I still feel an echo of pain when I hear that line. The pain of the loss of that man.
“All Bent Out Of Shape” – Mike Viola. Yay! You clearly aren’t going anywhere, Viola. You’re here to stay. You are DOMINATING this Shuffle!
“20th Century Boy” – Placebo. Classic opening.
“We Can Work It Out” – The Beatles. A beautiful anthem of understanding and compromise.
“It Could Happen To You” – Doris Day. She’s exquisite.
“If I Had $1,000,000” – Barenaked Ladies. Where are these guys now? Still around? I love this album.
“Follow That Dream” (take 3) – Elvis Presley. For the Follow That Dream soundtrack. Follow That Dream features one of Elvis’ best performances. I’m sure people just thought he was “just playing himself” (the most ignorant critique anyway), but this is a real character performance. Elvis playing a literal-minded guy with no sense of irony? An innocent Mowgli-type? Not likely. He’s great in it. My friend Larry called Follow That Dream “Elvis’ ‘Occupy’ Movie” which is pretty funny, and also spot-on.
“Little Pink Umbrella” – Pat McCurdy. “Last night I saw you floating in the sky … like an angel with a cocktail in her hand …” One of his best songs. Funny evocative lyrics.
“Make Me” – this is from “L.E.O”, otherwise known as Bleu and Mike Viola’s album inspired by ELO. Sheer unadulterated joy. I love Bleu, I love Mike Viola, and I love ELO. It’s a win-win.
“Coalhouse’s Soliloquy” – Brian Stokes Mitchell, from Ragtime. Lots of Coalhouse in this Shuffle. My friend Kate saw Ragtime and loved it, but wasn’t wacky about Brian Stokes Mitchell’s performance. Thought he was quite vain and oozed pleasure in himself. She said, “Every time he came onstage, the show stopped being Ragtime and instead became Jagtime.”
“One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” – Matthew Morrison, from Glee. Now this is fun. I can go with this one!
“Mean Mr. Mustard” – The Beatles. This is not like anything else.
“Forgiveness” – Patty Griffin, from Living With Ghosts, that very rare thing: a perfect album.
“When I Get You Alone” – the cast of Glee, doing the Robin Thicke hit. “You can keep your toys in the drawer tonight …” Sexiest line ever.
“Baby What You Want Me To Do” – Elvis, in the sitdown session, the black leather section, the informal jam part of the 1968 Christmas special. He kept going back to this song, repeatedly, especially at this time in my life (and in her book, Ann-Margret describes how the two of them, when they were dating, did an impromptu show for Elvis’ entourage at Elvis’ house, singing this number and crawling on the floor towards each other … oh, for a clip of that moment!) Elvis can’t stop returning to this song. He needs it, it seems. Every time it starts, it provides a doorway to some sort of release. I believe that Elvis flat out had more to release than most people, and it was that that made him an artist (not to mention his generosity in releasing all of that stuff FOR us, taking those emotional risks FOR us.) It was personal release he craved, from the beginning, release from poverty, from conformity, from being “ignorable” (to paraphrase Dave Marsh). This is why his music always felt so personal: because it was. The teens got it. They had a lot to release, too. But here Elvis is, 33 years old, and he still … still … works a song like a dog with a bone, knowing that only through it can he release what needs to be released. It’s still personal for him. And as much as we needed him (to be the receptacle of our dreams, to express our feelings FOR us), he needed the song, he needed the music, to work its magic on him, to help him transcend, get up, get out. Lots of singers lose that feeling once they hit the big-time. The need disintegrates. For Elvis it never did.