I’ve been very sick. Nursing myself back to health and it’s slow-going. Thursday was a three-movie day: went to Hobbit screening in the a.m., then went to Birdman matinee, and then met up with Charlie for The Passionate Thief. Went to Selma screening last night (it’s terrific). Have my year-end polls to do and was waiting to see Selma before I made up my final tally. Doing all of this with flu-like symptoms was challenging but I powered through, with claritin, saline spray, and copious cough drop lozenges. My sleep has remained steady, so that’s really all that matters. What will I do when my iPod Classic bites the dust? What will I do? It’s so much a part of my life. Here’s the music that accompanied me on my flu-ridden meanderings through the city from screening room to screening room.
“Soul Survivor” – The Rolling Stones. Final track of Exile on Main Street, if I recall correctly. Mick is intense, but I am really drawn to Keith here. Killer sound. Huge.
“I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” (take 9) – Elvis Presley. One of the Sun recordings. Sooo country, that twangy clip-clop guitar, but then his voice quivering with something else that needed to be unleashed. You can hear the merging/blending taking place, right here, in the moment.
“I Call Your Name” – The Beatles. From the Long Tall Sally EP, I think? 1964? Rough, raw, and PERFECT.
“Soon” – Squirrel Nut Zippers. Went through a big SNZ phase. This is my favorite song of theirs.
“Teenage Heaven” – Eddie Cochran. What a heartthrob.
What a loss.
“I Will” – Alison Krauss. Banjo-picking soulful cover of the Beatles song. I have an intense memory associated with the gentleman I just got a letter from, whose handwriting I recognized. The moment occurred at a county fair in Wisconsin, where I was meeting up with him, and was so intense my knees actually gave way. This song was playing as it all went down, and the lyrics seemed to describe what was happening in that moment. Sing it loud so I can hear you. I loved him more than I’ve ever loved anyone, and having it not work out made it seem like my life had been ship-wrecked. And that was just Phase One of it. Moving on.
“Precious Memories” – good ol’ Waylon Jennings. So far, this Shuffle has been Aces.
“It Might As Well Be Spring” – Doris Day. Every time she comes up now, I think of this.
“I Think He’s Hiding” – Randy Newman. He’s so psycho. I adore him.
“See You” – Foo Fighters. Like The Eminem Show, this album was one of the last albums I remember listening from start to finish, track by track, obsessively … for … a year? More? Music-buying is so different now. I still try to listen to albums (at least once, anyway) in the order in which the artist chose to place the songs.
“Heat Wave” – Marilyn Monroe. Go, Marilyn.
“Eat What You Want” – Siobhan O’Malley, my awesome sister. Check out her stuff. She’s amazing!
“Tragic” Symphony – Franz Schubert. Glorious and painful.
“I Had a Baby” – Sinéad O’Connor. I’m excited by where her career is going now. I’ve hung in there for a long time. Through the reggae, through Theology. I am a fan for life. Some really cool stuff seems to be happening right now.
“Hoodoo Voodoo” – Bill Bragg & Wilco. So joyous! Impossible to listen to and not “dance a goofy dance.”
“I Want You To Want Me” – Cheap Trick. I know what you want, boys, but life doesn’t work that way. You can’t force it so stop pressuring me!
“Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin. Ominous. Pounding. Eerie. Sexy, too, driving towards climax.
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica. It took me a while to extricate the song from this memory. Possible trigger warning for that link. Ha. I wish I had had a trigger warning before walking into that story. The story involves copious amounts of alcohol, 70s-era porn and me getting slapped in a bar bathroom. And loving it. So yeah, consider yourself warned. I would never publish that story now – writing in that way is what brought the crazy stalkers into my life, people who, to this day, harass me and send me mean anonymous emails. Whatever. That memory was the start of a really really terrible era in my life. Enter Sandman. Anyway, the song is such a favorite that I continued to listen to it, despite always finding myself back in Bellevue when I hear the first chords (not the mental hospital, but the bar – it was called Bellevue, hilariously).
“Four O’Clock Blues” – Skip James. Delta blues. The birth of a sound. The voice, that guitar. It has everything in it.
“From Home” – The Troggs. Super-sexy.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” – Bob Dylan. Bittersweet yearning tune notwithstanding, this song is one of the best and coldest disses ever put to music. “You just wasted my precious time.”
“He Got What He Wanted” – Little Richard. An insane song. Please look it up. Listen to it. Revel in how insane the performance is. And the orchestration. And the lyrics.
“A Big Hunk O’Love” – Elvis. One of his sexiest performances. 1958. Loud, rough, and listen to him moaning and grunting and singing during the breaks. These are all live takes with the band. He recorded this while on leave from basic training. He had a lot to unleash.
“The Road to Shamballa” – Good old Three Dog Night. Best blasted in the car as you careen down a wide open highway. On your way to the beach.
“Applause” – Lady GaGa. From ARTPOP, an album that is all over the damn place. This feels pretty stock.
“We Can Talk” – The Band. Woozy, bluesy, boozy, burlesque. They’re so great because the songs evoke an entire world, a place. Can’t you see it? The roadhouse? The off-the-beaten-path honky-tonk? A tent in a field, a country fair, a biker bar. The dance floor full of people.
“Do Me Now” – Robbie Williams. Sure thing, Robbie!
“Love Runs Out” – OneRepublic. Totally catchy. It’s on my workout mix. You must. keep. moving. when you hear it.
“Low Hangin’ Fruit” – Tenacious D. From their latest. This song gives me so much joy. “Don’t want no high class model in a designer fuckin’ bathing suit. We want the low-hangin’ fruit.” The song ROCKS and rocks HARD.
“A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” – Jackie Wilson. The man is, quite frankly, otherworldly. He inspired a generation. White boys, black boys, didn’t matter: he showed everyone up. On the Million Dollar Quartet recording, Elvis spends almost 10 minutes talking about seeing Jackie Wilson do “Don’t Be Cruel” in Vegas. People try to move the conversation on, but Elvis can’t move on. He keeps talking, doing imitations of Jackie Wilson … and he incorporated some of Wilson’s interpretation into his own, forever afterwards. Wilson was the One To Beat. People would watch him, listen to him, and just go BLANK trying to comprehend his genius.
“My Father’s Father” – The Civil Wars. They’re usually too painful for me to listen to. I have to be in a strong mood to be able to take it. I love them, but still … they’re so intense.
“Big River” – Johnny Cash. Here is what pure expression sounds like. It’s honest, and there are no barriers between the expression and the artist. He’s not ambivalent: out it comes. You cannot fake that kind of honesty or authenticity.
“In the Still of the Night” – The Five Satins. That sax, the slight echo on it … making it sound like you’re actually in a smoky dance-hall. It’s beautiful, perfect. The song creates a mood. No matter how many times you’ve heard it.
“Telstar” – The Tornadoes. Where on earth do I get all this stuff? Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have it. Shuffle is an unending adventure, what with 11,000+ songs – one of which appears to be “Telstar” by The Tornadoes.
“Baptize Me In Wine” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Real bump-and-grind stuff, with a typically hilarious and outrageous performance from this great artist. I love it when he screams, especially from the background.
“I Miss You” – Brenda Lee. I adore her. She set records in the 1960s that weren’t broken for 20, 25 years. Until Madonna. I admit I like her rough rocking stuff better than the ballads. Her voice is so … harsh (not a bad thing). She SWUNG it, baby. But this is good, too.
“Walkin’ In and Out of Your Arms” – k.d. lang. I was a huge Absolute Torch and Twang fan, and still am. Those songs still swing. I lost track of lang after that. I know she did some torch-song type stuff, and I didn’t care for it. I like her country-ish stuff. Hell of a voice, great songs, too.
“When You Were Mine” – the great Cyndi Lauper. That album was essential. Here she does a Prince song and owns it. And of course now I think of Greil Marcus’ commentary about “Money Changes Everything.”
“Guitar Boogie” – Carl Perkins. Masterful stuff.
“One of My Bad Habits” – Waylon Jennings. The man is in a world of trouble. He’s got to quit everything! This situation can’t go on!
“Honest I Do” – The Rolling Stones. From their debut album. Bluesy and burlesquey, with a harmonica solo that sounds like it is emerging from the bottom of a well.
“Cool, Calm, and Collected” – The Rolling Stones, from Between the Buttons. Lots of Stones in this Shuffle! This feels British music-hall-ish, with a rollicking kazoo solo. I love the Stones but am not an expert in their career, so take my impressions for what it’s worth. This is from a 1967 album, the same year as Sgt. Pepper. It feels Sgt. Pepper-y. Like something heard on a victrola played either too fast or too slow. With a music hall feeling to it.
“Citadel” – The Rolling Stones. Holy mackerel, it’s a cluster! The song feels rough, hard, driving, that insistent guitar from Richards pushing the song along. Also from 1967.
“Can’t Pull the Wool Down (Over The Little Lamb’s Eyes) – Maria McKee. She’s so wonderful. I feel proud to know her. She’s great. What a voice, right?
“I Want Some Sugar In My Bowl” – Nina Simone. Talk to me, Nina. I could stand some loving too. Her voice aches with her experience: “I feel so funny. I feel so sad.”
“Song for the Deaf” – Queens of the Stone Age. I was so into them for a hot second that I could not get past this album. The phase passed, but I still love that album.
“In This Windy Old Weather” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. It’s live, and they ask the audience to sing. You can hear the crowd join in. “Let’s raise the roof!” It’s emotional.
“C’mon Everybody” – Eddie Cochran again. “I got some money in my jeans …” Talk to me, big boy. He was the voice of the Teenage Dream. His parents are gone, he’s got the house to himself, he wants everyone to come over!
“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” – Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn. Classic.
“The Hammer (Keeps A Knockin’) – Faye Adams. Her voice is out of control. That vibrato, the choices she makes, the commitment she pours into every single moment. I love her.
“Lucille” – Waylon Jennings. Absolutely gorgeous aching country version of Little Richards’ nutso rock ‘n’ roll hit. Oh, Waylon. Stop being awesome.
“Xanadu” – Olivia Newton-John and ELO. Just keepin’ it real here, folks.
“Fast Train Down” – The Waco Brothers. Kind of love these guys. Country mixed with … punk? From Chicago.
“Dear Jessie” – Madonna. My God, I had forgotten about this song. From Like a Prayer, which I had on cassette tape: the cassette tape was (remember?) scented with patchouli. I don’t care for that smell so it was rather annoying. But I did love this album. “Dear Jessie” was Madonna being sickly-sweet, “if the land of make-believe is inside your heart, it will never leave.” If you say so, girl!
“Am I Blue?” – Billie Holiday. Not much to say except, Wow.
“One Vision” – Queen, live at Wembley Stadium. Honestly, they’re like Pharaohs. The sound of that crowd.
“Deja Vu” – Eminem. From Relapse. That’s a pretty sad picture you’re paintin’ there, Marshall.
“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” – Bob Dylan. I imagine I’m not alone when I say I’ve got major personal associations tied up with this song.
“How Are You Getting Home?” – Sparks. I love this album (Indiscreet) and this song has a great sound, great chords.
“Talking About My Baby” – The Impressions. Smooooth, gorgeous, happy doo-wop/soul. Their voices! The blend of them!
“Even Flow” – Pearl Jam. The song has a macho swagger to it that I really like. It’s aggressive, not recessive. I honestly heard it one too many times on the radio in 1991 or whenever it was it came out, but still, it’s good.
“All Apologies” – Nirvana, from their iconic MTV Unplugged concert. The lyrics still get me.
“The Judas Kiss” – Metallica. A thrilling song. Lars is INSANE. I like to listen to their stuff and try to isolate out Lars from all that noise. It’s always crazy, what he is doing back there. This song is a perfect example of my brother’s comment: “Metallica is metal for math nerds.”
“Don’t Be Cruel” – Elvis, from the “Million Dollar Quartet”. A gathering of Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis (there was no quartet, there were only three of them) in December 1956 at Sun Records. An impromptu jam session started, and Sam Phillips had the wherewithal to turn on the tape recorder. And speaking of Jackie Wilson up above: Here, Elvis launches his monologue about seeing this singer with Billy Ward and his Dominos – he didn’t know his name then – (“a colored guy … he was a Yankee, you know”) in Las Vegas, do “Don’t Be Cruel” and totally re-thought the song, the singer Elvis saw performed it at such a level that Elvis knew he had been shown up. Elvis upped his game because of what he saw Wilson do (and you can see the result of it in his final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in January, 1957). Elvis talks and talks and talks about Jackie Wilson’s version, doing imitations, bursting out laughing, filled with admiration and awe. “He was much better than the record I put out …” Elvis said.
“Murder Incorporated” – Bruce Springsteen. Love those opening chords. Rocking.
“The Coventry Carol” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey. If you don’t know these men, check them out. Listening to them is like praying. Or, no, it’s not “like” praying. It is praying.
“Runnin’ Away” – Sly & The Family Stone. From There’s a Riot Goin’ On, the album that was rejected by critics originally (where was all that happy “we are all one” stuff they used to do??) – and is now considered a masterpiece. And it is. It’s a sad and scary album, the culture breaking apart. You can feel/hear it.
“Blue Day” – Waylon Jennings. Early Waylon, I’m pretty sure. I love all phases of Waylon’s career: it had great integrity. He found his own way. He plowed through a lot of bull shit, carving out a space for himself (and others) to maneuver. He gave up his seat on the plane that went down, killing his dear friend and mentor Buddy Holly. Waylon was on that same tour. That plane crash and the death of his friend put him in a mindfuck-headspace for years. But he found his own way. And when the “outlaw” thing started wearing thin, he moved on. He was honest.
“The Sound of Your Cry” – Elvis. Big, gorgeous, dramatic Elvis. From his country album. People who wanted him to get rough and raw again hated material like this, resented it. I don’t at all. This is just as honest as the stuff from early in his career. This, too, is Elvis. He also loved to show off his pipes. The big huge ballads gave him an opportunity to do that. And he fucking MEANS this shit.
“8 Easy Steps” – Alanis Morissette. Another one of her “list” songs. She can’t help herself. She’s an obsessive counter!
“The Ballad of Stagger Lee” – Mississippi John Hurt. For those of you who have read Mystery Train (Greil Marcus again) you will remember well his extraordinary essay on this song, and how it has morphed and changed, and what that character of Stagger Lee (or Staggolee) signifies. I have so many different versions of the song, sung by so many people. This one is haunting. It’s almost 8 minutes long. And Mississippi John Hurt talks it, tells it. It’s incredible.
“Broken Heart Attack” – Jerry Reed. He was so insane. I ADORE HIM. Bad bad boy, wild man. This is from the album called Alabama Wild Man, and the title explains it all. He’s a genius.
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The Beatles. Still exciting. Still blasts out of the speakers.
“It Feels So Right” – Elvis Presley. One of Elvis’ sexiest tracks. And considering how sexy so many of his tracks are, that’s saying something. This one oozes intention. I wrote a whole post about his performing of it in Tickle Me and how incredibly he uses himself. Like a woman. Like a bodacious Mae West woman. Totally unembarrassed about putting himself out there as an object. Fearless. Comfortable in that realm. The power of it still blows the walls back.
“Until Jesus Calls Me Home” – Sam Cooke, with the Soul Stirrers. Soooo beautiful.
“Highway to Hell” – AC/DC. YES. They’ve announced tour dates for 2015. Note to self …
“I Hate Myself For Losing You” – Kelly Clarkson. Woman can sing. I love her best when she’s pissed off, like here. Her Christmas album is great, too.
“Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” – Dean Martin. Ohhhh, Dino. He’s one of those rare performers who I think is actually perfect. There is nothing wrong with him. There is nothing about him that doesn’t work. A natural performer. He was as easy onstage as he was when he was by himself – maybe more easy. I love, too, how you can hear him smiling when he sings.
“Smoke On the Water” – Deep Purple. Ha! You know, it’s all about that guitar hook.
“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele. Already a classic. And now covered by Aretha. So, you know. It’s all set.
“No One Else But You” – Brendan Benson. I adore him. He’s so prolific. I buy every single thing he does. Or at least I try – there’s so much of it. I think he’s a marvelous songwriter.
“Óró ‘Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, live at Carnegie Hall, an album I probably heard as I was emerging into this world. I don’t speak Gaelic, but I can sing this song phonetically. It’s great, too, because the whole audience in Carnegie Hall sings along. Wrote a post about this song.
“Honey Bop” – Wanda Jackson. She’s the best. So psyched I saw her live. She’s still out there, doing her thing, touring.
“Blue Monday” – Huey Lewis & The News. From their really cool (and hard to find) album Four Chords and Several Years Ago. 1. My very first concert was going to see Huey Lewis in Providence, R.I. 2. Years later, I was an extra in the video made for the Four Chords album. I’ve only been able to find one clip of it, and can’t see myself dancing up on that scaffold, but believe me, I’m there!
“Gett Off” – Prince. I love this whole album. I love him, in general. Lost … something … while one of his songs was playing. “International Lover,” to be exact, which I realize is RIDICULOUS, but I must tell the truth.
“Busted” – Ray Charles. Brill. The man is in a sorry situation.
“Piggies” – The Beatles. Damn you, Charlie Manson, for co-opting this song. Fuck you and your minions. For so many obvious reasons, but also for this.
“Ya Had Me Goin'” – Bleu. With Mike Viola, on their ELO-inspired joint album called L.E.O. Alpacas Orgling. Bleu is such a rock-star. I don’t care that he plays small clubs with 100 people there. He is a rock star. Went and saw Bleu in November of 2012. I was just starting my descent into psychosis there, and although it might not be obvious to others, I can feel the darkness roaring up at me from below in my writing there. I was in deep shit. Sometimes I want to delete all the posts from November/December 2012, as well as those from June-July 2009, but whatever, I will let them stand. Psychosis or no, it was awesome to see Bleu live. His songs touch me, and he’s wonderful in person. You should check him out!
“My Baby Likes Western Guys” – Brenda Lee. This strikes me as hysterical. Her voice is so HUGE. What the hell is happening. Does it matter? Her boyfriend “likes all the Western guys” and “has no use for her tonight.” Looks like you’ve got some problems, Brenda, for real, girl.
“The Wild Boys” – Duran Duran. Hilarious.
“Beggin My Baby” – Little Milton. One of the guys recorded at Sun Records. You can pick out the Sun Records sound out of a lineup. It’s like Motown in that way. Immediately discernible. Those who know more than I do could pontificate on what that sound really is. All I know is I know it when I hear it. Authenticity is, I guess, the key word.
“Asshole” – Eminem (featuring Skylar Grey). From his latest. Scary brilliant. So fast, so pissed. I will remember 2014 as the year I saw him in concert. He was amazing live. I like him best when he’s mad (like … really mad), but I like all Eminems. He’s an artist.
“Save the Last Dance For Me” – the great Dolly Parton. I absolutely adore her version of this song.
“I’m Ready To Go Home” – The Louvin Brothers. They’re nuts. Their harmonies are perfect. Their religion is terrifying. I love it all.
“I Saw the Light” – Hank Williams. Tap your foot, get saved. What’s it like to be such a pioneer? To be so out in front of the pack? To break new ground? To cross over to that degree, and be the first one to do it?
“Do Rae Me” – Eminem, and Lloyd Banks. Eminem’s daughter Hailey has a cameo in this one. “Hailey!” “Yeah?” “Bring Daddy his Oscar!” “Okay!” Brat. (Him, not her.)
“It’s Electric” – Metallica. From their album of covers. I think it’s a lot of fun. This one is a Diamond Head song.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” – Elvis Presley. It makes me ache. I don’t know why. He skips off the surface of the song. The pace is fast, bluegrass-y. Elvis is practically snarking his way through it, but I sense … something else going on for him. It’s complicated.
“Rollin'” – Randy Newman. He’s so wonderful. The arrangements … the piano, the strings … So melancholy.
“Black Betty” – Ram Jam. Another workout-mix favorite.
“Little Red Corvette” – Prince. The sound of college.
“4 Carats” – Kelly Clarkson. From her super-fun Christmas album, that has covers, but also new songs. It’s a lot of fun. Girl wants a diamond ring for Christmas. Don’t disappoint her.
“Crazy On You” – Heart. Absolutely killer opening guitar. I mean, the whole song really … The Heart women out-tomcat their male counterparts, and it’s thrilling. Their songs are like, “Don’t care what your name is, just do me now, and do it right.”
“A Swingin’ Safari” – Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra. WTF. I’m not complaining, but still. WTF.
“Do You Love Me Now” – The Breeders. These girls were bad-asses. I still miss them. This is a great song.
“1816, The Year Without a Summer” – Rasputina. Talk about bad-asses. I LOVE THEM.
“Down On Love” – Jamie Dunlap. I feel you on that.
“Four Till Late” – Robert Johnson. Goosebumps. All over my body.
“Reet Petite” – Jackie Wilson. I mean … really? He was on another plane. Untouchable.
“Fuck Her Gently” – Tenacious D. “I’m gonna fuck you softly, I’m gonna screw you gently, I’m gonna hump you sweetly, I’m gonna ball you discreetly …” So stupid. So funny.
“The Likes Of Me” – Pat McCurdy. Hey, Pat, where you been? Usually you’re extremely bossy on my iPod. Now, not so much. He’s an old friend. We’ve been through a shit-ton together. Although you’d never know it from this. If you live in the Wisconsin/Minnesota/Illinois area, go see him live. It will be like attending a cult meeting, just know that going in. I am a long-time member of that cult. I appear on one of his albums, he wrote a duet specifically for us – which pretty much captures/describes the excitement of that whole time (we sang the song facing each other in a little studio in Milwaukee – a live take, the two of us together, and if I recall we only did one take), I’m thanked in the liner notes for another album called Fainting With Happiness, I performed with him at the Milwaukee Summer Fest for thousands of drunk lunatics, that’s how involved in the cult I am. But trust me: he’s incredible.
“Suddenly Seymour” – Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, from Little Shop of Horrors. It makes me cry. Every damn time.
“Lookin’ Back” – Bob Seger. Live. Awesome. Lester Bangs wrote an interesting essay about Bob Seger.
“Bon Voyage” – Jane McGarrigle, Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Painful and so beautiful. As always, when the McGarrigle sisters come up, I must point to Lian Lunson’s gorgeous concert film, Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle.
“Dream a Little Dream” – Robbie Williams and Lily Allen, a dreamy romantic duet, from his latest swing album, Swing Both Ways, which I adore.
“Sweet Transvestite” – Tim Curry, from Rocky Horror. This song used to be played at high school dances and everyone would strut around singing the lyrics. Was this normal?
“He’s a Man” – Madonna, from the Dick Tracy soundtrack. One of my favorite songs of hers, ever. This is my favorite Madonna Era.
“Kokomo” – The Beach Boys. You know what? They’re timeless.
“My Little Shirtwaist Fire” – Rasputina. Like I said: I love these chicks. Who else does a song about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? And it’s a great song.
“House of the Rising Sun” – Jerry Reed, doing a cover. It’s eerie. I almost prefer it to the original. Listen to that guitar.
I guess there’s as good a place to stop as any. Jerry Reed is always a good place to stop.