Blizzard iPod Shuffle

Our blizzard is melting, although mountains of hard ice still mark the land. But it’s so mild today that the melting snow outside sounds like it’s raining. The wind roared all Saturday, the snow pouring down in heavy horizontal waves. It was cozy, yet I feared I might lose power (many in my area did), so I had lots bottled water, and candles and all the rest. Listen, I went through Hurricane Sandy (plus the 20 other hurricanes I’ve endured in my life) so I’m a hardened veteran of this crap. Played music and puttered about. Haven’t done one of these Shuffle things in a while and people seem to enjoy them.

Here goes.

“My Way” – Sex Pistols. As Lester Bangs noted: It came from “nowhere” and because of that it reaches a sort of Zen of absurdity and perfection.

“Paranoid Android” – Radiohead. Radiohead is so intimately connected with a very specific “season” in my life when I was hanging out with this crazy crowd of photographers and soldiers and financial traders and poets … They were all friends with each other. And I fell so in love with one of them that it ruined my life for a while. It was like an enchantment, like a spell had fallen over me. To be fair, it happened to him too. Here’s the essay I wrote about the night we met. From when I used to write with regularity about the Men who Swirled Around me in a Tango of Passion. So I had to let that guy go (even though it never really started) and I found it really hard, because I so rarely like ANYONE that when I DO like something, it’s akin to a brick wall falling on my head. So Radiohead is actually – still – too wrapped up in that time and brings it all back.

“Magic Carpet Ride” – Bedlam. From the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, of course. Quentin Tarantino has a way of co-opting songs to such a degree that you can never hear them again without thinking of the movie.

“The Tourist” – Radiohead. Are you fucking kidding me.

“Beatnik Beach” – The Go-Go’s. Listen to Gina on drums. For me, it’s all about those drums.

“Why Don’t You Do Right” – Sinéad O’Connor. The woman who threw away her own career. But I don’t care. Ripping up the picture of the Pope was the most Punk-Rock thing imaginable and good for her. I’ll follow her anywhere, even through her dirge-like religious double-album (oh, Sinéad, no) and her reggae phase (thank God that’s over). “Why Don’t You Do Right” is big-band sound, sexy as hell, and she’s phenomenal, a great version of the classic song.

“Beauty School Dropout” – the Glee cast cover. It’s dippy and very entertaining. They don’t re-imagine it, but it’s still a lot of fun.

“Money Changes Everything” – The Brains. Written by Tom Gray. It’s punk-rock. Of course now it’s known as the Cyndi Lauper anthem of greed. In the QA with Greil Marcus I attended, he talked at length about the song, and the “battle of the bands” between Lauper and Grey that has lasted 30 years now.

“Bliss” – Tori Amos. I saw her at the Park West in Chicago right before Little Earthquakes was released. In other words, right before the Wave of Tori hit. In a matter of months, she wouldn’t be playing small venues like Park West and she’d sell out huge venues in minutes. She is an unforgettable performer – and at the Park West she didn’t even have a band with her. It was just Tori and her grand piano, whom she referred to as “she” and “her”.

“The Waiter” – Bleu. Oh, Bleu, how I love thee. He’s a rock star like Freddie Mercury, he has that scale, only nobody (except his fans) know who he is. He plays tiny clubs with 100 seats. I went and saw a benefit concert he gave at Rockwood Music Hall (all benefits going to Hurricane Sandy victims), and he was amazing. Such a wonderful songwriter.

“Why Wasn’t I More Grateful?” – the great Maria McKee. Boy, can this woman sing. I’ve been following for years, and we’ve become friends in the last 5 years or so (she and her husband came to the workshop reading of my script in Los Angeles), life is funny like that. She’s a beautiful artist. You should see the movies she’s made with her husband Jim Akin, too. They’re gorgeous: The Ocean of Helena Lee and After the Triumph of Your Birth.

“Let’s Be Friends” – Elvis Presley. A snooze-fest from his final film Change of Habit. There are only a couple of songs in Change of Habit (where Elvis appears opposite Mary Tyler Moore) – and it’s a fine film, actually. The first time we see Elvis, he’s sitting in an apartment with a bunch of hot groovy women, having a sing-along of “Rubber Neckin’.” But other than that, the songs are bad.

“Heart of the House” – Alanis Morissette. I love/scorn her. I’ll buy whatever she does. Because there are always gems alongside the wordy-weird-syllable-break songs. This is a beautiful ballad, with some dumb lyrics (“my Tinkerbell tendencies.”) Like I said: love/scorn.

“Strange Brew” – Cream. Perfect for dry-humping with someone on the couch.

“One Step at a Time” – Brenda Lee. Fabulous. SWING IT, BRENDA. Brenda Lee set records that were not broken until Madonna came along. She was as big as it gets.

“One Love” – the Glee cast cover. It’s pretty fabulous. Two men doing a duet. One of my favorite things, the blend of male voices. It’s so rare nowadays and I miss it, happy when two men decide to do a duet.

“Ave Mary A” – Pink. She’s so awesome. What a voice. She sounds like herself. A rock ‘n’ roll star. Not too many show-offy trills. She doesn’t need them. She has her passion and her desire to express herself.

“She’s In Love With the Boy” – Trisha Yearwood. Sentimental clap-trap. Chickens pecking the ground, etc. But it has a certain charm.

“I Am What I Am” – Jerry Lee Lewis, live in 1986. The crowd is WILD, because you know why? It’s Jerry Lee fucking Lewis. “I was just born country … but I was raised on rock ‘n’ roll ….” It’s thrilling. It’s a joke, it’s defensive, it’s aggressive: “One fact for sure: I’ll never change.” Please don’t, wild man.

“Burnin’ Love” – Elvis Presley. The sexually explosive song was a staple in his 1970s concerts, calling to mind the sexually explosive young man from 20 years before. The audience went nuts. This is a live track from a 1975 concert in Dallas which should put to rest forever (although I know it won’t), the idea that the 1970s were a long slow steady decline for Elvis. Bullshit. I’m not saying he wasn’t sick, and that he didn’t give some lackluster performances, but to say it was all worthless is just not true.

“The Weight of a Man” – Russell Crowe. I’m sure everyone knows he has a band (or had?), and I have one of their albums. Some of his songs sound like Irish traditional music (or Irish-Lite), and folk music. It’s pretty cheesy and “vulnerable” but there’s something pleasing about it too.

“Advertisement in the Voice” – Good Rats. If you grew up in Long Island in the 70s/80s, you knew The Good Rats. I did not grow up in Long Island in the 70s/80s. But after seeing the film Roadie (and LOVING IT), I fell in love with the band (because this song plays a huge part in one scene). I loved Roadie so much that I wangled my way into a conversation with the producer at a Tribeca screening, and he put me in touch with Ron Eldard, the star of Roadie, and an under-sung Leading Man if ever there was one. I thought he gave one of the best performances of the year in Roadie. I had loved him ever since I saw him in that small part in Sleepers, when I thought, “WHO. is THAT.” Then, of course, he was tremendously touching in his semi-regular role in E.R. Interviewing Ron Eldard is a pretty funny story. It was one of my first interviews. I had no idea what I was doing AND I revere Ron Eldard, and wanted to make sure I didn’t fangirl all over him. The producer set up the interview, clearing it with Eldard, and then he gave me Eldard’s phone number to set it up. I texted Ron Eldard, introducing myself, and asked if we could set up a time. 4 days passed. I didn’t understand, and was in somewhat of a panic because 1. Roadie was opening that week. I wanted the interview to go live on the site before the opening. and 2. I was headed out on a road trip to Memphis that week, and really wanted to get it done before I left. But … he didn’t respond! I tentatively texted the producer again, asking him as nicely as I could to double-check with Eldard … The producer was extremely ambitious for the film, and loved that I wanted to cover it – nobody else was – so he clearly texted Eldard immediately and Eldard texted me back in less than 5 minutes, totally chagrined and horrified. “I AM SO SORRY. I DIDN’T GET YOUR TEXT, OR I MISSED IT, I AM SO SORRY.” I interviewed him via phone later that day. He immediately launched into another apology, and I assured him it was okay, I knew he was busy, and he moaned (literally, moaned), “You must have thought I was such a DICK.” We then had a great conversation about the film, and he loved talking about it, he was so proud of it. At the end of the conversation, I said I hoped the interview would go up in a couple of days, and because I couldn’t seem to help myself, I added, “I’m headed to Memphis tomorrow, so that’s why I had a sense of urgency about it.” He said, “What’s up in Memphis?” I said, “I’m going there for Elvis’ birthday celebration,” and he erupted, “Oh my God, that is going to be so much FUN!” “I know, right?” “You have to take so many pictures.” “Oh, I will.” And then he launched into a monologue about how much he loved Elvis, how much he had always wanted to go to Graceland (he said to me, “What I love is that Graceland is not this huge mansion. It’s a sweet homey HOUSE, and that’s perfect, right?”), and in fact he loved Elvis so much that he wrote a one-man show where he played the biggest nerdiest most compulsive Elvis fan ever. Ron Eldard told me the entire show from beginning to end, all as I was laughing and asking questions and thinking to myself, “I am so fucking glad I mentioned my Graceland trip. This is golden.” When I played back the tape to transcribe it (I didn’t transcribe that part since it was outside the proper interview), we sounded like two babbling laughing lunatics. But he was funny and enthusiastic and we ended the conversation with him saying, “This has been so fun. Thanks for your support of Roadie, and you are going to have such a blast in Memphis. I’m jealous.” So that was my interview with Ron Eldard. The result of said interview is here. As you can see, we talked a little bit about the Good Rats, and what that band means to Long Island people (and Ron Eldard grew up in Long Island, so he knew all about it.) If the stars had aligned in a different way, The Good Rats could have gone national (LISTEN to the lead singer’s voice), but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, they remained a local band, packing in their club-dates with 100s of people, who loved them without stop for 30+ years. Not a bad record.

“Be My Baby” – The Ronettes. Classic on so many levels. That gigantic background sound, the “wall of sound”, and those voices, pushed out in front. Unmistakeable sound.

“Waitin’ In School” – Ricky Nelson. Rock ‘n’ roll filtered through a white middle-class filter, Nelson’s extremely successful “thing.” The country-boys like Cash and Perkins and Lewis and Presley came from the dirt. Nelson didn’t. He, like Eddie Cochran, wrote songs about sock hops (as opposed to Elvis’ secret “good rockin'” bash behind the barn), and school busses and cute little girls bopping around. James Burton, Elvis’ guitar in the 70s, played with Nelson, got his start with Nelson. One of the greatest guitar players ever, and he made that sound on a Fendercaster. I feel so happy/grateful that Charlie and I went to see James Burton play a couple years ago.

“She’s Not There” – the Glee cast covering the great Zombies song. I know, it’s ridiculous. I have the Zombies original too, of course! It’s a psychedelic funky ANTHEM.

“Rolling in the Deep” – the Glee cast cover. I can’t help it. I love Glee, yes for O’Malley Tribal Reasons, but that’s as good a reason as any.

“It Feels so Right” – Elvis Presley. One of his sexiest performances ever. It’s ludicrous, almost embarrassing. The song, recorded in the early 60s, ended up being in his ridiculously fun movie Tickle Me, where Elvis’ performance is outRAGEOUSLY sexual. Women literally melt, and fall apart. And what is he doing? Nothing, really, but standing there and being himself. I wrote a whole post about that performance.

“Baby Let’s Play House” – Elvis Presley. One of his first national hits. With Scotty Moore’s brilliant guitar lick and its controversial pre-marital-sex-demand lyrics. Keith Richards writes about trying to re-create Scotty Moore’s lick in “Baby Let’s Play House” and being unable to do it. It remains a mystery – even to a great player like Richards.

“B.O.S.T.O.N.” – Bleu. One of my favorites of all of his songs. And not just because my whole family comes from Boston. It expresses a kind of connection to one locale that I think everyone could relate to. It doesn’t matter how far you move, and it doesn’t matter where you were born: there are places where you feel connected, places you call home. I’ve lived in the New York area for 20 years, but I feel more connected to Chicago than any other place on earth. Here’s the song. Enjoy. You’ll see what I meant above: Bleu is a Rock Star and barely anyone knows who he is.

“UR” – Alanis Morrisette. Okay, this is the Alanis that drives me crazy. And yet, ugh, I love it too. I can’t bear the confusion!

“Bad Connection” – Everclear, from their really fun album of covers (where they cover the theme song to Land of the Lost to great success). Lots of fun stuff, including this cover of the Yaz song that was a college favorite for my group of friends.

“Dreams” – Fleetwood Mac. Rumours is a perfect album. Not too many albums are.

“I Love U” – Eminem. I love his “love” songs. They’re so fucked up. Understatement. And they’re all about Kim. He’s been making music for 20 years. Longer. She’s his lone female figure. There’s nobody else. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were still hanging out on the down-low, doing their messed-up thing that obviously was addictive to them both. They’ve already been married twice. Their daughter is a high school graduate now. They’re in their 40s now. I’d lay money on late-night hook-ups, and the press isn’t on his ass so much, so they could fly under the radar. This is pure speculation (and please don’t waste any more time writing about this, Sheila!), but the sheer amount of songs he has written about her rivals Yeats’ poems for Maud Gonne, which also spans about 20, 30 years of time.

“Back to My Music” – The Good Rats. What are the odds. Out of 11,000+songs … I only own about 5 Good Rats songs. Two in one cluster? Yet another great rock anthem, as good and catchy as any 70s rock of the Superstars of the day.

“Twenty Flight Rock” – Eddie Cochran. I love him so much. He didn’t go down on the plane with Buddy Holly et al, but he died in a car crash the following year. It must have felt, to the fans, like a Cruel God was picking off favorites one by one. Cochran was as gorgeous as Elvis. And I don’t say that about too many people. He also wrote songs, similar to Nelson’s (although with a raw-er voice), about kids sneaking around, making out in movie theatre balconies, etc. Just wrote a post that co-stars Eddie Cochran. This particular song describes a guy dating a girl on the 20th floor and the elevator’s broken but he has to get up there!

“Colonel Fraser” – Jerry O’Sullivan. A crazy genius on the uilleann pipes. And as always, whenever a new Shuffle starts, I know it’s just a matter before the Irish show up.

“Geek Stink Breath” – Green Day. As my brother said once, as much as he liked Green Day when they first came out, it always felt like Punk-Rock-Lite to Bren (who had cut his teeth on The Replacements and The Clash and all the rest). And he also said, when American Idiot came out (which he LOVED, and which my nephew Cashel memorized, every last word), “If anyone had told me 20 years ago, that Green Day had THIS in them, and would come out with an album that captured a complex zeitgeist, I wouldn’t have believed you.” And he was a FAN of Green Day. But I agree. Listen to “Geek Stink Breath,” early-ish Green Day. It has a heavy-grind to it, that heavy sound they can get … but it feels a bit stock. Grunge-punk stock.

“Will Ye Go, Lassie” – The Irish Tenors. As much as I like Irish traditional music sung by people who know how to sing, I can’t get my dad’s scorn out of my mind. An Irish nationalist, an Irish literature scholar … he always got annoyed when he sensed the Irish were “jumping on some bandwagon” or other. He felt the same way about the Irish famine memorials. God, he was funny. No sacred cows for him.

“Let the Good Times Roll” – the ferocious and gorgeous and unforgettable Link Wray.

“Emotion” – Brenda Lee. Power pipes. Love her belt. She could make it rough, she could make it longing and feminine. But a belting alto, not a soprano. Makes a difference in sound/feel.

“Here in the Deadlights” – Brendan Benson. Along with Bleu, one of my favorite songwriters right now. I first discovered him because of that iPod commercial years ago. It was “catchy.” I bought the song. But then I discovered more. I discovered so much gold. Best: he’s prolific. He comes out with an album a year, practically. He’s incapable of writing a boring song. He’s writing great pop songs, and, like Bleu, he doesn’t have “name recognition.” Doesn’t matter. He’s amazing.

“Bad” – U2. Edge’s guitar-sound. Would U2 be the same without it? No.

“1816, the Year Without a Summer” – the crazy band Rasputina. Dark intense girls. I think they’re still around, but I lost track of them. I love their songs. Unclassifiable. Huge.

“Express Yourself” – the Glee cast version of Madonna’s empowerment anthem. Nope. It sounds thin, a re-tread. Sometimes it happens. The GUTS are left out.

“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” – Amanda Seyfried, from the Mamma Mia! movie, which I loved. The movie was obviously meant to be a stupid romp, where ABBA is the real star, with fun and energy-charged covers of the songs everyone knows. Criticizing it would be like criticizing a cupcake. Silliness is a virtue sometimes.

“Shame” – The Eurythmics. From Savage, my favorite album of theirs. Creepy. Bizarre. These songs are in my DNA. We listened to it so much in college that it’s incredible I’m not sick of it.

“Victoria Radio Ad 1956” – Elvis Presley, Southern accent still thick and chewy (soon he would lose it, mostly). This is a radio ad for RCA Victor, special new-fangled record players being sold, with free Elvis songs included. “Hurry while this great offer lasts, friends. See you in the movies when Love Me Tender comes to town.” Yes, sir.

“Last Days of Disco” – Robbie Williams. A superstar. Another prolific genius, like Brendan Benson, although he plays stadiums and outdoor concerts that break records set by The Stones, etc. I love him so much. What an improbable career: how many people “go solo” after being in a silly Boy Band? Ricky Martin. Justin Timberlake. Robbie Williams is like that.

“Apologize” – Timbaland (featuring OneRepublic). From that phenomenal Timbaland album Shock Value. Not a bad song on it. Great and diverse collaborations, incredible songs.

“Rags to Riches” – Elvis Presley. Sing OUT, Louise. From Elvis’ great country album from the early 70s, basically thrown together, but one of my favorites. Here, he’s in Tom Jones crooner mode, and it fits. He sounds amazing.

“Kiss Your Man Goodbye” – The Everly Brothers. God, they hit the spot. Always. So influential it can’t even be measured.

“Angels From the Realms of Glory” – from Annie Lennox’s fantastic Christmas album.

“Paddy On the Railway” – The Dubliners. The music of my childhood, although we were more a Clancy Brothers family.

“Baby Let’s Play House” – Elvis Presley, a live recording from a Louisiana Hayride show. He’s a star now, but fulfilling his contract (the Colonel eventually bought the contract out for $10,000). But those shows were INSANE. I’m almost afraid for the Hank Williams movie, because I love that whole era (and Hank) so much, and he also caused riots at his Louisiana Hayride performances … and I just hope they get it right. If I had a Time Machine, attending a Louisiana Hayride show would be high on my list. That, and being allowed to sit in on the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. When Alexander Hamilton made this insane 6-hour-long speech. With no notes.

“My TV and You” – VAST. I have no idea who these guys are, but this song came on when I was zipping along down Wilshire Boulevard, heading home after the first rehearsal for my script-reading workshop production. It was a high water-mark for me. And this song came on the radio. And I blasted it and zipped along those curves, feeling light as air. So I came home and bought it, and I will always think of that momentous day when I hear the song.

“Keeper of the Key” – Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley messing around in Sun Studio in what eventually was known as the Million Dollar Quartet impromptu session. Not really a Quartet though, Johnny Cash only showed up for a promotional photo. Here, Elvis accompanies Carl on guitar, whose voice aches with country-western sincerity. People talking in the background. Jerry Lee Lewis, maybe. Sam Phillips definitely. It’s also fun to hear Elvis sing harmony, which he never got to do in his real career, being a Lead Solo Singer always.

“Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” – Hugh Jackman in the celebrated revival of Oklahoma! Such a simple song, but made for a big beautiful voice. It’s lovely.

“I Got Stung” (take 11) – Elvis Presley, in the insanely productive spring-1958 session at RCA in Nashville. Elvis was headed to Germany with the Army in the fall. There was pressure to get a lot of music down, to be released during his 2 years away when he would stop recording. Elvis recorded it while on a weekend break. The songs from those session have an unmistakeable sound: loud, joyous, innocent, free, with a LOUD jangly band, boogie-woogie piano, the Jordannaires … The Colonel, whose musical taste left a lot to be desired, didn’t like the sound. Too much band, not enough Elvis. But Elvis (and his fans) loved it. Still do.

“No More Tears” – Barbra Streisand, Donna Summers. Classic. Weird, just wrote a post on Facebook about my relationship with a sociopath and how it came back into my life in an indirect way the other night with a random email … and I wrote about the break-up with the sociopath on FB and how I skipped the grief part and went into white-hot rage because he treated me so poorly I knew I didn’t deserve it. Babs and Donna in my ears: “No more tears.” He can rot in hell for all I care. So that’s what this Lady Anthem makes me think of.

“I Want You to Want Me” – Cheap Trick. Yeah, let’s lighten the mood!!

“Blueberry Hill” – Elvis Presley. Vestiges of Southern accent, this was still relatively early. “The moon stood stee-il…” Diphthongs, in other words. Later in the 70s, he turned this into a bloozy-floozy burlesque number, one of those songs he could not/refused to take seriously which is why it’s so hilarious and right. (Imagine a man in his 30s singing this adolescent song sincerely. He’d be ridiculous). So he messed it up, made fun of the lyrics (“the moon ‘tood ’till…”), laughed at himself, and did a bump and grind act that is awesome.

“The Barnyards of Delgaty” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. Ah, childhood. Ah, the old vinyl albums. My siblings and I loved these guys. Yes, it was Irish indoctrination from our parents, but I’m grateful for it. The flame and I are going to a spring-concert at an Irish Literary House in New York this Friday. It’s a place I love, have been to concerts and poetry readings there before, hanging out with my people, but it’s been years. I’ll write about it if I feel like it.

“My Way” – Elvis Presley. Very very melancholy and strangely prophetic. He performed it live from the early 70s. It’s really a song for an older man, right? Facing the final curtain? So it’s creepy to hear a man in his 30s sing it. With fame like that, you get more experience than other people, very strange experiences, that weather you. And, of course, even creepier, he actually was near the end. But whatever: it’s emotional, and he means every word, as he always did. (This is not a live recording. I’m not sure when he recorded it in the studio – or maybe in the Jungle Room, I don’t know, I should know.)

“I Ain’t Living Long Like This” – Waylon Jennings. #1. Isn’t that title hilarious and honest? #2. I love him so much I don’t even know if I can talk about it. So hot, so macho, so honest, a true Nashville outlaw, a guy who tore down the edifice, making way for himself, for Willie Nelson, for rough-er guys, bad boys, “outlaws.” Nashville, unfortunately, did not pick up the torch, and country music retreated into its strictly nostalgic and conservative form for awhile with cross-over hits watering down the style even more. Eric Church gives me hope, with his darkness and rage and humor, too, plus his big “taking on Nashville” epic song. I am sure there are more, but he’s the one that comes to mind. It’s not a redemption tale Church is selling, so beloved in American culture: he’s still in the thick of it, he sings from the thick of it. So does good old Waylon.

“The Battle of Evermore” – Led Zeppelin. As Jack Black said when he introduced them at the Kennedy Center Honors: “They wrote songs about LOVE. They wrote songs about VIKINGS.”

“Locked Out of Heaven” – the Glee cast. I’m just not sure what is happening here.

“Up the Ladder to the Roof” – The Nylons. Introduced to me by my friend Brett. This was our favorite. Brett died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2011. So the Nylons remind me of him, and bring a pang.

“Weekend” – Eddie Cochran. Planning a party on the weekend! White-bread, right, but Cochran always gives the situations a rough sexual spin. He’s not entirely safe. He’s definitely gonna give “second base” a shot. Which is why he’s rock ‘n’ roll.

“I’m Learning About Love” – Brenda Lee. Again: SWING IT, BRENDA.

“The Acid Queen” – The Who. Tommy, of course.

“There’s Always Something There to Remind Me” – Lou Johnson. Great sound, the slow jazz-y start, then the horns, and the electric guitar plunk-ing, and the back-up girls joining in.

“Kiss Me” – Yipes! Of course you’ve never heard of them. It was Pat McCurdy’s first band, before he went solo. And of course you probably haven’t heard of Pat McCurdy either – unless you live in the Chicago/Wisconsin/Minnesota area, where he probably plays 300 shows a year in regular gigs. I was a huge fan when I was in Chicago, and then we became friends … Uhm, yeah.

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I performed with him at Milwaukee Summer Fest for 3,000 wasted people, the funnest experience of my life to date, and he wrote a duet for us that’s on one of his albums. Have a listen if you’re in the mood. There are a million Pat and Sheila stories. Obvi. Eventually, we basically could communicate via ESP. Full complex conversations. There was also a teleporting incident. And neither of us were New Age-y people and neither of us did drugs. I don’t know, it was like we were forged from the same DNA strand. It was partly the Irish-ness, I think. All was understood on that elemental level.

“In Pursuit” – Pat McCurdy. Okay, Pat, get off my Shuffle. Now.

“Operator” – Manhattan Transfer. Wow. I forgot about them. Another college-era favorite.

“Swine” – Lady Gaga. This is on my workout mix.

“Without Love (There Is Love)” – Elvis Presley. This song resulted from the unbelievably productive sessions from 1968, at American Studios in Memphis – these sessions were as productive as the original Sun sessions. A double-album came out. And the songs recorded on those days (“Kentucky Rain”, “Long Black Limousine,” “In the Ghetto” and, oh yeah, “Suspicious Minds,” maybe you’ve heard of it) were all hits, and still get radio play. Iconic Elvis songs. He worked under a new producer, Chips Moman, who pushed Elvis, who made Elvis work harder, break through the “same ol same ol” thing he had been doing through the 60s (except for his gospel stuff where he still “brought it.”) These songs have as distinctive a sound as the Sun stuff, the RCA 1958 stuff. It re-vitalized Elvis for the new decade. A lot of people seem to consider Elvis’ ballads second to the rock ‘n’ roll stuff. (I know it’s not really a widespread opinion, but it is “out there” in the commentary sometimes.) But that’s silly. He was more than just one thing. He had a big huge voice and he loved showing it off. The reason why this performance of “Without Love” works in such a piercing and emotional way is that he brings himself, and his fluid flexible voice, to the table so seemingly easily – he’s TRANSPARENT. There’s not even a conscious “style” here (like, say, “Power of my Love” where he digs down into the sex stuff). He doesn’t need to “style” it up. It’s just HIM. And he goes at it with openness. He’s BLASTED open. Listen to where it starts and then where it goes to! His voice can do exactly what he needs it to do. I love this performance so much.

“Don’t Stop” – the Glee cast cover of the Fleetwood Mac song. Here, they “hit” it (they sometimes miss it). They re-arrange it a bit, infuse it with Glee-ness, the highschool-choir things. It’s a lot of fun.

“Calling Sarah” – Jellyfish. We were all so into them in my Chicago years. Short-lived band, but influential. You can hear them everywhere. Harmonies, power-pop, catchy. They were playing at the party where I did hard drugs for the first and only time.

“Warning” – Green Day. From International Superhits, when I first got into them, having no idea, like my brother, that these guys would have an American Idiot in them.

“Rag Mama Rag” – The Band. There’s just something about these guys, isn’t there … It’s like they converged every different strain of American culture into their own style, owning it, looking backwards but also forwards. Rough BOY music. Love them so much.

“Xanadu” – Olivia Newton-John. Yessssssssssss

“Land of the Lost Theme Song” – Everclear. Speak of the devil. Here it is. If you don’t enjoy this … we probably have nothing in common.

“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” – from Les Miserables. Stop whining. I’m kidding.

“That Kind of Love” – the wonderful Cliff Eberhardt. A guy you’re probably familiar with if you keep up with contemporary folk music. Which I don’t really, but a million years ago when I was living in Philadelphia, my boyfriend and I went to go see Christine Lavin (we were really into her), and some dude named Cliff Eberhardt was opening for her. We were like, “Whatever …” but from the second he walked onstage, we were captivated. I barely remember Lavin (love her, but Eberhardt stole our hearts). I’ve seen him live as much as I can. He plays the Bottom Line here from time to time. He’s a hell of a songwriter.

“Shake That Tambourine” (take 10, 16) – poor Elvis Presley, recording a song for the movie Harum Scarum. He started laughing so hard during Take 10 that they had to stop. He ROARS, he HOWLS, he GUFFAWS, he SNORTS, he WEEPS. The song is so stupid, and he’s giving it his best shot, but his sense of humor was so developed that he COULD NOT DO IT. It’s always amazing to me when I hear the finished version and he gets through it. I think they ended up having to punch-together two takes (something that almost never happened with Elvis. He was a professional. He got through things in one take). But this song was his undoing. He could not stop laughing. Good for him.

“Random Acts of Kindness” – Robbie Williams. Man knows how to write an anthem.

“Rich Woman” – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Love this album so much. It was one of THE albums of that year. Who would have thought of that pairing? I’m so glad it happened. Gorgeous blend of voices. Robert Plant said that one of the appeals of the project was that he would get to sing the harmony line, something he rarely did as lead singer. I love artists.

“Money Honey” – Little Richard. As outrageous as you would imagine.

“I Just Can’t Help Believing'” – Elvis Presley. One of the staples of his Vegas shows, with the Sweet Inspirations (including Whitney Houston’s mother) providing beautiful backup.

“Hey Louis Prima” – Brian Setzer, with his rockabilly/big-band sound. I love him so much.

“Cousin Jane” – The Troggs. These guys, man. I love Lester Bangs’ ode to them.

“Drug Ballad” – Eminem. From The Marshall Mathers LP. Groovy. “Hey, yo. This is my love song.” Got it, Marshall.

“Itsy Bitsy Spider” – Carly Simon. What the hell. No, seriously, I’m asking. What the hell. It’s kind of cute, though. (Used in the soundtrack of Heartburn.)

“Perfume” – Britney Spears. FINALLY. I’ve been wondering where the glorious Brit-Brit was hiding herself. I love it all. To quote Britney herself, “Gimme More.”

“Just Leave Everything to Me” – Barbra Streisand as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! She sings the hell out of this song. Not a surprise. She was (is) a phenom.

“Are You Ready For the Country” – Waylon Jennings. YES WAYLON I AM BRING IT.

“Bits and Pieces” – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. I couldn’t love her more if I tried. I’m so glad I “came up” in the world with chicks like her in the Top 40. With Debbie Harry. And Chrissy Hynde. And Cyndi Lauper. Before Madonna (love her, but the effect she had was catastrophic on these alternative voices) took over the airwaves and re-formed what women stars were supposed to be doing and presenting. I love those rough tough girls.

“The History of Wrong Guys” – Annaleigh Ashford from Cyndi Lauper’s (speak of the devil!) Broadway musical Kinky Boots. I haven’t seen it but I am devoted to the soundtrack. So excellent. I’d love to hear Cyndi record some of them, including and especially this one.

“Bang! Bang!” – Liz Phair, from the album that appeared to baffle everyone, Funstyle. I love it. Seems to be inspired by … Bollywood musicals? Go Liz. The singer who put my Gen-X 20s experiences into words better than anyone else ever did. It was as though she had stolen my diaries. “Fuck and run”, yeah, oops. I’ll follow her anywhere. She didn’t “sell out,” you yahoos. She grew and changed, she’s in her 40s now, she’s a mother. If she kept singing “Fuck and Run” she’d just be a Nostalgia Act.

“Let It Rain” – Ok Go. I was into them before they “hit.” They put out these little weird LPs with, like, 3 songs on them. I love them, and I’m happy they’ve found this wider audience. They deserve it.

“Besame Mucho” – The Beatles. The Beatles aren’t really represented on this Shuffle so far and the first time they show up, it’s with THIS? Really?

“The Colors of My Life” – Jim Dale and Glenn Close, from the Broadway musical Barnum. I love how revealing an iPod Shuffle can be. You can’t maintain your mystique. You can’t protect yourself. And why would you want to? That’s the fun of Shuffle. You can’t control it. I saw Barnum on Broadway in high school, with Glenn Close still in the role, and Tony Orlando (yes, THAT Tony Orlando) in the lead role. He tightrope-walked across the stage, people, while singing. I will always always admire Tony Orlando for that feat. He’s not a circus performer like Jim Dale. He had to WORK that shit. He did a wonderful job.

“Heaven” – The Eurythmics. Another one from Savage. This droning repetitive song was often blasted at college parties and we’d all zone out dancing on the “dance floor” (i.e. someone’s ratty living room).

“Keep Holding On” – Avril Lavigne. Don’t tell me what to do, Avril.

“(Every Time They Play) Our Song” – the great Wanda Jackson. So glad I went to see her play at Maxwell’s. Pioneer. Rock ‘n’ roll. One-time girlfriend of Elvis. A rockabilly girl pioneer. “Hey, they aren’t writing songs for a girl. Hell, I guess I’ll have to do that for myself.” That’s how change is made. You can’t wait for the Establishment to do it for you or to say, “Hey, come on in, we welcome you.” That’s not how you get into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

“Train in the Distance” – Paul Simon. Beautiful. Paul Simon’s favorite Elvis song is “Mystery Train.” I think I hear that influence in the opening section.

“Peace in the Valley” – Elvis’ heartfelt hymn, with Jordannaire backup. He recorded this in 1957 after performing it on the Ed Sullivan Show in his last appearance. Imagine that: the country was in an uproar about Elvis’ sexuality. His records were being smashed by Deejays. He was being crucified in the press, from the pulpits. He did perform some of his hits on the Ed Sullivan Show (filmed from the waist up, famously), but what his final number? A sweet and heartfelt religious song. Can you imagine? It would be as if Eminem, in the midst of the furor surrounding The Marshall Mathers LP appeared on David Letterman singing “That Old Rugged Cross,” totally straight, and filled with the love of God. Can you imagine how that would have gone over? The confusion? Is he … making fun of us? Is he … trolling us? But no … look at how much he means it … and so boundaries started dissolving, disappearing. That’s what happened when Elvis sang a hymn on the Ed Sullivan Show. It wasn’t manipulative on his part. Or maybe it was. But it came from a sincere place. He loved this song. Religious music was his favorite kind of music. But when he sang it on the Ed Sullivan Show, and Ed Sullivan came out afterwards, shook Elvis’ hand and announced to the audience (and America), “This is a decent young man” – the entire public conversation changed. Everyone embraced him. Grandmas and teeny-boppers. Crazy.

“Maximum Overdrive” – The Troggs. Strange: a kind of 80s synthesizer sound added, but the voice is still gritty groggy punk-rock, sneering and snarling.

“About a Girl” – Nirvana. Great fucking song.

“Gas Panic!” – Oasis. I wish I liked them more.

“Master of Puppets” – Metallica. This is from S&M, their great album recording of the concert they gave with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Hearing their songs backed by 80 violins, and horns … it’s unbelievable. In the liner notes, a violinist is quoted as saying that in all his years of playing the famous classical symphonies, he never had to change his shirt at intermission until he played that show.

“All Through the Night” – Cyndi Lauper. High school. Tormented longing high school feelings. Being in love, but nobody wanted that from me. Nowhere for the feelings to go. That’s what this song is to me. I found it comforting. I could release those feelings into the song.

“Freedom to Stay” – Waylon Jennings. So authentic. I think that’s one of the things that really gets me about him. Once he threw off the shackles of the past, the Nashville expectations, and became himself … it’s like he never made a false move again. Because he allowed himself to be himself.

“Stairway to Heaven” – Dolly’s famous haunting version. Happy (belated) birthday to one of my favorite artists of all time.

“I Wore Elvis’ Ring” – Wanda Jackson’s kiss-and-tell song about her time dating Elvis. She always credits him with having a career at all, since he encouraged her to drop the strict country-hillbilly stuff and move into the new sound that had no name yet. “He’s why I’m in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame,” she told us when we saw her play. (We saw her during Elvis Week, so it was all just a little bit too poignant to bear. I cried.)

“Another Bridge to Burn” – Waylon Jennings. This is one sorry-ass tale, Waylon.

“Good Night Irene” – Little Richard. I love it too much I don’t know what to do.

“Ou es-tu Julian?” Scala & Kolocny Brothers. This is a Belgian all-girl choir, who cover things like Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” and Radiohead’s “Creep”. I love them. Check out the Youtube clips of their concerts. They have a grandiose conductor who is a show in and of himself.

“No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age. This is some of the heaviest shit imaginable, they practically make Metallica sound light-hearted. I mean, not really, but still: HEAVY. RELENTLESS. I was so into them for about 5 seconds.

“Human Touch” – Bruce Springsteen. It’s always good to see Bruce.

“Sittin’ in Church” – the aforementioned Pat McCurdy. A great songwriter, but you’d have to attend one of his shows to really get what the Pat thing is about. It’s like a cult meeting. Here’s the opening line of this dumb song: “I’m sittin’ in church thinking about your body …”

“Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby” – Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch. A trio to die for. I love each one individually, and they are heaven together.

“In the Lost and Found” – Elliott Smith. I think of him and I think Ouch, man, just ouch. Even in a song like this, with a sweet melody, the despair is palpable.

“Jewels & Drugs” – Lady Gaga, with a little help from T.I., Too $hort & Twista. I don’t know what’s going on here at all but I like it.

“Money (That’s What I Want)” – The Beatles. Now that’s more like it. Greil Marcus went into the song and its history in depth in that QA I attended.

“San Francisco Mabel Joy” – Waylon Jennings. Any time Waylon elbows his way in as much as he has in this particular Shuffle, I’m happy. But I’m wondering where the Rolling Stones are hiding?

“Rocket Reducer No. 62” – the awesome MC5. “JOIN US IN SONG, BROTHERS AND SISTERS.” Will do, you wild motherfuckers.

“Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga. When she first started “hitting” and taking over our air-waves. It still works. I’ve heard it 5,000 times by sheer osmosis, but I still love it. Another on the workout mix.

“Broken Boy Soldiers” – The Raconteurs. You know, it has a great sound. It’s all bombast, all boy-bombast, but I like boy-bombast.

“Back In Black” – AC/DC. Talk about boy-bombast. Crank it up to 11!

“Late In the Evening” – Paul Simon. I love Paul Simon but going from AC/DC to Paul Simon does not work at all.

“Angel of the Morning” – the great Nina Simone. What an interpreter. She takes songs written by other people, and makes them so her own that she obliterates the original.

“Reilly’s Daughters” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. From their Carnegie Hall album. My siblings and I memorized every word. We didn’t even know what we were TALKING about. It didn’t matter. This music was OURS.

“The Sound of Your Cry” – Elvis Presley. A gorgeous ballad, totally melodramatic, and probably hard-core 1950s-only fans were upset by this kind of thing. But my God, it’s glorious. He had that VOICE, why shouldn’t he show it off? He WAS melodramatic.

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones. Finally! Shuffle ain’t shuffle without at least one Stones appearance.

“My Apocalypse” – Metallica. Off the Death Magnetic album. It makes me re-think my comment about Queens of the Stone Age. This is heavy as hell, made even heavier by how fast it is. Nobody’s faster than them.

“Sleepless Nights” – The Everly Brothers. While I love their sweet ballads (those heavenly harmonies), I like it best when they rock. And when they’re slightly pissed.

“Wives and Lovers” – Jack Jones. If you want to get a sense of the psychotic atmosphere of the 1960s aimed at women, and how widespread it was to the point that it’s Official Propaganda, listen to this shit. Fuck YOU, Jack Jones.

“The Reminder” – my gorgeously talented sister Siobhan O’Malley, off her album Alibi Bye.

“Jailhouse Rock” – Queen, paying tribute to The King at Wembley Stadium. It’s ferocious.

“Duke” – Stevie Wonder. This reminds me of the summer Mitchell and I became fast friends, and we would cruise around in my car, going to Dairy Queen, head to the movies, and then go have breakfast at Bickford’s at 11 p.m. We blasted “Duke” constantly, singing along at the tops of our voices, as we drove around in that gorgeous summer loop.

“You Rascal You” – Cab Calloway. I love these guys.

“If I Could” – Seal. This whole album reminds me of one of my college boyfriends. We had this tempestuous 1950s-type relationship. What was our first date? We went to go see Fatal Attraction, screaming and clutching at each other in sheer terror. Then we went to the beach and made out. Then I drove him home, blasting this Seal album. Listen, music leads to Memory Lanes. Sue me.

“Circus” – The Candybutchers. This is Mike Viola’s band, and how I first got into him (he is mostly solo now, although he sometimes collaborates with the aforementioned Bleu). He’s an awesome songwriter. They came out with a couple of albums. Check them out. I got into them because of my cousins and siblings who were obsessed. Siobhan (my sister, see above) opened for Mike Viola once. Imagine: opening for one of your idols, the person who inspired you most. It was such a cool evening.

“My Fault” – Eminem. From the Slim Shady LP. Yes, Marshall, it IS your fault that you gave that girl all those mushrooms. At least you acknowledge it. But the thing about this song is: He jokes and snarks about this girl OD-ing (he’s being a brat, trying to shock people because that’s his thing), and he plays the girl too … and paints this whole picture of this crazy party where the girl flips out. As the song fades out, shit gets real, and he starts sobbing and shaking the girl, “I’m sorry! WAKE UP. OH MY GOD. SOMEONE HELP. I’M SORRY.” It’s real. A classic hat-trick from Eminem. Or maybe not hat-trick. He pulls the rug out from underneath the people who are laughing as though it’s a joke.

“Black to Comm” – MC5’s 8-minute anthem, recorded live. The sound sucks, the voices are buried, with some fuzz on them, distortion, the guitar blaring on one side … and it’s all part of the sound. It’s an experience more than it is a song.

“Daddy Sang Bass” – Johnny Cash. Real country-gospel. So wonderful and authentic. Cash couldn’t be anything but authentic, perhaps his greatest gift, even more so than his song-writing, although it’s probably a tie.

“I Love You Porgy” – Nina Simone, live. It’s unbearably gorgeous. I have a hard time with Nina Simone sometimes. I can’t listen to her casually. She forces me to “go there”. I am not allowed to skip off the surface of her songs, and just “enjoy” them passively. She won’t allow it. She was a great artist.

“Womanizer” – Britney Spears. A favorite Britney tune. I have no idea what’s happening. It’s all about the beat. Another workout-mix song.

“Mary” – The Death Riders. Cheery!

“Last Hit” – Eminem & High and Mighty Trilogy. Fun and clever: I love the internal rhymes, always half the fun with these guys: the sounds they find in familiar words.

“Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash” – Huey Lewis & the News, from their great tribute album, “Four Chords and Several Years Ago”. Paying tribute to the r&b songs from the 1950s/60s that inspired them. Huey Lewis was my first concert ever. Years later, out came Four Chords and … well, I was an “extra” in their music video for the album. It was SUCH a fun day. You can’t see me in the video, but I know just where we were. Here’s a link.

“Jesus Children of America” – Stevie Wonder. Good Lord, Innervisions is a great album. Every track a classic.

“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” – Kenny Rogers. This song is hot hot hot. Of course now OWNED by that dream-sequence in Big Lebowski, but it’s nuts even outside of that hallucinatory memory.

“Let Me Go Lover” – Dean Martin. A perfect singer. My fave of all of those guys. Yes, Frank is awesome. But Dino has my heart in a way Frank does not. One of the things I love so much about Dean Martin is you can hear him smiling as he sings. It’s so comforting. Or, soothing is a better word.

“Daniel and the Sacred Harp” – The Band. I find them spooky. In a good way. There’s something hard-bitten about them, rough lives, a sense of mortality, and yet … the nostalgia running through it all, a love of the old medicine shows and carnival shows and playing little honky-tonks … the off-the-beaten-track rhythms of so much of American life … which maybe they could perceive with more clarity due to the Canadian-ness of some of them? These guys are not white-washed or packaged in any way whatsoever. I mean, just watch them talk about groupies and sex on the road in The Last Waltz to understand just how much tail these guys got collectively. They’re almost shame-faced about it, giggling like naughty kids. But there’s a sweet heartbreaking quality to that sound … Greil Marcus wrote a chapter on The Band in Mystery Train and I highly recommend it.

“Country Clown” – Louie Doctor Ross. One of the Sun Studio recording artists. You can pick the Sun sound out of a lineup. The slap-back. The sense of it being a moment captured in time, nothing “fixed” in the editing process. This is raw and stripped down: his voice. A harmonica. A guitar. No drums.

“It’s Not Easy” – The Rolling Stones. Off of Aftermath. Epic. The echo on their voices make them sound impossibly far away, Rock Star Gods. But with the grinding accompaniment underneath, those simple chords, blues chords. It’s rough and dirty and self-aware all at the same time … one of their “things” as a band.

“Shady Narcotics” – Eminem. With his posse, Obie Trice and D12 and all the other Usual Suspects. Macho Assertion.

“U.S. Male” (take 1) – Elvis recording a Jerry Reed song, with Jerry Reed playing accompaniment. It’s a goof, a parody of the male chauvinist, asserting his “property”. Elvis knew how funny it was, and poured it on. He makes the guy sound macho as hell, and yet also clues us in that the guy is not the brightest bulb. In one take, as the song fades out, you can hear Elvis improvise: “I’m a U.S. Male. I’m an AMERICAN U.S. Male. That’s M-A-L-E, son.” hahaha Yes, if you’re a U.S. male, then that automatically means you’re American, and we know it’s not spelled “M A I L”, so why are you being aggressive about it … Oh. Cause you’re a little bit dumb. That was all Elvis. And boy, Jerry Reed is a maestro.

“I Saw Her Standing There” – The Beatles. Out of their whole catalog, this one is probably my favorite. Definitely Top 5. I’ve listened to it, on average, at LEAST once a week ever since I first heard it – when I was probably 5 years old, I probably heard it in the womb, too … and I am never sick of it. I never skip it. Ever. That’s crazy, when you really think about it.

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17 Responses to Blizzard iPod Shuffle

  1. “Every time she hits that kick drum, play a note.”

    Richard Gottehrer’s full instructions to Kathy Valentine on how to play bass on a Go-Go’s record.

    If you’ve never you-tubed the Go-Go’s’ Palos Verdes High School concert Sheila, you should consider it any time you need a pick-me-up or proof that Gina Schock was sent by God to disseminate joy.

    • sheila says:

      NJ – I have never seen the high school concert and I most definitely will. Thank you!!

      and that instruction to Kathy is fascinating – where did you hear that? Is there a Behind the Scenes with the Go Gos book I don’t know about?

      I love the bass-line on Beatnik Beach, too, come to think of it.

      • The quote is from the liner notes of the 30th anniversary edition of Beauty and the Beat (highly recommended for audiophiles..and I’m usually not one).

        If you don’t feel like looking it up, you can link to the concert at my site here…http://theroundplaceinthemiddle.com/?p=5195.

        There’s a great scene at the end where they’ve left the stage in total triumph and total exhaustion and then realize the crowd is going to stomp the place down if they don’t go back out. They look like they can barely stand up and by the time they hit the stage again you’d think nobody could have kept them off it. Ah youth (and professionalism…and adrenaline!)

        And Gina and KV were the last truly great rock and roll rhythm section. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!

  2. Abigail says:

    Sheila, I enjoy your iPod shuffles and this was great. Some stuff I love and as always there is lots I don’t know. I hoped it help you cope with the weather. Is your version of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables sung by Michael Ball (the original 1985 London Marius)? To me his is the definitive version and can always make me cry. Accept no substitutes!

    • sheila says:

      Abigail –

      Yes, it’s the 1985 London Marius! He has such a gorgeous voice! (I’ve seen some pretty bad Marius-es – for a while there I was seeing the show a couple times a year practically because my aunt played Madame Thenardier in the national tour, so I saw it opened in Boston, then I saw it when I was living in Philadelphia, and then a year and a half later when I was living in Chicago I saw it when it came THERE – it was so many times I finally was even a little bit “ho-hum” about it. “Oh, whatever, dead bodies on the Barricade …”)

      Still: a thrilling and timeless show!!

  3. Dg says:

    Was glad to see Waylon make a strong showing here. It’s true what you said about him being the ultimate outlaw rough and tumble guy but when I hear him sing certain songs, Cloudy Days or Lay it Down come to mind, MAN does he have some vulnerability in that voice you know? A little bit of that almost crying in his voice sort of like you can hear in a lot Linda Ronstadt songs. I always found that ironic with him.

    • sheila says:

      DG – I know just what you mean about Waylon! Nobody is vulnerable like Waylon. It all seemed authentic. The rough guy was authentic, and the vulnerable man was authentic. So much contemporary country (and granted, I don’t listen to a lot of it – I like old country) makes a “show” of vulnerability – it’s somehow canned, processed. It’s not real. Waylon was the real deal.

      I love his ballads and his heartbreak. I love, too, when he puts an ironic twist on something, some sad sad tale, that lets you know he won’t be broken up TOO long. On to the next gal, the next bar, the next town.

    • sheila says:

      Also, one of the things that amazes me about Waylon is that he really had to make some conscious choices – to be his real self. I like his early stuff, for sure, but the outlaw thing set him free.

      I don’t know much about Nashville, but I do know how conservative it can be, in terms of the style “allowed.” They basically banned Elvis and the Everly Brothers, etc., from their charts – because they weren’t in control of it, didn’t approve of it, and were afraid that they were losing their grip. (One country singer from the 1950s said in an interview 30 years later, “Elvis vaporized country music.”)

      It took them 15 years to get their bearing after the hillbilly boys all went rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know much about country-western music during that time, though. I’m sure I have a lot of it – 1960s country music – before the outlaws started riding into town. But I don’t know the Story behind the Story.

      I love Waylon’s bitchy – no other word for it – song about Nashville, country-music, and Hank Williams: “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” hahahaha

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNpLSaCirj8

      I mean, he is calling Nashville OUT. And I love when he laughs, almost, at one point … he’s like, “This is absurd. How could we take what Hank gave us and turn it into THIS?”

      • Dg says:

        I’m not completely sure of the story behind the story but I’m pretty sure they all point to Willie as the one who really started the movement. And that makes sense.
        The closest thing that I can
        think of to that kind of “country” music are those great alt country bands that emerged in the nineties… The Jayhawks, Wilco, Son Volt etc.
        I’m sure you can appreciate this but I’ve really started listening those alt country bands now… Leave it to me to arrive at a scene 25 years late. But you know how when everyone is like YOU have to listen to this you will love it and you’re like yea yea I will. I seem to remember your post about The Shipping News where you resisted for as long as possible before succumbing.

        • sheila says:

          Dg –

          Good point about alt country! I was very much into those bands as well – Maria McKee’s Lone Justice also a big part of that.

          So many roads lead back to Willie, right?

          I know I mentioned in the post somewhere how much I miss men doing duets nowadays – something that used to happen all the time with the Rat Pack guys and others. But Waylon and Willie’s stuff together is also so pleasing on that level – both solo stars, “leading men,” but with such a great blend of male sounds in those songs. I love it – it’s vulnerable, singing with another man like that. Maybe that’s why more people don’t do it? I don’t know.

          // Leave it to me to arrive at a scene 25 years late. //

          hahahahaha

          I find myself in that position all the time. And yeah, sometimes it’s a contrarian thing. And then sometimes, for whatever reason, I just MISS an entire zeitgeist. Not because I’m a contrarian but because I’m a dope.

          Hence: my binge-watching of the entire X-Files series over 2015 – because I just did not participate at all the first go-round. And now I’m like, “Holy shit, this show is great.” And everyone rolls their eyes. “We know, Sheila. We know.”

  4. Jeff Gee says:

    “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” – Amanda Seyfried, from the Mamma Mia! movie, which I loved. The movie was obviously meant to be a stupid romp, where ABBA is the real star, with fun and energy-charged covers of the songs everyone knows. Criticizing it would be like criticizing a cupcake. Silliness is a virtue sometimes.

    My daughter, INSISTING that I would love this, put the DVD on. Every time I fell asleep, she’d click back five or ten minutes and wake me up. I fell asleep a lot. It took like 5 hours to get through the movie. And then there’s a fucking karaoke segment. If she’d done this to anybody but her father she would have been tried for war crimes.

    • sheila says:

      // If she’d done this to anybody but her father she would have been tried for war crimes. //

      hahahaha

      I thought it was fine. It was a big dumb cupcake where there was no cake, only frosting. Harmless. And silly.

      • sheila says:

        … although stretching it out to 5 hours would be horrifying, so I feel you on that! Get in, get out, that’s the only way the movie is any fun whatsoever.

        But I thought it was fun. I got in, I got out, no worse for wear.

  5. Melissa Sutherland says:

    Sheila, had never read your piece from 2011. God, it was gorgeous. Not easy, but so good. Maybe universal, sometimes I think not. Only to lucky ones, or unlucky ones, depending. So good. Thank you. I’ve bookmarked it to read again.

    • sheila says:

      Thanks, Melissa! Yeah, I wrote that about 9 years ago, I think? Closer to when it had actually happened. I wouldn’t write it that way now, with more distance – when I think that that experience was such a gigantic waste of time! Don’t let yourself fall in love at first sight, Sheila, this will not end well!!

      I’ve written three other pieces about that guy – every time I ran into him something crazy happened. It was like trying to have a conversation with a raging fireball. And he felt the same way about me. The last time we met in person – 2004, maybe? he said at one point, “For the safety of the rest of us, Sheila, you should be locked up in a cage.” Like I said, every time we met, something crazy happened. We both should have been locked in cages for our own safety.

      We’re friends on FB now and it’s all assumed its proper place – but I am glad that I actually wrote down what that experience felt like while I was still close to it. It’s good “evidence”.

      Thanks again!

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