Rainy Week Shuffle

It’s rained for 5 days straight. My marathon month and a half is now over. I’m taking a trip tomorrow to my home state for some much-needed R&R. I don’t even know how to relax anymore. Here’s the music on Ye Olde Shuffle from this rainy rainy week. It’s a good one.

“For Those About to Rock” – AC/DC. Well, this shuffle has started off very nicely indeed.

“Tell Me Something Good” – Matthew Morrison (from Glee). Rufus/Chaka Khan would be like: “What the hell is this.” But it’s entertaining.

“I Am a River” – The Foo Fighters. This is from their Sonic Highways project: even just the concept of it I love, let alone the music – which is innovative, beautiful. I am sure the Foo Fighters has their detractors, but I love their energy, positivity, as well as their sound. Plus the connection to Nirvana, which is what got me into them in the first place. Nirvana was dark. The Foo Fighters are light. I think Nirvana is the better band, and Kurt Cobain a superior songwriter … but at this point it’s apples/oranges. I love the Foo Fighters and have from Day One. I’m “in,” what can I say.

“Stray Heart” – Green Day. I guess after the one-two punch of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, they wanted to get back to the basics, love songs, personal songs, and maybe not … quite so angry. This is from Dos, one of my favorite tracks. Memorable tune, great bass … I mean, it won’t sweep the world, but still: when it comes on, I get excited.

“I Like Your Style” – Jim Dale and Glenn Close, from the Broadway soundtrack for Barnum. I saw this production when I was in high school, with Tony Orlando as Barnum, and Glenn Close was still in the role. My siblings and I can recite the lyrics of the entire show beginning to end. We drive other people out of rooms when we get going.

“Mr. Bojangles” – Nina Simone. Have you all read my friend Odie’s angry take-down of the Nina movie? What a train-wreck. There was a big Buzzfeed piece about how the whole debacle happened, and now everyone’s suing each other, and blaming each other, and trying to absolve themselves. It sounds like a mess and they deserve all of the scorn heaped down on their heads. I haven’t even seen it. I want to – but I am obeying my friend Odie’s command to not pay to see it. I’ll find another way.

“C’Mon Everybody” – Elvis Presley from Viva Las Vegas. This is the number done in the school auditorium, with Ann-Margret dancing along beside him. It’s a thrilling performance number, with dancers down on the floor (see if you can spot Teri Garr), and Elvis up on the stage. The thing about the pairing between Elvis and Ann-Margret is that she gave him a run for his money, and he loved performing with someone AS vital as he was. They are like twins onscreen. Watch how Elvis moves. I mean: it’s sexy … I guess … because he’s sexy in general … but it’s more hilarious than anything else.

“The Man That Got Away” – Judy Garland. Untouchable.

“You’re the Boss” – Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. Together again! They only recorded 4 or 5 songs together for Viva Las Vegas and we get (almost) two in a row? It’s a good omen. This smokin’-hot duet (listen to how she coos, “Daddy”) was deemed too hot for the movie. Also, the Colonel was increasingly upset that there was just too damn much of Ann-Margret in the movie in the first place. Regardless: we are lucky that we have the recording. If I recall correctly, the two of them were in the studio together, recording the song, so what we have is a record of that interaction. You feel like you’re in the room with them, every coo, every chuckle, the fade outs, the little improvised moments between them … You hear this song, and it makes total sense that Elvis would think, We’re gonna need a bigger bed for this.

“Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”: I. Allegro Con Brio” – Beethoven. The London Symphony Orchestra. I love it when it gets BIG.

“I’ll Never Let You Go” – Elvis Presley. Recorded at Sun. This was extremely early on. I’d have to look at the book of his recording history to get the timeline exactly straight. After “That’s All Right” hit so huge, with “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, there came a time of experimentation. A month or so, two months, as the guys (Elvis, Scotty, Bill, Sam Phillips) cast around for new songs, and how to capitalize on the “new sound” they had stumbled upon. There were some hits and misses. This is kind of a miss – and they all felt that way too. They worked it to DEATH, trying to capture what they all heard in their heads. The first half of the song is country-crooning, very slow, with just a guitar, no rhythm going on … and then … with a swoop, it speeds up, Elvis going, “WEELLLLLLL” … So it was “conceptual” (let’s start with the old and then bring in the new), and you can feel that concept (and so could they). These weren’t conceptual guys, so the song doesn’t really fit.

“Let’s Go Away For Awhile” – The Beach Boys. From Pet Sounds. You listen to this and you can honestly see why the Beach Boys heard what Brian Wilson had been working on and were like, “This is supposed to be a Beach Boys song? What the HELL.” Nobody even sings on it! It’s orchestral. Jazz-influenced. Beautiful, with that happy-sad thing they usually had going on in their melodies.

“The Galway Races” – The Dubliners. I basically had listened to so much Irish music by the time I was 8 years old that it would fill multiple lifetimes. It was the soundtrack of my childhood. Yet I still listen.

“The Fly” – U2. Speaking of Ireland. From Achtung Baby. Love that opening guitar. Crank it UP.

“Angel” – Elvis Presley. A ballad from Follow That Dream. This is the “vocal dubs” version (they went through so many takes of this damn song, and I have them all. Elvis eventually stops this one, calling out, “Bill?” I love hearing him in process.) I love Millie Kirkham’s swoopy soprano in the background (you will recall her huge contribution to “Blue Christmas.”)

“Regret” – St. Vincent. I just love her. Great songs, too.

“I’m Leavin’ You” – Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Giants.

“All Together Now” – The Beatles. From Yellow Submarine. So British.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” – The Beatles. Classic. From Hard Day’s Night. The performance of this song in the 1964 movie is one of the most thrilling in the movie – and one of the best “music videos” ever.

“Carolina, No” – The Beach Boys. Another one from Pet Sounds. How exciting! I think everyone would come out of Love & Mercy and want to give The Beach Boys another look (if they hadn’t ever given them a second thought, that is). That may be one of the most special parts of that gorgeous film. So innovative, the song ends with dogs barking and a train roaring by.

“I’m a Pilgrim Traveler” – the great Wynona Carr. She’s mostly unknown now, or at least let’s say she died in obscurity, and she should be much better known. She’s got one of those thick voices, from gospel/church. She, like Sam Cooke (and she shows up in a cameo in Peter Guralnick’s biography of Sam Cooke), started out on the gospel circuit, and, like Cooke, switched to pop/secular. I love it all. I was so excited that ’42, the Jackie Robinson biopic, had her “Life is a Baseball Game” playing over the closing credits.

“Every Tear Disappears” – St. Vincent. I am extremely pleased with this Shuffle so far.

“Fly” – Nick Drake. A million years ago, I had a brief dalliance with a woman, and I never use the word dalliance. It was more a flirtation than anything else. We listened to Nick Drake constantly. So I always think of that time when his songs come up. I hope I don’t offend anyone when I say that eventually we both said, and it was practically simultaneously: “I’m sorry. I prefer men and their hairy bodies and movable parts. This isn’t working for me. No hard feelings?” There were no hard feelings (literally. Sorry). But we were falling in love, in a way. We’re still great friends.

“Reconsider Baby” – Elvis. One of his sexiest bluesiest tracks. Boots Randolph on saxophone takes OVER the bridge, and you can hear Elvis saying stuff like, “Yeah” in the background, and making grunting noises. It’s unbelievably hot.

“If I Were a Carpenter” – Johnny and June Cash. Classic.

“Fuck Buddy Song” – Pat McCurdy. He’s a friend. The song is hilarious because it’s an angry fuck buddy who feels aggrieved and pressured. “You can’t just call and expect me to drop everything. Oh yes you can.” (You can tell how much Pat loves Gilbert & Sullivan in this track, and many others.)

“Rockin Chair Daddy” – Harmonica Frank. Recorded at Sun Records. Greil Marcus has an interesting section about Harmonica Frank in Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music and his importance to the development of rock ‘n’ roll, how he’s starting to open up that space.

“Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” – Elvis Presley. I love mature 1970s Elvis. Everyone covered this song. It’s obvious why. It’s beautiful. The wandering guitar is also beautiful and I don’t know who that is. James Burton? I suppose I could find out. Good work, whoever you are.

“Baby” – Tenacious D. SO STUPID. It’s a compliment. If you don’t find them hilarious, that’s fine. But this hits my sweet spot of humor. “Mow-ma’s been searchin’ for baby …” “Mow-ma”, Jack? Why? I don’t need to know why. It is so stupid and so funny.

“My Baby” – James Cotton. Boy, you can pick that Sun Records sound out of a lineup, can’t you? It’s as distinct as Muscle Shoals. Or Motown. We have lost that today, with tracks recorded all over the place and then put together somewhere else. But a good studio has its own sound. Is it magic? Was it Sam Phillips? Or the acoustics of that shitty little room? Who knows. RCA drove themselves crazy trying to re-create that sound for Elvis when he came over to them. They failed.

“Scoff” – Nirvana. From Bleach. Find this one thrilling, terrifying. It’s incredible, listening to this, that THIS BAND would find its way to the Top 40. It still blows the mind. It very well could have just stayed an indie underground scene. But the tension in the culture could not hold. It had to snap and something else had to come pouring through. I love this because this song is so MACHO. I never understood the sneering epithet of “whiny” thrown at Cobain back in the day. Whiny? So … “whiny” means … vulnerability? Expressing emotions? Admitting to pain? Calling all of that “whiny” is one of the many many cultural reasons that people commit suicide. So fuck all of you who called him whiny. Besides: this ain’t whining. This is loud, aggressive, rough, rage.

“Mean Woman Blues” – Elvis. From Loving You. Tom Petty said once that when he first heard this song (he was a kid), the line “She kissed so hard she bruised my lips” it filled his mind with such images as he had never even considered before. Like: So … it’s possible to … kiss so hard … you get bruises … on your Lips?? WHAT??

“In the Mood” – Bette Midler. Back when we were kids, my cousins Nancy and Susan and I worked for hours trying to do the harmonies on this and “Boogie Woogie Boy.” . It was Thanksgiving or Easter, and the family was hanging out downstairs, and we were holed up in Susan’s room, working our asses off. I love my family.

“Another Set of Issues” – Ok Go. I love them. I love some songs more than others, but the songs I do love, I go back to again and again. I hope they keep going. I’ve been “in” since their earliest days.

“Dark Horse” – Katy Perry (featuring Juicy J). I love her, although I think sometimes she’s been over-managed within an inch of her life. Listen: If I didn’t already love her, this would have put me right over the edge. Perry’s behavior during that duet, where she puts her focus, how she dials herself down in order to be there for someone else, look at Katy Perry’s body language … It makes tears well up every time.

“Jack’s Descent” – By Maria McKee and Jim Akin, part of the soundtrack to their gorgeous film After the Triumph of Your Birth.

“Last of the American Girls” – Green Day. J’adore j’adore.

“Hello Mary Lou” – Queen, performing Ricky Nelson’s song. This is from their Wembley Stadium album. Incredible to hear Freddie Mercury live, because you realize that his voice really was that stupendous: he didn’t need a studio to sound that way. I also love that Queen is performing Ricky Nelson. I mean, of course, why wouldn’t you. The guy rocked.

“What U See (Is What U Get)” – Britney Spears. Brit-Brit, don’t worry about what other people say about you. You do you.

“Never Been to Spain” – Elvis, live at Madison Square Garden (recently re-issued and re-mastered and cleaned up in Prince From Another Planet – the phrase used for Elvis in one of the reviews of those concerts). I LOVE his performances of “Never Been to Spain.” He GOES THERE. When he goes up the octave? Goosebumps. And the women literally go batshit insane in the audience.

“Don’t Deceive Me” – Little Richard. He is … literally? who cares … the BEST. I can’t imagine my life – the 20th century – the whole world – without him in it.

“Crater Lake” – Liz Phair. One of the most important voices of my generation. That may sound silly. But if you were a Gen-X person, coming of age in the 90s, hitting your 20s in the mid-late 90s, Liz Phair was the kind of voice that “we” had not had in mainstream 1980s life, dominated by Madonna (no disrespect). There was Chrissy Hynde, also very important to us in high school. Joan Jett. The tough iconoclastic outsider-women. Not corporatized or packaged. Joan Jett and Chrissy Hynde were older than we were though. Liz Phair was us, our age. I also was in Chicago when Liz Phair was there, and we ran in similar circles. The bar scene, the dingy music club scene, the arts scene. Exile in Guyville was a warning shot into a dude-heavy atmosphere. Even the album cover was alarming, a threat. And the album title was radical. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe you had to be a 20-something woman, single-ready-to-mingle, hanging out in a particular demographic with a certain kind of guy at that particular moment in time, to really groove on what Liz Phair meant. She didn’t show me the way, she wasn’t a role model, she didn’t provide me with an example to follow. No. She just spoke out what I was already going through, and I was like, “Wow. This is our dirty laundry. This is totally what’s going on with all of us right now.” I’ve written this before, but I listened to songs from Exile in Guyville, like the opening track “6’1″” – like “Johnny Sunshine”, like “Mesmerizing”, like “Stratford on Guy” or – okay, too late for TMI at this point, and besides: this is Liz Phair we’re talking about. TMI is out the window – like “Flower”, like “Fuck and Run” and – on a later album, “HWC” – the song with the title deemed too graphic for ANYONE to be subjected to and so it was turned into an acronym, and I thought: “Liz, please stop reading my diaries.” It was uncanny, how much she tapped into such a specific “scene.” A short-lived scene, sadly. And she didn’t “present” as a sex-pot. She wore flannel, and little skirts and boots or sneakers. She wasn’t “liberated” because she rolled around on the floor wearing stripper heels, which is now seemingly the only measure of liberation, and if you aren’t “cool” with all of that you’re a “prude” or “repressed”. No, she was liberated because she was honest, she had sex, good sex and bad sex, and she wrote about all of it. On her second album comes the line, “You fuck like a volcano and you’re everything to me” and it is such a romantic love song, one of my favorites of hers. Because isn’t that part of what love feels like, and IS like? BOTH things not only CAN be true at the same time but ARE true, and – in my experience – that combination IS love. Forget the WORD “love.” I don’t see what’s so complicated about it or what is so hard to understand. People still have such a problem with women liking sex or being that enthusiastic about it. Her songs aren’t all about happy-sex-times, and relationships are messy and this is Gen-X-era, so do we even … date? anymore? (There’s that stark section in “Fuck and Run” – “Whatever happened to a boyfriend? The kind of guy who tries to win you over? Whatever happened to a boyfriend? I want a boyfriend. I want all that stupid old shit, like letters or sodas.”) So sometimes you sleep with someone and you slink out of their apartment in the cold dawn, and think, “Holy shit, THAT was a mistake.” Being free to make a mistake like that IS liberation. This is a woman who knows how to say Yes. Our culture worry-warts women to death on how to say No. And knowing how to say No – not just the word, but saying it effectively – is important too. But Yes is true liberation. We still haven’t caught up with Liz Phair. If anything, we’ve regressed.

“She’s Electric” – Oasis. I never got into Oasis. I think he’s got a great rock-anthem voice, but the songs just weren’t good enough for me. This one though? I LOVE this one. It’s very British.

“Future Lovers” – Madonna, from Confessions on the Dance Floor. I stopped really paying attention to Madonna after Ray of Light (to this day, my favorite album of hers.) But this is a good album too. I’ll always at least check out what Madonna is up to.

“Long, Long, Long” – The Beatles. From The White Album. Eerie. They sound like they’re about to slip off this mortal coil.

“Memorial Day” – Pat McCurdy. One of his crowd pleasers. It’s so silly. But it gets everyone singing.

“I’m Okay” – Pat McCurdy. Okay, it’s time for you to go now, Pat!

“Are You Afraid to Die” – The Louvin Brothers. You know what, guys? I wasn’t. But after listening to this song, I am! Mission accomplished!

“What a Woman Wants” – Billy Porter and others from Cyndi Lauper’s awesome musical Kinky Boots. My favorite song in the whole thing. Thrilling.

“Underture” – The Who. From Tommy, of course. 10 minutes. You have to be in the mood.

“Long Tall Sally” – Little Richard. When he roughs up his voice? It still sounds dangerous. Like something is about to explode, something is about to shift, crack apart, forever.

“Love Is a Stranger” – The Eurythmics. Part of the soundtrack of college. Other parts of the college-soundtrack: Yaz. Squeeze. Split Enz. Prince. Joan Armatrading. Michael Jackson.

“I Better Be Quiet Now” – Elliott Smith. Listening to him makes me too sad. I can barely get through it.

“Proud Mary” – the Glee cast. Nope. Nope. Nope.

“End Over End” – The Foo Fighters. I love it when he screams. On tune. Thrilling.

“No Surrender” – Mark Salling, from Glee, in the episode “Quarterback,” in memory of Cory Monteith. Salling does an excellent job. I have no idea how these kids could get through recording these songs. Devastating.

“Thousand Times Why” – Pat McCurdy. He always did have a way of taking over. I mean that with love.

“Why Don’t You Do Right?” – Sinéad O’Connor. Fantastic. Love this album and love this big-band-sex sound. It suits her.

“Molly’s Lips” – Nirvana covering The Vaselines. From their Live at Pine Street Theatre album. You actually feel like you’re in that club, the vibe is present in the track. I so wish I had seen them live. I thought I would have more time.

“Disconnected” – Pat McCurdy. Getting pissed now, Pat.

“Everything’s Cool” – Lit. I don’t remember where I found this. It was probably on a soundtrack. Blast from the Past, maybe? I love it.

“My Poor Brain” – Foo Fighters. Off Colour and the Shape, an album that so took over my life that there was a good YEAR where I had to listen to at least one track a day. I couldn’t get enough. The Enimen Show, a couple years later, had the same effect. Thankfully, for whatever reason, I still want to listen to these albums. I didn’t wear them out. “My Poor Brain” is great. Play it LOUD. “Sometimes I feel like getting stuck – between the handshake and the FUUUUUCK”. I hear ya, boys.

“Gort to Texas to Honolulu” – Reeltime. Some Irish pipe-type thing. I don’t know. You could definitely step-dance off to Dublin with this one.

“Let It Die” – Foo Fighters. I so associate this song with the Big Bad Crackup of 2009, so bad that it amazes me that 1. I wasn’t hospitalized (I should have been) and 2. I made it through (I don’t know how). I white-knuckled that storm. I wrote half of my script that summer. It amazes me – I mean, I was there, but my memory of that summer is truly hallucinatory – how could I have had any clarity of thought to get any creative work done. But I clearly did. This song – along with Everclear’s music – were the only things I could listen to. This song spoke to me so deeply that it seemed to me that I had actually written it. Especially the vicious and great line: “Do you ever think of me? You’re so considerate.” I’ve said before that at times I have wanted to go back to June and July of 2009 on this site and take down every post because it all sounds so crazy and fragmented. But cooler heads (my own) have prevailed. Leave that shit up because thats’s me too. Here’s the Foo Fighters performing “Let It Die.” I still love this song.

“The Lamb’s Book of Life” – Sinéad O’Connor. I love it when she is a furious Irish truth-teller, like here.

“Pick a Little Talk a Little” – Hermione Gingold, Robert Preston, the Buffalo Bills, from The Music Man. (My family says “BALLLLLLLLLLLZAC” all the time. Part of the family lexicon.)

“Mamma Mia” – Meryl Streep, from Mamma Mia. I thought this movie was a ball, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with something being silly and entertaining. Critics scoffed at it. Lighten up, nerds. What were you EXPECTING from Mamma Mia? Gravitas?

“Summertime Blues” – Joan Jett covering Eddie Cochran. Heaven.

“Trouble/Guitar Man” – Elvis – the opening to his blazing and still-radical 1968 television special (the “comeback special”). It opens with an enormous closeup of Elvis, sneering, “You lookin’ for trouble?” It’s BOLD.

“She’s No Lady” – Lyle Lovett. My first boyfriend and I were so into him. We went to see him open for Rickie Lee Jones.

“My Desert Serenade (take 7)” – Elvis Presley, singing this ridiculous song from the equally ridiculous movie Harum Scarum. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Imagine seeing Harum Scarum at a drive-in, with your high school sweetheart, sitting in your dad’s car, and you can see why the movie was a hit. Most of these movies make sense ONLY in a drive-in format. They need to be understood in that context instead of just written off. These films STILL play like gang-busters at drive-ins. (This take ends with Elvis goofing off. At least he kept things fun for himself. He had a gift for that.)

“I’m Looking Through You” – The Beatles. Listen to these lyrics. This song is pretty scary.

“Crimson and Clover” – Joan Jett. High school. Joan Jett was everywhere. Thank God. We still need her. “I’m not such a sweet thing. I want to do everything. What a beautiful feeling.”

“Tiger Man” – Elvis, jamming out in 1975 at RCA in Hollywood. Everyone’s just messing around but boy, it sounds awesome.

“Rabbit Run” – Eminem. Eminem name-checking a book by John Updike? What?

“Diamonds and Pearls” – Prince. Sigh. I’ve always loved this one. Romantic. With a beautiful chorus, beautiful harmonies. I HATE THIS.

“The Wall” – Johnny Cash, at Folsom Prison. It’s amazing that he even got away with this. Singing this song in a prison to hardened criminals? The audience flips out.

“Circus” – Britney Spears. I love her and I love this one.

“Salve Regina” – The Monks of Glenstall Abbey. If you’re into eerie echoing old hymns sung in Latin, these are your boys. I have a lot of their stuff and I’m not always in the mood, especially when they come up on Shuffle, but it’s a good exercise to just stop, empty my mind (a hard thing), and listen. Just take that 2 minutes or so. It’s a deep quiet space that opens up.

“Under Pressure” – Queen, live at Wembley Stadium. Thrilling. That bass-line is one of the best hooks ever. People start screaming before anything else happens.

“Parting Gift” – Fiona Apple. I love her although I’ve not really kept up with her. My father loved her, and that thought touches me so much.

“I Got Stung (take 8)” – Elvis Presley. This RCA session lasted only a couple of days and what RICHES were the result. Elvis is on fire. Recorded while he was on leave from basic training. He would be off to Germany in a matter of months. His mother would be dead in a matter of months. I love the songs that came out of this particular session: each one special, jangly, joyous, with that innocent humor/verve that Elvis had so much of in those early days.

“All Along the Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix. Resistance is futile.

“Ghost of Stephen Foster” – Squirrel Nut Zippers. Lord, remember them? I was into them for a hot second, when the swing-dance craze returned for a brief season. I used to curl my hair and go to swing clubs and do the lindy-hop with random people. It was so fun because dancing with someone in those environments doesn’t mean “OMG do you like me?” It means “Let’s do this dance we’ve learned!” I am sure there are still swing-dance clubs and I actually have been meaning to look into it. Or maybe take some classes.

“True Love” – Pink. I was actually wondering where she was! Great voice, one of my favorites of all the current pop divas. I love her honesty. “Sometimes I want to slap you in your whole face.”

“’39” – Queen. One of my favorite Queen songs.

“Party Girl” – U2. I admit I find Bono a bit of a bore now. Sometimes. I still love U2. My sister told me that when she lived in Dublin everyone had their “obligatory Bono sighting.” It was a ritual. You weren’t a real Dubliner until you had had it. When I was there once, I had an “obligatory Colin Farrell sighting.” He was walking in the rain, smoking, and he looked like death warmed over. It was charming. This was right after Alexander. Speaking of Colin Farrell: Will be reviewing The Lobster for Rogerebert.com. Look for it. I LOVE where Colin Farrell’s career has been going.

“Let’s Pretend We’re Married” – Prince. Okay, so this SONG, right? Purple Rain hit when I was in high school, and that – along with Thriller and Madonna – were THE things happening. I was so into Prince that I went back and bought 1999. This song, in particular, blew my MIND. And it still does. First of all: The title. THE TITLE. And then the lyrics! It’s so explicit that it’s basically multiple orgasms throughout. “Let’s ball” – with that double-triple hitch in his voice, one of the dirtiest come-ons I’ve ever heard. And he can go all night, and he can go for the next seven years … But the TITLE is what really strikes me now. Brilliant. I HATE THIS.

“How Great Thou Art” – Elvis, with The Stamps, a staple of his live show, a highlight. Talk about Prince, mixing the sacred and the profane. Not even mixing them. Showing that they were two sides of the same coin. Still too radical for our time.

“Hey Hey Hey” – Stevie Wonder. His music is a natural mood-stabilizer.

“Blue Moon” – Elvis Presley. At Sun. Dave Marsh calls it “an eerie masterpiece.” It is that. Nothing else like it in his entire 20-year repertoire. And he was, what, 19, 20, when he recorded this? Nobody told him to sing it this way. This is all him. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

“Domino” – Roy Orbison. What is that clicking that happens? Whatever it is, I like it. And that guitar-line. Sexxxxxxxxxxy.

“The One” – Tracy Bonham, from her first album, and really the only album that got any radio play. It’s a terrific album: The Burdens of Being Upright. I’m still a fan, although nothing she’s done has quite topped that album.

“Bad Seed” – Brimstone Howl. Love their punk rock sound, and their blues guitars. Great mix. You definitely want to throw yourself into a mosh pit when you hear this, and take your chances.

“Hells Bells” – AC/DC. Epic.

“Running to Stand Still” – U2, live from Paris. This is beautiful.

“Blue Bayou” – Roy Orbison. I love how low it starts, and how high it gets. He loved the range of his voice, one of his ongoing arguments with Sam Phillips. Phillips wasn’t crazy about the ballads. Orbison was like, “Dude, I’ve got this voice, Imma use it.” I’m glad for that. Phillips wasn’t perfect. He had his blind spots. Really really recommend Peter Guralnick’s Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“Rock ‘n’ Me” – Steve Miller Band. I literally never think about them until they show up on Shuffle. What was their deal? Who are these people? It’s all slightly silly but I like the couple of songs I have.

“Lawdy Miss Clawdy (takes 11, 12)” – Elvis Presley. (From the great box set about Elvis in 1956: Young Man With the Big Beat.) One of the great things about hearing all the different takes is that these are all live: with the band in the same room as Elvis. So what that means is that through the takes you can hear the songs come together, the guitar solo develops, the drums figure out what they want to do, and Elvis figuring out his part. Usually Elvis was far ahead of the band, in terms of performance, and so he had to just “keep it up” for the band to catch up. It’s fascinating because it’s a glimpse of him in process. It shows just how good he was, how consistent, how efficient, how professional.

“Seasons of Love B” – Rent. That was the last show that was a Broadway “event” that was somewhere in the same hemisphere as what is happening with Hamilton right now, but Hamilton is even more of a game-changer. I love Rent, have seen it many times, but my cranky response is along the lines of: “Guys, paying rent does not equal Oppression. It means you’re an adult. Grow up.”

“Hot for Teacher” – Mark Salling performing the insane Van Halen song on Glee. It’s hilarious. Whoever is playing that guitar is no Eddie Van Halen, granted, but it’s still pretty awesome.

“Imagine” – Dolly Parton. She always means every word she says. I like hers better than John Lennon’s. Sometimes a cover elevates the original. Not a huge “Imagine” fan to begin with, for many reasons. But her vocalizations, and how she develops the song, how she keeps adding to it, sounds and trills, and harmonies … it’s extremely moving.

“Science Fiction” – Everclear. They got me through some really rough times. I don’t know why, what I sensed in their songs. Maybe it was hope.

“I Cant Stop Loving You” – Elvis, in one of his 1972 Madison Square Gardens. It’s ferocious. Fun and boozy and burlesque too.

“The Prince” – Metallica, off Garage Inc. Kirk Hammett’s guitar is insane.

“Da Vinci” – Weezer. I forgot about these guys! Hello!

“Hungry Heart” – Bruce Springsteen. Good old epic Bruce. I get so scared now, thinking of these 70-year-old rock stars running around willy-nilly. Celebrate them while they’re still here, folks.

“Clambake” – Elvis Presley. Elvis was the ultimate professional, but Clambake nearly sunk him, emotionally. You can SEE his despair in the performance. That almost never happens. The songs are terrible. It was the mid-60s. The studios were collapsing. No one knew what to do, which end was up. I love the Elvis formula pics (Girl Happy, Blue Hawaii, Girls Girls Girls), but then the formula got old – as it does – and Clambake and Paradise Hawaiian Style are the death throes. The late 60s brought some fresh-ness to the formula, since the whole world was cracking apart and that reflected in the films. Things loosening up.

“Get Back” – The Beatles. Beatle-mania swept my grade school. My friend Betsy and I would huddle over the turntable at recess. I remember my favorites. I learned how to sing harmony from 1. my musical family and 2. The Beatles. There were some songs I was first introduced to at this time that I could sense were … beyond my understanding. Grown-up songs. This was one of them. It oozes adulthood. It was intimidating. The other one was “Eleanor Rigby” which – quite literally – haunted me.

“Fool” – Elvis Presley. Sad sad sad Elvis. One of the saddest songs he ever recorded. This was late in the game. But a track like this shows the lie that Elvis was in an unstoppable downward spiral in the 70s. That’s not how it went. Listen to this track. It’s perfect and his performance is great: personal, deep, tremendously sad, but the VOICE. The voice is not only intact, but powerful: it still does whatever he wants it to do.

“Call Off the Dogs” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. I’m so grateful I was introduced to the music of Mike Viola, primarily by my sister Siobhan (who opened for him once), but my brother loves them too, my cousins … He is SUCH a good songwriter. And prolific although he seems to be in hiding right now. Or at least retreated. He’ll be back.

“I’m In It” – Kanye West. “Damn your lips very soft. As I turn my blackberry off. As I turn your bathwater on. As you turn off your iPhone.” Sounds like such a romantic evening, Kanye!

“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” – Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn. Harmonies to die for.

“Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac. I remember seeing the Rumours album cover at a friend’s house, who had an older sister. I was 10 years old or something. And there they all were in bed. And I was amazed and confused and I didn’t know what I was looking at and I thought, “This is for grown-ups.” I remember so well so many moments like this in my life. Of course, by the time I was in high school, college, I knew the whole story of Fleetwood Mac, and the soap opera that went on in that band that then resulted in what I consider a perfect album.

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11 Responses to Rainy Week Shuffle

  1. Re: Liz Phair. I was in my mid-40s when I became aware of her. Exile in Guyville was, and remains a milestone—I still listen to it in toto several times a year. The music is a textbook example of the power of simplicity and the collective import of its lyrics are, to use your word, important. It is the screenplay to a great movie about the 90s that hasn’t been made yet. Liz’s deadpan delivery, while sometimes criticized, is perfect for the material.

    This may be your best “Shuffle” yet—a simple idea enhanced by your astute and enthusiastic commentary.

    Thank you.

    • sheila says:

      // It is the screenplay to a great movie about the 90s that hasn’t been made yet. //

      What a great thought! That’s so true. It hasn’t been made yet!

      We’re still in 70s/80s nostalgia-land, at least in terms of films … maybe in 10 years my generation will be old enough to tackle the 90s. Maybe it’s still too close. It was definitely a very specific time. I suppose every time is specific – but that was MY time, and I know all the basics of what went down – but when you’re in the middle of it, living it, you’re not like, “Oh, so these cultural forces are at work over here … while opposite forces are at work here …”

      There was a lot of tough stuff going on personally in my 20s – but I am very glad that my mid-late 20s happened then. It was the last moment before we all got online.

      And yeah, I think her deadpan is great too. There’s still a lot of emotion in it – when she sings, “I want to be mesmerizing, too” – my breath just catches in my throat, at the honesty of it – how much she’s telling one on herself – and I so recognized myself in that – and who doesn’t want to be thought of as mesmerizing? But to ADMIT that. Now 20-something singers are all about saying, “Look at me. I’m mesmerizing!” Which, sure, yeah, female empowerment, whatever. I prefer Liz’s honesty.

      I’m one of those people who doesn’t think Liz Phair “sold out”. Not sure your thoughts on that, and her later albums. Exile in Guyville made me a fan for life, and I think each phase of her career so far has been fascinating.

      I really like her big studio album from a couple years ago (maybe longer than that) – and she’s always and forever an excellent song-writer. But she’s my age now, and a mother, and of course someone’s art will shift as they go through their lives.

      But boy, she nailed that moment in time with Exile. Almost as clearly as Nirvana nailed theirs, although they came a little bit earlier though. Nirvana helped clear the deck for people like Liz Phair to rise.

      Thanks so much for your comment – I do love to do these Shuffle things, the conversations are always so interesting!

  2. Paula says:

    Your shuffle lists are always supply me with one or two new songs to check out (Science Fiction by Everclear. I love them but have never heard this). We’ve talked about Foo Fighters before but seeing “I Am A River” here makes me so happy. Those opening chords are striking and they have the ability to center me everytime I hear them. I’m compelled to close my eyes and really feel that song and listen to David Grohl’s voice. As you said, the Foos bring a lightness and positivity that is unique, and that song is transcendent.

    Squirrel Nut Zippers OMG yes.

    • sheila says:

      Paula –

      // Those opening chords are striking and they have the ability to center me everytime I hear them. //

      Yes! What IS it about this band?? They’re very special and I’m so glad that it wasn’t just a one-off – Dave Grohl trying to separate himself from Nirvana and assert himself as an individual outside of the memory of Kurt Cobain. It could have been just that – and I love that first rough album. But here they still are! I feel so lucky about that!

      I can’t believe I still haven’t seen them in concert yet. Have you?

      My sister saw them at Lupo’s in Providence, when they were doing a small tour for that first album – before The Colour and the Shape when they suddenly had to start playing much larger venues – and she said that Dave Grohl, playing guitar and singing – not behind the drum set like he was in Nirvana – exuded such fearless joy that it brought her to tears.

      Love Squirrel Nut Zippers – are they still around?

  3. mutecypher says:

    Have a great time on your R&R! You’ve had a Manic Month and a half!

    “C’mon baby, let’s ball”

    I’m still in shock and denial about Prince. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s Chris Cornell doing a great version of Nothing Compares 2U.

    • sheila says:

      I’m in denial about Prince too. I’ve been re-visiting some of his “lesser” albums and falling in love all over again. “The Morning Papers” – I love that song! “Paisley Park”!

      Thanks for the link – I love Chris Cornell – will check it out!

  4. Kate says:

    In my family you just need the hand motions for Pick a Little Talk a Little to say it all!

  5. Only the first movement of the Eroica? Oh my heart! :)

    The premiere of the Eroica is on my list of concerts from history that I would go see, if I got access to a TARDIS or Doc Brown’s Delorean. Those Viennese, accustomed to the 25-minute symphonies of Mozart and Haydn (and, in his first two efforts with the form, Beethoven), suddenly confronted by this hour-long epic work, opening with those two huge chords. It must have been something!

    I’ve been exploring the world of the symphony in a regular series of posts on Saturdays, if you’re interested…lots of great stuff! I don’t have any idea how you’d react to his music, but I suspect you’d find some interest in the life of Hector Berlioz. I’ll turn off my Classical Music Geek setting before I really get going here….

    • sheila says:

      Kelly – I love it when you talk about classical music – I will definitely check out your posts on the symphony.

      Never turn off your Classical Music Geek. I am not at all well versed in the subject, although I know what I like and respond to.

      Fascinating about the Eroica! What was the public reaction like at the time?

  6. Debra Thomas says:

    A new Dolly song for me. I had never heard her version of Imagine. Thanks.

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