Stressful Autumn Shuffle

The past two months have been so stressful I’m not sure I even processed the stress. I’ve been up in Rhode Island, mostly, and then Allison and I went and stayed in a cottage in the woods of Connecticut for a while … and my apartment is just empty. It’s empty without Hope anyway. So it’s been a strange and intense time. Personally and nationally and internationally. I’ve been reading some pretty heavy books – Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographical Literaria, for example, because … why the hell not … I’ve heard so much about it, but never read it. It is challenging shit, and it’s very good brain exercise. I’m finally back in my apartment, but I won’t be here for long. I can’t flit about willy-nilly due to travel restrictions, and I’m self-quarantining on both sides of this thing … I know way too many at-risk people. I miss seeing my family so much. It hurts. Especially this year. All of this is to say … for my own reasons, this lengthy Shuffle represents the last two months. I kind of just kept it going, any time I was driving, or working, or whatever … and as I’ve said before, “compiling” these Shuffle posts is a meditative act for me, for some reason. It’s the RANDOMNESS of it that appeals. Accepting “the random” is a necessity in life … and I’m not particularly good at it … so the Shuffle is almost a meditative “practice”. I know these aren’t particularly well-written – it’s not really the point. They aren’t meant to be well-crafted arguments or commentary, just off-the-cuff on-the-fly in-the-moment reactions, almost like the “live blogs” of days of yore.

So. That’s why this is so long. People seem to like these. I like them myself. It’s also a good way to wander through my music collection. Because I still collect music. I don’t want ALL music at my fingertips. I want the albums and songs I have bought over decades of being a music-lover. Shuffle is a good way to go, “Oh wait … HOW did I find this song? Wait, WHO are these people? Oh wait I LOVE this song I need to listen to it more!” Or sometimes … “Why the hell was I into this song because I am NOT feeling it anymore …”

This is way too long. I don’t care. These are good for skimming, I’ve found. The good thing about long lists with minimal commentary. So. Hope you enjoy and I also always LOVE to hear from people about what stood out for them, their favorite tracks from this or that artist, or whatever. I have many musical people and music fans who read me and I learn a lot from you all!

Without further ado:

 
 

“Telephone” – The Black Angels. They are a new discovery. I can’t remember how they came to me. I think a song of theirs was used in … The Boys? I went to investigate further and fell in love with their throw-back-style – punk rock, 60s-mod-rock – tossed up with a modern sensibility. They are my current jam.

“The Colour and the Shape” – Foo Fighters. All screaming and all distortion. Hard as fuck.

“The Hard Way” – Eric Church. He’s such a good songwriter. He paints a picture. He uses imagery that stays with you. A diamond ring in a box hidden in his closet. Heartbreak in that imagery. He learned that lesson “the hard way.” He wished he didn’t learn all of these important lessons the hard way. Lots of regrets.

“Unapologetic Bitch” – Madonna. I’m trying to think when I stopped really paying attention to her. Ray of Light I was still WAY IN, and that’s still my favorite album of hers. I wasn’t a big fan of Music … although there have been tracks all along that grab me. I was “in” from the start, once I figured out she wasn’t making fun of virgins – like myself – in “Like a Virgin”. (Lol.) This is okay, off Rebel Heart (2015).

“Gin-Soaked Boy” – The Divine Comedy. This song kills me. No chorus. Just a slow build, an accumulation of metaphors. And his VOICE.

“Poor Lil Rich” – 50 Cent. This album was a MONSTER. Try to listen to this song and not move your body. Good luck.

“Loves Me Like a Rock” – Paul Simon. The backup singers practically take over this whole joint.

“Jeremy” – Pearl Jam. A classic. I still remember where I was when I first heard this song. Not too many songs I can say that about. Same with the music video, a hugely controversial video at the time, and it still has the power to shock.

“Roll Over Beethoven” – Jerry Lee Lewis. I have never counted how many covers of this song I own. Far too many. But I can’t help it. They ALL covered it. Chuck Berry, man.

“Johnny Get Angry” – Joanie Sommers. Okay, okay, I know these lyrics don’t “fly” now but honestly I feel for this woman. The man is indifferent to her, he doesn’t stand up for her, he doesn’t stick up for her, he’s “meek”, and … she doesn’t think he cares about her. Self-empowerment is great. I can fight my own battles, but I sure as shit won’t respect a man who won’t stick his neck out for me.

“Rock and Roll Music” – The Beatles. I repeat: Chuck Berry, man.

“For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield. The tune is groovy but the lyrics are fucking terrifying.

“Farewell” – Eminem. Eminem, for whatever reason, has helped me get through this very challenging year. Writing this helped get me through July. Maybe because – and don’t kill me – like Coleridge’s Biographica Literaria, he can be challenging, and you can’t listen to a lot of his stuff casually. You have to pay attention to what he’s saying. That’s the fun of it. (I can say with some certainty that this is the first time Eminem has been compared to Coleridge’s Biographical Literaria.) So maybe that’s why I’ve kept his music so close by this year. Also, though, he came out with an album in January, so I was already in Eminem zone once lockdown came. This one is off Music to be Murdered By, an album which – I must point out again – came out in January of this year with ZERO promotion, and only ONE interview – and not with a mainstream media outlet – and it still debuted at #1 and is among the top sellers of the whole entire year. It just went platinum. Just have to point this out. (To contextualize: with Music to be Murdered By, Eminem becomes the first rapper in history to go platinum in 4 different decades, the 90s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s. He’s the first artist – in any genre – since Michael Jackson to achieve such a feat.) Anyway, this song makes me laugh because the opening four lines are so rough and hard, and … this is a kind-of-sort-of love song. Or at least it’s love-adjacent, and in Eminem terms love-adjacent means … it’s all fucked up. This is what lovesick Em sounds like. And I’m sorry, it makes me laugh. Because otherwise I’d cry. If you’re all fucked up, even if you’re not AS extreme as Em, then some of his shit makes a kind of sense. You’re not supposed to admit that but oh well. I’m too old to be like “I’ve got it all figured out.” Please. This song could also be about Em’s relationship with hip-hop, the industry, his own career, how sick of it he is, how he can’t stop doing it. Basically he’s in a toxic relationship with a woman – you could hear it that way – OR he’s in a toxic relationship with being who he is, his art, his fame, the bullshit, the whole shebang. The song is a double entendre, in other words. The song works either way, if you listen to the lyrics. He’s saying farewell to her, he’s saying farewell to the music industry. Fuck them both.

“She Has Eyes” – L7. Tough broads.

“Klondyke Kate” – Suzi Quatro. Speaking of L7! Suzi Quatro was a huge influence on them. A pioneer. Way out in front. She was the one – THE one – who inspired Joan Jett. But she inspired way more than that. The world wasn’t ready for her in the 70s. They were ready in the 80s. I reviewed the wonderful documentary about Quatro called Suzi Q: highly recommended. This is great. Love the piano and the guitar. She was so fierce. Still is!

“Mushroom Cloud” – Sammy Salvo. Cold War terror turned into a romantic metaphor. It’s kinda fabulous.

“The Last Cheater’s Waltz” – Jerry Lee Lewis. From 1978. Deep in his country phase, covering Sonny Throckmorton’s song (who came out with an album that very same year with the title The Last Cheater’s Waltz). JLL’s got the strings behind him, the soprano-heavy chorus – the style at the time – not too much of his distinctive piano here, but that voice, launched up high – I love how he throws his voice around. There’s so much in it. Regret, but … not enough regret to change his ways.

“Wuthering Heights” – The Puppini Sisters. I love these women! Here they cover Kate Bush’s beautiful song, turning it into a soft jazz-y boogie-woogie number.

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper. This song was so huge. That whole album. Hit after hit after hit after hit … Plus, the VIDEO. This song took over the world.

“Deja Vu” – Eminem. Off Relapse, the album he released after his 4 years “away.” It starts with him on his way to the hospital in an ambulance. This is one of the first attempts to discuss what had happened to him, or … what he did to himself. It has that Relapse sound … he slowed down, the raps are slow on this album (granted, all the fast shit really came later). But the lyrics here are so detailed, so detailed about what he was like as an addict, including his daughters being worried and scared, trying to figure out from their Mom (i.e. Kim) what was going on with him. He would revisit this subject again and again in the decade to come, and he’s still talking about it. He almost died in 2007, a life-changing experience, as was sobriety. Elvis reference alert!

Wouldn’t even be taking this shit if DeShaun didn’t die.
Oh yeah, there’s an excuse; you lose Proof so you use.
There’s new rules, it’s cool if it’s helpin’ you to get through.
It’s twelve noon, ain’t no harm in self-inducin’ a snooze.
What else is new? Fuck it, what would Elvis do in your shoes?

“Summer and Lightning” – ELO. Huge sound. I have such strong feelings about them. Their chord changes alter me. They tap into some melancholy, some yearning … the kinds of feelings I avoid now because they are dangerous. But ELO allows me to visit that part of myself.

“I’ll Know It When I See It” – Bleu. It continues to baffle me that this talented man is not a huge huge star – he writes songs for huge stars – but in a way I’m glad he’s not. Because I got to go see him in a tiny show, with less than 100 people there. We all knew every word. He’s just incredible. Not just his songwriting – and that’s already off the hook – but his VOICE. It’s a GREAT voice.

“Confessin’ the Blues” – The Rolling Stones. Classic blues. Off their second studio album. Crazily confident, Keith’s grinding guitar, the harmonica, Mick’s voice …

“Baby What You Want Me to Do” – Elvis, at the first “sit-down” show during his 1968 comeback special. When he’s in the black leather suit. He played this a couple different times, it was like comfort food, a security blanket, during awkward pauses, he’d go back to it, those riffs, just sitting in the pocket of the song. This version is a little bit faster than the other versions. Here, he stops at one point and starts talking about the police shutting down his shows in Florida, back in 1956. Producer/director Steve Binder had suggested things he could talk about … and it’s fascinating to watch how he handles this. Elvis “obeys” but he also really doesn’t. He avoids the issue. He reveals but he won’t be pushed. And the guys onstage with him do push him. Elvis doesn’t cave. It’s fascinating. The thing is: talking about his rise to fame … that’s the past. Elvis was about the present. And the future. Here I am NOW. He was not going to be turned into a nostalgia act.

“Hot Blooded” – Foreigner. Lol.

“Bury Me Deep” – Kim Lenz. I try to keep up with bands and artists still keeping the rockabilly flame alive. I love her.

“For the Millionth and the Last Time” – Elvis Presley. Off his album with the attention-getting title Potluck. This is a ballad, with an interesting accompaniment, almost … salsa-esque. Elvis’ voice is perfect, his musicianship flawless.

“The Ballad of Stagger Lee” – Mississippi John Hurt. An epic 7-minute version of this song which has taken on a life of its own. Lots of spoken-word. Storytelling.

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. One of my favorite versions of this song.

“Strawberry Wine” – The Band. This is a jam.

“I Only Want To Be With You” – The Tourists. Annie Lennox before the Eurythmics. Fantastic cover, filled with new life.

“Bad For Me” – Danielle Peck. “There’s a fatal charm in your faithless arms / Why is everything that feels so dang good bad for me?” Girl, I’ve been there.

“You’re Only the Star in My Blue Heaven” – Jerry Lee Lewis, on the day of the “million dollar quartet” in 1956, which was really a “million dollar trio,” let’s not get it twisted. Johnny Cash stopped by for the photo, but he’s not really a presence on those secretly running tape recordings.

“Far Away Eyes” – The Rolling Stones. From Some Girls … drenched in experience, satisfaction (heh), so much so that … things have gotten a little bit numb. So here is Mick, talking in a sort of Southern accent … is he clowning? The gentle country rhythm, harmonies, instrumentation … it’s interesting to hear.

“On Fire” – Eminem. “Critics never ask me how my day was.” In a recent-ish interview which I now can’t find, the writer – who had interviewed him before – wrote that Eminem can be a very challenging interview. He never loses control, he controls the interview. To combat that, the critic – who recalled this very line off of “On Fire” on the Relapse album – started off the interview with, “How’s your day going?” And I’ll be damned if Eminem didn’t respond well to this question and proceeded to give a really good interview.

“Amazing Grace” – Jerry Lee Lewis. Of course there are many many phenomenal versions of this song. But his … his is special. His voice … its rasp, its clarity, that way he has of FLINGING his voice up and down the scale … he’s literally SHOUTING at times … plus the FEELING he puts into it… dammit it’s powerful.

“I Like Fucking” – Bikini Kill. The lyrics were radical and revelatory then and even more radical and revelatory now, when “being a woman” is often equated with “victimization.” Yes, let’s not pretend everything is hunky-dory. But let’s not collapse the two things to such a degree you can’t feel pleasure, own your own joy, go get yours.

Just cause my world, sweet sister
Is so fucking goddamn full of rape
Does that mean my body
Must always be a source of pain?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no

God bless Bikini Kill.

“Blue Collar Suicide” – The Refreshments. I was turned onto this great band by my brother (who wrote about this album in one of his music columns I’ve been posting on this site). Bren wrote: “To me, Fizzy Fuzzy Big And Buzzy is about that time in life when you are no longer a kid but you aren’t adult yet. Very Douglas Coupland. Too much intoxication, too much meaningless sex, too much sun, too many road trips, too few destinations. When Jimmy Buffett sings about it, you long for it. When The Refreshments do, you feel like you need to dry out, straighten up, set some goals, turn things around.”

“The Fat Man” – Fats Domino. He was the source of so much. The piano here … I SWOON.

“Hands” – The Raconteurs. I love the Raconteurs. It’s a super-group (kind of), involving two musicians/singers/songwriters I adore – Jack White and Brendan Benson. Also with Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums. This is off Broken Boy Soldiers. Fantastic Jack White guitar, that hard hard sound. Benson does the vocals for this one.

“Think For Yourself” – The Beatles. Off Rubber Soul, my personal favorite of their albums.

Do what you want to do.
Know where you’re going to.
Think for yourself cause I won’t be there with you.

“Thank You For Hearing Me” – Sinead O’Connor. It’s been a long time since I listened to this album (Universal Mother) – need to rectify, the album is so good. I love how this song is so simple, with phrases repeated over and over … “hearing” “seeing” “staying with” “healing” … Her voice is unearthly.

“You Don’t Know What It’s Like” – Nina Simone. The tune has this kind of happy jauntiness … but then there’s the lyrics … and her voice … She was so brilliant.

“Falling Into Place” – Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers. Such a good album (Falling Into Place). I love him so much. He just released a couple new songs. I follow him on Instagram. I need to know what he’s up to. GREAT songwriter.

“Flipside” – The Breeders. I listened to this cassette so much the tape wore out. The whole thing was grubby with my fingerprints. Every song felt like it was about my life. And just the SOUND …

“No Man’s Woman” – Sinead O’Connor. Off another great album – Faith and Courage. Fantastic song about her faith. Although I’m not sure what her faith is now … That BASS line gives it a pulsing drive, grounding it but also lifting it. Great sound, HUGE sound.

“Say What U Say” – Eminem, featuring Dr. Dre. Off The Eminem Show, track for track a brilliant album. You listen to his lyrics, and they’re so vicious and political and raging and honest – it’s hard to believe that it was a mainstream hit. Like, this was Top 40 stuff. This album took over the world. And … he’s just so un-ingratiating. That’s the weird thing about him. He did not soften to please the masses. He does include maybe the tenderest song he ever wrote (“Hailie’s Song”), but for the most part … he is going after EVERYONE here, including “white America”: “I’M YOUR MOTHERFUCKIN SPOKESMAN NOW, WHITE AMERICA.” He’s MOCKING white America. (I just saw someone on Twitter who took this song as a brag, like he’s endorsing this, like Eminem’s saying “yay white people taking over!” How do you help someone understand something when they are so so off? It’s like thinking Modest Proposal was a real suggestion. We’re doomed.) And Eminem LED with “White America.” It’s the first track. I wish more people understood just how WEIRD this whole thing is. This is a man who is grateful for his fans, but he has written so many songs about how he despises them too. How much he hates it when people come up and talk to him. How difficult he finds fame. And all of this resentment towards his own fan base doesn’t seem to matter, the way it would with other artists. Imagine if Kelly Clarkson came out with an album of resentful petty songs about how much she hates her fans? lol It’s absurd, right? Because fans can turn on you. At a recent concert, Billie Eilish returned to the stage after walking through the crowd, and things got a little out of hand, people too close to her, and when she got back to the stage, she found that someone had taken a bracelet off her wrist. She was pissed. She berated the crowd, she used profanity – “someone took my fucking bracelet”, she was really mad, the fans betrayed her trust. Many fans were outraged by her “tone.” She sounded so “entitled.” How dare she speak to us like that? Like, how DARE Billie Eilish be mad that she was groped in the crowd and someone stole something off her damn body? The NERVE. It’s a messed-up relationship, between star and fans. Stars are meant to be “grateful”, always, otherwise, boom, you’re “entitled.” Eminem broke a lot of rules by railing at the fans. I mean, he wrote a whole song about how scary his fans could be – “Stan” – and the word “stan” has gone mainstream as a synonym for “unhinged fan.” Nothing he did or said made a dent in his trajectory, he just got bigger and bigger and bigger. In this song, both Dr. Dre and Eminem take on the doubters and the haters, those who say they’re “over” or “out”. They are filled with hate. They name names. The beat is so ominous and threatening.

“Diamond Heart” – Lady Gaga. Off Joanne, such a strange album, she went out of her “lane” but … I am at the point where I’m not wacky about the concept of “lanes.” Artists need to experiment. It might not work out, but sometimes the “failures” are way more interesting than the “hits.” She’s doing a lot of interesting things here. She sings the hell out of this.

“Pennyroyal Tea” – Nirvana. In Utero. I love In Utero but it hurts me to listen to it. You can HEAR the crazy surrounding the band. The fame … they got too huge … I mean, we out here loved it … but the crazy was so much more than they could handle. They could never have guessed they’d get THAT big. And you can hear all of it in this album. It also hurts me to listen to it because … they never recorded anything else.

“Bottom of the Sea Blues” – Johnny Flynn. Became obsessed with him after seeing Emma, and was thrilled to discover all of his music. I’m still working my way through. He’s so wonderful!

“Help!” – The Beatles. They way they just BURST in with no preamble? Rad! Startling! Bold!

“Blueberry Hill / I Can’t Stop Loving You” – Elvis. This is him live in Memphis in 1974 – it’s a great concert, he feels at home – you can tell – he’s funny, loosey-goosey, and his voice is on FIRE. In a good way. This concert alone should put the lie to the idea that the 70s as a whole represented a huge downward spiral. I mean, listen to his performance here … he’s PRESENT, he’s IN it, and he goes up the octave and it’s thrilling. Yes, of course, he spiralled down … but for the most part, if an audience was there, he SHOWED UP. I love this album.

“Dr. Freud” – The Raunch Hands. Lol. This is a little folk group who have vanished down into Orwell’s memory hole. It’s like they never existed. But they are HUGE in the O’Malley household. My parents had their album – I think they only did one? Maybe two. They were all clean-cut guys, who looked like they were Harvard undergraduates – but we were OBSESSED as children. OBSESSED. I am so glad my brother wrote a whole essay about this album because he captures the … weirdness of this forgotten group.

“I Need Your Love Tonight” (take 1) – Elvis. From that insanely productive 1958 session in Nashville. This is faster than the final version. They’re almost “marking it” – they’re in the process of finding it – because of course Elvis recorded it with the whole band there. It was the way he did it. He needed that collective feeling of group performance.

“Burn” – Phillipa Soo, as Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton. It’s a devastating vocal performance. And even more devastating when I saw her do it in the production. Her acting! Phenomenal.

“Don’t Let Me Get Me” – Pink. I am so glad she wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. She keeps getting better and better. “Teachers dated me. My parents hated me… I’m a hazard to myself.” She is so honest, and she has a great voice.

“So Glad You’re Mine” – Elvis. Young Elvis. You can FEEL his body shaking in this track. It SWINGS. You can hear the Dino influence, but Elvis – as always – makes it his. Super sexy. You can hear him whooping and hollering during Scotty Moore’s guitar solo.

“You Won’t See Me” – The Beatles. Why … why … why do they hit SO hard? STILL? Why do they work every time? It blows my mind. How deep it goes.

“Runaway Boys” – Stray Cats. I was a teenager during the rise of rockabilly into the mainstream. These guys were Top 40 guys. And since their songs are filled with references to people like Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent … they also EDUCATED me.

“Long Tall Sally” – Jerry Lee Lewis, an absolutely explosive performance from his performance at the Star Club in Hamburg in 1964. Someone taped the whole concert. And now we have it and it is one of the greatest concert albums of all time.

“American Medley: The Kings Highway / The Rock Island Line” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem – this is from their 1962 concert at Carnegie Hall. Now I grew up with a version of this album, it’s the album every Irish-American family appeared to own. But recently, an album of the FULL concert was released. This was news to me, that there was so much MORE to the concert (I should have guessed, that original album wasn’t long enough really to be a whole concert). So I’ve been having a blast listening to all these other tracks. Like this one. The audience is eating it up.

“Road to Nowhere” – Ozzy Osborne. Lighters in the air!

“Freedom Road” – Who Are Those Guys. It’s really just one chord. It sounds like Creedence Clearwater or Lynyrd Skynyrd. I can’t remember how I found this. Was it on an episode of Supernatural? I can’t seem to track it down but I love it.

“I DO” – Jessie Reyez. I have been working on a little piece about Jessie Reyez, one of my new obsessions. She just came out with her first album, Before Love Came to Kill Us, released during the pandemic. She had been hired to open for Billie Eilish on Eilish’s 2020 world tour, which was, of course, canceled. I highly recommend you check her out. I’ll get up the post about her eventually. She’s going to be huge. This album is intense. Everything she does is intense. She’s so HONEST, honest about longing, about how fucked-up love can be (I mean, look at the title of her album).

All I want
All I want is a familiar face
‘Cause I’d much rather
Rather hurt from familiar pain

“Shelf In the Room” – Days of the New. This song was everywhere for a hot second.

“Grasping At Straws” – Bleu. He makes me want to cry. The first line:

Memories are like enemies who pretend to be your friends.

You can listen on Spotify. I’m so thankful for his music. It’s given me so much.

“Big Fat Bass” – Britney Spears. I follow her on Instagram. I’m worried about her. This conservatorship has got to end.

“Ain’t That Lovin You Baby” – Link Wray. For a second I thought this was Mick Jagger. Link Wray recorded this in 1960. Mick was clearly very familiar with Link Wray, something I hadn’t considered before. Sorry. I’m not a scholar. This goes along with everything else influential about Link Wray, like, oh, the POWER CHORD.

“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” – Stevie Wonder. I love this opening, Wonder riffing in all these other languages, goofing off. “I speak very very fluent Spanish …” Innervisions is a perfect album.

“The Wild One” – Suzi Quatro. One of her huge hits off her second album.

I’m a blue-eyed bitch and I wanna get rich
Get out of my way ’cause I’m here to stay

She crashed open doors and then was basically forgotten a decade later. But let’s not get it twisted. She was there first.

“Sweet Transvestite” – Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Rocky Horror was so huge in my school this song was actually played at high school dances. “Time Warp” was also played but so was this one, this decadent sex-fest. All these teenage kids writhing around to this, singing all the lyrics. I include myself. Was this an anomaly? Rocky Horror was familiar to me because of the movie Fame … it’s always fun to track these things … but … it was definitely a THING in my high school too.

“Stuck Like Glue” – Sugarland. Cute lyrics. Not really in the mood for this bullshit, tbh.

“First Movement (Jumping Biz)” – ELO. A pretty instrumental.

“Silver Bells” – Elvis Presley. Off of his second Christmas album, released in 1970. He sounds a little tired here. There are some other great tracks on this album, although nothing can compare to Elvis’ first Christmas album, released in 1957, which went diamond, y’all. Not gold, or platinum, but diamond.

“Heal the Pain” – George Michael & Paul McCartney. It’s so beautiful and peaceful. The title is true.

“Horseshoes and Handgrenades” – Green Day. It’s MARTIAL in its rage.

“Radioactive Mama” – Sheldon Allman. Lol. I came across this novelty album of “Cold War songs”, with all of these songs by people famous (Ann-Margret’s version of “Thirteen Women”) and almost-forgotten people about … fallout shelters, Commies, Stalin, mushroom clouds (see far above in this same post). This song came off of that album. “Since I kissed you baby that evening in the park – I lost my hair and eyebrows and my teeth shine in the dark.” Heh-heh. Lots of collective anxiety seeping down into every corner of the culture.

“Could We Start Again, Please?” – from Jesus Christ Superstar (the movie soundtrack). Yvonne Ellmann (Mary M), Philip Toubus (Peter), and the rest of the apostles, post-Jesus’-death, wishing to go backwards in time.

“Empty Buildings” – Pat McCurdy. First track from Pat! I’ve been in touch with him during the pandemic. This is what happens. People emerge from the past and want to touch base. How are you? How are you holding up? He’s why I watched Fleabag (“You have to see it. The entire time I watched it I was thinking of you. She reminds me of you.” Let’s just say: Boy, he was not wrong), and he also told me to watch Unorthodox, which was perfect. Anyway, this is off one of his albums post-the era when I knew him. (And he’s still going. Facebook Live concerts every Friday night, broadcast from his house!) We’ve come a long way from this. Here we are together, in our heyday.

“This Is To Mother You” – Sinead O’Connor. Off Gospel Oak, an EP she released in 1997. Only 6 songs. It sold a wild 700,000 copies in the United States. This is the opening track and it’s beautiful and moving.

“22 and Real Depressed” – Pat McCurdy. Another Pat song! This song lampoons emo-people. Basically, what the fuck have you got to be so depressed about? Lighten up. He tells himSELF to “rock out” his guitar solo: “ROCK OUT PAT MCCURDY.” lol.

“Too Much Love Will Kill You” – Queen. This song is almost too powerful for me to listen to. I used to listen to this when I would walk along Boulevard East in Weehawken. The chorus is killer. It makes me feel things, things I can’t really put into words. Too much love has killed me. Freddie is a wonder. No surprise there.

“Still Breathing” – Green Day. I’m catching up on their recent stuff. Haven’t absorbed it the way I have fully absorbed International Superhits, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. They’ve got that pop anthem thing down. I know my commentary on these shuffle things sometimes leaves much to be desired. If I have something deep to say, I say it. If I don’t, I don’t but I still include the song. I find these posts meditative, the random-ness of it something I welcome in the midst of these chaotic anxiety-ridden times.

“Red Hot” – Billy Lee Riley. On the Sun Records roster, in the wake of the Elvis explosion. But … things didn’t happen for him the way he hoped. Sam Phillips sold Elvis’ contract and then Sun Studio really couldn’t continue. And many artists were left stranded. Like Riley. Riley was a wild man, and you can hear that here – in his biggest hit. You can hear him clapping, cheering on the piano player, and his voice has a RASP that comes from the swamplands of the deep country. He’s on fire here. And it’s got that classical Sun sound. Where you listen and you feel like you are IN THAT ROOM.

“Wooly Bully” – Sam the Sham. This is completely meaningless but dammit you must move to it. And sing along. It’s imperative. The song commands it of you.

“Sway” – The Rolling Stones. Off Sticky Fingers, such a great album. They had already been around for some time, lots of albums, notoriety, scandals, experimentations … Here, they’re back to their origins, but seasoned by all this EXPERIENCE, real-life shit. The sound is huge. The lead track is “Brown Sugar.” They STARTED with “Brown Sugar”, a song I find extremely difficult to listen to. “Sway” comes next, and it’s a jam … a massive jam. The fade out feels like it goes on for half the song.

“Do You Wanna Go to Heaven” – from Big River. My sisters and I can sing this album front to back. So can Mitchell. There was this extremely memorable day in Chicago when my sister Jean and her friends swung by on their way out West. They crashed with me and Mitchell. One day, we blasted this album, and the three of us sat on our green velvet couches and sang the entire thing. We drove everyone else out of the house. We were crying with laughter. “Lookee here Huck do you wanna go to heeee-ah-ven?” Nerds.

“Loud” – from Matilda the Musical. Funny. Lesli Margherita as Mrs. Wormwood. She’s fabulous, her voice can do anything, and she’s doing it in this strong Cockney accent.

“Stranger In My Own Home Town” – Elvis Presley. This was when he really started busting loose from the 60s, turning his face forward. Part of the albums he recorded at American Sound, under the firm hand of Chips Moman. The material he recorded was great, and some of his most enduring hits were recorded during these sessions. But I LOVE this. Maybe not as big a hit as, say, “Suspicious Minds”, but it’s Elvis moving into an almost FUNK territory, but with also that great rhythm & blues grounding – those lines repeating – but Elvis riffing on the lines, nothing ever sounds the same … he’s changing it up, he digs into each line as though it’s the first time, but also building on all the energy he’s been unleashing. The song builds, builds, with Elvis really off the chain. It’s a thrilling performance. And let’s not forget the BAND. They are on fire. Elvis merges totally with the band. His goal. It’s why he didn’t “patch” his vocals in later. Or, he avoided it if possible. He needed that feeling of together-ness, of creating something together, the in-the-moment vibe of a bunch of people jamming in a room. Love this performance.

“Turn It Off” – big number in The Book of Mormon. It’s hard to believe that 1. this show exists and 2. it was a massive monster hit on Broadway. It gives me hope for the future. And I need all the hope I can get in these dark days. This song is vicious.

“Dear Boy” – Paul McCartney. Ram is such a good album.

“Hurts Me To My Heart” – Faith Adams. Her voice is really unlike anyone else’s voice. The vibrato is so distinctive.

“Whip-Smart” – Liz Phair. I was wondering when she would show up. I love this whole album (also called Whip-Smart). I still haven’t read her book. She was such an avatar for me, back when she first exploded on the scene. I’ve written about this. Her lyrics almost made me embarrassed. Not because I was embarrassed for her but because I KNEW what she was talking about. She put my life into words. I said elsewhere in one of my Eminem pieces … there’s something comforting about these Gen-X stars, the ones who weren’t one-hit wonders, or totally associated with the 90s/2000s … those who kept going. It’s a way to keep in touch with … where I’m at, too. How is everyone doing? How are all my Gen-X people doing? Should we have a reunion?

“Fallin In Love (Is Hard On the Knees)” – Aerosmith. If you listen to the lyrics, you want to question every single line. Or I do. But it’s catchy you don’t have time to stop. Half the time though I’m going – “Wait … WHAT?”

“The Load Out” – Jackson Browne’s tribute to roadies. Some day I should write about Jackson Browne, or at least my entryway into his stuff, which was pretty limited to this album. I didn’t go on to become a lifelong fan or anything, but it was very very important to me during my senior year in high school. I’m not sure what chord the album struck – in particular “Hold On Hold Out” – but maybe if I write about it I can figure it out, or at least imagine my way back into where I was at that year, what was going on that made that song hit SO HARD.

“Freestyle” – Eminem on Westwood TV. I have all these clips of random freestyles Eminem has done on random radio shows. (Tim Westwood is a major gathering place for freestyles). I love the freestyles because … he’s just making this shit up as it goes. This is over 8-minutes long. And … it makes sense? Kind of? It’s full of dumb jokes, which … his stuff often is … but here, you can hear him just feeling his way through what rhymes, tossing it out there. This is from 2010, I think.

My words are whirlwinds, I murder my girlfriends
Go to Europe and put Nurofens in my syrup and stirred ’em

See those “url” or “irl” rhymes – “whirl” “girl” “NURo” “stirred” – he hears those rhymes and then carries them on for line after line after line. It’s crazy. His regular sidekick Mr. Porter does a freestyle too.

“Russians” – Sting. I remember people being blown away by this song. Granted, we were teenagers. To hear him use all these big words like “rhetorical” was extremely impressive. “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy.” etc. This made us go, “WOW. HE’S SMART.” I thought “There’s no such thing as a winnable war” the most brilliant thing I’d ever heard, although I thought it was said/demonstrated better in War Games. Even then I had a critical mind! Now it all seems really silly too although I like the melody. “I hope the Russians love their children too.” Of COURSE they do, Sting. Come on.

“(It’s A) Long Lonely Highway” – Elvis. From Kissin’ Cousins, a bleak period for him. Understatement. But sorry, this song KICKS.

“Even Flow” – Pearl Jam. God, this song brings me back. That time when the radio suddenly felt dangerous … for the first time in my short life. You could hear these howling boys and girls on the airwaves. It was so great!

“If I Were a Carpenter” – Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. I was wondering where Johnny was hiding out. Good to hear from him. And her. As always.

“Let’s Have a Party” – Wayne Hancock. I had no idea until recently that a tribute album to Wanda Jackson’s music exists, where all these different artists sing her songs. I bought that shit up and have had fun getting to know all these new singers. Like Wayne Hancock. Great boogie-woogie piano here.

“Please Read the Letter” – Robert Plant & Allison Krause. I love this album. Never would have put these two together, but once you hear their voices harmonizing, it makes perfect sense and you can’t believe it hadn’t happened before.

“Minarets” – Dave Matthews. I never got into him (although I appreciate what he did for Patty Griffin, rescuing her from the studio that had trapped her, basically buying out her contract and bringing her onto his label where he was like “Record whatever the fuck you want to record. Go forth. Flourish.”) … but I like this, off the Live at Luther College album. I think I heard it played on a college radio station and bought the album just for this song.

“Eclipse” – Pink Floyd. This felt very deep to me when I was 17.

“Hat Full of Stars” – Cyndi Lauper. She is such a wonderful songwriter. She writes stories. The first verse … you can see it.

“Wolf Call” – Elvis, from Girl Happy … certainly not a high watermark in terms of artistry. But I do find that movie entertaining.

“Miss the Mississippi And You” – Jerry Lee Lewis. This is off Young Blood, from 1995. When he says, “Lord, I’m so sad and weary” you believe him. And his piano-playing has a life of its own, separate from any of the background orchestration, he goes off on these rills, and flourishes, and it’s like he’s TALKING. He’s just one of those phenoms who can’t be completely explained.

“Erase/Replace” – Foo Fighters. “Who made these PROMISES? YOU MADE THESE PROMISES.” I love it when Dave Grohl screams in tune. Even when they’re singing about serious shit, they’re not DARK. It’s life-force, not death-force. They don’t make neurotic self-conscious music, self-involved. Nothing wrong with self-involved music, navel-gazing music – I love Alanis!, for example – but their music, to me, feels like screams of joy that they’re alive, even when everything is all fucked up.

“Only When I Walk Away” – Justin Timberlake. This is hot as hell.

“My Babe” – Elvis, live. He always had so much fun with this one. He goes into that zone, that private-in-public zone, where he’s basically not EXPRESSING his sexuality as much as he is EXPERIENCING it, in front of people. And he does it in a way that is funny, like he pokes fun at himself – at one point here, he grunts and moans – to the beat – and then starts cracking up at himself.

“Breaking the Law” – Judas Priest. I always forget about them, and then something like this comes on, and I immediately crank it up. It’s so CAMPY.

“Don’t Hurt My Little Sister” – The Beach Boys. Kick his ass, boys.

“Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town)” – Bill Haley & his Comets. Hey I just referenced this song above, only Ann-Margret’s version. Another apocalyptic song, post H-bomb explosion … this lone man was VERY well taken of in the post-bomb dystopia.

“Surf’s Up” – The Beach Boys. Carl’s falsetto is crazy. That’s Carl, right? This is a fascinating song. It has nothing to do with surfing. It’s like they’re “nodding” to the image they were associated with … the image that made them famous … and maybe it was to draw in those who only loved them for the surfing songs – and then giving them something totally different. The melody and song-structure is extremely intricate. Orchestral.

“Midnight Sun” – Garth Brooks. What’s he up to these days? I was enough into him once upon a time that I trekked into Central Park to watch his concert, along with 100,000 other people. Ironically, I’m way more into country music now – in general – than I was then, where I mainly loved Dolly, Garth, Johnny Cash – but didn’t explore much further. Sometimes I listen to his lyrics and think … is that really your life, though, Garth? Shootin’ the breeze while shootin’ some pool? Are you being real right now? Sorry, that sounds mean.

“Africa Talks to You ‘The Asphalt Jungle'” – Sly & The Family Stone. Soooo FUNKY. Not too many lyrics. The song is almost 9 minutes long. It’s all elaborations on a theme. Off There’s a Riot Goin’ On. The album known for shifting the group away from the more “let’s have a dance party” vibe of their earlier radio hits into darker more political territory. I just looked it up and did not realize that the album had originally been called Africa Talks To You, but they changed it to There’s a Riot Goin’ On in response to Marvin Gaye’s album put out the same year called What’s Goin’ On?

“Crazy Circles” – Bad Company. I’m not crazy about them, in general, but I do like a couple of the songs. Like this one. The guitar underneath it all is great. Makes the song, really.

“Drivin’ Slow” – Johnny London. An amazing saxophonist, he was on the Sun Records roster. This is from 1952, an instrumental, just him … wailing his notes out into the Memphis night. There sounds like there’s a snare drum going on, and a piano … but this is a one-man show. And what can you say: I didn’t even have to KNOW it was Sun Records to guess. The “sound” of that studio is a fingerprint, and expensive well-tricked-out studios all across the land tried to replicate that sound, that slight echo … and they all failed. The sound has to do with that ROOM and the feeling that was in that room.

“A Sad Day To Be You” – The Cactus Blossoms. I was introduced to this Everly-Brothers-inspired duo because of their appearance on Twin Peaks: The Return, as one of the acts performing at the roadhouse. Very happy discovery. Thank you, David Lynch.

“What Kind of Little Girl Are You?” – Johnny Shines. Feral rhythm & blues.

“Prison Grove” – Warren Zevon. So eerie, so HEAVY.

“What’s So Good About Goodbye?” – Jerry Lee Lewis. I like all eras of JLL. He never really “lost” it along the way. I mean, yes, he lost his whole damn career, but in terms of his song, his style, he didn’t go off the rails, and put out, say, a synthesized 80s-pop New Wave-styled album or whatever, to stay “relevant.” Jerry Lee didn’t care about being “relevant.” He cared about being “Jerry Lee.” Why else does he throw his own name into practically every song he sings? So I love the country-music era (although he always had country in his music), but the era of the 70s, when he rose up the Nashville charts. I love those albums.

“Don’t Let Go” – Weezer. I’ve heard it probably 11,000 times, just by osmosis. It slaps.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow: – The Shirelles. Give it up for Carole King, man.

“Ballad of Hollis Brown” – Bob Dylan. He wrote songs that sound like they were written by “Anon” or should be labeled “Trad.” That guitar … I mean, it’s the same thing over and over again but it’s so clear. It SPEAKS.

“Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home” – Ella Fitzgerald. Perfection. She’s not singing with the band. Her voice IS the band. SHE is driving that rhythm, not the other way around. It gives me goosebumps all over my body. She does the chorus “as” Pearl Bailey, Sophie Tucker, Della Reese … with very funny very spot-on imitations, before suh-WINGING back into her own voice.

“You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” – Barry White. This is such a great song but now it will always and forever make me think of Tilda Swinton – because at the first Ebertfest I went to, which was held a mere month after Roger died, she was there, and she had planned for us all – all 1,500 of us – to get up and dance, to celebrate Roger, to celebrate Chaz, to get some exercise, whatever – so they blasted this song, and Tilda led us in dance. I was there with Mum. People were doing conga lines all over the theatre, up through the balcony, led by the glorious Tilda Swinton, leaping along at the head of the line, transformed into a beam of joy and light and life.

“Make Me” – Britney Spears [feat. G-Eazy]. Off her album that came out 4 years ago. It’s cool that G-Eazy is on here. Supporting her. I reiterate: I am worried about her. I will always be in her corner.

“Blue Day” – Waylon Jennings. I had been missing his presence on here! If I’m not mistaken, this is early Waylon.

“My Name” – Xzibit [feat. Eminem & Nate Dogg] Okay, so this is one of those diss tracks. It’s a diss on Canibus, Moby (Eminem: just give it up! I know you can’t! But it’s a weak beef) and Jermaine Dupri. It would take a lengthy term paper to describe the genesis of all these beefs. This was a very beef-heavy period in Eminem’s career (the early 2000’s.) But it was a beef-heavy time in general, and everyone piggybacked on everyone else’s beefs. You backed up your people, you “took on” their beefs. The great Nate Dogg does the chorus (RIP Nate Dogg! he makes every track he’s on better). This song is extremely aggressive. (Understatement.) It’s basically death threats. Eminem addressed this whole situation in “Square Dance” on The Eminem Show (which also came out in 2002).

“Just Pretend” – Elvis. He sings the SHIT out of this. Jesus LORD.

“Phoenix from the Flames” – Robbie Williams. This might be my #1 favorite of his. I’ve certainly listened to it the most, if the numbers of my music collection are any evidence. It meant a lot to me during some very bad years, 2005-2007 … I remember listening to it on constant rotation. The phoenix is an important symbol to me. I have a phoenix tattooed on my back. I drew it myself when I was burning up from a 103-degree fever.

“We Shall Not Be Moved” – The Seekers. Impossible to not be roused by this live performance. Or, it’s not possible for me.

“Crying Time Sweet Inspiration” – to-die-for duet between Ray Charles and Barbra Streisand. On a TV show, a variety show? I don’t know. I snagged it off YouTube. Go seek it out, it’s gorgeous.

“Two Pink Lines” – Eric Church. (From 61 Days in Church, Volume 5) – live concert in Cincinnati. This was (IIRC) the first song that got Eric into “trouble” with radio play and Nashville establishment and the whole “family-values” contingency of country music listeners. (Eyeroll. It’s amazing what these people will forgive and still consider themselves “family values” people. Guess I just have a different definition of “family values.” A higher standard.) Anyway, this witty song about two teenagers waiting for the results of a pregnancy test got all the little prudes up in arms. Because … I mean, why? It’s not about abortion. He says clearly in the song he’s getting ready to buy her a ring if he sees “two pink lines” although … he doesn’t WANT to. lol. And another note: this 61 Days in Church project is live concert tracks, and the SOUND is exquisite. Seriously. You feel like you’re in the front row.

“Pretending” – the cast of Glee. This isn’t a cover – it’s one of the original songs included on the series. Pretty standard pop ballad, nothing really special. Pretty harmonies.

“Bongo Bong / Je ne t’aime plus” – Robbie Williams. The only album of his where I’m like … meh. Maybe I should re-visit. He does a lot of rapping on this one, if I recall correctly. Normally his albums are filled with what they would call “ear-grabbers” – they get into you, the melodies stick – this one didn’t really have that for me.

“Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha” – Sam Cooke. Another guy I’d been hoping would show up. I love how he doesn’t just write pop songs. Although he does, better than anyone. But he paints a picture, he tells a story. This isn’t just a cha-cha song. He lets us know about his girl, who couldn’t do the cha-cha-cha … and then once she learns it … she CAN’T STOP. The song has everything. The beat, his voice, the instrumentation … but he manages to include all that while also telling a story. He was a master at that.

“I Beg Of You” – Elvis. Off the Loving You album. This is young Elvis, careless, free, so free you wonder how he even had the courage to … be himself … because let’s be honest: he was WEIRD. The swoops in his voices, the vibratos, the sudden raspiness, the way he does that low-vibrato-y rumble that’s so sexy but also so FUNNY – he’s COMMENTING on himself, even this early – the way he flings himself around … as though he was the first to do it (and he wasn’t … it’s just that he was so free it made it seem like he invented it) … He’s thrilling.

“Frank Churchill Arrives at Hartfield” – Isabel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer, the original score to Emma. (the new film adaptation, the one with the period at the end of “Emma”). I loved the music a lot in this, and how it was used.

“Havana Moon” – Chuck Berry. The wellspring. The source. He did for rock ‘n roll what Mark Twain did for American literature. i.e. he Invented it. Our culture was one way before he arrived, it was altered after he arrived. Listen to what he’s doing here. It’s crazy. There’s practically no instrumentation. No drums. Nothing. Just a couple chords, his voice, and the lyrics … like Sam Cooke, like Mark Twain, he told STORIES. He takes you on a journey within the context of this 3-minute song. Wondrous.

“Crazy For You” – Madonna. This song was my senior prom theme. I have so many feelings associated with this song. I’ve never written about my prom. I mean, it was so long ago, who even cares now … but it was so bad it shattered a lot, including my closest friendship (which never recovered. It took me years to get over it.) I danced with my date – who was 21 years old, by the way – REBEL – we are still friends – ironically – anyway, we danced to this song, and felt like I was floating above the room. Something was really really off. I knew it but couldn’t figure out what had happened. I’ve said this before: when things are wrong I am usually the last to know. Granted, I went into it with perhaps not the best attitude …

Our prom was at the Rosewood Mansion in Newport, one of those Gilded Age monstrosities. It was pouring rain. I wore white high-tops with my dress. Like I said. Not the greatest attitude. I knew what was coming somehow. The whole end of the year had bad bad bad vibes. So. That’s what this song makes me think of. A sense of prophetic dread about what was coming.

“That’s All Right” – Elvis, live at Madison Square Garden, the afternoon show, June 10, 1972. Off the box set Prince from Another Planet, which was such an important release because the sound – up till now – of the concert, in the tracks we had, was muddy. Not great. It was good to have them but to have the sound cleaned up gives you a sense of how freakin’ amazing he was at these concerts, how insanely into it the crowd was, and the BAND … the choirs behind him … Just WILD.

“Lost” – The Box Tops. Was Alex Chilton even real?

“Heart Like a Wheel” – Eric Church. Off Desperate Man. His love songs are so EMOTIONAL. There’s no distance: he’s so passionate he almost sounds “desperate”, like the title says. It grabs you.

“Revolution: – Saidah Baba Talibah. I haven’t worked out in so long – I joined a gym on March 11 of this year – let that date sink in – but when I did work out, this song was on my playlist multiple times. Every time it came on, it helped me push on to keep going, keep up the pace, lean in, keep going, you can do it, you can do it … insanely inspiring.

“Benjamin” – Tori Amos. One of the problems of buying music now is I sometimes download albums – mainly because I’m a fan-for-life of the person (like I am with Tori, for better or worse) … and then don’t get around to absorbing it, or sometimes even listening to it. It’s a weird thing. This album – Native Invader – is one of those albums. I’ve been “in” on the Tori train from before she became famous – I saw her play at the Park West in Chicago right before Little Earthquakes was released … and been a fan ever since. So this is the first time I’m listening to this. There’s a nice glam-rock-ballad sound to this song.

“Get Your Shit Together” – Beth Hart. This chick is insane! Her VOICE. I discovered her years ago, in Chicago – not sure how. I think “Isolation” was my gateway drug. Beth Hart is a hell of a drug.

“Function at the Junction” – Little Richard. If I recall, this was recorded in the late-1960s, after the upheavals of his earlier years, where he gave up rock ‘n roll as the devil’s music, devoting himself to gospel, before coming back harder than ever … Great sound. Huge. Soul music. Funky.

“14th Street” – Rufus Wainwright. May be my #1 of his. I’ve certainly listened it to the most, if the play-count is right. I don’t know what it is. The sound is DEEPLY joyful, so joyful it’s indistinguishable from pain … and then the lyrics of the chorus: “Why’d you have to break all of my heart? Couldn’t you have saved a little bit of it?” Loving like that … is joy and pain. All of my heart was broken. I went through that. It won’t happen again. There’s not enough left. It’s science. Things do lose resilience, scars don’t heal perfectly, things don’t get put back together again. It’s just the way it is. That’s what this song makes me feel. But it’s not a sad-sounding song at all – the feelings it brings up are complex.

“Breakaway” – Irma Thomas. I love this woman and I love this song. Insane that she won her first Grammy in 2007 after, what, 50 years in the business? This was her biggest hit. Love the claps throughout.

“How Would You Like to Be” – Elvis. from It Happened At the World’s Fair. Sometimes you hear something like this and you have to just go, “….. WTF.”

“Emma Is Lost” – Isabel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer, another one from the soundtrack of Emma. Johnny Flynn does a couple of tracks too (he’s such a heart.THROB). I love how this film had a real SCORE (kind of an outmoded idea now … I love it when a director goes with a full score, as opposed to a jukebox approach.)

“The Dying Rebel” – Speaking of Johnny Flynn! This was off a compilation album called Glasgow Celtic Supporters Anthems. And of course I know this song. I know all Irish rebel songs. Grew up to the accompaniment of these songs.

“Gone” – Kelly Clarkson. This is off her first album which feels like every single song has this as its theme: “Screw you, pal, I’m moving ON.” “There’s no light at the end of a tunnel – just a bridge that I’ve gotta burn.” YOU TELL ‘IM KELLY.

“I’m In the Mood For Love” – Brenda Lee. “I’m in the mood for love simply because you’re near me …” We’ve all been there, girl. No shame.

“Teenage Girl” – Cherry Glazerr. I love this band. They feel like they come from 1991. But they don’t feel like throwbacks. I can’t remember how I got onto them. I think this song was my ‘way in’. There’s almost nothing “to” this song. It’s not even 2 minutes long. And it actually feels like it was written BY a teenage girl:

Sneaking cigarettes at lunchtime
Sun feels safe and sublime
Pink sparkly sunglasses
Lemonade by the pool
Rob Kardashian’s a tool

To quote the kids: LOL.

“Muppet Show Theme Song” – OK Go. This is off The Muppets: Green Album, which I really like. One of the good things about these compilation-tribute albums is it can introduce you to new musicians. I’m very familiar with OK Go. Like many of us, I first heard them because of their “treadmill-video” which was so much fun. You don’t need to spend a million bucks to get the people’s attention.

“Love Me Tender” – Elvis Presley. One of his biggest hits, one of his signature songs … and it’s so perfect, so Elvis, that he played it in concerts until the end of his life BUT he used the song as an opportunity to kiss everyone in the audience and, in general, fuck around. So he gave the people what they wanted, but not in the way they expected. He probably did this just to keep as sane as it was possible to be in such a circus.

“Eleanor Rigby” – Aretha Franklin. You can’t even call this a “cover.” This is a total re-thinking, re-imagining. I cannot even imagine what John, Paul, George and Ringo must have felt listening to this. Minds. Blown.

“Nasty Letter” – Otis Taylor. This is off the excellent soundtrack for Public Enemies. I am not sure if this was commissioned for the soundtrack, or if it was extant. Either way … this man’s guitar playing is out of this world.

“In Summer” – Josh Gad. From Frozen. Being “into” Frozen is required in my family because of my niece Pearl’s obsession. If you want to be in touch with the children in your life, you must figure out what they’re into. That’s where you have the best conversations. “So, Pearl. Why do you like Frozen so much?” 10 minutes later, she’s still talking. I treasure those moments.

“Where Is She” – The Beach Boys. There’s an eeriness here, that long low tone sustained underneath … and his beautiful yet bleak voice … This is very pared-down and it’s very effective.

“I Will Rock and Roll With You” – Johnny Cash. From that whole Class of ’55 project, which has its cheesiness, but also … I’m just glad it happened, to get those guys – Johnny, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison … together for all these concerts and recordings. “A new sun rising …” (Sun Records.)

“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” – The Beach Boys. From Pet Sounds. Such a lonely song. He really was outside of time.

“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” – Bob Dylan. God, he’s a wonder.

Well, Shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells
Speaking to some French girl
Who says she knows me well
And I would send a message
To find out if she’s talked
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

“Galileo” – Indigo Girls. This is probably my favorite of all of their songs. When their first album came out, I never ever would have guessed they’d still be around so many years later, even though I liked that album.

“I Want You” – Elvis Costello. This starts as a romantic song of yearning. Of wanting. And then … it turns into the inner monologue of freakin’ Travis Bickle.

“Pass the Booze” – Ernest Tubb. Now THIS is country music, goldarnit. Tubb’s story is pretty interesting. He was determined. He got his start on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, just like Elvis. But boy, Tubb was not influenced by the rise of rockabilly. He was in the conservative tradition. These lyrics are very clever, even though the story is old as dirt, and depressing. The man should not be allowed to drink and he knows it!

“New Soul” – Yael Naim. Like Brendan Benson, she launched to international fame when Apple used this song in one of its advertisements. While this may sound gross, and it is to some degree – the commodification of independent artists, I have discovered so many new artists because of their songs were used in ads, or movie trailers, or whatever. So hopefully it’s a win-win for her, too.

“Red and Black” – from Les Miserables. “RED THE COLOR OF MY SOUL …” or whatever. I was so into this musical, but it was kind of a requirement. My aunt Regina played Madame Thenardier in the national tour, so I can’t even count how many times I saw it. 5? 6? Honestly, I was sick of it eventually. Don’t need to see it again. But I admit its power. One of Eminem’s recent songs has a “Javert suicide moment” in it – he makes his voice “fall” like he’s jumping off a roof – howling as he descends – MM does it all vocally, just like what happens with Javert. I can’t imagine MM is familiar with Les Mis but you never know. Maybe one of his daughters digs it. Either way, all roads lead to Eminem right now – I’ve held back doing too much of that in this Shuffle, but I’ll allow it here.

“Bring Me to Life (Synthesis)” – Evanescence. Her voice is unmatched. It’s hard to believe it exists. This is off the Synthesis album, where they re-imagined and re-worked their previously released song. This is really interesting. I know the original so well. On my workout mix. Because it ROCKS. But I really like what they’ve done to this, the sound is almost even bigger, with what sounds like a full orchestra behind her. Her voice can take it.

“The Phantom of the Opera” – Sarah Brightman. We’re in a Broadway-smash-hit cluster. I actually never saw this one. Saw all the other big ones.

“I Need a Man” – Eurythmics. You and me both, sister.

“Ain’t Got No Grass” – the cast of Hair. More Broadway! What are you crazy kids going on about again?

“Mother” – Babes in Toyland. I miss when women sounded like THIS. Ferocious.

“A Day In the Life” – The Flaming Lips [feat. Miley Cyrus & New Fumes]. I really like this album. The Flaming Lips put this out in 2014: a track-by-track tribute to Sgt. Pepper. All proceeds went to a charity in Oklahoma helping people get veterinary care for their pets. The Flaming Lips do the whole song, and then after a pause … comes Miley. Whom I love. Speaking of Miley, did you see the interview she did with Joe Rogan? It’s recent. Not only is it the best – hands down – interview with her, it has now become one of my favorite celebrity interviews ever. There’s really no equivalent. I wouldn’t have clocked Rogan for a huge Miley fan, but he is. He listens to her songs backstage before gigs. It puts him in a happy place. Every human is full of surprises … His “approach” with her in the interview is fascinating, and difficult to describe without making it sound condescending. He’s almost parental with her. I know a lot of people don’t like him, but a lot of people don’t like a lot of things, and I make up my own mind about shit. I know know I don’t agree with him 100% on many things – (when people say that, I think: I don’t agree with ANYONE 100%. Literally. No one. Best friends. It says a lot about what the person expects in human interaction if 100% agreement is something they think is even achievable and/or desirable). There’s a pandemic on, tyrants stalk the land, and you’re being bitchy about the pop culture I consume and/or like. I mean, not specifically me, but still. “I can’t believe people I respect liked [insert whatever it is]” Really? You can’t believe someone has different taste than you? So now you DON’T respect them? I’m so sick of this shit. Anyway, go check out Rogan’s interview with Miley.

“Reasons I Drink” – Alanis Morissette. I could swear the opening chords are a sample from something else, and I can’t put my finger on it. It’s on the tip of my tongue and it’s driving me crazy. Anyway, this is off Alanis’ latest album, released in July of this year. Years ago, my brother said to me, “I like Alanis but I’d love for her to try to write just one song that isn’t made up of lists.” My brother’s comments have a way of worming themselves into your brain. And here’s another list-song. lol There’s nothing wrong with list songs but it does get repetitive. I bought this album all at once and have yet to go through it track by track – not ideal, imo.

“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” – Rachael Yamagata, off this really fun compilation album, a tribute to “the second British Invasion”. Again, these tribute albums are mostly great because of the collection of artists gathered together, many of whom I’ve never heard of before. Yamagata, though, I am very familiar with! I love her song “Sidedish Friend”. Here, she covers Culture Club.

“One Day” – Barrett Doss, from the Broadway soundtrack of Groundhog Day, which I feel really lucky to have seen. I wrote about it here. Doss is fantastic, amazing singer, wonderful actress.

“The Beautiful People’ – Marilyn Manson. Blow your eardrums out with this one.

“Deserted Soldier” – The Chieftans with Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is off Tears of Stone, a wonderful album where The Chieftains play traditional Irish songs and singers accompany them. Some real gems on this album. Grew up with the Chieftans’ music. It’s in my blood.

“Hanging Round” – Yipes. This was my friend Pat McCurdy’s first band. They came out with a couple albums. Very 80s! This was before Pat “went solo” in the 90s, and here we are, decades later, and he’s still going strong. During the pandemic, he’s been doing virtual shows, every Friday night. It’s been wild. People from all over the world sign on, thousands of people who have been his fans through the years, people living in Australia, in Germany, everywhere, who hadn’t been able to see him live in 30 years. It’s been wild. I hate the virus, but there has been some amazing things that came out of it.

“Lonely Avenue” – Ray Charles. I love the cadence of this. “Loh-nlee Aa-venue …”

“Three Stars” – Eddie Cochran. Haunting. This is the song he wrote for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, killed in the plane crash in 1959. Eddie Cochrain would be dead less than a year later. It’s very moving.

“She Still Loves Him” – Jellyfish. A 1990s band we were all really into in Chicago at the time. They put out a couple of albums, and every single song is good. But they didn’t do well in terms of sales. They just didn’t “make it.” However, they influenced the next generation. Their stuff doesn’t date. They aren’t “grunge.” They are more of a throwback to the 70s/80s power pop sound – ELO is a huge influence, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. They have been in constant rotation in my music listening ever since I discovered them. And I discovered them right around the time they were breaking up. I just checked their Wikipedia page and found this interesting quote from music critic Dave Everley:

[They] either arrived a decade-and-a-half too late or were so far ahead of their time that they’re still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. More than 20 years after their split, Jellyfish practically define the notion of the cult band. To the small but ardent following they attracted, they remain lost geniuses whose promise remains unfulfilled.

Come on, rest of world. Catch up, already.

“Midnight Rider” – Allman Brothers. Classic.

“Juanita” – Charlie Rich. He’s so dreamy. “Juaniiii-iiii-iiiii-iiii-ta …” “How I neee-eee-eee-eee-eeed ya …”

“Ex’s and Oh’s” – Elle King. This song rocks. I think I heard it on the radio one day, in passing, and it stopped me in my tracks. What is THIS.

“Errol Flynn” Amanda McBroom. Too painful to listen to right now.

“Alive” – Pearl Jam. Almost alone of the bands of that era, they’re still “alive” and kicking. This song was so huge.

“Harper Valley PTA – Jeannie C. Riley. I love the subversive thrust of this song. I love how it calls out the hypocrisy of the prudes. It’s a great feminist message. Women are always pointed out as “the problem,” particularly if they are considered “sexy.” But as we all know – or should know – the critics often have the nastiest skeletons in their closets. Any time some preacher rants and raves about homosexuality, you can bet he has a male-hustler-masseur on speed dial. Fuck those people.

“Rock Lobster” – The B-52’s. I feel lucky that this song was on the radio – part of the background of my teenage years. No high school dance was complete without “Rock Lobster”, and during the section where everything winds down – “Rock Lobster! Down! Down!” – the whole high school gym of teenagers would slowly collapse onto the floor. Lying there on the cold floor. Before leaping up when the music surges back to go APESHIT. This seems so HIP to me now.

“Give ‘Em Hell, Kid” – My Chemical Romance. They are so overblown, so hysterical. CALM DOWN.

“He’s Still Alive / Romero” – John Carpenter. The film soundtrack for Escape from New York, which is fantastic. It’s basically all just one note, throbbing.

“Bigger Isn’t Better” – Leonard John Crofoot, from the original Broadway production of Barnum. This is Tom Thumb’s number. I saw this production – with Glenn Close as Charity Barnum – in high school on a Drama Club field trip. Jim Dale was celebrated far and wide for his performance of PT Barnum … but we didn’t see Jim Dale. We saw …. Tony Orlando. And he was FANTASTIC. He freakin’ walked on a tightrope across the stage. I cannot imagine how difficult/nerve-wracking that must have been for him. But he was wonderful in the role.

“Dirty Rotten Bastards” – Green Day. In 2012, they came out with three albums simultaneously. It was exciting. They had been everywhere in the first decade of the 2000s, with the one-two punch of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Political, savage, the anthems of the moment. The three 2012 albums were a return to form in a way. I’m not sure why these guys were considered “punk” – but maybe that’s just because they infiltrated so far into the mainstream the sound became the mainstream. I don’t know. The guitars are pretty aggressive for traditional pop music. I was a fan pre-American Idiot. I got on board with International Superhits, and have been “in” ever since.

“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” – Django Reinhardt. He really was such a phenom.

“Bye Bye Bye / I Want It That Way” – the Glee covers of Backstreet Boys. There’s really no difference here between the Glee version and the real version. Or, the differences are minimal. My favorite numbers from Glee are the ones that re-think the songs themselves, either transforming them into a high-school-chorus format, or that re-imagine themselves into the context of the story. But still: the Glee cast was all so talented, it’s always good to hear their work.

“Defying Gravity” – Kerry Ellis takes the anthem from Wicked and ignites it. She played Elpheba in the West End, but of course Idina Menzel “owns” the song from the Broadway production. Ellis sings circles around Menzel. Don’t shoot the messenger. I have issues with Menzel’s voice. Ellis’ voice is crystal clear and filled with power. If I’m not mistaken, Brian May produced the track, and that’s Brian May on guitar. You could clock his playing in a blind line-up!

“She Fuckin’ Hates Me” – Puddle of Mudd. The lyrics are so funny. I love the honesty of the song. I love the messiness of it. “Never thought I’d be the one who’d slip … Then I started to realize I was livin’ one big lie. She fuckin’ hates me. Trust, she fuckin hates me. La la la la.” Why does this make me so happy?

“In the Closet” – Michael Jackson. Oh, Michael. You were such a huge part of my life. Of so many lives. He was so talented. So many mixed feelings. It’s hard to listen to him now.

“Trip Through Your Wires” – U2, live from Paris. I can’t believe I’ve never seen them. I like early U2 best.

“Look What You’ve Done” – Brian Stokes Mitchell, from Ragtime. Coalhouse Walker’s push for justice, leading to an ethical standoff between Coalhouse Walker and Booker T. Washington. Such a great soundtrack, and what a cast. (RIP Marin Mazzie.) So sorry I never saw this production.

“Shoppin’ Around” – Elvis Presley, from G.I. Blues. Watch the performance. He’s funny. He moves his body to the music and he knows it’s funny. He IS the music.

“Mean When I’m Mad” – Eddie Cochran. You promise? Because you’re sexy as fuck when you’re mad.

“Fame and Fortune” – Elvis, off of the great album Elvis Is Back!, the first released after he came back from the Army. He had been working hard on his voice during his two years away. He developed the higher registers, pushing himself, and here … he is an old-fashioned crooner, but still with that Elvis-ish-ness simmering. To those who wanted him to “go back” to what made him famous in the first place, Elvis was like, “Nah. Here’s something else. Check me out NOW.”

“Washington On Your Side” – Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Okiereiete Onaodowan, as Jefferson, Burr and Madison, seething at Hamilton’s intimacy with Washington. As anyone who reads me knows, I saw the Broadway production during its previews. I went with Mum and Ben. It is one of the best nights of my life, not just for the production – which was overwhelming – but also because I shared it with Mum and Ben. We were all overwhelmed. I had been so looking forward to seeing this musical – which I couldn’t even believe existed – as a long-time Hamilton stan, long before Chernow’s book ever came out – but what was even better was that the show was so GOOD. And I was thrilled that the film was so good, too – capturing the production in such a clear-sighted way. It’s like you were there.

“Bounce” – Timbaland [feat. Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake & Dr. Dre]. This album was so HUGE at the time. I still love it, listen to it often. Great song. Power-Quartet right here. When Missy comes in, the whole thing goes to another level. You think it’s over. Oh hell NO. She’s just getting started.

“Old Man Sorrow” – Nina Simone. Her rasping wail of a voice, yes, is iconic. But let’s take a moment to appreciate her piano playing. Here, especially. Wow.

“I Was Made to Love Her” – The Beach Boys. Covering Stevie Wonder. It’s so strange! Such a great song.

“House of the Rising Sun” – Lead Belly. You can hear people chatting in the room, wherever he’s recording. I wonder if that is the guitar Kurt Cobain was trying to acquire.

“Alligator Wine” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. He was completely out of his mind and I am HERE for every single second of it.

“Don’t Hurt Yourself” – Beyonce [feat. Jack White]. From Lemonade, a cultural event of the first order. This is an amazing pairing. And Beyonce in a rage is thrilling and scary. She means this shit. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I AM?” I remember gasping when I heard this song for the first time.

“Only You” – The Wellingtons, covering Yaz. Off of that compilation album filled with “Second British Invasion” songs/artists. I love this song so much. It’s so sad. “This is gonna take a long time …” Once I got more miles on me, and some dude broke up with me, I’d find myself saying to myself, “This is gonna take a long time to get over this. Be prepared.” I never get over things properly. It takes me forever. I was not familiar with The Wellingtons, but I love this. It sounds like someone is playing a xylophone at one point, which is fun and whimsical.

“No Type” – Rae Sremmurd. Now where on earth did I find this? I think it was included in the soundtrack for American Honey (soundtrack better than the movie – such a great eclectic mix, and I made a lot of new discoveries). Clever lyrics:

Bitch I ball like Jordan and I play full court.

“Dance Pt. 1” – The Rolling Stones. They sound feral. That’s a compliment.

“Beggin My Baby” – Little Milton. Blues guitarist/singer Little Milton got his start, like so many others, at Sun Records in 1953. This is one of those Sun tracks. Little Milton went on record at the legendary Stax Studio, also in Memphis, as well as many other labels. He had a long career.

“Ace of Spades” – the great Link Wray. It’s one power chord after another. Of course. He invented them. Have you seen the documentary Rumble yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

“In Dreams” – Roy Orbison. Dean Stockwell owns this song now. Or, he at least shares credit.

“Future/Now” – MC5. It’s kind of wild that such an anti-establishment “not just Fuck the man, but blow up the man’s house” kind of band would grace the cover of Rolling Stone. (Not that Rolling Stone could be termed “establishment” then, but still.) These people were not messing around. They were hard, aggressive, and to say they were “political” doesn’t quite cover what was going on with them.. They’ve been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame multiple times. Fred Smith married Patti Smith, obviously. He was just 45 when he died.

“Welcome Home” – Faye Adams. What is it with her tone, her vibrato, the way she forms vocals? I don’t have words to describe it, I just know that she is unique, she has her own style, her own way of producing sound, and feeling where her voice should go next. Her music is so perfect for slow dancing on a muggy summer night.

“Wild West” – Lissie. She has a hell of a voice. She was one of the “acts” who performed at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks: The Return.

“Barbie Dreams” – Nicki Minaj. She is so good. This is pretty funny, she goes after every Big Wig man in rap, naming names, talking shit about them sexually, airing out dirty laundry. And she’s friends with most of these people. Lol. She’s fearless. And then reminding us: “I’m just playin’.”

“One Too Many” – Keith Urban and Pink. This just came out and I am so in love with it!

“I Shall Not Be Moved” – Public Enemy. As ferocious now as it was when it first came out.

“Street Fighting Man” – The Rolling Stones. See above comment.

“Cry to Me” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. I miss him.

“Gary Indiana” – Ronnie Howard. In The Music Man. And this right here is the beauty of Shuffle. I would never, in a million years, choose to listen to “Gary Indiana” but it is good when it comes up, because … it’s funny. And I love The Music Man.

“Illuminated Dream” – Johnson & McAuley – this off an EP. “Johnson & McAuley” are Bleu – mentioned a couple times above – and Alexz Johnson. The aesthetic is 80s synthesized-power-pop – which is a huge part of Bleu’s style and influence (I can’t speak to Johnson’s influences!). This song would not be out of place playing over a montage in a movie from 1986. I love all of Bleu’s side projects. They’re always so interesting.

“Uber Everywhere” – Madeintyo. Another gem from the American Honey soundtrack!

“Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” – Prince. I have missed Prince in this Shuffle! He gets a little pointed social commentary in here!

“Tell It To the Sky” – Tracy Bonham. She’s been around for years. I buy everything she does. Huge fan. But this album is still her high watermark. It’s strong enough that I was like “Okay, I will follow this woman anywhere.” And I have.

“Mother” – The Police. This wacky song off of Synchronicity. This album was IT, as far as my friends and I were concerned, in high school. It all seemed so SMART. I don’t mean to sound condescending. But, you know. It doesn’t seem all THAT smart to me now. This was one of the albums of the year. Hard to believe there was a time in history before “Every Breath You Take.” It seems like that song was always there. And that year? It was ev-ery-where. It was IN THE AIR.

“Money Changes Everything” – The Brains. Cyndi Lauper took her cover of this to the next level. When my friend Charlie interviewed Greil Marcus, Marcus talked about this song.

“America the Beautiful” – Elvis. There are so many awesome versions of this song. My favorites are Ray Charles’ (of course) and Charlie Rich’s. But Elvis’ is special. This isn’t on one of his proper albums, but a clip exists and … in true Elvis fashion, he doesn’t just sing it. He preaches it. Listen to his prosody – that’s where his gospel roots lie, and the way he says “God.” The way he almost starts talking at points, and you feel like he’s about to raise the roof with a sermon. Elvis believed everything he did. Well, okay, not everything. When he was forced to do something, he did it to the best of his ability, and moved on. He was a professional. But when he believed in something … it didn’t just come from the tips of his toes. It came from out there in the world, and he took it all within him and then gave it back magnified. You see how that’s different? Whether or not you “believe” the words of the song … I’m honestly not interested. In his performance is the depth of his belief, but not only that: in his version, you can hear the hopes of others, the things out there he sensed and felt, and knew he could take into himself and then give back out, in epic form, so we could feel it always if we ever needed it. His version is overwhelming to me.

And considering what has been going on in my country over the last … well, ever … I guess “America the Beautiful” is a good place to stop.

I know this is long. Dipping into this off and on over this fall has been a way to unwind. Maybe some of your favorites are here too. Maybe there are some new artists you’ll want to check out! Either way, thanks for reading.

Stay safe out there.

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15 Responses to Stressful Autumn Shuffle

  1. Whew. Now THAT’s a list, and what always appeals to me about these is the same thing that happens here: I scroll and scroll and scroll through what feels like a hundred songs…and I’m familiar with five or six of them. And that’s great, because it’s inspirational! It keeps me on my musical toes, always reminding me that there is SO MUCH MUSIC in the world that I’ve never heard, and somehow you write meaningfully about all of it.

    Anyway, a few specifics: “Russians” by Sting. I had the same “Whoa, deep, dude” reaction in high school. That went away, obviously…and that wonderful melody is more effective in the original “Lieutenant Kije” by Sergei Prokofiev. (Sting openly admitted swiping the tune, going so far as to reproduce it in music notation in that album’s liner notes!)

    “Gary Indiana”…oh, The Music Man. One of my parents’ favorite musicals, I knew it well as a kid and adored it. Then my high school performed it one year, and I was in the “pit orchestra” (it was a band, we had no strings, but still), and I wound up desperately in love with the trumpet player next to me. This crush did not go well, and it ruined The Music Man for me for a number of years. (I got better!)

    “For What It’s Worth”: That song got kind of damaged, didn’t it? It was the song of choice for every movie or teevee show set in the Vietnam era…it turned up in “The Wonder Years”, “Forest Gump”, and elsewhere. Stripped of its pop culture overuse, it IS quite a powerful song.

    OK, that’s it…back to writing about Beethoven’s Violin Concerto….

    • sheila says:

      Kelly – hello! always love to hear your comments!

      // always reminding me that there is SO MUCH MUSIC in the world that I’ve never heard //

      I love it when that happens. My sister Siobhan has introduced me to so much music that has become essential to me – Mike Viola, Teddy Thompson, Bleu – and every time she puts on one of her playlists, I am constantly saying, “Now who is this person?” making a note of it for myself.

      //and that wonderful melody is more effective in the original “Lieutenant Kije” by Sergei Prokofiev. / /

      Wow. Good intel – I had no idea!

      // This crush did not go well, and it ruined The Music Man for me for a number of years. //

      Oh no!!

      If I am remembering correctly, Hugh Jackman was set to play Professor Harold Hill on Broadway in a revival – which would have been perfect. And now it’s been … postponed (indefinitely?) – due to the pandemic.

      // Stripped of its pop culture overuse //

      I know, it’s so funny how that happens. “Spirit in the Sky” is another one. I really do love “For What It’s Worth” but there’s something about those lyrics … it’s the dark underbelly of the 60s.

      // back to writing about Beethoven’s Violin Concerto…. //

      ooh, I look forward to reading.

      Speaking of Beethoven – I just saw something yesterday which you might find interesting and/or moving. I know I did. I’ll go track it down to share here.

      • sheila says:

        so you know I’m really into all these YouTube reactors. Sometimes it gets repetitive – they all listen to the same things – they all try to listen to stuff that will bring more views to the channel – but sometimes they go off the beaten path.

        My current favorite is a really eccentric guy who calls himself “Mr. Video.” I came across him because of his Eminem reactions – they have the same birthday and he feels supernaturally connected to Eminem (lol) – and he’s also just hilarious and enthusiastic about stuff.

        So just yesterday, he listened to Beethoven’s 5th. He knows nothing about Beethoven. He has never heard the symphony before. I was actually in tears watching it “hit” him for the first time. He’s overwhelmed.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sZKy7ObDyQ

        • Oh my! I watched that guy a while back when I blogged a bunch of reactors listening to the Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love”. I love these people and I have to be VERY careful about watching them, because I will go down that rabbit hole VERY quickly and lose all kinds of time. I haven’t watched his Beethoven one all the way through yet, but I did watch the first minute and I nearly spat my coffee all over my monitor (watching on break at work) when he said that he was watching because he’d heard of Beethoven because of that “Beethoven the Dog” movie. That KILLED me!!!

          • sheila says:

            The ‘Beethoven the Dog’ movie comment … I know. I was crying!!

            // I have to be VERY careful about watching them, because I will go down that rabbit hole VERY quickly and lose all kinds of time. //

            Facts.

    • sheila says:

      Kelly – I loved your Beethoven/Van Halen piece – when you write about music I always learn a lot, and you help me hear better.

      • Thank you! I’d been struggling to figure out how to write about that piece forever, and then Eddie died and…well, I don’t want that to sound like it’s a GOOD thing, you never know when the tumblers are all of a sudden going to line up.

  2. Jenna says:

    My husband loves terrible movies. Movies like, “Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo” so we’ve consumed a lot of Rob Schneider stuff, “You can do it!” and we even watched the first season of his show on Netflix, which had it’s moments.

    You’re thinking, “Why the hell are you leaving this comment on my shuffle post,” but it’s because I really like that Elle King song too, and I Love Roy Orbison. I was totally surprised when I found out Rob Schneider is Elle King’s dad. Very weird. BUT I WAS EVEN MORE SURPISED when we were watching his most recent comedy special, on Netflix I believe, and she came out at the end and they sang this incredible cover of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams.” I was not expecting that and who knew Rob Schneider could sing?

    I love reading you on music! You inspired me to FINALLY buy a Robbie Williams album, I had completely forgotten how much I loved “Millennium” when it came out until I read something you wrote about him, probably in another shuffle post.

    • sheila says:

      Wait … Rob Schneider is Elle King’s dad?? wtf??

      and she and he did a duet of “In Dreams”?

      Where the hell have I BEEN??

    • sheila says:

      and yes – Robbie!! “Millennium”! He has since gone on to come up with practically an album a year – and I really like what he’s done with his success! He’s basically taken over the spot that Michael Buble claimed – the Rat-Pack-crooner-throwback spot- even coming out with a couple of albums where he sings swing standards – and then a Christmas album – and all the rest. He’s in a stage now where he can basically do whatever he wants – and “whatever he wants” is usually something interesting, like an album of duets with people, or an album of standards … He’s a weirdo. And I love his original songs too. Man knows how to write a pop anthem!

      I discovered him when I visited my sister who was in college in Dublin. “Millennium” was everywhere. On every radio station, wafting out of every car, playing in every store we went into – it was actually almost annoying. I had never heard of the guy. His fame hadn’t “crossed over” at all, meaning across the Atlantic – not his solo career or his career in the boy band. But he was so huge “over there” not knowing about him felt like not knowing about Justin Timberlake or something – I felt silly and provincial. It was a catchy tune so I bought the cassette tape in a Virgin Records in Dublin – lol – and have followed him ever since. Never seen him live though! I was hoping to get out to see his Vegas show – but now … who knows when that will all be back up and running. :(

  3. Bill Wolfe says:

    Here’s a clip of Brian Wilson singing “Surf’s Up,” taken from one of Leonard Bernstein’s shows.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-ZjIdyWu-U

    Also, regarding “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” a word for Gerry Goffin’s lyrics. Here and in “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” he wrote from the perspective of a woman (or most likely a teenager in the Shirelles’ song) expressing her own feelings about sex better than any other man has done, as far as I know. That’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

    • sheila says:

      // expressing her own feelings about sex better than any other man has done, as far as I know. That’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment. //

      Love this – I totally agree.

      and thanks for that clip!

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