Music Shuffle for a New Era

If you follow me elsewhere, you know there have been huge changes in my life in the last 4 or 5 months. Changes tragic and changes new. I have moved. I now live by the ocean in a house surrounded by huge swaying oak trees. My whole life style has changed. But … it’s not that big a change because of what happened last year, the pandemic, politics, my family tragedies. Last year everything was different and non-stop stressful and painful the whole year. Plus, I was holed up with Hope – which was a comfort, but … strange and at times eerie, to go so long without human contact, particularly in a year when every fiber of my being was SCREAMING to go be with my family. (Game plan for the next pandemic: I will move in with one of my sisters or my mother, so I can hole up with them. LESSON LEARNED). And then Hope died. So. Making this huge move – in the teeth of a huge snowstorm – was kind of a logical step. I love my new space. It is much smaller and I have had to move the majority of my stuff into storage. It’s been less stressful than I imagined. I brought books with me that I haven’t read and also books I use consistently for research, all my film books. I brought my copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets, because I read them all the time. I brought photos I love and a couple of posters I love. My rooms have a beautiful peaceful feel and the house rattles and shakes in the big wind. It’s different and the future is very uncertain. I am floating in an in-between phase and I feel too old to be in that state, to have nothing settled. But … I’ve never had anything settled. Why start now. In the meantime, this shuffle – which has stretched out over the last couple of weeks – I listen to it on my long-ish regular drives to be with my sister and her kids … and it’s been a comfort, as music always is.

“Big Time Sensuality” – Bjork. A classic. This was one of THOSE songs when it came out. Like Gaga’s “Pokerface”. You could not go ANYwhere without hearing it. It was like: “oh, this is the summer of Big Time Sensuality.” On constant rotation. It’s still a banger. It hasn’t dated.

“The Drunkard’s Doom” – The Louvin Brothers. I have my brother to thank for turning me onto them. It’s Everly-Brothers-style perfect sibling harmonies, and yet the subject matter is a little different. Literal God-fearing crazy-making Christianity.

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” – Waylon Jennings. Not one of Waylon’s own – but he made it famous. Just looked it up, and Chet Atkins produced!

“I Need Your Love Tonight” (take 3) – Elvis Presley. The song taking shape. That’s the great thing about all these different takes, particularly from this 1958 session … you can hear how he works, how he hones his performance, makes mistakes, corrects them.

“I Gotcha” – Joe Tex. I can’t help it. I think of Reservoir Dogs when I hear this song. Same with “Little Green Bag” and “Stuck in the Middle With You” (shivers).

“Take Me to Church” – Hozier. I have no idea why I have this, or how it came on my radar. I like it. He can SING.

“The Weight” – Aretha Franklin. Is there anything better than this? One of THOSE covers, and Aretha has so many of them, where she almost obliterates the memory of the original, even when the original is awesome.

“Just Like Me” – Britney Spears. I’ve been on the #freeBritney train since before there was even such a thing as hashtags. I’ve been upset about her situation since the days of the South Park episode and the Craig Ferguson monologue, which I watched in real time. Enough is enough. End the conservatorship. It’s abusive. Free Britney. I love her.

“Black Dog Blues” – The Jack Hills. I like this. I don’t remember where I heard it and now I’m Googling it and I am not finding a trace of it anywhere. Well, I’m glad I have it.

“I Thought That We Said Goodbye” – Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones. I love the album of duets they did so much! “Old-fashioned” folk/country duets, simple, acoustic, their voices, the blend of them … it shouldn’t be old-fashioned.

“Good Love / Bad Love” – Eddie Floyd. A Stax artist! The chord changes on “It’s been a bad BAD love …” are so pleasing. He sings the hell out of this.

“Lonely Heart” – Carl Perkins. I love how vindictive this is. I love vindictive bad-sport-breakup songs. Plus: his guitar playing rules.

“Baby I Apologize” – ELO. For some reason, I don’t think your apology is 100% sincere! Maybe it’s the “nyah-nyah-nyah” melody and the happy clapping.

“You Can Cry If You Want To” – The Troggs. I love their simplicity, their raw-ness, their sex-drives, it’s pure. “You can cry … but you’re the one, you’re the one for me.” Like: that’s it. That’s their lyrics. I love this about them. (See Lester Bangs’ brilliant essay about them called – drumroll – “James Taylor Marked for Death”).

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – The Beach Boys. Talk about PURE. Those HARMONIES. My soul ACHES.

“River” – the Glee cast version. Lea Michele covers Joni Mitchell. It’s … a tough act to follow. Understatement.

“I Want You” – Elvis Costello. Travis Bickle’s inner monologue. The structure of the song is brutal. It’s so repetitive it’s psychopathic.

“Steady As She Goes” – The Raconteurs. Okay, so I’m a huge fan. It’s Jack White, Brendan Benson – two faves – and … it’s kind of a niche thing, although people who love them REALLY love them. A couple months ago, I met someone who used to work in the music industry, and knows Brendan Benson really well, and when I shouted “I LOVE HIM SO MUCH” she couldn’t believe it – not that Brendan isn’t great – HE IS – it’s just … he doesn’t have the name recognition he should. Then I was like “I LOVE THE RACONTEURS TOO” and forget it, we became friends in that moment.

“Snake Eyes” – Trouble. This was one of the roadhouse numbers in the Twin Peaks limited series. It’s very ominous.

“Clumsy” – Britney Spears. Do I need to say it again? I love her. Have always had her back. I feel protective of her. And I love this one. It’s a jam.

“My Lonely Sad Eyes” – Maria McKee. What a voice. Have loved her since her Lone Justice days. I love that I have gotten to know her personally – she actually came to the reading of my script in Los Angeles, and was a beautiful listening intense presence. She sat in my cousin Mike’s living room, listening to my script, totally still, totally absorbing what was happening. She’s the real deal. She’s got a real VOICE.

“Let Him Fly” – Dixie Chicks. Gorgeous. A cover of the amazing song by Patty Griffin.

“Green, Green Rocky Road” – Dave Von Ronk – from Inside Llewyn Davis, a movie I swooned over. It’s a MOOD.

“Drown Soda” – Hole. This album was HUGE. HUGE. I can’t even describe how huge it was for us at the time.

“High Blood Pressure” – Gene Vincent. Sexy.

“When It Rains It Really Pours” – Billy “The Kid” Emerson. He does it reeeeeeeeallly slow. This was recorded at Sun Studio. What IS it about that Sun sound? How is it IMMEDIATELY recognizable that something was recorded at Sun? I know about the slap-back, etc., I do, but … it’s something else. It’s the feeling that you are there. And you know it’s like … 2 o’clock in the morning.

“Need Me” – Eminem [featuring Pink]. This is their … fourth collab? Off Eminem’s Revival which I wrote about. At length. People hated the album all around and I think it’s unfair. This song is interesting because it’s mostly Pink. It sounds like it’s a Pink song with a “feature’ by Eminem. People didn’t get why he did that. Uhm … maybe because he loves her voice and wanted to give her space to sing the shit out of the song? I don’t know. This is one of his relationship songs – few and far between – and, as always, the relationship is codependent in the extreme. And toxic. He’s always “too much”. He loves but he clings. He admits he is a terrible partner, over and over again. I think the song is beautiful and sad. I like the two of them together.

“We Made You” – Eminem. He himself has “disowned” this song. He said he’d rather kill himself than put out another “We Made You”. lol It is pointless. He’s basically making fun of every celebrity in his line of vision. It has no point. This was when he was coming off drugs – or, he was sober – but … barely. He has said he had writer’s block once he came out of rehab, and it was torture, his brain was completely altered by being sober, and he had to learn again how to rhyme. Which is why Relapse (the album this is on) sounds the way it does, which is … maniacal. So, all of this being said. I think the video is hysterical. He plays all these different roles – Bret Michaels (and Eminem looks HOT and … “hot” is not the word I’d normally use for him), and Spock, and ELVIS … and throughout he’s basically pretending he’s sexy throughout, and making fun of his own attempts to be sexy. I think it’s hilarious. But yeah, not his finest hour. Like … what.

“You’ll Be Back” – Jonathan Groff, as King George in Hamilton. Hilarious, in both concept and performance. It’s magic, that the man could bring down the house with a couple of TEENY shoulder shrugs, but I was there and I can attest to it. Allison and I love this song. Exhibit A.

“Sam’s Drag” – L.J. Thomas. Another early Sun track with that SUN SOUND. Boogie-woogie, the piano, the electric guitar, the horns. A jam. Instrumental.

“On Sight” – Kanye West. Oh, Kanye. You’re so weird and oftentimes infuriating and you’re also a genius. I somehow don’t have issues reconciling these polar-opposite qualities. Like, both are true. Throughout history both things have been true. Not my problem. I’m an adult.

“Magic” – Air Traffic Controller. This song is so associated with an extremely tumultuous time in my life, tumult both good and bad. There were certain songs I listened to over and over again in that time – Everclear was a big one, Bleu was another, plus Coral Sea’s “Look at her Face” – oof, can’t listen to that one anymore, and this song. It’s hard for me to separate it from that context.

“Ol’ MacDonald” – Elvis. This is a travesty.

“The Ladder” – Prince. From Around the World In a Day. Nobody like him. He weaves a spell.

“Season of the Witch” – a FEROCIOUS cover of Donovan’s song by Courtney Love. It sounds like she wrote it. She owns it.

“Twilight Time” – The Platters. They are perfect.

“Heat of the Moment” – Asia. This song has been forever transformed for me because of this:

“I’d Leave Me Too” – Audrey Auld. Old-fashioned country music – with an old-fashioned sound (in the best sense) – from this Australian singer/songwriter who – tragically – died 5 years ago from cancer. She was 51. Nothing like a country singer to put things into the most perfect words possible. “You’re the lucky one, and I wish I were you. I won’t stop you when you go, cuz I’d leave me too.”

“Frankie & Johnny” – Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s the way the song should be done.

“Bad Kids” – Lady Gaga. I have been consumed with worry and rage about what’s been going on with her dogs. I am so glad they’ve been returned to her but STILL. HER POOR DOGWALKER. HORRIFYING AWFUL PEOPLE.

“If I Don’t Leave Here Now” – The Indigo Girls. Sometimes their music hurts me too much. I don’t know. I try not to look backwards. I have to actively work to not live with regret 100% of the time. I don’t know. I’ve lost a lot over the years. I’ve had to just not think about things. It makes you feel cut off from your past. But … it had to be done. So. That’s what this song makes me think of. The things I can’t think about anymore.

“If …” – Bleu. One of his ballads. His voice … his melodies … his work just speaks to me on such a deep level. If you want to read about the time I saw him live, here it is. I was in a bad way when I wrote that, so just be warned.

“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” – The Beach Boys. I feel the same way. Off Pet Sounds.

“Wet Dog Man” – Paul Chesne. I have no idea where I found this. I hear stuff in movies, in commercials, I don’t care, and immediately track it down, and then forget about it until it comes up. They’ve got a great sound, heavy as shit, but kinda country too. Rough, dirty.

“You Send Me” – Haley Reinhart. I just put up a post about this fabulous singer/performer. I love her.

“Darling Darling Darlings Overseas” – Mike Viola. From his latest album, so the songs here aren’t “in me” as much as the songs from his earlier albums. It’s always a new discovery with him. He’s wonderful.

“King of the Road” – Roger Miller. Classic.

“The One in the Middle” – Sarah Johns. An awesome bad-sport breakup song, my favorite genre. “I would have given you the finger on my left hand, the one you use for a wedding band. Now I’m giving you the one in the middle, the one that’s a little bit longer.” lol

“Come On Let’s Go” – Ritchie Valens. He was so damn young when he died. A teenager. Such a loss.

“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” – Urge Overkill. Once again, this song will now forever be associated with a Tarantino movie:

“The Alcohol of Fame” – Jerry Lee Lewis, from his ascension to Nashville-domination era. I love his country songs, because he spices it with boogie-woogie. This is great, plus the fiddle swooping around as he swoops around on the piano.

“Beach Boy Blues” – Elvis, from Blue Hawaii, when he gets thrown in jail, and then dresses up as a woman in order to escape. We need some good classic Elvis in this shuffle. I mean, this is fine, and I love Blue Hawaii, but … you know.

“Square Dance” – Eminem, from The Eminem Show. I was just going back into my archives to check something, all the way back to the beginning, in October, 2002. The year The Eminem Show came out, the year 8 Mile came out. And Eminem is everywhere in those old blog posts. I mean, it’s a theme. It’s wild to watch myself count down the days to the release of Encore. People who were like “where is the Eminem obsession coming from” over the last year are clearly not old-timers. Anyway, this song is one of his many many (many many) songs calling out the doubters/haters. Calling them out by name. You’re either with him or against him. I’m not saying that’s healthy or right or socially acceptable. I’m just saying that’s what he’s doing.

“Here’s Love: My State” – Fred Gwynne & Laurence Naismith. Wow. This is from the Broadway musical Here’s Love, nearly forgotten, but which I got into in high school because the music was written by Meredith Wilson, who wrote The Music Man. I wonder if this gets any traction these days. It appears to be a Christmas-themed musical.

“John Henry” (live) – Pete Seeger. It’s always nice when a Stalinist can play the banjo.

“A Shameless Use of Charm” – Everclear. Off Welcome to the Drama Club which … for whatever reason – helped me get through 2009. It got under my skin. Maybe because their music is so positive, even when it’s angry or sad. There’s a positive joy in life underneath the rage. It was a lifeboat. Weird how that happens sometimes with the most random music.

“Give Me One Reason” – Tracy Chapman (with Eric Clapton) – live from Washington D.C. I think this is far and away Tracy Chapman’s best song, and it’s great to hear Clapton supporting her, with this hot guitar underneath everything. It’s a great song. And Kelly Clarkson did a great cover.

“Women Do Know How to Carry On” – Waylon Jennings. And you love every minutes of it, Waylon.

“Maria Wanders Through the Thorn” – Jane Siberry, from the album of her live Christmas Show at … the Bottom Line, I think? I was so into this album for a while. I kind of tripped over it in a bin of cassette tapes at a second-hand store in Hoboken, and found it lovely. I listened to it too much, to be honest. But still, it’s beautiful if you want to check it out.

“Today, Tomorrow and Forever” – Elvis, from Viva Las Vegas. This is more like it. A beautiful ballad (and a wonderful kind of inner-monologue song in the movie, and he performs it – acts it – beautifully).

“Private Serenade” – Pat McCurdy. He just came out with a new album, Now Is Not the Time for Sad Songs – with some Covid songs. He’s been doing FB live shows every Friday night. He says now is not the time for sad songs. But this is … sad. Love songs make me sad, I guess.

“The Best Part of Breaking Up” – The Ronettes. There’s so much SPACE in the sound. Just like the “Sun sound”, the “Phil Spector sound” is instantly recognizable – although Spector’s sound has more to do with technical production and Sun has more to do with the mood of the place and a unique room-tone.

“Baby” – Little Richard. Off his 1957 debut album. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be alive then and hear him for the first time. To hear THIS. Like … what is THIS. RIP Little Richard.

“Calling in the Wind” – The Judds. They were so great.

“Two Pink Lines” – Eric Church, live in Cincinnati, 2017. This was one of his earlier songs, and one of the first songs that got him in trouble. It wouldn’t be the last. It’s a catchy tune about teen love and sex … which ends up with the kids “waiting on two pink lines” of a pregnancy test. I must point out that the “I” of the song (presumably Eric) is in a panic but he is prepared to marry her. There’s no mention of abortion. And still, the Family Values crowd flipped out. These people are the fucking worst. I love the song – it’s funny and creative.

“I’m Coming Back to You” – Jackie Wilson. He is just awe-inspiring.

“Believer” – Imagine Dragons. I had no idea. I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I somehow tripped over this song. I was riveted. Now I understand. Sorry I’m late to the party. But I’m glad I’m here now.

“In the Ghetto” – Elvis Presley, live at the International Hotel, 8/24/69. This was his first show at the International, his first big concert since 1961. The stakes … the stakes could not have been higher. I bought the box set which came out recently. 99 bucks. Worth it. It’s wild to listen to this song – now a classic – one of the few Elvis songs that still get radio play (weird) – and here, it’s a brand-new song for him, a major hit he had recorded just a year earlier.

“Hey Johnny Park” – Foo Fighters. Off The Colour and the Shape. Once upon a time, hit albums stretched out over a year. Like Thriller or Purple Rain. Or Synchronicity. Or The Eminem Show. I suppose it still happens. I remember that with Lady Gaga’s first album. But now … albums just appear, and then vanish. A couple songs hit big, move to radio. But … radio? Who really listens? It’s just a different environment. But … with those monster albums in the past – you could not escape Thriller for a year. Every song was a hit, the charts were filled with multiple songs from the same album sometimes – and I associate my entire year with that album, I know where I was, what was happening, etc. Anyway, this album was one of those albums. The album was an EVENT. I was so into it it was on constant rotation for a year, over a year. I know every lyric, every chord, I know the song order, the transitions. Huge album.

“Bad Things” – L7. These girls are so HARD. So TOUGH.

“Houston” – Dean Martin. He is so smooth. So perfect. You can hear him smiling.

“Remember the Name” – Ed Sheeran [feat. Eminem and 50 Cent]. These big rapper dudes love Ed Sheeran and I love that. Ed Sheeran has said that when he was a child he had a debilitating stutter and memorizing Eminem’s insanely fast lyrics and saying them out loud helped him conquer it. This is catchy as hell.

“Upside Down 2” – Tori Amos. From her 2017 album Native Invader, which – honestly – I haven’t really listened to yet. I used to be an URGENT Tori Amos fan, from that first album, which gripped me in its clutches for a good YEAR. And then I fell off some years later. I’m rarely in the mood for her anymore, particularly her ballads. But I’m still always interested in what she’s up to. IMO her “Big Wheel” was her best song in years. This is a good song – it’s just her and her piano! I saw her live right before Little Earthquakes was released. I had read a little interview with her in Interview and was intrigued. It was at the Park West in Chicago. Within a matter of months, she was taking over the world.

“Concertina” – Tori Amos. Are you kidding me. There’s a same-ness to some of her songs, and … I don’t know, I have no idea what she’s talking about half the time. I’m still a fan but in general I’m not in the mood for her, which … doesn’t really make sense. But neither does life.

“The Fairest of the Seasons” – Nico. This one cracks my heart into a million pieces!

“Don’t Hear a Single” – Bleu and Mike Viola, in their side project called Aquavia. If you’re a Bleu fan, you must seek his stuff out and be creative in doing so. He often works under different names. He just came out with an album filled with children’s songs (he became a dad last year) – and he “released” it with no fanfare and so I just tripped over it at random. BLEU. The aliases are killing me! I think it’s actually pretty cool, though. I love this song, the title of which is the probable comment of every record producer who’d listen to these guys’ albums: “It’s all great but I don’t hear a single.” Aquavia is out there to be found. Maybe someone’s uploaded it to Youtube. It’s fun, I love the songs.

“Guadalajara” – Elvis. The 1960s were such a weird era. No one emerged unscathed.

“Go West” – Liz Phair, from The Girly-Sound Tapes, a treasure trove. These songs – in rough form here – would eventually coalesce into her ground-breaking sui generis album Exile in Guyville. It’s so fun to hear her here, in process, with no production value really … recording the songs that would make her name for all time. Thrilling.

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – Green Day, live. A classic. It makes my heart hurt.

“Thirteen Men” – Ann-Margret. Smokin’ hot.

“Star-Spangled Banner” – Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. It’s eerie. It’s brilliant. The melody starts, falls apart, re-asserts itself, disintegrates into fuzz and static, comes back clear and cold and heartbreaking.

“All I Ever Wanted” – Kelly Clarkson. This woman can sing.

“Somebody Told Me” – Eurythmics. Nobody does a blazingly angry song filled with hate like Annie Lennox. You can’t even call them “bad sport breakup songs”. They’re far blunter. “You hurt me and I hate you” she sings in one song. She’s not messing around. She burns that bridge.

“Sixteen Tons” – Frankie Laine. Rather vanilla. I like Tennessee Ernie Ford’s better, of course, and ZZ Top’s version RULES.

“Dearest Darling” – Bo Diddley. Nobody like him, nothing like the sounds he made.

“Gotta Travel On” – Jerry Lee Lewis. I haven’t quite found out the best way to describe his voice, and what he does with it, and why it’s so pleasing. I usually say something along the lines that he FLINGS it around, fearless, going on UP, tossing up it there with total trust, yodeling a bit while he’s up there, and then coming on down. It has a FLINGING quality. I’m sure someone has written about his voice, and its specific qualities and why it’s so good. Instantly recognizable.

“Stage Fright” – The Band. That piano opening it, those descending chords … the sound feeds my soul.

“NO” – Meghan Trainor. I don’t know much about her, but I like the couple of songs I have of hers.

“No One’s Iller” – Eminem (feat. Swifty McVay, Bizarre & Fuzz Scoota). From the Slim Shady LP, it’s got that Slim Shady sound. Eminem and his 313 posse.

“Bitch I’m Madonna” – Madonna and Nicki Minaj. Lol. It’s a banger. Nicki is out of this world.

“Plastic Doll” – Lady Gaga. Off Chromatica, her new album. It’s weird in this new era – there are artists where I’ll buy their full album sight unseen, just because they are them. Lady Gaga is one of them. But … like, back in the day, I’d buy an album and go home and sit by the turntable and go through it song by song, reading along the liner notes. No wonder why I have memorized those hundreds of songs I absorbed between the ages of 10 and 18. And beyond. But somehow I don’t do this now. I just buy it and then eventually get to it. So that’s what happened with Gaga, even though I really like her (and her inauguration performance was one of the most stone-cold patriotic performances I have ever seen in my LIFE.) All of this is to say, this is all new to me. Hey, “Plastic Doll” what are you about?

“Loud Lion Theme Song” – Loud Lion. Okay, so member how I spoke about Bleu up above, and how he tends to show up in unexpected places, under various aliases and it’s practically a full-time job keeping up with him? (I haven’t even mentioned his songwriting for others.) Anyway, Loud Lion is a band put together by Bleu as a tribute to Def Leppard. It’s SO MUCH FUN.

“Gangsta Gangsta” – NWA. Ice Cube and Eazy-E paint the picture. “Do I look like a fucking role model?” It’s both a celebration of “gangsta” life, but also a cautionary tale. It’s brilliant story-telling. DETAILS. That’s what the best hip-hop can give: details, way more details than you get in a regular pop song.

“Take From Me” – Bad Meets Evil. Bad Meets Evil is Eminem and Royce da 5’9″ – everyone keeps wishing they’d come out with another project. I love that they did this, casually, on their own time, no game plan, however many songs they had is however many songs they had. I love the independence of it, and the two of them are so close they’re simpatico in style and objective. Both their verses are filled with pain – Eminem speaks (of course) about how fame causes him to “live in a bubble” (I don’t think any of us can really get what that’s like, although maybe now with the pandemic we may have more of a glimpse), and Royce talks a lot about how now that he’s successful, family members and fans and everyone are coming out of the woodwork with their hands out. It’s painful but he’s saying to them, “No. You weren’t there for me back then, why should I be there for you now?”
I done been broke
I done been through the motions
I don’t pay no attention to birds, I use my scope and I tend to the vultures

They’re both so good.

“Sugar” – Bikini Kill. It still screams out of the speakers, terrifying, real.

“Overwhelmed” – Royal & The Serpent. I think this was included in the soundtrack of a movie I just saw, but I already can’t remember which one. This song called to me: Buy me, have me, own me. So now I do. It’s great.

“Dear Theodosia” – Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, and Lin Manuel Miranda, the song sung to their children. It’s so beautiful. A duet between these two men. “My father wasn’t around … I swear that I’ll be around for you …” I am so glad Hamilton exists and also that it was captured forever, and I can see it any time I want. (I saw it live, while it was still in previews! Thank God I did, because I never could have gotten tickets after that, the waiting list was insane, and then came the pandemic, so …. )

“Night Crawling” – Miley Cyrus [feat. Billy Idol]. I included this album in my list of Things That Got Me Through 2020. She released it last year. It’s fantastic. And this is thrilling – she basically is the new Billy Idol for a new generation, so this pairing is perfection.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” – Oasis. I love his voice. I was talking once to my brother about them and I was like, “His voice is so wonderful – and some of their chord changes hit just right … but they’re lacking something for me.” He agreed. The songs are not quite there. But sometimes they HIT. Sometimes they do capture lightning in a bottle. This is one of those songs.

“I Remember” – Eddie Cochran. Cochran is always sexy but when he gets soulful and yearning you just want to FAINT. If I had been a teenager in the 1950s, I would have lost my fucking mind over him. And I’m barely holding on now, and he’s been dead longer than I’ve been alive.

“Endless Lies” – ELO. “Sometimes I think I’m living on a merry-go-round” (voices in the background, high “Ahhh-AHHHH”. It’s so good. I’m ride-or-die with ELO.

“Damn Girl” – Justin Timberlake. This is ssssssteam heat! This whole album is FIRE.

“Hard to Say” – Dan Fogelberg. He certainly did have a way, didn’t he.

“Mississippi” – The Cactus Blossoms. Like a lot of people, I discovered them via Twin Peaks: The Return, where they were one of the “roadhouse acts” that closed out every episode. Their clean-cut looks, throwbacks to the early 60s, and Everly Brothers-style harmonies really struck me. If I’m not mistaken, this is the song they sang on Twin Peaks.

“Straitjacket” – Alanis Morrisette. “I don’t know who you’re talking to with such fucking disrespect.” Alanis is not PLAYING. My favorite Alanis is angry Alanis. Same with Tori Amos.

“Paradise” – Bruce Springsteen. From The Rising. I am grateful he did this album. I could barely listen to it then, though, the memories of the day were too horrifying, the sense of grieving so palpable you could taste it in New York. I still have a hard time listening to these songs. But in that moment he was a poet laureate. This is what artists do, this is their highest calling.

“Anyone’s Guess” – Pat McCurdy. “I met your mother – what happens now? I’ve seen you naked. What happens now?” It’s all about sex. Sex on the brain. Always. I know him so I can say that. We were alike that way. This is off his album Showtunes, which was the one that was out when I first started to go see him play. I bought his cassette tapes at Tower Records.

“Gonna Rock and Roll Tonight” – Carl Mann. A Tennessee rockabilly boy who recorded at Sun Records. This is really his only hit, released in 1957. You can hear how far Elvis had infiltrated the culture. Everything, the phrases, the little low vibrato, the sudden rasps, the whole thing screams Elvis.

“Public Enemy Number One” – from Anything Goes, the Broadway revival with Patti Lupone, which I saw!

“Santa’s Back in Town” – Roxx Gang, covering Elvis’ feral Christmas song. It’s a jam.

“Stay Awake” – Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. Haunting, quiet, lovely.

“Life’s What You Make It” – The Nines, off of Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion, an awesome compilation album of current band’s covering songs from that fruitful period. So glad I bought it. Not only are all of these songs woven into my DNA because I was in high school/college when all this happened … but it’s fun to be introduced to new bands. So this song, of course, is the 1986 classic by Talk Talk.

“Suddenly Seymour” – Ellen Greene, from Little Shop of Horrors. She’s not just “talented”. She’s a phenom. I mean, LISTEN to what she does.

“Don’t Play That Song” – Aretha Franklin. If you don’t hear this and start moving back and forth, swaying, moving to the music … what’s wrong with you?

“That’s All Right” – Elvis Presley, live on The Louisiana Hayride, 1955. These recordings are out of this world and we are so lucky to have them. Elvis may have recorded his first songs on Sun Records, but it was the Louisiana Hayride radio show that really launched him, gave him more reach, and – crucially – gave him stage experience, of which he had barely any when he started. He caused an UPROAR. He practically killed the whole show – other artists on the show didn’t want to follow him. Country artists suddenly paled in comparison to the pandemonium he caused. At this point, it’s just Elvis and Scotty and Bill – DJ Fontana came around this time, too – but I don’t think there’s any drums in this recording. The recordings are rough but they give a sense of the raw electric energy in those days when Elvis was brand new, a brand new species, practically

“Better Together” – Jack Johnson. I like him. I just prefer things with sharper teeth.

“Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” – Neil Diamond. Try to resist it. Just TRY.

“Love Me or Leave Me” – Billie Holiday. I haven’t seen the new movie about her. I’m slightly afraid to. Biopics are so weird, so hit-or-miss and when they miss they always miss in the same way. I’m writing a piece about this right now. I will see it and try to keep an open mind.

“You’re the First, My Last, My Everything” – Barry White. Absolutely glorious.

“What the Beat” – DJ Clue [feat. Royce da 5’9″, Method Man & Eminem). This has the sound of the era in it. These guys are all so talented. The beat is minimal and repetitive, it’s about highlighting the lyrics.
Vampire, sun go down, I’m still wilding
Bullets travel through the air in the night like Phil Collins


“Bad Boy” – The Jive Bombers. A classic. The way he sings “la la la la” is so different. It’s not “la”, it’s more like “leh” but there’s an elongated vowel. It sounds like “nyah nyah nyah” a little bit. “Cause I’m just naturally crazeeeeee Bad Boy lleh lleh lllleeeh llehhh”

“Honky Tonk Song” – George Jones. This is a sad-ass tale, George.

“Colonel Fraser & O’Rourke’s Reel” – The Dubliners. I was wondering when my countrymen would show up. I’ve missed them.

“She Smiled Sweetly” – The Rolling Stones. This doesn’t really sound like them. It’s off the Between the Buttons album, when they clearly were influenced by the psychedelic sound going on. It’s fascinating, but they sound … hemmed in.

“Rock Me Baby” – Jimmy Haggett. Sun Records: what a shock. I don’t know much about this guy. It’s obvious why this is his most well-known song (and that’s an exaggeration. You have to be a Sun Records completist like Yours Truly to even trip over it). He sounds a lot like Carl Perkins, with a couple of Elvis hitches in his voice. He was a DJ, I believe.

“Hello, Goodbye” – the Glee cast covering the Beatles. You know. I have to have all of the Glee covers. Those kids were so talented.

“Jingle Bells” – Leftover Cuties. They are my favorite discovery of the last 5 or 6 years. I just lOVE her voice, and I love their arrangements of classics. There’s such a mix of genres and sounds, and it doesn’t feel kitsch at all.

“Till We Reach That Day” – from Ragtime, the finale of the first act. It is overpowering. No matter how many times I’ve heard it … it overwhelms me. Waves of goosebumps cover my body. It’s primal, I have nothing to do with it at this point.

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7 Responses to Music Shuffle for a New Era

  1. Jen W. says:

    I love these shuffle posts. Thought you might like this too, if you haven’t seen it already, of Hozier.

  2. TraceyK says:

    You know, God Bless Barry White.

    Have you seen the documentary on Muscle Shoals? I discovered Arthur Alexander, the country-soul singer, through that film.

  3. Susan says:

    I remember seeing the Squirrel Nut Zippers play a gig at a tiny club called TT’s. They were touring with their first album. The stage was tiny, and it was amazing the whole band fit up there. They were on FIRE that night. The band was tighter than tight. They played and played and played. Finally someone from the club went up to the stage: they’d played until the club’s curfew. They did one more song, and then the lead singer took the mike and said, “Good night happy people!” And we were, oh, we were! I remember spilling out into the frosty clear fresh night spinning with joy and the music.

    Thank you for this musical gift of a post. You’ve just introduced me to the Leftover Cuties.

    • sheila says:

      Susan – wow that sounds like such a great show!

    • sheila says:

      oh and you are so welcome in re: Leftover Cuties. They are so special – and SHE is just wonderful. I love her voice so much. I just love what they’re about – I can’t even remember how I tripped over them.

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