6-State Shuffle

5-plus hour drive yesterday as I drove through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. It was a New England kind of day, where you can pass through multiple states in one day. I am freckled and relaxed. I have a lot to come back to. The script has its own momentum now. There’s a lot happening with that. I have my other as-yet-unnamed project which is taking up a lot of time. I need to jumpstart that so it has its own momentum. It was a wonderful week away with my beautiful family, lots of swimming, hysterical laughter, good food, and good conversation. We love each other. We like hanging out with each other. It was awesome.

So, without further adieu, here is the forward-motion 6-state Shuffle from my drive yesterday. It was a good one.

Walking On Broken Glass – Annie Lennox. The Shuffle starting with this is a good sign. This album was my anthem when I first moved to Chicago. It was like I had busted out of prison. I listen to this song and I remember the hope, excitement, and adrenaline of that time.

Hot Fudge – Robbie Williams, live at Knebsworth. He is fierce. Why do I love him so? His songs hit the sweeeeet spot. You can hear the thrill of that enormous crowd in this entire album.

What Is Urinetown? – cast of Broadway production of Urinetown. Insane. Funny. We were just talking about this show. We all went to see it as a family in New York. I remember hearing my dad laugh.

Jesus of Suburbia – Green Day. What an album. Still thrilling.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers. Love these guys, love the accents.

Half-Breed – Cher. Oh hell to the YES. You haven’t lived until you have blasted this at top volume as you careen through small colonial towns in New Hampshire surrounded by rolling farmland. This song always makes me think of Mitchell, who does a hell of a Cher imitation.

A Day In the Life – The Beatles. I remember listening to this song when I was a wee girl and being so disturbed by it. It felt very grown-up. I knew it was serious. I knew I was listening to something that was ahead of me in experience, and it gave me an odd feeling.

Octopus’ Garden – The Beatles. Oh, Ringo.

A Bitter Christmas – Jane Siberry. I got this double-album years ago of Jane Siberry’s Christmas concert at The Bottom Line, I think. It’s fantastic. Quirky, suddenly emotional. She’s adorable.

The theme of Doctor Zhivago – Maurice Jarre. Jesus Mary and Joseph this is primal music, just launches you right into the emotion of the movie without even seeing it.

Electric Chapel – Lady GaGa. GaGa getting all electric guitar and melodramatic. Another good one to blast as you scream through towns incorporated in 1761.

Milkcow Blues Boogie: Elvis Presley. Young, young, young, but listen to that Alpha male stop everyone and say, “Hold it fellas. That don’t move me. Let’s get real real gone for a change.” Yes, SIR.

Make Love Stay – Dan Fogleberg. Put a sock in it, Dan!

O Girlfriend – Weezer. I love them, forgot about them!

Jesus Children of America – Stevie Wonder. That rarity: a totally perfect album.

Best Of You – Foo Fighters. A live version. Dave Grohl has indestructible vocal chords.

Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss. Why does this pairing work so well? I love pondering it. Their voices have a beautiful dreamy sexy blend. He’s so male, so tough and grizzled. She’s both ethereal and earthy, with an unearthly voice. They work together, so so well. Makes me sad that Elvis didn’t live to make an album like this with some female vocalist. It would have been fascinating to hear Elvis sing harmony, to submit to a partnership (which he so rarely did in his career), to support. Harmony supports. Robert Plant said one of the biggest draws of this entire project was that he had never sung the harmony line, at least not in his career. He’s a lead singer. Lead singers sing the melody. He wanted that challenge. I love him for that revelation alone. The great ones always want to challenge themselves, learn, grow.

To Be Brave – Sarah Donner. God, I just love her. Her songs cut me, make me feel hopeful, make me look up and out.

You Made Me Love You – Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall. One of the most amazing things about her is that she was able to revisit the songs she sang when she was a child, and pour them into her adult experience, and transform them. She wasn’t just re-living the past. She worked with songs, she played with them. If it’s a good song, it can handle her futzing with it. Nobody like her.

Datin’ (takes 6, 7, 8, 11 & 12) – Elvis. Hilarious. This is from the abysmal Paradise Hawaiian Style soundtrack and Elvis could not get thru the song without laughing. I am so happy these outtakes were preserved. Elvis’ laugh, if you are familiar with it, is unselfconscious, huge, and abandoned. There’s one point where he is trying to get his shit together for another take, and you can hear him – literally hear him – shaking and sniffing with laughter. He is beyond the pale. They need a lunch break. Elvis has lost it.

Hot Rod – Hal Singer and his Orchestra. Hot stompin’ dance music, big band, clapping hands. Awesome.

Girl – The Beatles. Sure, Paul, I’ll listen to your story, no prob.

Physical – the cast of Glee. Fun! Another good one to blast as you careen towards the White Mountains.

With Or Without You – U2. Live from Paris. What a sound. What a song.

What To Do With Michael – Mike Viola and the Candybutchers. We are now entering the section of the shuffle where I got emotional. I was on Route 91 by this point, a long boring highway where it is very difficult not to speed. You have to force yourself to not go 90. It’s open, hilly, and usually mostly empty. This song is from Mike Viola’s wonderful album “Hang On Mike”, which is really about the upheaval in his life following the death of his young wife. He had some kind of crackup in the wake of her death (they were only in their 20s, I believe), and was hospitalized in a mental institution. There are songs about the mental hospital, songs about the dead wife – the album is both tragic and hopeful. This song is about falling in love again, after a disaster. It’s great lyrics. The woman he meets “knows what to do with Michael”. They’re married now. They have a kid. I actually met both of them (well, all of them) – when my sister Siobhan opened for him at a little show at a bar in New York. A HUGE moment for my sister (Mike Viola is one of her idols), and a beautiful night all around. Anyway. This song came on, and I started getting weepy. As I struggled to drive at a safe speed limit.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – Carole King. I was now crying openly.

Nobody’s Girl – Bonnie Raitt. My Shuffle is trying to kill me. I have been haunted by this song for, what, 20 years? Whenever it first came out. So much has happened to me since the song came out, but even back then, I got a chill when I heard it. I had a feeling it was about me. It felt like it was about me. The lyrics, one after the other, seemed to describe me. Or, I imagined that this was how my friends might talk about me (because that’s the context of the song: she’s being described by someone else). I feared the reality of that song. In some ways, that song has come true. But, you know, I’m still alive, and while there’s life, anything can happen. But coming on the heels of the Carole King song … it’s a bit much. I rarely listen to “Nobody’s Girl”. Can’t. Too close to home. Thanks, Bonnie, for pilfering my subconscious!

Take Me To the Mardi Gras – Paul Simon. Don’t tell me what to do, Paul, kthxbye.

How’s the World Treating You – Elvis. That crazy echo RCA put on his voice to try to re-capture the Sun stuff. He sounds like he’s at the bottom of a well. He’s soft and melancholy here.

God – Pat McCurdy. I was wondering when he would show up. He’s usually much bossier on my Shuffles, horning himself in every other song.

Love Montage (I Saw Him Once/In My Life/A Heart Full of Love) – from Les Miserables, Cosette, Valjean, Marius. I haven’t listened to this album in so long.

One Man Guy – Rufus Wainwright. He’s sometimes hit-or-miss with me, although he gave one of the most memorable live shows I have ever seen, on Valentine’s Day in 2002. The pall of 9/11 still hanging over New York, a fact that perhaps the rest of the country can’t really grasp. You could FEEL it. He could feel it. It was in the air. He spoke about it, he did his best to entertain us, to cheer us up. I love this particular song. He gets all country here.

Have a Banana! – The Beatles, Live at the BBC. “Here, Ringo, have a banana!”

If Tomorrow Never Comes – Garth Brooks. Garth and I go way back. When he did that huge concert in Central Park, I went. I couldn’t find anyone who would go with me. It was mayhem. The crowd was enormous. I was pretty close. He gave a great show and everything, but the biggest moment – the moment I am so glad I was there to witness: At one point he said, “I’d like to introduce to the stage my greatest inspiration, the guy who got me into this racket.” And holy shitballs, out walked DON MCLEAN, who then proceeded to sing “American Pie” WITH Garth. I was out of my mind.

Life Has Been Good To Me – Bonnie Raitt, in Randy Newman’s awesome awesome musical Faust. Love it.

Me Party – Amy Adams and Miss Piggy, from The Muppets. Hilarious disco number.

Birmingham Blues – ELO. The first album I ever bought with my own money was ELO’s Time. I was 12. Haven’t gotten sick of them yet. I think it’s safe to say that I never will.

Teeth – Lady GaGa. You know what? I love this song. Makes me want to grind into someone on a couch for a while.

Time Warp – from Rocky Horror Picture Show. They used to play this at high school dances and we all would go absolutely apeshit, and everyone would end up on the floor at the end, lying on the tile, writhing around. Insanely fun.

Who’d Have Known – Lily Allen. This song is sweet. Working her segment was my first gig at The TODAY Show. Here’s a picture I took in the studio!

If I Loved You – Elvis Presley, one of his home recordings. You can hear all his yahoo friends cackling in the background. God, I love it when he plays the piano. I find it deeply charming.

Ready Teddy – Elvis. Hot, rocking. He’s young, he’s in a state of perpetual arousal, and he’s rough and ready. Love the piano here too.

One Broken Heart For Sale – Hey, look, it’s an Elvis cluster! This is from It Happened at the World’s Fair. I want to live in that little trailer park in the redwood forest. It looks like heaven. Especially if an out-of-work pilot who looks like freakin’ Elvis Presley decides to stroll through the paths strumming a guitar and singing this song. Jesus. Sign me up.

Angel (Take 4) – Elvis. I have so many takes of this song. I’m not sure what the problem was, and why they had a hard time nailing it down. His voice sounds dreamy. He’s got that sexy whisper at the back of it.

Maybe, This Time – Ok Go. Love these guys.

Brand New Day – The Eurhythmics. Love this song, and love this entire album. She is so pissed.

I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick. Yeah, well, you can’t always get what you want, pal.

What’d I Say – Ray Charles. Another excellent song to blast as you fly down an empty highway!

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill – The Beatles. Fuck you, Charles Manson, for insinuating yourself into the context of this great album.

Playing For Keeps – Elvis. Sweet earnest Elvis.

Golden Coins (Takes 7,8) – Elvis, from the Harum Scarum sessions. Poor guy. You can hear the technicians struggle to get it right, lots of stopping and starting. Dumb song, but Elvis sounds beautiful.

Life Is a Buffet – Pat McCurdy. Hey, jagoff, where ya been?? Here he goes a little bit reggae, which is completely ridiculous!

You’re The One That I Want – John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, from Grease. A great car song! The lesson from the end of this movie to young girls: You must change to keep your man. You must whore it up and not complain about it. Sick.

Your Cheatin’ Heart – Elvis. I think, for some reason. Elvis was not happy with what he had recorded. The song was held back from release. I can understand with some of those second-tier songs, why Elvis didn’t want them out there, but this? I LOVE his vocal here. I LOVE what he does with this song. And when he puts that slight rasp in his voice during the bridge …. seriously. It’s awesome. Stop complaining, Elvis.

Jeremy – Pearl Jam. Boy, this song brings back a whole time and place. Wow.

Finale of Hello Dolly – good old Walter Matthau.

Do You Believe In Love – Huey Lewis and the News. This is a live version. He has a great band. He was my first concert. I love this song.

Let Him Fly – Patty Griffin. Just rip my heart out, please.

Suspicious Minds – Elvis. Live, from the great That’s the Way It Is album. We were just talking about this song on Twitter. It’s a difficult song, complex lyrics, and a deeply ADULT situation. Elvis as a fully bloomed adult man in a complex situation. He’s phenomenal here.

Fool, Fool, Fool – Elvis. A rough radio recording from 1955. Love to hear Scotty going to town with that complex picking that Sam Phillips was always trying to talk him out of. Elvis is so young. 20 years old. But fully bloomed already. He’s having fun here with his voice. He’s sexy, aching, and despairing, it’s all in his voice.

Heartache Tonight – Eagles. An excellent route-91 song, blasted at top volume. I sang along like a banshee.

He’s a Man – Madonna, from the Dick Tracy soundtrack. I’m weird, but I think this was one of her best albums.

Nowhere To Go – Cliff Eberhardt. Oh, Cliff. I discovered him in the late 80s. He opened for Christine Lavin at a show in Philadelphia. My first boyfriend and I were going to see Christine Lavin, had no idea who he was, and considered skipping his set. Thank God we didn’t. Because Cliff Eberhardt is one of the most important music discoveries of my life. I’ve seen him play probably 20 times. He has got me through some tough times. He understands.

You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest. It’s really hard not to speed when you listen to this song. I felt indestructible, out there on route 91.

Am I Evil? – Metallica. No, you’re not, so just relax.

Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars. I have cousin Mike to thank for introducing me to this phenomenal duo. CHECK THEM OUT.

Blew – Nirvana. This is live. So much feedback and distortion, which just adds to the excitement of what it must have been like to see them back in the day.

As the World Turns – Eminem. He’s such a brat. I love him.

Trying To Get To You – Elvis. This is live, from that last concert that was televised and broadcast after his death. When he is clearly ill. Sweating like a river. Even though he sounds tired, in this song you can feel him sink into it. He knows what to do. The crowd goes apeshit. He sings the HELL out of this song. He always did, bless his heart.

I’ll Remember April – Bobby Darin. I don’t listen to him enough. I love him!

Hawaiian Wedding Song – Elvis, live from the aforementioned last televised concert. I want to put him to bed and baby him when I listen to him on some of these tracks. He should not be onstage. He should be healing, resting, whatever, anything but performing. However. He was Elvis. Of course he was onstage. Still. These tracks hurt me.

Anything Goes – the Glee cast. This is actually a really exciting arrangement. Big horns, marching drums, it gets me going.

Longview – Green Day. I was so into that whole “International Superhits” album that I listened to nothing else for a good 4 months. I almost can’t listen to it anymore, but it still works for me. This song rocks.

In My Way – Elvis, from Wild In the Country. One of his most beautiful vocal performances. He doesn’t need to do anything but “show up”. He’s one of those rare birds where that is the case. Only people with transcendent talent can get away with just “showing up”. Most need to do more. He didn’t. His talent was a flow. It was always with him.

Fight For Your Right – Beastie Boys. Oh, Adam Yauch, I miss you. Another great driving song. I cranked it and sang along at the top of my lungs.

One Night – Elvis, live from That’s the Way It Is. I have so many versions of him singing this song. It’s fascinating to listen to how he messes with it, enters it again, deepens it … and it was already deep when he first sang it at 22. But it’s certainly different to sing this song as a fully adult male than an overgrown teenager exploding with sexual energy. I prefer him singing it as an experienced adult.

Van Dieman’s Land – U2. This is pretty great. It sounds like “Raglan Road” a little bit.

JD Dies – Elliott Goldenthal, from the Public Enemies soundtrack

Minnie the Moocher – Cab Calloway. I always get so excited when Cab Calloway shows up on Shuffle. I have a bunch of his stuff, rarely listen to it as stand-alone songs.

Pretty Mary K – Elliott Smith. His songs are so pretty but so eerie because of his end. Horrible.

Straitjacket – Alanis Morissette. Boy, she’s pissed. Let it out, girl.

Wish You Well – Katie Herzig. This song is heartbreaking and I cannot deal with it.

Did You Miss Me? – Wanda Jackson. She is such a hot shit. I can’t possibly love her more than I do.

The Barnyards of Delgaty – The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. I was wondering when the Irish brigade would show up!

Keyhole Blues – Eddie Mack. Hot, raspy saxophone. Sexy.

Brown-Eyed Handsome Man – Elvis and Carl Perkins cracking up, trying to remember the lyrics together. Love listening to these two young hotshits. 1956. Giggling like little boys.

Jadrin Secret – Scala & Kolocny Brothers. That Belgian female choir I am obsessed with. This is a sweet song, beautiful arrangement.

My Little Soldier – Pat McCurdy. So stupid, so funny.

Rape Me – Nirvana. Okay, whatever you say.

If I Were Brave – Shawn Colvin. This song is heartbreaking, I always wanted to skip over it, but I soldiered through. It’s very pretty, but full of a wordless ache.

Make Off Clean – my brilliant cousin Liam O’Malley. This is fantastic. He sent me the mp3s a couple weeks ago and I can’t stop listening to this one.

I Huckleberry Me – Huck Finn from Big River. This will always always make me think of me, Mitchell, and my sister Jean, sitting in our apartment on Wayne Street in Chicago, Jean’s hair wrapped up in a towel, and the three of us singing along to the entire cast recording, driving everyone else out of the house.

Welcome To My World – Elvis, during his Aloha From Hawaii special. This is a snoozefest, Presley. What is wrong with you? Get it together.

Original Of the Species – U2. Lovely.

Follow That Dream – Elvis. This is one of my favorites of his. I know I’m weird. But I love it to death. He SWINGS it.

Steamroller Blues – James Taylor. I grew up listening to this because my parents had the album. I was very literal as a child. I suppose most children are. I was confused by the song. “Why is he going to roll all over her? Won’t she get squashed? I don’t get it.” That’s okay, Sheila, you’re 5, you don’t need to get it yet. Have a popsicle and go play kickball with your friends. Time enough for steamrollers later.

Riding On a Bus (speech) – The Beatles, being interviewed. “Occasionally you get cheesed off with people writing rubbish about you ….” – Paul McCartney.

Cold Hands (Warm Heart) – Brendan Benson. I am a HUGE fan. He hasn’t written a bad song yet.

You’re All I Need To Get By – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. This is on my Top 5 Favorite Songs of All Time list.

A Dog’s Life – Elvis, from Paradise Hawaiian Style. This is the final version – but there are multiple outtakes of Elvis being unable to get through one take without bursting out into laughter. I don’t blame him. This song is reprehensible.

I Dreamed a Dream – from Glee. Lovely, but can’t hold a candle to the version I saw my cousin Kerry sing at Town Hall a month or so ago during the “Broadway Through the Years” series. She KILLED it.

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles. It feels like my whole life is in this song. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know it.

Sliver – Nirvana. Awesome. I love Bleach. I love the mess of it. Love the lyrics of this song, too. I get the whole picture.

End Game #3/ Chess Game #3 – this is from the live concert version recording with Josh Groban. This is mostly orchestration, which is wonderful. Love live orchestras.

The Jug of Punch – The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. My friend Beth and I laugh about how the Clancy Brothers were regular soundtracks of our childhood and how we were sometimes embarrassed by it. You have friends come over and “William Bloat” is blasting from the turntable. Now, of course, we have totally succumbed.

Melon – Mike Viola & Kelly Jones. Gorgeous!!! Fills my heart. Satisfying.

Stolen Car – Patty Griffin. Huge huge fan of this woman’s song writing. She’s top notch.

Air Conditioner – Christine Lavin. Yes! So funny: a song about a woman looking for a new lover. “It don’t matter what kind of lovin’ you’re into or how big your apartment might be. All you need’s an air conditioner and you’re the man for me.” Not proud of this but I did consider continuing dating a guy I was not interested in at all because he had an air conditioner. This was years ago. I said to my friend Jen, “So dating him for his air conditioner would be unethical, right?” There was a long contemptuous pause. Then Jen said, “Yes. That would be unethical.”

Promise Me – Pat McCurdy. This one is a heartbreaker. Strange, how these songs still reverb through me.

I Sing the Body Electric – OMG, Betsy, it’s from the movie Fame.

My Dad’s Gone Crazy – Eminem. This album still blows me away. If it weren’t for Track 9, it would be a perfect album.

Gettin’ Ready Rag – cast of Ragtime. I love this entire musical.

Lullabye – Emmet Rhodes. I need to open a vein. Now. It will be my last Lullabye.

What To Do – Ok Go. This is live, before they hit it pretty big. They’re in a tiny club, one guitar. It sounds like 20 people are there. Love them to death.

Carry That Weight – The Beatles. I don’t know if I can, boys.

Over the Rainbow – Rufus Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle. This is from Rufus’ Carnegie Hall show, where he re-created Judy Garland’s high water-mark of a show there.

Wild In the Country – Elvis. The theme song for the movie of the same name, with his best performance (or, one of them).

Marty the Martian / The Sound of Music / Mississippi Mud / Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town – Barbra Streisand, at her “happening” in Central Park in 1968. So funny, so goofy. “In hand! In hand! In hand! In hand!”

Whip-Smart – Liz Phair. She is my doppelgänger. Fantastic song.

Old Dan Tucker – Bruce Springsteen. This whole album rocks my world. Bluegrass, huge band, fierce commitment, sheer joy of creation.

Helter Skelter – The Beatles. Oh yeah, BLAST THAT SHIT. I’m approaching Hartford!

I’ll Never Know – Elvis, from his country album. Not crazy about this one. I love the rest of the album though.

Van Lear Rose – Loretta Lynn. Mitchell put this on a mix for me, and I am very grateful. I adore her.

Tik Tok – the cast of Glee. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m listening to. I don’t understand what’s happening.

Brown-Eyed Girl – Everclear. This is live. I love them. I love him, love his songs. But this whole album of covers is SO MUCH FUN.

Didn’t It Rain – Mahalia Jackson. Oh, PREACH.

Anyone’s Guess – Pat McCurdy. Hey, Pat! Where ya been? Elvis is beating you in this Shuffle, just thought you should know.

Tiodfaidh An Samhradh – The Cassidys. Excuse me, but it’s July. It’s already happened.

The Sound Of Your Cry – Elvis Presley. Another one from the country album. I looooooooove this song. I love the arrangement, the horns, Elvis’ voice, the soft drums … it’s melancholy, and you get pictures of Elvis lying in bed and Priscilla waking up to feed Lisa … It seems to be a very personal song. He WAILS that chorus. You go, sir. You rock my world. You teach me how to be.

Khyber Pass – Ministry. This song should only be played at a decibel level that hurts your ears. It’s a song you lose yourself in. I want to blow shit up when I hear it. I want to do some damage.

Bridge Over Troubled Water – Elvis. I love his version of it.

It Won’t Be Long – Evan Rachel Wood, from Across the Universe. Her voice is really quite lovely. I kind of loved this movie.

Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely) – Pink. I think, along with Adele, she has the best voice out there right now. Aguilera may have more flash, and she does. I love Christina too. But Pink is rough. I love that roughness. Her voice is big, rough, and emotional.

Rock Lobster – The B-52s. Another favorite of high school dances, another one where the entire gym would fall to the floor at the end of the song.

Heartbreaker – the wonderful Sarah Donner again

Jingle Bells – Sammy Davis, Jr. Love Sammy!

Vacation – the cast of Pump Boys and Dinettes. I love this musical, and this song is the show-stopper.

Imagine – the cast of Glee. I know this upsets people when I say this, but whatever, grow up. I am not crazy about this song. If the lyrics of this song were your political platform, I would not vote for you. It sounds like North Korea, John. You want everyone to be the same. You can count me out. He performs it beautifully, and the tune is gorgeous, but I have a hard time getting past his message. The cast of Glee does a very effective sweet version of it that I really like.

I Think I’ll Join a Cult – Pat McCurdy. Haha. This makes me think of when he played in New York a couple years ago and we went out for drinks afterwards, and got talking about a certain cult (with which we are both obsessed) – so I took him to see the main building. It was 11 at night, and we stood across the street, staring at the building, not talking. Aren’t you glad you came to visit, Pat?

Sifting – Nirvana. Hot. You can hear the heavy metal influence. It’s really heavy stuff. Macho.

Sea of Time – The Beatles. From Yellow Submarine. Freaky and psychedelic.

Much At All – Susan Werner. This is the only song of hers I have. It’s killer. She’s playing the piano, it’s just her and the piano. Lovely lyrics, wry, heartbreaking, amusing.

Rip It Up – Elvis. Turn that volume UP.

Good Ride Cowboy – Garth Brooks. You’re not a cowboy, Garth. Stop it.

Banks of Sicily – The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Of course. Irish boys singing about the banks of Sicily. The Irish do get around.

Do You Love Me Now – The Breeders. I freaking love this band. Great album. This is a great rock song.

Concertina – Tori Amos. Relax, Tori. Have a bagel.

Shine – Everclear. This song, this album, makes me think of 2009. The summer, specifically. The Bad Time, when I had to stop going to work for a while. I was incapacitated. It was a long time coming. Delayed grief. All I could listen to was Everclear at the time. I have to force myself to not think of 2009 when I listen to this album now!

True Love Travels On a Gravel Road – Elvis. Gorgeous. Manly.

Fall Back Down – Mike Viola and the Candybutchers. He’s another one who hasn’t really written a bad song. He writes really good catchy pop songs, and achey ballads. Beautiful chord changes. Radio hits that aren’t played on the radio.

I Need Your Love Tonight (take 15) – Elvis. I love the takes of this entire session, which was phenomenal already. Amazing what they were able to accomplish. I suppose they all felt a sense of urgency because Elvis was about to disappear into the Army. Elvis is rollicking, humorous, tireless, and good-natured. Incredible when you consider the pressure this young man was under at the time.

I Beg Of You – Elvis. From the same session! There are so many good songs that came out of that 1958 session, but this is one of my favorites. Elvis is sexxxxxxxy here.

American Pie – Don McLean. When I was 5 years old, I sang this entire song for “Show and Tell Day” in kindergarten. Try to picture that. Me in my pigtails and flowered dress belting out, “Did you write the Book of Love … can you teach me how to dance reaaaal slowww …” Other kids brought in their gerbils. That was my contribution.

Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad – Wanda Jackson. She’s so fantastic. I so wish I had been alive back then, when all of these incredible things were happening in music, and all these different people were coming up.

I Got a Woman (alternate take) – Elvis Presley. You know, his sexiness is always in evidence. It’s part of his thing. But I think it’s so apparent here (especially in live versions) that it’s almost embarrassing. Like, what is going on with him as he sings that song is PRIVATE, but he brings it out into the light. He shares it. Brave.

Heal the Pain – Paul McCartney and George Michael. You know, I’ve had this song forever and have never really thought about it. But yesterday, as I flew through Connecticut, this song pierced me to my core. I really heard it, as if for the first time.

Misery – Pink and Steven Tyler. Great raw ballad.

Shoppin’ Around (takes 3 and 5) – Elvis, from G.I. Blues. You can hear him stop himself. He doesn’t quite hit a note, he knows it. Then he stops and asks, “Will the chord on that guitar reach over here? I’m gonna play rhythm on that song.” So they start again. I love to hear him “at work”.

Heartland, Heartburn – my gorgeous and talented sister Siobhan O’Malley. This is beautiful, great steel guitar. Proud of my talented sister.

Does Your Heart Weep – Ruth Gerson. Speaking of my sister, Ruth Gerson – an amazing songwriter and singer (she reminds me of Aimee Mann), taught a songwriting workshop that my sister took. Siobhan turned me onto her. Love her songs.

Witchcraft – Elvis. Oh, Elvis. This is so goofy and I love you.

One More Song About Sex – Pat McCurdy. This song came out of his mother saying to him, disapprovingly, “Why do you write so many songs about sex?”

Are You Lonesome Tonight? – Elvis. Perfection.

Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2. This song should never be played at a reasonable volume. I feel really really Irish when I hear this one.

On the Street Where You Live – Dean Martin. Dino, what does it feel like to be perfect? Inquiring minds want to know.

Blue Christmas – Michael Buble. Believe it or not, this is a really fun version. Burlesque almost. Crazy floozy horns. I like it. He owns it, or at least as much as he possibly can with the precedent set.

The Angels Rejoice – The Louvin Brothers. Yay! Love these guys. Strangely enough, we were talking about them a lot on vacation. Siobhan gave Brendan a book about them for his birthday. Bren was the one who turned me onto them. Of course there is an entire chapter called ELVIS.

Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne. Were you unaware that I am actually 15 years old, emotionally? Well, I am.

A Rumor in St. Petersburg – from the movie Anastasia. Jeez, my music collection is crazy.

What’s the Matter With You – Split Enz. I only had one cassette tape. Every song on it is spectacular. I listened to it constantly. My first year of college. I always think of that time in my life when I hear them.

The Sadder But Wiser Girl – Robert Preston, from The Music Man. Fantastic!

Death On Two Legs – Queen. I was wondering when Queen would show up.

Do You Think It’s All Right – The Who. I really should listen to this album more often.

Government Hooker – Lady GaGa. Yeah, this song is hot. As long as I’m your hooker, sure, whatever.

Heaven Knows – Donna Summer. I remember being a kid when that album came out, and it flipped open with a big picture in the middle – and there were those pictures of hookers in Pretty Woman boots, and the hands on the steering wheel holding the money – and I was a kid, and didn’t know what I was looking at, but it all looked very scary and grownup.

Middle Of the Night – The Clovers. Sexy. 1950s sexy.

The More I See – Metallica. Listening to Lars going crazy in the background always cracks me up.

Lucille – The Everly Brothers. The harmonies never get old. They are still startling and perfect, while being unexpected.

You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – Frank Sinatra. “Lot of drunks have cried in their beer over this mother.”

Is That Love? – Squeeze. Wow. College college college.

Someone Like You – Adele. Stop it, Adele, just stop it.

Heartbreak Express – Dolly Parton. One of my favorites of hers!

Perth – Bon Iver. I didn’t know much about this guy, but Peter and Missy (the lead actor and director of the workshop of my script in LA) were both raving about him so I bought some of his stuff on their recommendation. He’s wonderful. He reminds me of Peter Gabriel at his most despairing and articulate.

Cat People – David Bowie. Exciting. The opening of this song always excites me.

Memphis, Tennessee – The Beatles. Of course I love Elvis’ version best.

I Got You – Split Enz. You guys again!

There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight – Bob Gibson. Another staple of my childhood, due to the fact that my parents had one of his albums. We listened to it until the vinyl wore away. Jean and I still sometimes burst out into this song. I remember we did that once, as adults – Jean and I were in the back seat, Mum and Dad in the front seat of the car, and we both started singing, as one, “There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight” and Mum turned to Dad and said flatly, “We have ruined our children.”

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6 Responses to 6-State Shuffle

  1. kate says:

    I wish there was a way I could listen to all of your awesome playlists– like on Spotify or something! I always want to.

  2. Fran says:


    I think John sang lead on ‘Girl’, not Paul.

    Your blog is great!

  3. sheila says:

    Fran – you are totally right! John, not Paul!

    Thank you!

  4. Dicky Hart says:

    Sheila – I’ve only just seen your latest Playlist & my gast is flabbered at how similar our taste in music is – all underpinned by Elvis of course (because he’s the best) but by no means dominated by him. It made me realise that your eclectic & (I suppose to some) oddly diverse musical taste is precisely why I love your Elvis essays so much. It allows you to bring a hugely beneficial and dare I say grounded perspective to the “Praise Presley” corn-patch; a piece of land heavily tilled & trampled by ignoramuses and blinkered devotees. Well meaning though some of their observations may be they add not a lot to understanding the magic of the man. Your writings on the other hand bring him to life rather than simply bury him with praise!
    It’s a shame Elvis has been “done to death” in terms of his life story, background etc because I believe you could have done for him what Sam Taylor-Wood and Matt Greenhalgh did for John Lennon with Nowhere Boy (Nowhere Boy). So……here’s a suggestion – why don’t you expand your musical horizon and writing capabilities even further by researching another enigma, Billy Fury, in the same fine way you’ve done with EP. Billy was a fabulous though under-rated singer, an accomplished song writer, great interpreter of a song, being only marginally less talented than Elvis in this regard and could mesmerise an audience every bit as well. If he wasn’t so shy, so unhealthy and so crassly managed he could well have eclipsed Elvis rather than being forever in his shadow. It’s time some clever playwright or screenwriter shone the light on him anew. Sheila…your time has come!!

  5. sheila says:

    Dicky Hart – wow. I am blown away by your comment, and I thank you so much. While I am certainly confident in what I am doing and why I am doing it, it feels so so good to have someone validate it in the way you just have.

    Let me look into Billy Fury! I am totally burning the candles at both ends right now – script and Elvis and personal life heating up as well – but I am so intrigued by what you say about him.

  6. Clementine Moriarty says:

    I adore Bobby Darin.
    Always adored , “Follow That Dream”.
    Positively, adore “Angel”.
    Absolutely, positively adore “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
    Really, absolutely, positively adore you, ………Sheila!
    But……….girl……..only one man owns “Blue Christmas”!

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