A Week to Remember, a Shuffle to Save

“(Marie’s the Name Of) His Latest Flame” – Elvis Presley. 1961 Elvis. Post-Army Elvis. It was originally recorded by Del Shannon, but it will always be associated with EP, I’m thinking. It’s unique: very interesting beat, not easily classifiable as rock or country or pop. And the lyrics tell a nice story, with some intrigue. I love Elvis’ performance here.

“Cock Pushups” – Tenacious D. This is a “spoken word” exchange on one the Tenacious D albums. So ridiculous.

“The Temple” – from Jesus Christ Superstar. Oooh, things getting intense for Jesus now!! Jesus flips his lid here.

“The Nursery” – Clint Mansell, from the Moon soundtrack (one of my favorite movies in recent years, and the music is perfect.) I get excited when I see that Clint Mansell has done the music for any new film because I know it’s going to be very interesting.

“Sister Fatima” – Don McLean, from the classic American Pie album, with the famous album cover. My parents had this album on vinyl, and I was obsessed with it when I was a child (so much so that I recited the entirety of “American Pie” for show ‘n tell day in kindergarten. Please try to picture it.) The photo on the album cover, with the thumb in the foreground, scared me. I was 6 years old. I could already understand the power of what was going on here.

“Sheila Franklin / I Believe In Love” – from the Broadway revival of Hair. Oh, earnest youths who still believe in shit! Bless their hearts. I have no cast list in front of me, but whoever is singing “I Believe In Love” is amazing.

“I Got a Woman” – Elvis. Of course this was one of his earliest songs, but he resurrected it once he went back on tour in the 70s, with a big big sound, big chorus behind him, the pace speeded up. I prefer the early version and its raw sexuality, but there’s something very cool about the live version too. You can always tell he’s having a blast. This is from his 1974 concert in Memphis, a huge deal, a homecoming. Some poor woman is screaming at him to ‘turn around’ and Elvis’ response to it always cracks me up. “Honey, you have got some bad laryngitis …”

“Halleluia I Love Her So” – Ray Charles. Hey, speaking of “I Got a Woman”!! This is a live performance. You just want to dance close and sweet with your man when you hear this song.

“Time Warp” – from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I feel like my entire high school was obsessed with this in high school. It would be played at high school dances, and everyone would do the Time Warp, and then collapse on the floor, as one, at the end of the song. Insane. I know I didn’t feel like I was hip. But that’s pretty damn hip.

“A Farraquina” – Milladoiro. Milladoiro is a big-wig famous Celtic music group, I’m sure many of you know them. I have quite a bit of their stuff. This one is rousing with flutes, fiddles, bagpipes … great stuff. Get my Irish going. Well, that’s every day for me.

“Gimme Gimme” – Sutton Foster, from Thoroughly Modern Millie. This is a good vocal performance. It starts slow and introspective, and then builds to something huge and rousing and “Don’t Rain On My Parade”-ish.

“Got My Mojo Working” – Elvis Presley. You sure do, honey.

“Watchdog Report / Texas Has a Whorehouse In It” – from the glorious and stupid movie of Best Little Whorehouse. Charles Durning has his big solo here, and I love to hear the sopranos echoing his phrase: “filthy dark details and carnal lust”!

“Medley: City Hall / I Believe / Malibu Nights” – Tenacious D. They have a new one, I have yet to buy it. This is an absolutely epic and stupid song about some sort of apocalyptic battle involving City Hall and Tenacious D, and setting up an ideal government, and revolutions, and it just hits my funny bone, man. I love them.

“Polly” – Nirvana, live in London. To quote Bob Dylan, when he first heard the lyrics to “Polly”: “The kid’s got heart.” I am so sorrowful that I never saw Nirvana live. They sound great.

“Hercules Unchained” – Pat McCurdy. I’ve got major associations with this song, involving my friend Kenny, and Mick Jagger, and a cape, and 3,000 people cheering at Milwaukee Summer Fest. Pat’s an old friend. He comes up often in Shuffle, and it’s rather annoying but I still love him.

“Reason With Me” – Sinéad O’Connor. This is from her latest album, which I love! I’m so excited. I’ve suffered for a while, going through reggae and her double-album, and her experimentation. Listen, I’ll buy whatever this woman does. But it was so exciting to be turned on by one of her albums again!

“Making Out” – No Doubt. I think she’s adorable. I am drawn to her, always have been.

“How Little Do I Know” – Russell Crowe. This from an album he put out with his band. There’s a folky Irish feeling to a lot of the songs. He can’t really sing (just see Les Miserables), but I really like many of his songs! He can write. Very sentimental stuff, but that’s okay!

“Like a Prayer” – Madonna. Good lord, member when this song took over the world? I still remember opening up the cassette tape when I bought it, being bombarded by a whiff of patchouli. Does anyone remember that? I still love this song.

“When I Get You Alone” – the cast of Glee, doing the Robin Thicke song, with its Beethov-ian melodrama and awesomeness. The song also includes one of the hottest lines in recent memory: “leave your toys in the drawer.” Yes, SIR.

“Wicked Little Town” – John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Very moving song. I saw the show twice when it was here in New York, in its first iteration when it was over on Jane Street and still this sort of weird cool thing to do. It was pretty exhilarating.

“All I Wanna Do” – Sheryl Crow. Speaking of remembering when a song took over the planet … I like Sheryl Crow a lot, and like this song, but it was nearly ruined for me by that year of radio overplay!

“Joy to the World” – Three Dog Night. So awesome, classic.

“And I Am Telling You” – Jennifer Hudson, in the movie Dream girls. She won an Oscar? Did that actually happen?

“Wink Martindale Remembers Elvis Presley Pt. 2” – self-explanatory. And here is the glory of Shuffle. You may not feel like listening to Wink Martindale reminisce about Elvis Presley for 5 minutes, but Shuffle forces you to. Of course, Wink Martindale was eyewitness to the explosion of the Elvis phenomenon, and was a radio host in the Hotel Chisca, and was there the night Dewey Phillips first played “That’s All Right”. Wrote about the Hotel Chisca here!

“Heartache Tonight” – Eagles. Live. I have listened to this song so many times I think it’s in my bloodstream: the harmonies, the drums, the crowd cheering, the electric guitar. Classic.

“Eternity (Orchestral Version)” – my beloved, Robbie Williams.

“Long-Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On)” – Elvis. Not a good song. He does his best, he always did. The song is a minute and 20 seconds long. It feels endless. It’s songs like this that make me angry and protective.

“Shake That Tambourine (take 10, 16)” – Elvis. From Harum Scarum. Elvis starts laughing during one of these takes, laughing so loudly and so raucously, that it makes me laugh to hear him. He could not get it together. They did 39 takes or something like that, and the situation deteriorated: Elvis got the giggles and you can hear him on the edge of losing it in these takes. I believe they finally spliced together two different versions.

“When Love Takes Over” – Kelly Rowland. You know what? This is FABULOUS. Go, Kelly.

“Pocketful of Sunshine” – Natasha Bedingfield. I honestly don’t need to own this song. Enough. It’s still getting radio play. I remember being in Ireland in 2006 and thinking, “Good lord. I cannot escape this woman.” I still can’t. I mean, good for her, but I cry Uncle.

“Good Night” – The Beatles. From The White Album. Almost creepy. Or … very creepy. It has an ostensibly soothing sound, like a lullaby, but I find it exhausted and creepy. This is a compliment.

“Girl Happy” – Elvis Presley. Title song of Girl Happy. The song is placed really high and he sounds great. It’s a different sound for him. You have to tap your feet to it, too. Or, YOU don’t HAVE to, but I do.

“Brain Crack” – Tracy Bonham. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Mother Mother”. I was in a record store, Tower, I think, on the corner of Diversey and Clark in Chicago. I walked over to an employee, and said, “Who is this singing right now?” He said, “Tracy Bonham”, and I bought the album then and there. “Brain Crack” is on that first album. Nothing she’s done has really come close to that first album, but I’m still a fan, I still follow her.

“Live With Jesus” – Wynonna Judd. Awesome country-gospel. Love her voice.

“Whatever Happened to Saturday Night” – the Glee cast doing the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“I (Who Have Nothing)” – Shirley Bassey. So. Dra. Ma. Tic. J’adore.

“Baltimore Fire” – Loudon Wainwright, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and someone else is back there, too. I don’t have the list of them there. Emmylou Harris might be in there too. This is from The McGarrigle Hour, an album I love. My Facebook friend and fellow Elvis lover, Lian Lunson, has directed a film about Kate McGarrigle (mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright), called Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You. I can’t wait to see it. They all were just at the Berlinale with it.

“Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466, 2nd Movement” – Mozart. Exquisite!

“Whyyawannabringmedown” – Kelly Clarkson. From Amadeus to Kelly C. This is why Shuffle is the best.

“Electioneering” – Radiohead. I love them but I am so rarely in the mood for them. I have to be in a “Radiohead mood”.

“Just a Little Talk with Jesus” – Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, jamming out in Sun Studio in December of 1956, the “Million Dollar Quartet” day. I love this particular track for many reasons. First of all, it’s so rare to hear Elvis in a “duet” with anyone. Carl takes the harmony line, Elvis drives the melody. I also love it because it starts out fast and rousing, and then Elvis … well, we all know how he loved his half-time! He slows it down, and says to Carl, “Slow it down now …”

“Fool” – Elvis Presley. Heartbreaking. One of my favorites of all of his recordings.

“That’s Someone You Never Forget” – Elvis Presley. Many interesting things about this 1961 recording. First of all, he co-wrote it, and is one of the only songs where he received an actual songwriting credit. He worked on it with his buddy Red West, and most of the lyrics came from Elvis, as well as the title. The song is open to interpretation which is an other strength: it could be about a love relationship, but it makes more sense if you think about it as a song written by Elvis for Gladys. There’s a haunting unique quality to this ballad. It doesn’t sound like anything else happening at that time in his career.

“Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” – Julie Andrews, My Fair Lady. What a great song.

“Camping With Lesbians” – Pat McCurdy. This is one of his most insane concoctions. In it, he imagines himself “camping with some lesbians”, building campfires, singing songs, and hiking through the woods. It is vaguely Germanic in style, so it’s like Aryan Youth Lesbians, and it ends with a rousing chorus of voices behind Pat, and a strange little Austrian waltz-ish sound ending the song. I played it for Alex once. We listened all the way through. She thought a minute and said, “We need to hear it again.” I played it again, and mid-way through the song, she said flatly, “What the fuck is wrong with him?” (High praise, in my world of friends.) We were roaring laughing. Alex ended up singing along with the chorus at the end, in full voice.

“All Because Of You” – U2. Classic U2. I would recognize their songs in a dark alley, in a blind sampling. Just that sound, that guitar, that echo. So THEM.

“The Things That I Used To Do” – Stevie Ray Vaughn. Sheer liquid sex. Put it on, dry-hump with someone on the couch. That’s what it’s there for.

“To Be Brave” – Sarah Donner. I recently discovered her and am just in love with her stuff!!

“Ol’ Jim Crow” – the great Nina Simone. It was just her 90th birthday this week!

“Plane to Chicago” – Elliot Goldenthal, from the Public Enemies soundtrack. Ominous, huge: member that scene in the film, with the plane, and the darkness and night on that airfield?

“The Final Event: There Is a Sucker Born Every Minute” – Jim Dale, as P.T. Barnum. I saw this on Broadway, with Glenn Close – by that point the crazily talented Jim Dale was no longer doing the role, but Tony Orlando had taken it over. He was amazing!

“Much At All” – Susan Kerner. She’s a bit of a genius. I got into a conversation on FB about her with a friend who is very familiar with her work (way more than I am). This is a seriously beautiful and memorable song, with Kerner accompanying herself on piano.

“Electric Chapel” – Lady GaGa. One of my favorites of hers. Love the metal opening. Very good workout song.

“Overture” – from Rob Marshall’s movie version of Annie (which I adored).

“Railroad Wings” – Patty Griffin. She’s so mournful, so soulful, wonderful songwriter. I’ve never seen her live, which I really should rectify. I’ve loved her for years.

“Nice Guys Finish Last” – Green Day. They’ve been a part of my life forever. I’m particularly happy in what has happened for them in the last 10 years.

“I Flipped a Coin / Napoleon’s Penis” – Pat McCurdy. I love this man, and songs like “Napoleon’s Penis” are why. It’s rare that someone’s sense of humor is so perfectly aligned with your own. It’s a perfect mixture of intelligence and stupidity. “Feel free to drink to me … and tear my bone-a-part.”

“Shine” – Dolly Parton. Ahhhh. And the banjo that opens it!!

“A Leader of the Band” – Dan Fogleberg. I’ve always been a fan, although his songs do have a way of cracking me open like a walnut, so I usually avoid them like the plague.

“He Touched Me (alternate take 2)” – Elvis Presley. High church gospel, serious macho Godly Elvis, one of my favorite Elvis-es. He freakin’ MEANS it.

“Johnny Allen’s / Sporting Nell” – Billy McComiskey. More traditional Irish music, with guitar and amazing accordion.

“Polly Come Home” – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss. God, what an album, what a pairing. Whoda thunk it? Perfect pairing.

“God” – Pat McCurdy. Okay, Pat, enough. Go away.

“A Big Hunk o’ Love” – Elvis, from the famous “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” album, with Elvis multiplied on the album cover, in his gold lame suit. He recorded the songs for this album in the summer of 1958, before leaving for the Army, and before his mother passed in August. There was a sense of urgency at the time, to “get in” as much music as possible before Elvis dropped out of sight for two years. Every single track on this album is fantastic, and nothing else Elvis did sounds quite like this album: loud, jangly, sexy as hell, with a band going apeshit (so much of Elvis’ 60s stuff pushed his voice to the forefront, making the band take a backseat – this was the Colonel’s taste: who cares about the band, we only care about Elvis). Elvis loved the sound of these tracks, and the sessions were real high energy (Elvis did take after take after take of each song: tireless, an indestructible vocal instrument!) I love “Big Hunk o’ Love” for so many reasons. One: It’s wicked fun to JUST listen to what the piano player is doing. If you’re feeling blue, it may bring a smile to your face. It’s insane. Tune out Elvis, and listen to the piano. Very funny. Two: The Jordanaires also crack me up. Listen to what they’re doing. The singer doing the bass line (the one going “No-no-no”) tells stories of how Elvis wanted him to be close to his mike, to keep their voices blended. And sometimes, during a take, Elvis, feeling goofy, would stick his fingers into the Jordanaires mouth, during one of the “No No No” sections, cracking everyone up. Exuberant fun. You can hear it in the song, and in all of the takes. Three: Elvis is out of control. In a good way. He is sexy, but making fun of his own sexiness. He’s greedy and needy: “about to starve me half to death”. I love it when Elvis gets greedy and bossy. But he’s also humorous with it, he’s making fun of it at the same time that it’s a serious expression (his eternal ace in the hole). He also sounds like he’s having an absolute blast.

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4 Responses to A Week to Remember, a Shuffle to Save

  1. Dg says:

    When I first heard Crowe sing in Les Miz I was like shit they should have dubbed over this like in the old movies. He grew on me though and he pulled it off pretty well.

    • sheila says:

      Well, that was the whole thing: everyone sang live in Les Miserables, but I don’t think it worked at all. I thought the movie was terrible, sad to say, although clearly I am in the minority. I love Russell Crowe, and felt for him – it’s rare to see him look so uncertain and frozen. I blame the director.

      But his album is wonderful – I’m sure he has a couple of albums out, but I only have one. The songs are lovely, and a bit earnest, with a melancholy Irish lilt to many of them – folk music. He sings Athenry too. I love it!

  2. Dg says:

    I could see him putting a lot of heart into Athenry. Strangely enough I heard Peggy Lee cover the Ray Charles song on the radio this morning. Speaking of Halleluia I read a snippet of the Leonard Cohen biography where it was mentioned his now ubiquitous “Halleluia” has been covered by somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 artists. His take:It’s a good song but too many people have sung it.

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