Holy Week Shuffle

I have been reading like crazy, writing every day, exercising every day, and pushing many projects forward, with my sheer force of belief in them. This is challenging but it’s also the only way. It requires a belief in the unknown. It requires the ability to see your own success, however much it is not manifested in the current moment. I am currently loving a book about the Tulip Craze in 17th century Holland. I have screenings to go to. I have meetings with friends.

Here’s the music that accompanied me around last week.

“Guilty” – Randy Newman. Gorgeous. Blues-y, with a dance-hall feel, and an odd minor-chord string background giving the whole thing an eerie sad feeling. He found himself in trouble, darlin’, he had nowhere else to go.

“It’s Raining Men” – The Weather Girls. You know, if you’re gonna be a one-hit wonder, it may as well be this song. You want to watch women go crazy with glee? Play this song at a dead-end party. Watch all hell break loose. And I’ll be dancing with the rest of them. I have a funny memory attached to this song, of me and Michael in a freakin’ dark alley in Ithaca, listening through the walls of the nightclub, so that Michael could “sign off” on the disco music being played. He was a purist, bless his heart.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day. When those drums come in …

“As” – George Michael & Mary J. Blige. What a great pairing. This song actually makes me happy: I can feel the melancholy molecules rearranging themselves during the course of the song. There aren’t too many songs you can say that about.

“To Miss Someone” – the great great Maria McKee. What soul, what heart. I’ve been missing someone my whole life.

“Please Read Me” – Nina Simone. Talk about soul and heart. So deep, so sad.

“Promised Land (alternate take 5)” – Elvis Presley. So many lyrics, so fast: Big E. is on fire here. And listen to that band. Best in the world.

“How Great Thou Art (live)” – Elvis Presley and the Stamps. This song took a lot out of Elvis: every time he performed it, he “went there”. And you can hear it. No matter what version you listen to. You hear not just his commitment, but how deeply he gets lost.

“Land of the Lost” – Everclear. I loved this show when I was a kid. I wore my hair in braids, and wore checked shirts and corduroys and Wallaby’s, all to be like Holly. So I can’t even really explain how happy I am that Everclear would cover this song, and turn it into a rock anthem.

“You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” – The Miracles. One of my favorite songs ever written. I love the long break in between “hold me” … and “tighter”. Brilliant arrangement. Sure, you’re holding me … but I need you to hold tighter.

“Merano / What a Scene! What a Joy! (Live)” – from Chess in Concert. Fantastic ensemble number, especially thrilling to know that what we are hearing is live.

“Tie a Yellow Ribbon” – Tony Orlando & Dawn. OMG, I love you, Shuffle.

“My Hand Is a Large Dead Automobile” – Maria McKee, from the wonderful film directed by her husband, Jim Akin (and starring Maria). I will write it up one of these days. It’s haunting.

“Be Careful What You Ask For” – Everclear. You know, it’s a little stock, like a lot of their songs, but I have no problem with stock, if it’s done with heart. I love Everclear. Great honest lyrics: “I’m sorry I got lazy and mean – this isn’t what you wanted when you married me.”

“Dark as the Dungeon” – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. It gives me goosebumps. He, in general, does.

“Wink Martindale Remembers Elvis Presley, Pt. 4” – Wink Martindale interviewing Elvis in 1956, his first television interview (and really, one of the only ones in his entire career). His body language is fascinating to watch in the clip we have of that interview. To quote my sister Jean, “He is lying down standing up.”

“Victoria Radio Ad 1” – Elvis Presley, doing his own promotion, 1956. “All you gotta do is buy one of RCA Victor’s great new record players … they call ’em Elvis Presley Autograph Models, with my name stamped on top.”

“Roomin’ House Boogie” – Cab Calloway. Hot boogie-woogie big-band. Love Cab Calloway.

“Birmingham Blues” – ELO. One of my favorite bands of all time. The first album I bought with my own money was Time. I was obsessed with that album, and I guess I still am.

“If I Were a Gambling Man” – Pat McCurdy. He’s a friend, and a Midwest legend. Here, you can really hear his obsession with Gilbert and Sullivan.

“I Want to Break Free” – Queen. Talk about your favorite bands of all time.

“Weight of the World” – Evanescence. I love the honesty of their music, of her voice.

“Strut That Thing” – Clarence Lofton. Awesome boogie-woogie.

“Fisherman’s Prayer” – Mark Hardwick and cast of Pump Boys and Dinettes (Broadway). My blood pressure calms down when this song comes up.

“Nightlife” – Green Day. From a part of their latest triple-release, ¡Dos! It’s all rather exciting for Green Day fans, but I haven’t quite processed all of the songs yet. I’ll catch up. It’s three whole albums!

“Strange Times” – The Black Keys. Invigorating. Great macho guitar.

“Like I Love You” – Justin Timberlake. This is a bit hot, with its Spanish-ish guitar, and his sex-whispers. Whatever, I love him. I don’t have his latest.

“Know” – Nick Drake. Haunting, beautiful. Pink Moon really brings back a specific time and place. New York, late 90s. Right before the tipping point moment when everyone suddenly was staring down at their phones and their own FB pages, as opposed to looking at one another. Some of us had cell phones, but not all of us. So recent, so far away already. Heartache, staying up late, making new friends, falling in love, tragedy and joy – all of it squeezed into a 3 month period. We were all listening to Nick Drake then.

“Starting Today” – a lovely ballad from Elvis Presley, on the album with the dispiriting title Something for Everybody. He’s gorgeous here, though.

“I Can’t Believe I’m Not a Millionaire” – The Puppini Sisters. I love these girls. This song is hysterical, too, great lyrics. “Fished through my closet to find a clean dress – nothin’s been washed, the place is a mess … Look for my limousine. Once more it’s not there. I can’t believe I’m not a millionaire.”

“The Carter Family” – Carly Simon. I grew up with this album, it was in my parents’ collection. I loved Carly Simon but this song scared the shit out of me. I was 8 or 9 or whatever, and the sense of things changing … of things changing so irrevocably that my friends as a child would no longer be my friends … it was so frightening to me. I also had no idea why some man would make some woman “moan in bed”, but that wasn’t what scared me. It was the vision of change and loss. I couldn’t grasp it. Or, I could grasp it, but I feared it. I was right to fear it. Loss is hard to bear and I have not handled it all that well.

“Wisconsin” – Bon Iver. Heartbreaking. I find him hard to take. It stirs shit up I don’t want stirred up.

“Freak Me Out” – Bleu. Or, here he was calling himself “Blizzard of 05”. He does a lot of projects. He writes pop anthems, he really does. And listen to his vocal range. It’s impressive.

“I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (take 11)” – Elvis Presley, from Wild in the Country. Millie Perkins tells a sweet story about the filming of this scene.

“What’s She Really Like” – Elvis, from G.I. Blues. He’s dreamy. He really swings it during the bridge. Love it.

“In Your Honor” – Foo Fighters. “Can you hear meee? Can you hear me screaming?” Yes, Dave. I can. I think they can hear you in Poughkeepsie!

“She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” – The Beatles. I love how this song feels like it starts in the middle of things. I love it when they do that.

“Kicks” – Everclear. Best played really really loud as your car careens down the Turnpike.

“Foreclosure of a Dream” – Megadeth. YES!

“Jungle” – ELO. Such a bizarre song, such a good song. What IS it about ELO? Why do they satisfy on such a deep level? I have no idea. Just know they do.

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen. A bit of Elvis/rock-and-roll inspiration. I’ve loved Queen since I was too young to even understand what “queen” referred to.

“Hound Dog” – Elvis, live, the 70s sometimes. This is from the time in his life when he sped “Houng Dog” up so much that it honestly feels like he’s racing through it to get to the shit he REALLY wants to do. It’s always fun to listen to what James Burton is doing.

“T-model Boogie” – Rosco Gordon. One of the Sun artists. This stuff still has such vitality. And you can just feel that room around them.

“New Music” – big ensemble number in Ragtime (I believe it ends the show). Gorgeous. I love this musical.

“Old MacDonald” – poor poor Elvis Presley. This is from Double Trouble. You want to punch someone in the face for making Elvis sing this song. HOWEVER. He manages to do it without sacrificing his soul. He’s singing the shit out of it, frankly.

“True Loves” – Rufus Wainwright. The song is beautiful, but a bit boring. I’m not as big on his ballads as I am on his more pop-py numbers. Still, this is lovely. And beautiful dramatic piano.

“Roi (reprise)” – The Breeders. The guitar. I had this on battered cassette tape for years. I wore it out. I miss The Breeders.

“Embassy Lament (live)” – again from Chess in Concert. The quartet. You know, with every shuffle I do, there are always tracks from this album and from Rent. It’s annoying, as much as I love both albums. Enough. Let other songs have some room.

“Justify My Love” – Madonna. Hot music video, IIRC. Song written by Lenny Kravitz, Ingrid Chavez and Madonna. I think it’s hot. This is when everyone thought Madonna was “losing it”. I thought it was fabulous.

“I Love to Laugh” – from Mary Poppins. Oh for God’s sake, Shuffle, really? However, Dick Van Dyke and Ed Wynn sound like they are actually helpless with laughter, and I will give them props! That is not easy to do.

“I’m Not That Girl” – Idina Menzel, from Wicked. Me neither, girl. Never have been.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Elvis Presley, during his 68 NBC special. This is when he is standing in the boxing-ring stage, head-to-toe black leather, with audience all around him. He has both a sense of shyness as well as a clear exhibitionistic nature. He’s riveting.

“You Never Get What You Want” – Patty Griffin, from her perfect Living with Ghosts album.

“Addicted” – Kelly Clarkson. Chick can sing. Good song, too. Dra-MA.

“One (reprise)/Finale” – from A Chorus Line. This one shows up all the time too. Go away.

“Why Did I Ever Like You” – Pink. It is my current anthem. Love Pink’s blatant honesty and her willingness to be petty. It’s human. “Why did I ever like you? What did I see? Whatever it was it must have been some kind of illusion, a magic trick on me.” And go fuck yourself.

“Somebody Told Me” – Eurhythmics. Eerie. Robotic. Another pissed-off woman.

“Landslide” – Gwyneth Paltrow, from Glee. It’s gorgeous. Beautiful song. Banjo.

“I Need Your Love Tonight” – Elvis, from his gold-suit-emblazoned album. Recorded in 1958 before he left for Germany. The sessions were fruitful, energetic, and LOUD. Great mix of Elvis with the band and the back-up vocals. Here, during the bridges, you can hear Elvis shouting, “YEAH” and other things that make you feel like you’re in the room.

“Ain’t That Loving You Baby (take 11)” – Elvis, I believe from those same sessions. One of my favorite songs to emerge that day. It took them some time to get it right. Elvis is at the top of his game, in take after take after take. Professional.

“The Coventry Carol” – Alison Moyet. From one of those “A Very Special Christmas” albums. Her voice is so perfectly suited for this haunting traditional carol.

“Sweet Caroline” – Elvis, in Vegas. If you check out the Youtube clips of him performing this song in Vegas, you can see how much he loved it.

“Excuse Me Mr.” – No Doubt. I was so into this entire album: Tragic Kingdom. I kind of over-listened to it. I’m over it now. But running into the songs is like running into an old friend.

“Call Me When You’re Sober” – Evanescence. I love the trajectory of the story in this song. It’s unexpected. We don’t learn that the guy is drunk all the time until halfway through. She has all her complaints up front, and finally, halfway through, barks out the real issue: “You never call me when you’re sober.”

“Don’t Talk to Strangers” – Dio. Absolutely classic.

“Feel” – Robbie Williams. I was wondering when he would show up. Hi, Robbie!

“Lookin’ Better Every Beer” – Stray Cats. Great sound, country/blues/rock, sad harmonies. I am so glad they were hot when I was growing up. They introduced me to a lot of cool shit.

“Anywhere But Here” – Pat McCurdy. It is impossible to catalog all of the memories/images/senses that flood my psyche when I hear this song. I associate it (and that whole album) with my first year in Chicago, which was wild, to say the least. I would eventually become friends with Pat, but my love of this album and him pre-dated that. Anyway. Nostalgia is not all that great. Music is powerful that way.

“Give Me the Right” – Elvis Presley. Sexy, man. Sexy as hell.

“City of Blinding Lights” – U2. So distinctive, such an individual sound. Not crazy about this song, but that opening guitar … you could pick it out of a lineup.

“Pick Me Up” – the wonderful Air Traffic Controller. They’re amazing. I saw them open for Bleu, who produced their latest album.

“Nature Boy” – David Bowie & Massive Attack (used in Moulin Rouge). I don’t have a problem with this. I know some people do.

“You Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar” – speaking of Bleu, my favorite songwriter/performer/singer working today. He’s so beautiful.

“Funny How Time Slips Away” – Elvis Presley, at Madison Square Garden, 1972. He sure loved this song, and connected with it on a very deep level. One of my favorite things about him is how easy he is with things. Listen to him here. The crowd erupts into mayhem repeatedly, throughout. He sticks with the easiness, taking it slow, swinging with it. Easy, like a soft comfy pillow. Sexy, adult, regretful Elvis.

“Shatter” – Liz Phair, from Exile in Guyville, an album that still feels revolutionary. I remember listening to it the first time and feeling revealed, totally. How the hell did she know what was going on with me? How did she get things so right for a certain kind of 20-something Chicago woman? Well, she did. She was that woman, too.

“You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette. Aaaaand, here is where things started to shift in our culture. I was a bit older when this thing came out and thought, “She sounds really young.” As in: “So … ‘going down on you in a theatre’ is like this really out-there sexual thing to do, apparently, as opposed to … kinda standard?” If the lyrics were, “Would she go down on you while you are skydiving”, or “would she go down on you as you performed open-heart surgery”, then I might be impressed with how ooooh-so-out-there she is. And with that, I will say no more. I have already said too much. But look: Liz Phair and Alanis are still out there, still doing their thing. I’m glad.

“Michicant” – Bon Iver. Sooo beautiful. Again, I need to be in the mood. It’s so interior.

“Do You Wanna Touch Me” – the cast of Glee and Gwyneth Paltrow. No. Stop it. Joan Jett makes it sound like a freakin’ threat.

“Whip-Smart” – Liz Phair. Fantastic. Weird. She’s so intense. She comes where I come from. Emotionally, I mean. She references double-dutch and “light as a feather stiff as a board” in her songs. I get her.

“Are You Sincere (alternate take 2)” – Elvis Presley. He’s smooth as syrup here, gentle and soulful. Wonderful guitar, too.

“Battle of Evermore” – The Lovemongers (or, Heart). Boy, this song takes me back.

“Mr. Cab Driver” – Lenny Kravitz. Groovy, rockin’, but with angry angry lyrics. You tell ’em, Lenny.

“Softly and Tenderly” – Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and others, on the Million Dollar Quartet day, 1956, at Sun Studio. Elvis so rarely sang with others, he rarely did duets, so that’s part of the real fun of these impromptu spontaneous songs. You can hear him blend with others (mainly Carl Perkins). You also can hear everyone chatting in the background, totally casually, throughout the song. Amazing.

“Never Been to Spain” – Elvis Presley, the afternoon show – June 10, 1972 – at Madison Square Garden. The crowd is just insane. I’ve always been fond of Elvis’ performance of this song. Sexy, manly, and then crazily exciting when he goes up the octave. Great build.

“The Great Gig In the Sky” – Pink Floyd. I am sure if you were stoned, this would seem like the deepest song ever composed. It is pretty thrilling, though, when the song gets going. Classic vocal riff.

“Big Wheel” – Tori Amos. I love her when she’s mad, rocking, and loud. I prefer that Tori. This is one of her best songs. I was so thrilled when it got so much play, and was a hit for her.

“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” – all the orphans in Rob Marshall’s Annie, which I adore. Cannot abide the Albert Finney one. No, no. THIS is the one to see.

“Hell” – Squirrel Nut Zippers. These guys are so much fun.

“The Barnyards of Delgaty” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. Their music is woven into my DNA.

“Où es-tu Julian?” – Scala & Kolacny Brothers. They’re this Belgian girl’s choir that I am crazy about. You will recognize them from their creepy version of “Creep” played during The Social Network trailer. That’s how I discovered them.

“Rolling In the Deep” – the cast of Glee. You know what? It’s pretty great. Adele’s is already a classic, but this is what Glee does best, turning these singles into almost choral pieces.

“Reunion” – Indigo Girls. Lovely. I am rarely earnest. Okay, I’m never earnest. But they do tap into a smidgeon of earnestness/hope that I have in my nature. And it’s okay. I’ll never go to their side, it’s too late now, and I like my pessimism. But when they hit, (and they’re hit or miss for me), they’re gorgeous.

“I’ll Remember You” – Elvis, again from the June 10, 1972 afternoon show at Madison Square Garden. From the awesome Prince From Another Planet album, that just came out. The sound is amazing. You really can feel/hear the crowd here. They are losing their shit … for no reason other than HE IS STANDING BEFORE THEM. I’m not crazy about this song. It’s drippy.

“Suspicious Minds” – Elvis, live, August 22, 1969, at The International Hotel. Fierce. Such a great song, such an adult Elvis, and he is in top top form. Hard to believe he was terrified by the opening in Vegas, but he was. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

“What a Good Boy” – Barenaked Ladies. I haven’t thought of this song in ages. Heartcrack.

“Close Every Door To Me” – poor enslaved Joseph in prison, in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“God’s Song (That’s Why I Love Mankind)” – Randy Newman. He is so brilliant.

“Spinout” – Elvis Presley. SO DUMB. SO FUN.

“Tea” – Brendan Benson. I am in love with him and his music. I will follow him anywhere.

“Hands Off” – Elvis Presley, at home. You can hear the crowd gathered, chatting, joining in the singing. Elvis is playing piano, which always cracks me up. He loved to play the piano.

“Old Woman From Wexford” – The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem. I love how there’s always such a sense of anger coursing through/beneath their songs. There’s a violence there.

“Flight From the Inside” – Queen. From News of the World. Thrilling rock stars.

“Another Woman’s Man” – Joe Tex. Rockin, swingin, rhythm and blues. A song you must dance to. “Now if you got a real good man, honey … don’t advertise what your man can do.” Excellent advice.

“It’s Only Us” – Robbie Williams. A satisfying pop anthem. I love him so much. I blast this when I drive to the beach. It’s best loud.

“Bring It On” – Seal. It’s the only album of his I have. I have many good and healing memories associated with it. I don’t need any more. To me, he represents blossoming, hope, a reminder that life will go on, that this too shall pass.

“I Need Your Love Tonight (take 14)” – Elvis Presley. I have the whole session, put out by FTD. It’s fascinating listening. These guys worked their asses off, in take after take. Elvis was ebullient, mischievous, open and easy, but also professional and hard-working. All of that is evident in the multiple takes. The finished products are all classics in the Elvis Songbook, and it is fun to hear them come together.

“’39” – Queen, live at Earl’s Court, June 1977. How are they so brilliant? I don’t know. I’m just so glad it happened, and I’m glad I was alive to enjoy it.

“Whitechocolatespaceegg” – Liz Phair. I am happy Liz P. is showing up so much in the random-ness of this shuffle. And from a variety of albums, too. Great song.

“Hallelujah, I Love Her So” – The Beatles, from Anthology. The sound quality is terrible, but you really get the feel for them at the beginning, the grittiness of it, the fun of it. How an entire world of possibility was cracking open.

“It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie” – Elvis, at home, in 1966, singing along to a pre-recorded orchestral arrangement. It does make me wish he had recorded it for real. He can’t resist changing the lyrics, “If you break my heart … I’ll shit …” and cracks himself up.

“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” – The Beatles. Fuck you, Charles Manson.

“Interlude” – My Chemical Romance. Oooh, they’re quiet here! Imagine that!

“Molly’s Lips” – Nirvana covering the Vaselines song – live at Pine Street Theatre. It’s ferocious.

“Vision of a Kiss” – The B-52’s. My boyfriend and I listened to this album on eternal repeat as we drove across the country, breaking up as we drove. It took us two months. Worst idea in the history of the universe.

“I Am What I Am” – George Hearn, from La Cage Aux Folles. His performance of this song is one of the all-time greats. The build. It’s incredible. It’s symphonic. It’s intense. Bravo.

“Money” – Alan Cumming, as the Emcee in Broadway’s Cabaret. I feel so lucky that I saw this production.

“Bigger Isn’t Better” – Tom Thumb, in the Broadway production of Barnum. I saw this on Broadway, with Tony Orlando as Barnum (he was great). It’s a Broadway cluster!

“That’s All Right” – Elvis, in the informal jam session of his 68 Special. It’s his opening number. The crowd is losing their minds. You hear women moaning, almost sobbing. He doesn’t even have to DO anything. He’s shy. He sits down and says, “What should I do now, folks?” And you hear a woman cry out, “ANYTHING.” Yup. That’s pretty much it.

“Get Together” – Madonna. From Confessions On a Dance Floor, an album I really loved.

“One” – Metallica, playing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, on the double album S&M, which I love beyond measure. It is one of my favorite Metallica albums. Hearing them playing with an enormous orchestral sound is beyond thrilling. Their already-great songs find new life here.

“Kill You” – Eminem, from the dauntingly great Marshall Mathers LP. Eminem usually does double-tracks of his vocals: one mad version, and one REALLY mad version. It gives him that really intense psychotic sound that is so HIM.

“Doctor Robert” – The Beatles, from Revolver. Really really dysfunctional and great.

“Good Boys” – Yipes! (Pat McCurdy’s former band, or one of them. You know, he competed on Star Search. I’ve written the story before. I was in junior high, obsessed with Star Search, due to Sam Harris and my love for him. What the hell happened to him? Pat McCurdy was on it, competing against Sawyer Brown. I would hold my tape recorder up to the television so that I could capture the entire episode. So somewhere in my parents’ attic is a melting cassette tape, with Pat McCurdy’s Star Search episode on it. So strange that not even 15 years later, this would be happening, and this would be happening.)

“Dark I Am Yet Lovely” – Sinéad O’Connor. From her bizarre double album. It’s okay, Sinead. I’ll buy whatever you do, and that has been true since I was in freakin’ high school. I’m in, okay, I’m in.

“Night and Day” – U2, covering the Cole Porter song. From the Red Hot + Blue album, a fundraiser for AIDS research, with different artists covering Cole Porter. This is very cool!

“Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin. Scary, brilliant. Such an ominous relentless sound.

“Summertime Blues” – Eddie Cochran. A classic. I love the hand-clapping. “No dice, son. You gotta work late.” Another good one to blast in the car.

“Hell Is For Children” – Pat Benatar. I saw a little special on her, and found it so fascinating that when she tapped into her anger, her career took off. She was so petite, with such a gorgeous voice (astonishing range). She could have had a very boring short career singing tepid ballads. But no: she got mad. And thank God.

“Octopus’s Garden” – The Beatles. I am so glad I grew up listening to them. My parents had their albums. My friend Betsy and I were obsessed in grade school. Of course, the Beatles had broken up by that point. But they may as well have been contemporary artists to us. I never “discovered” the Beatles. They were always there.

“The Lady Is a Tramp” – Tony Bennett & Lady GaGa. Fabulous. I read somewhere that they’re coming out with a whole album of big-band swing songs, and I think that’s thrilling. I’m in.

“I Was the One” – Elvis. This is live, in Vegas, on the That’s the Way It Is album. Elvis can’t remember the lyrics, and keeps messing up, laughing. “I don’t know it, man …” Back in 1956, this was his favorite song of all of his recordings. You can hear how much he loves it in the recordings from the Louisiana Hayride. He always loved the ballads.

“Double Happy” – Split Enz. What the hell happened to them? We were so into this album in college. I’m still into this album. Not a clunker of a song on it.

“So What” – Pink. Another bratty anthem from our brave woman who is not afraid to seem petty. I wouldn’t call it empowering. But I would call it honest and thrilling. Also, along with Adele, she has my favorite female voice out there right now.

“He’s Misstra Know It All” – Stevie Wonder. Innervisions is a perfect album. What a beautiful song. I am grateful that it exists.

“Creatures of Love” – Talking Heads. Little Creatures, man. That album dominated at a certain time/place. I still love the whole album. My favorite is “Road to Nowhere.” But this is great. “I’ve seen sex, and I think it’s okay.” Me too.

“spiral” – Alanis Morissette. From her latest album, which I really like. These lyrics are very honest, and I relate to them. I’m working on all of it with a therapist AND a doctor. I am VERY well handled right now. Keeping me out of the booby hatch is a full-time job at present. But listen to her lyrics here. Quite profound and accurate.

“Emma’s Song” – Sinéad O’Connor. From Faith and Courage, a terrific album. “Emma’s Song” is gorgeous.

“Unchain My Heart” – Ray Charles. He’s the best. Coincidentally, Kim Morgan just wrote a post about him. “As Charles once told a reporter, “I’m the kind of guy, I conform when it suits me, and when it doesn’t suit me I don’t.” Straight-forward, but complicated, honest but mysterious. So provocative and magnetic was Charles, so private yet revealing, so smooth yet rough-edged, so troubled yet supremely business minded, so ready to laugh during an interview or cry onstage in classics like “Drown in My Own Tears,” Charles was, and is indeed… O Gênio.”

“They Won’t Go When I Go” – George Michael. Smooth as hell, sad as the underbelly of the world, almost spiritual in its simplicity.

“Lord Jesus” – the great and totally under-rated (as to be almost unknown) Wynona Carr. Gal’s got grit, that rough-ness on the edge of her voice that speaks of a life lived, of pain endured, of a rock-strong faith. Along with Elvis’ gospel, Wynona Carr’s spirituals soothe my ragged soul.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” – Elvis, at his fundraiser concert for the U.S.S. Arizona memorial in Honolulu, March 25, 1961. He was in his gold suit, he was out of the Army, and – hard to believe – this would be his last appearance live for almost a decade. There is a pretty rough recording of this particular concert, and it is thrilling. He is on fire. A true leader. The crowd is insane, there are times when you can’t hear him, and it is clear he can barely hear himself.

“Where Do I Go From Here” – a rousing number from Elvis Presley’s Fool album. All you need to do is listen to Fool to realize that he hadn’t fallen off in power or relevance in the 70s – that is just a MYTH. So dismissive, and just not accurate.

“Yesterday” – Elvis, live, August 24, 1969 – at The International Hotel in Las Vegas. Lovely. He pours his heart into it. And keeps it simple.

“I Hurt Too” – the amazing Katie Herzig. I have cousin Mike (who is on fire these days, not sure if you’ve noticed) to thank for introducing me to her.

“Our Father” – another great gospel number from Wynona Carr. Just her voice and a piano. Powerful! Joyous!

“21 Things I Want In a Lover” – Alanis Morissette. Boy, this woman loves lists! Even though some of her requirements seem silly to me, it’s not for me to judge what someone else wants in a mate. Of course, when you list stuff out, it says more about you than about what you want. That’s what’s kind of interesting about it. Besides, the number rocks. It’s one of my favorites of hers.

“The Fool” – Sanford Clark. Fantastic. Everyone and their Mama recorded this number. You can see why. It’s a great song. Something about it is funny. The tune is mischievous, world-weary, light. “Drink to a fool, a crazy fool, who told his baby good-bye …” And that guitar riff that goes through the whole thing!

“Loving You” – Elvis Presley, the title song for the 1957 film Loving You. He’s gorgeous here. Doesn’t do too much, which is perhaps the hardest thing of all.

“Not Afraid” – Eminem. An anthem of healing. I love Eminem best when he’s anti-social and violent (obviously), but it’s very very interesting what is happening with him now. I also love it when he sings.

“Strong Black Vine” – Tori Amos. From Abnormally Attracted to Sin. As I’ve mentioned, I prefer Hard Tori to Soft Tori. This is great.

“Stranger In a Strange Town” – Pat McCurdy. Old Pat. He sounds a lot like Huey Lewis here. His career has been phenomenal. What a niche he found. If you live in the Midwest, look him up, and check him out.

“Have Mercy On Me” – Maria McKee. Again, part of the soundtrack from the film directed by McKee’s husband Jim Akin, After the Triumph Of Your Birth. Intense.

“Blue Suede Shoes” – Elvis Presley. I waffle back and forth between this one and Carl Perkins’ version. They’re both so distinct. The song still pops. I love hearing Elvis yelling at the musicians during the bridges: “Awww, walk the dog!”

“Love Me Tender” – Elvis, at Madison Square Garden. He can barely get the words right, and he could not care less. He is clearly wandering up and down dealing with the audience, saying to one woman, “I’ll be up in a minute, baby”. He talks to the musicians in between phrases. The audience is screaming as loud as they can. They love him so much.

“Datin'” – Elvis, from Paradise Hawaiian Style, a movie that is quite bleak, and really the only time (along with Clambake) where Elvis ever seemed bored. It’s a terrible movie, unforgivable really, because he was so talented – not just as a musician, but as an actor. This is a very dumb song, where he schools a young annoying girl on the wonders of adult “datin'”. What’s REALLY fun is hearing the outtakes. Elvis gets the giggles and cannot get it back together.

“Nobody Knows” – Pink. Listen to it. This is why I say she has one of the best voices in current-day music. A great rock and roll voice.

“Crying, Waiting, Hoping” – The Beatles. Live at the BBC. You can really hear the Everly Brothers influence!

“Where Do I Go?” – Gavin Creel and the Tribe, in the Broadway revival of Hair. The ensemble is really thrilling. I didn’t see the production but love the soundtrack.

“Entr’acte” – orchestra from Cabaret revival, starring Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson, which I’ve already mentioned. Unforgettable show.

“Take Me To the Mardi Gras” – Paul Simon. No. I have social anxiety. I am not going to the Mardi Gras. But thanks for the beautiful song, Paul.

“Aged and Mellow Blues” – Little Esther. You just want to be dancing real close in a dive juke joint listening to this.

“That’s Someone You Never Forget” – Elvis Presley. Kind of buried on the album with the horrible name, Pot Luck, the song is distinct in Elvis’ career. Nothing else really sounds like it, first of all. Also, he got an actual songwriting credit on it. He wrote the song with his buddy, Red West. The lyrics are ambiguous, it could certainly be about missing a loved girlfriend, but if you listen to it thinking of Elvis’ mother, the meaning of the song seems to crack open.

“Stay With Me” – Ruth Gerson. A beautiful singer/songwriter. She taught a songwriting class my talented sister Siobhan took, and that’s how I came to be aware of her work. Gerson reminds me of Aimee Mann, Chrissie Hynde.

“If I Fell” – The Beatles. The harmonies are still piercing, no matter how many times I have heard it. And the chord change!! “Don’t hurt my pride like her …”

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – the Glee cast version of the Green Day classic. They don’t do much with it.

“Sway” – The Puppini Sisters. I love them because they are both earnest as well as ironic. And their arrangements are superb.

“Flaming Star” – Elvis Presley, the title song of the film Flaming Star, which is terrific (and he is terrific in it: “Don’t she got a name like white people??”). Early 60s. A time of great hope and activity for Elvis.

“I Love You Because” – Elvis. One of the first things he recorded at Sun. It’s pared down, achingly vulnerable (he’s so young!), and filled with a shimmer of what is to come. He’s starting to feel himself, starting to relax, you can hear it in some of his vocalizations.

“Minarets” – Dave Matthews. I’m not a huge Dave Matthews fan (although I will love him forever for “rescuing” Patty Griffin from her terrible contract), but I do love this, from his live acoustic album, recorded at Luther College.

“Tears Dry On Their Own” – Amy Winehouse. Fuck, I miss her.

“Beyond the Sea” – the great Robbie Williams, on his Swing When You’re Winning album, a tribute to Frank, Dino, and all the others. Fantastic. He’s got it in his bones. Also, huge Elvis fan.

“W.T.P” – Eminem, another one from Recovery. Again, he sings here. It makes me happy. He’s havin’ a white trash party. You in?

“Grease” – Frankie Valli. My entire childhood is here.

“Good Golly Miss Molly” – Jerry Lee Lewis. WILD. Love the horns plus the piano. Groovy, and just slightly scary, Jerry Lee Lewis’ stock in trade.

“Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing” – Lou Rawls. It sure is, Lou. Ain’t nothing else.

“Elvis Presley Blues” – the gorgeous Gillian Welch. What a song. “he shook it like a chorus girl …” It brings me to tears.

“The Idiot In Me” – Tracy Bonham. I’ve been a fan for, Jeez, decades, ever since I heard “Mother Mother” blasting out at a Virgin Record Store in Chicago and asked a salesperson, “WHO IS THAT???” She’s still out there, doing her thing. She has mellowed a bit, and I think her music has suffered a bit, without that rage behind it. But she’s a great songwriter, great singer and musician.

“Up the Ladder to the Roof” – The Nylons. Will always make me think of my friend Brett, who died recently. He introduced me to them. This song reminds me of my freshman year in college, where I was struggling to recover from a mammoth crack-up (my second), and loving college, but exhausted from that struggle. This song was really helpful to me, actually. It gave me hope, a vision of joy.

“Burning Love” – Elvis, from Aloha From Hawaii, his mammoth simulcast concert from Hawaii in 1973. It’s not my favorite, although he certainly looked magnificent. “Burning Love” was a huge hit for him, and a regular part of his shows through the 70s: it went over huge with live audiences.

“The Temple” – from Jesus Christ Superstar. I feel bad for Jesus. Who could deal with that clamoring crowd?

“I’ve Got a Feeling” – The Beatles. Goosebumps.

“As Long As I Have You” – Elvis Presley. Beauty, smoothness and soul from Elvis in King Creole.

“Mine (takes 8 & 9)” – Elvis. His voice has so many different sounds. He can be rough, he can be damn near operatic, and he can also be soft and gentle. He worked hard on his low notes and his falsetto. He wanted to stretch his already formidable instrument. I love him here. He holds back. He’s soft and sweet.

“The Juice of the Barley” – The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. From their concert at Carnegie Hall. So much a part of my childhood, this album.

“Back on Black” – Heart. Used to make out with my college boyfriend in a car in the beach parking lot to this song. Well, to other ones, too, but this is the one I remember. Fogging up the windows.

“Come Along” – Elvis Presley, from Frankie and Johnny. Tired and stale. And listen to how they mixed this, pushing his voice so far forward you can barely hear the accompaniment. Ridiculous choice. Elvis hated that sound.

“Gettin’ Ready Rag” – the cast of Ragtime. Pretty awesome. The whole score is amazing. “Gettin’ Ready Rag” is when Coalhouse Walker has to decide to go win back his girl with a concentrated courtship effort.

“Better Version Of Me” – Fiona Apple. My dad loved her. I love that.

“You Don’t Know Me” – Tracy Bonham. All totally pissed off and fierce. I like her angry best. Since she got happy and more mature, her music has lost some of its bite. But that’s okay, she’s in it for the long haul. Will continue to seek out her stuff!

“It’s Still Here” – Elvis, from Fool. See my above comments about Fool. This is one of Elvis’ best recordings in his entire career (and he maintained it in take after take). It’s almost difficult to listen to, it’s so pained. But boy, he pulls it off.

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – the Glee cast version of Cyndi Lauper’s monster hit. I am not as crazy about the Glee stuff when they just re-do the song as it was originally. I love it when they re-think a song. This is a perfect example. It actually stands on its own, and that’s not easy to do because Lauper’s version is so distinctive. But a male voice singing it, turning it into a melancholy introspective song … the song is great enough it can take messing with it to this degree.

“You Better Believe” – The Gay Poppers. From a great compilation I have called Stompin’ at the Savoy. Indispensable. Songs to make out to, songs to bump and grind to, songs to dance to.

“Your Mother Should Know” – The Beatles. I love it when they get all English.

“Disenchanted Lullaby” – Foo Fighters. Nothing like Dave Grohl screaming on tune.

“Voyeur” – Cliff Eberhardt. He is a master of heartache.

“The Green Leaves of Summer” – Nick Perito, featured so memorably in The Alamo, and then of course in Inglourious Basterds.

“Rudebox” – Robbie Williams. Robbie getting funky and techno and hip-hop on Rudebox the album, and it’s not my favorite. But I believe I have shown I am a devoted fan. He could come out with an album of polka music featuring an orchestra of only tubas and I’d buy it.

“Just a Little Walk With Jesus” – Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, impromptu, at Sun, December 1956. Carl does harmony. They rock with it. And then Elvis plays conductor, “Slow it up, Carl …” And then they sing it half-time, Elvis’ favorite thing.

“Hello Darlin'” – Conway Twitty. Perfection. That steel guitar, the ache of the song, his sudden breaking into speaking … Perfect recording.

“Random Acts of Kindness” – Robbie Williams. He is so good at this empowering-anthem kind of stuff. Not many people are. There’s a real philosophy under what he does.

“Bad Kids” – Lady GaGa. Pretty catchy, I must say. I’m a big fan.

“The 59th Street Bridge” – Simon & Garfunkel. I associate this with childhood. A lot of their lyrics went over my head. Not this one. I understood it implicitly.

“She’s a Woman” – The Beatles, live at the BBC. Rough, dirty, electric.

“I’ll Drown In My Tears” – Lula Read & Sonny Thompson. Her voice goes right through me. She freakin’ means this.

“Evaporated” – Ben Folds Five. So fucking sad.

“Maud Miller/The Sailor’s Return/Paddy Murphy’s Wife” – James Keane. Sure, I’m in the mood for traditional Irish accordion playing, why do you ask?

“Come Undone” – Robbie Williams. One of his best.

“March” – Sarah Donner. I am so glad I discovered her. She was very inspirational to me during the final couple of months of push to finish my script. Her music seemed to click in with some of the themes I was working on.

“Miss Gradenko” – The Police. I swear, when Synchronicity came out in high school we all felt wicked wicked smaht listening to these lyrics. We pored over them as though they were Dostoevsky’s notebooks.

“Promise Me” – Pat McCurdy. Too sad. Next!

“It’s a Good Day” – Perry Como. Impossible to listen to and not feel cheered up.

“Love Will Keep Us Together” – Captain & Tennille. Good lord, talk about a pick-me-up.

“Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad” – Randy Newman. I am so glad he’s showed up so often in this Shuffle. I love the arrangement, it’s deceptively simple. Piano, harmonica, guitar … and I don’t know, I’ve hurt that bad. That’s the thing about the blues. The night brings nothing but pain, that’s true.

“Satellite” – Kram. A lot of fun, great beat. The best part of Shuffle is coming across these buried singles.

“All I Need” – Christina Aguilera, from Bionic. I did not really like Bionic, and only a couple of singles made the cut. This was one of them. Beautiful. Gentle. Some lovely chord changes.

“The Seeker” – The Who. YES!!

“Man or Muppet” – Jason Seigel and Walter. I find the entire thing hilarious and awesome. Dead serious.

“Our Lips Are Sealed” – The Go-Go’s. They hit when I was in high school. The song holds up (a lot of their stuff does), and is a karaoke favorite.

“V.I.P.” – Sinéad O’Connor. From her latest. It’s fantastic and intense (the entire album is great).

“Two Doors Down” – Dolly Parton gettin’ funky! Great song.

“Fields of Gold” – Eva Cassidy. She is exquisite.

“Lost Count” – Ebba Forsberg. You know, I had her on a cassette tape, and two songs (this one, and her song “Carried”) are the only two I still have. She’s lovely, and I have no idea what happened to her. Good songwriter.

“Let ‘Er Rip” – Dixie Chicks. This is the Dixie Chicks at their best.

“(You Drive Me) Crazy” – Britney Spears. She’s so freakin’ nuts and I adore her.

“Wolf Call Boogie” – Hot Shot Love. Another one of the Sun Records recordings. It’s almost scary in its vitality. It’s in your face, it’s live, it’s filled with feel. So much fun.

“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” – Marilyn Monroe. Classic. She doesn’t get enough credit for her singing voice and vocal stylings.

“Stick With Me Baby” – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss. Their partnership resulted in one of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. Who would have thought of these two together? Thank goodness it happened. Robert Plant said he was intrigued by the project because he got to sing harmony, something that he, as a lead singer, never got to do. I find that amazing. He had accomplished so much but that was a challenge he wanted to take on. Lovely.

“Stupidity Tries” – Elliott Smith. Thinking of him hurts my heart. I love this album, but to me it is so overshadowed by his horrible end. The album contains his despair. Great songs, though.

“The Saga of Jenny” – Julie Andrews from Star! A huge story-song about Jenny, a girl who “made up her mind”, to often devastating results. Lots of fun. Julie Andrews singing with a chorus of male background singers. Gives a swing-big-band feel to it. Also, listen to what Julie Andrews does on “six” in the final stanza: “Jenny kicked the bucket – at seventy-six.” Astonishing, her voice and what she could do with it.

“Ich Wollt Ich Waer Ein Huhn” – Lilian Harvey & Willy Fritsch. Hahahaha. I believe it’s on the Inglourious Basterds soundtrack. It feels quite Weimar Republic to me, although I have no idea what they are saying.

“My Heart Belongs to Daddy” – Marilyn Monroe. I think I have everything she ever recorded, and I am glad of it. Always happy when she shows up. Another great arrangement with male background singers dominating, a great way to highlight her.

“The Angels Rejoiced Last Night” – The Louvin Brothers. From their classic album Satan Is Real. (Look it up and look at the cover art. Classic.) Elvis was really influenced by them. They all toured together back in the early days, on the same bills.

“Happy & Normal” – Mike Viola. A solo album. He’s so good. My sister Siobhan opened for him once, a very exciting night.

“Heartland, Heartburn” – speaking of my sister Siobhan O’Malley!! This is from her album Alibi Bye. Gorgeous steel guitar. Siobhan is great, so talented. Go check out all of her albums here, you can purchase at this link.

“You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” – Dean Martin. I swear. He shows up, and my brain calms down. Automatically.

“How Your Love Makes Me Feel” – Diamond Rio. I am not particularly into contemporary country music. I like the older stuff. But sometimes I click with a song, and this is one of them.

“I’m Wrong” – Sharon Van Etten. Another discovery via Cousin Mike. She’s amazing, check her out if you are not familiar.

“Burn On” – Randy Newman. Yay! Haunting ragtime-sound, giving the song a childlike lullaby feel. But sad. You know, the river is burning. It sucks.

“Dreams” – The Cranberries. Good lord, the Cranberries. Remember them? Maybe they’re still around. I have no idea. I’m too busy reading about the tulip mania and mental illness to keep up with the career path of the Cranberries.

“Broken Boy Soldier” – The Raconteurs. I’m a big fan.

“Don’t Be Angry” – Nappy Brown. Great 50s rhythm & blues.

“It’s Easy to Remember” – Doris Day. She is so smooth, so enjoyable. I have a huge double album of much of her stuff. She makes it seem easy. To her, it is easy. That’s her brilliance.

“Don’t You Know” – Ray Charles. Sexxxxxxxy.

“Whip It” – Devo. Oh hell to the yes. Remembering an entire high school gym doing the “whip it” gesture when this song came on.

“I’ve Told Every Little Star” – Linda Scott. I can no longer hear this song without thinking of Mulholland Drive, which gives it a tremendously eerie vibe, not there in the original. That’s the brilliant thing about the use of music in films, when done right. It can become so intertwined with your memory of the film that the song feels forever altered. (This can be good and bad.)

“The Way You Make Me Feel” – Michael Jackson. And speaking of movies, I am now thinking of Center Stage, and the big production number at the end. On a more serious note, I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, and probably love his Off the Wall album the best, but this is one of his best songs.

“Get Rhythm” – Johnny Cash. His voice has such authority. It’s so macho, and yet so open at the same time. Hot.

“Elephant Love Medley” – Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge. I recently saw this again and found it didn’t hold up. But I will love it forever because it helped save my life. I’ve written about it before. Now clearly I was in a horrible state, and my OCD reaction to Moulin Rouge was indicative of the larger issues. But hey, redemption and a helping hand is a rare thing, and sometimes it comes in a form you might not expect. In 2002, Moulin Rouge saved my ass.

“I Wanna Know” – Hilarious song: great vocals from Dolly Cooper, backed up by the Hal Singer Orchestra. She is pissed. Stop it with the excuses. Tell her what she wants to know, because she’s going to find out anyway.

“I’d Rather Have You” – the great Wanda Jackson. She has a new album out. Can’t wait to hear it!

“Kansas City / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” – The Beatles. I never get sick of this one, and there are a couple of different recordings. It’s always hot, always thrilling. The screaming voice, the subtle drums, and the relentless chords going on beneath.

“Jacob’s Ladder” – Bruce Springsteen, from the awesome Seeger Sessions. The sound is so HUGE.

“The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” – The Louvin Brothers. These guys do not mince words. And the harmonies! Heavenly!

“Little Cream Soda” – The White Stripes. I Love Icky Thump and still miss them, although Jack White is extremely ubiquitous. I will love him forever for producing Wanda Jackson’s album a couple years ago, and even more for performances like this.

“Phoenix” – Dan Fogelberg. I like this a lot. I’ve got a tattoo of a phoenix on my back, inked back in the day when it was unusual to have one (if you weren’t a sailor or a biker, that is). I treasure it. I drew the design myself. It’s meaningful to me and I’ll never regret it. Robbie Williams has a great song about the phoenix, which really speaks to me. Rebirth. But never forget the agony of being burned. Transcendence of pain.

And with that I’ll leave off. It’s Good Friday, speaking of phoenixes and resurrection.

This entry was posted in Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Holy Week Shuffle

  1. Hey Sheila, if you love ELO, have you listened to The Move?

    And those Randy Newman songs are both gems.

  2. sheila says:

    Yeah, love Randy. and yes, The Move.

    ELO is just consistently thrilling to me and I’ve been listening to them for almost my whole life. Pretty cool.

  3. Jeff says:

    Did you ever pick up the Seeger Sessions Band’s “Live in Dublin” album?

  4. Dg says:

    I’m just going to go ahead and assume “Landslide” is a cover of the old Fleetwood Mac song. After that same song was featured in a Budweiser commercial during the super bowl this year I had a strange thought. It’s a very nice song written by a probably very stoned Stevie Nicks in the mid seventies right? Every couple of years it seems to rise out of it’s resting place and either rule or haunt the world depending on your perspective. I mean there was the original version- everyone knew it was a great version but I’m not even sure if it was released as a single or not. Then Dixie Chicks, the live version from the reunited Mac, Gwyneth Paltrow, Budweiser, and I’m sure a few more. I keep picturing Stevie Nicks wearing a dusty old witch hat laughing her ass off every time a new royalty check comes rolling in.

  5. mutecypher says:

    Thanks for posting your shuffles, it such fun to come across interesting things I didn’t know about – especially with services like Spotify or Pandora where you can almost instantly find them and give a listen.

    I suspect you’ve heard it, but I love Jack White and Loretta Lynn’s “Portland, Oregon.”

    • sheila says:

      I love that Loretta Lynn album, yes! I just love his whole producing career – especially since he’s focusing on these legendary ladies. It’s so cool.

      • mutecypher says:

        “Christian, you may see me as only a drunken, vice-ridden gnome whose friends are just pimps and girls from the brothels. But I know about art and love, if only because I long for it with every fiber of my being.”

        …and an inebriated, teary-eyed, voyeuristic Toulouse toasting the love-besotted Christian and Satine with “how wonderful life is when you’re in the world.”

        I hope those moments hold up for you, even if the whole movie doesn’t. After all, it was a story about a time, it was a story about a place…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.