My celebrity playlist
Over on the View Askewniverse, Kevin Smith is asking folks to write up their own non-celebrity playlists, after his were “sent back for editing”. Apparently, his comments were two wordy for the iTunes Music Store.
First, I’m calling bullshit on the Apple response to Smith’s wordiness. Yes, as a web programmer I often put in limits that get hit later on, but when someone actually provides good content I do my best to find a way to up that limit. (Hell, one of the ways we’re upping the limit on media downloads is iTunes U.)
Second, this is not going to be nearly as obscure as Kevin Smith’s, but here goes. And these are not necessarily my favorite songs, but they are songs that move me.
- Come a Long Way (Michelle Shocked, Arkansas Traveler)
- Michelle Shocked is one of the best singer-songwriters of our time. Come a Long Way is a real tearjerker on an album of hillbilly songs. On first listen, this song is out of place on Arkansas Traveler, but it makes sense the more I listen to it. If I were doing eleven songs, I’d include Bing Crosby’s version of Don’t Fence Me In. It is a more direct version of the same story: some of us yearn for the unclaimed spaces of the world.
- The Weight (The Band, The Last Waltz)
- The version from their farewell concert movie beats the hell out of their Big Pink version. If anyone ever does a movie of It Isn’t Murder If They’re Yankees, this is the song that ends the movie. It is perfect Southern rock, and from a Canadian band. It couldn’t be more appropriate. “Picked up my bag and went looking for a place to hide.”
- Safe in My Garden (The Mamas and the Papas, The Papas and the Mamas)
- “Could it be we were hot-wired, late one night while very tired, they stole our minds and thought we’d never know it; with a bottle in each hand, too late to try to understand, we don’t care where it lands we just throw it.” It is songs like this that make me think I was born too late. I listened to this one a lot while writing FlameWar. Man, can’t they see the world’s on fire.
- Doublewide (Southern Culture on the Skids, Double Wide and Live)
- I picked this up on vinyl after their last concert here in San Diego. Originally from Mojo Box, the live version of this song gives it just a bit more edge. I started listening to Southern Culture with Dirt Track Date, and they keep getting better and better. I do like me those unclaimed spaces. “Hey, baby, why don’t we try to make a break to the countryside?”
- Mohammed’s Radio (Warren Zevon, Stand in the Fire)
- The live version of Mohammed’s Radio on Stand in the Fire includes topical references from the seventies—which end up making it even more relevant today. From the man who met the man with the thorny crown, Mohammed’s Radio is a smooth song about Jimmy Carter’s highway blues. Well, as I write this I’ve been up all night listening to Mohammed’s radio, too.
- All That You Have Is Your Soul (Tracy Chapman, Crossroads)
- Another song from the imaginary It Isn’t Murder soundtrack, I don’t think I’ve ever had an iPod set that doesn’t include this song. I had just moved from rural Michigan to Hollywood when this song became popular. I drove out in a beat-up van that I bought for $250 after dark. The highways kept getting wider and wider as I drove west. I slept in that van a couple of times, but not in Hollywood. I’ll take the sound of a wolf howling in the distance over the sound of breaking glass and screeching tires in the distance, any day. By the time I left Hollywood a year later that van couldn’t even go in reverse. (Symbolism? Who needs it.)
- Independence Day (Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975-85)
- Someone on the board mentioned funeral songs. Well, here you go. I chanced upon the vinyl box set in Record City while listening to some CDs I’d chosen. It was in the bargain section next to the listening stations, and appeared to be in great shape (it was). I wasn’t a big fan of this song the first time I played it, but it is one of those rare songs where the more it comes up, the more I enjoy it. Listen to it and think of a good Viking funeral.
- Charlotte Corday (Al Stewart, Famous Last Words)
- Al Stewart’s Time Passages is the earliest song I can remember waiting for on the radio. For me it’s practically a holiday song, because it is indelibly linked to Christmas, when it was popular on our West Michigan radio stations. I have to say, Katherine of Oregon from A Beach Full of Shells is starting to grow on me as well. But every Al Stewart album brings a new gem. Charlotte Corday is a hauntingly beautiful song about the ghosts of missed opportunities—much, I suppose, like Time Passages, but subtler.
- The Song that Didn’t Rhyme (Alice Cooper, The Eyes of Alice Cooper)
- There is a strange Lovecraftian cadence to this song. This is far from one of my favorite Alice Cooper songs, but it draws me in every time I hear it. It scares me, and more so on repeated listenings. Whoever wrote the melody was keyed in on R’lyeh.
- Positively Bodies Parking Lot (Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, Bo-Day-Shus!!!)
- Gin and sin in San Diego. Positively Bodies references a San Diego before I arrived here, and many of the people in the song are gone (Country Dick Montana’s death on stage in Canada probably marked the end of that era), but some of the pieces remain. It reminds me a bit of some of the old hobo songs, where the song takes on a new level of meaning because no one remembers what the words meant. Young, foolish, and happy. There is a thick air of history and a lot of ghosts in this song.