I read an article today about an actor’s “Celebrity Playlist,” and even though the parameters of assigning songs to the Playlist were a mystery (Is it favorite songs of all time? Songs with the most sentimental value? Who knows) and even though I am not a celebrity, I made one too. So here it is.
My parameters were that I am too lazy to actually sit down and think about what should be on my Celebrity Playlist, so my list was compiled by scrolling through what is currently in my iTunes cloud and looking at the songs I listen to the most, which is a quite a bit for someone who doesn’t listen to music all that much.
Antony and the Johnsons – Cut the World
I just discovered Antony Hegarty a little over two years ago, and I love him. Very operatic, moody, reflective, and inspiring, with an unusual voice and some interesting lyrical perspectives. The video for “Cut the World” that I linked to above has a violent scene in it, so be warned (but it also has Willem Dafoe, which can never be a bad thing IMO). But it’s an interesting piece and a beautiful song.
“Freak Folk” that utilizes everything from children’s toys to kazoos to harps to make really strange yet pretty music. Bianca Casady’s scratchy voice often raps over the melodies of her opera-trained sister. Their first album was recorded in a bathroom, I believe, but they’ve moved into the studio since then while maintaining the weird beauty that attracted them to me in the first place. Cool videos too – I’ve linked before to their video for “We Are on Fire,” which I find visually inspiring.
I love Steely Dan. My favorite band, hands-down. I had a hard time choosing which songs to put on my playlist, but I chose this one because I my first pet, a little rat terrier, was nicknamed (among other things) Dr. Woo, and I would often sing parts of this song to him (are you with me, Dr. Wu…). Great saxophone in this song.
Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. – Be Blessed
A gospel song a friend of mine sent to me the day my grandmother died; I was feeling so terribly low, and I really didn’t know this person very well, but she sent me a link to the song and I listened to it over and over while I cried for my lost granny. I don’t listen to gospel music, and I’m not particularly religious, but this song touched my heart at a time I really needed solace, and I still listen to it often, especially when I’m feeling down or frustrated (when they sing “I see you in the future/and you look better” well, it always gets me just a little).
I love Kate Bush. I could put loads of her songs on this list, but Wuthering Heights sums her up so well, I’ll just stick with this one. The song, the video – it’s all so seventies and perfectly cheesy and fabulously dramatic. Love love love her.
The Flaming Lips – Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
I’m a fickle Lips fan, primarily loving The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which probably makes me uncool, but they were two excellent albums. And I once had a cat named Yoshimi – sadly, she only lived five years. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate is a lovely song about mortality and one’s need to accept it in order to appreciate the beauty of life. Great stuff. (life/without death/ is just impossible/to realize…)
It’s Steely Dan. This song makes me so happy I want to bash my head against something every time it comes on. I will be that woman humiliating herself by dancing ecstatically in her car on the freeway if I hear it while driving. Best groove ever, with a killer bass.
Joe Henry – Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation
OK, now I’m getting all moody again. “Scar” is a bluesy, jazzy, gorgeous album, and this song, with its long, mournful Ornette Coleman alto sax solo, is six minutes of sublime. Fabulous title, too.
The Old 97s were the pride of Dallas back in the 90s. I always expected them to break and become huge, but it never happened. Their early albums were part of the alternative country wave that eventually burned out, and they temporarily turned away from the scene and started recording poppier stuff. I lost interest, and never got into them again when they returned to writing songs more in their original style. They’re still around, but for me their first 2 or 3 albums are still the best ones.
Richard Thompson – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
In my humble and non-musically educated opinion, one of the best folk ballads I’ve ever heard. Richard Thompson is one of hell of a guitarist; I love him overall but for me this song sums up why more than anything.
Rufus Wainwright playing setting Shakespeare’s sonnets to music and singing along? (A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted/ Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion) Sign me up. I actually like his Sonnet 10 better, but couldn’t find a decent video recording of it.
Another song that makes me so happy I want to smash something; after listening to all the apparently depressing stuff I like (never realized it until making this list) it’s no wonder I need a song like this every now and then. Must stop and dance every time I hear it no matter what I’m doing. My friend Candace and I spent one summer day years ago driving around town, getting out of the car in weird locations and doing the “Carlton” dance to this song (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air); we filmed the whole thing and put it into a video with this playing. I’ll have to dig that up from wherever I stored it and let you all see it. We danced at a putt-putt golf place, a library, a fire station…all over town. It was a blast.
Tom Waits – Tom Traubert’s Blues
I guess there are better Tom Waits songs, but this has always been my favorite. Sad and pretty and rather depressing while still melodic – which seems to be a trend with me.
No static at all. I dunno, just had to end with another Dan.