What a difference a month makes.
Music however remains something we can all access, and something that may be more necessary than ever. Music is about human connection (sorry, robots!), and operates across space and time–surely helpful treatment in the face of the disconcerting and unprecedented current circumstances. This month’s playlist wasn’t constructed with our abrupt new collective lifestyle in mind but it’s somewhat suggestible, from stalwart attempts to remain hopeful–cf. Lindsey Buckingham’s soaringly catchy “In My World” and Ian Dury’s evergreen, smile-inducing classic “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3”–on through Pet Shop Boys timeless lament (complete with a star turn from Dusty Springfield) and Norah Jones’ plainspoken, open-ended final word this month.
If you enjoy this sort of mixed-genre playlist, don’t forget there are dozens of similar (but different!) mixes available via my Mixcloud page.
Full playlist below the widget; widget below the following bonus explanatory notes:
* As ubiquitous as Dionne Farris was for a while there back in the ’90s, between her featured vocal on Arrested Development’s “Tennessee,” her big solo hit “I Know” in 1994, and a variety of high-profile soundtrack placements, she has had a very low 21st-century profile. It’s kind of great to hear the big hit again.
* Speaking of someone else with a history of laying low musically, Canadian singer/songwriter/activist Sarah Harmer released an album last month that was her first since 2010’s Oh Little Fire. I’m still absorbing the new one; here in the meantime is the terrific single that emerged from the last one.
* I am not often a fan of Baby Boomer musicians putting out new music after a long absence, and this album featuring Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, from 2017, wasn’t stellar from top to bottom, but the song “In My World” is a wondrous thing that just didn’t really capture a lot of attention at the time. But any song is new that you haven’t heard before.
* Sam Phillips has long been among my uppermost favorite singer/songwriters, as much for her literate, borderline spiritual lyrics as for her musical inventiveness. On the Beatleseque Martinis & Bikinis album, produced by then-husband T Bone Burnett, “I Need Love” stands out to me as one of the best-ever Beatlesque songs because in my mind it’s one of the best-ever songs of any kind. Gorgeous, concise, mysterious, memorable.
* If you’re of a certain age and/or a fan of Americana music, I heartily recommend the new Robbie Robertson documentary, Once Were Brothers. Yes it is a history of the Band seen pretty much only through Robertson’s eyes, but what a compelling story, and what historic and evocative music. After enjoying the movie, I couldn’t resist throwing a Band song into the mix this month, and went with one of the deeper tracks, from their near-mythic debut album, Music From Big Pink.
“Genesis” – Jorma Kaukonen (Quah, 1974)
“Romance” – Great Aunt Ida (Nuclearize Me, 2011)
“Revenge” – Ministry (With Sympathy, 1983)
“One of These Days” – Jill Sobule (Pink Pearl, 2000)
“Mi Chiquita Quiere Bembé” – Tito Puente (Lo Mejor De Lo Mejor, 1958)
“I Found Out” – John Lennon (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, 1970)
“I Know” – Dionne Farris (Wild Seed – Wild Flower, 1994)
“In My World” – Buckingham/McVie (Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie, 2017)
“Why” – Gina Villalobos (Rock ‘n’ Roll Pony, 2005)
“Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3” – Ian Dury & The Blockheads (single, 1979)
“Ferry Cross the Mersey” – Gerry & The Pacemakers (single, 1964)
“I Need Love” – Sam Phillips (Martinis & Bikinis, 1994)
“Take My Heart” – Kool & The Gang (Something Special, 1981)
“Captive” – Sarah Harmer (Oh Little Fire, 2010)
“We Can Talk” – The Band (Music From Big Pink, 1968)
“Never You Mind” – Semisonic (Feeling Strangely Fine, 1998)
“What Have I Done to Deserve This?” – Pet Shop Boys feat. Dusty Springfield (Actually, 1987)
“Good Girl” – Astrid Swan (Poverina, 2005)
“If They Left Us Alone Now” – Wool (Wool, 1969)
“Uh Oh” – Norah Jones (Begin Again, 2019)