For our feature Nice Playlist, Brah, we ask some of our favorite musicians to make a themed Spotify playlist for us. You know, Songs to Make-out To, The Worst Bands I Have Ever Heard, Songs Your Mom Would Like, we just ask them to be creative, and then we post them to The Ardent Music Blog and share them with you. When you’re looking for a good Spotify playlist, now you know where to look. This week we invited singer/songwriter Michael the Blind to put one together for us. We invite you to take listen to the playlist while you read why the musician included each song. Enjoy!
1. “A Feeling” – Throwing Muses
Throwing Muses taught me not to be afraid to use the insanity stuff from my life in my songs. “A Feeling” has about it a twitchy, but sinewy sensibility that lends itself to near-obsession.
2. “On Doing An Evil Deed Blues” – John Fahey
The title of this John Fahey track says it all for me and makes it perfect for the playlist. “On Doing an Evil Deed Blues”. His playing on this early version is so half-broken sounding that you want to break down.
3. “Summertime Suidice #2″ – David Donedero
Summertime in the south is a time of stickiness and heat, and bug noises and more heat. That kind of weather makes a lot of folks feel slow and dreamy, but David Dondero‘s lilting number makes me think of how I’d just about lose my cool trying to think of a way to calm down in that nearly stifling atmosphere.
In almost the same way, the utterly placid, groovy feel of this Tommy James song in particular makes me want to tear my hair out every time I hear it. It is this very quality of calmness about it that unsettles me so.
5. “Seasons in the Sun” – Terry Jacks
“Seasons in the Sun” might be the best song to throw a total foot-stomping, screaming-at-the-sky kind of “Losing It” party over, ever. Luckily, it’s found on spotify.
6. “Gloomy Sunday” – Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday” caused so many people to crack up when it first came out that it was practically feared, and it can definitely throw me into a tailspin.
7. “Key Lime Pie” - Camper Van Beethoven
I think Camper Van Beethoven’s “Key Lime Pie” album is a journey through all kinds of American insanity, and the intro track sets up the rest of the album with this mournful tic of a tune.
8. “Teachers” – Leonard Cohen
I picked up a cassette copy of Songs of Leonard Cohen from a spinning display rack on a truck stop counter in the midst of a cross-country meltdown and immediately memorized the lyrics to “Teachers” and set out to learn to play that guitar figure.
9. “Sister Jean” – Rachel Taylor Brown
Much of Rachel Taylor Brown’s music has an on-edge quality to it that makes her one of my favorites, and on “Sister Jean” she really lets you have it. If you don’t at first get why this one is included in this spotify playlist, take a moment to check out the lyrics.
10. ”Rage Over a Lost Penny“ - Beethoven
This Beethoven piece is parenthetically title “Rage Over a Lost Penny” and we all know how money can drive one mad, especially when it is missing. There was relief that this song wasn’t missing on Spotify.
11. ”96 Tears” – ? & The Mysteries
Finally I think that maybe “96 Tears” is the sound of a band having a collective nervous breakdown on tape, and if you don’t agree with that, the repeated organ motif will cause you to have one yourself if you listen for long enough.=
Michael The Blind is Michael Levasseur, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living in Portland, Oregon. Think Leonard Cohen, but not so low. Elliott Smith, but not so high. Suzanne Vega, but not so female. John Fahey when acoustic, Paul Westerberg when electric. A lyrical style that is both e.e. cummings and Mother Goose. Following up three solo albums and countless shows performed at bars, markets, coffeehouses, basements and festivals throughout the nation, the new Michael The Blind album Are’s & Els (recorded at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone and featuring the Magik*Magik Orchestra and Levasseur’s newly formed band The Els) will be released by Alder Street Records on June 5th.
Check out all of our Spotify playlists on The Ardent Music Blog! Thanks to Michael The Blind for contributing!