the social distancing playlist 11-20

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Eleven. The Temptations, “Psychedelic Shack” (1969) Posted 3/25/2020. — Released during the last week of the 1960s, “Psychedelic Shack” was one of the funkiest singles from the Norman Whitfield-era of The Temptations. It came packed with fuzzed out guitars, shifting vocal leads and a monster riff holding everything together.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Twelve. The Pretenders, “Middle of the Road” (1983) Posted 3/26/2020. — A song to wake up the neighbors with, a reckoning from 1983 that reaffirmed Chrissie Hynde’s role as a game changer for women in rock ‘n’ roll. The Pretenders are headed to Rupp in September. Better look sharp. (UPDATE 9/15/2020 – The Pretenders’ entire tour with Journey was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Thirteen. The Band. “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show” (1970) Posted 3/27/2020. — From the underrated “Stage Fright” album, The Band at its best. A sideshow tune with a killer Robbie Robertson guitar riff, a rustic Levon Helm lead vocal and a playful Rick Danko refrain. A swampy Garth Hudson sax break cements the mood. “Once you get it, you can’t forget it…”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Fourteen. U2 and Johnny Cash, “The Wanderer” (1993) Posted 3/28/2020. — Talk about your odd couples – U2 and Johnny Cash. Together. Seriously. An electro-pop meditation from U2’s “Zooropa” album, which was released a year before Cash’s Rick Rubin-produced “American Recordings” ushered in one of popular music’s most astounding career victory laps.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Fifteen. Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965) Posted 3/29/2020. — “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” This list was overdue for some vintage Dylan. An electric, game changing, motormouth social commentary, in structure as well as content, from “Bringing It All Back Home.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Sixteen. John Prine, “Fish and Whistle” (1978) Posted 3/30/2020. — Something simple, sweet and hopeful as so many of us are thinking of John Prine today. “When we get through this, we’ll make a big wish that we never have to do this again. Again? Again?”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seventeen. Joe Cocker, “Hitchcock Railway” (1969) Posted 3/31/2020. — My favorite Joe Cocker recording, despite the fact I can make out maybe five words of the lyrics. The build of the intro, the piano rolls, the vocal trade-offs and Cocker’s wonderfully wobbly presence compensate. Pulled from the 1969 sophomore album, “Joe Cocker!”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Eighteen. Junior Walker and the All-Stars, “Shotgun” (1965) Posted 4/1/2020 — A one-chord wonder from 1965 – a blast of fun-filled funk from Motown. I remember this, along with the Beatles’ early hits and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” as one of the first songs I heard on the radio as a kid that stuck with me.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Nineteen. Posted 4/2/2020. Traffic, “Glad”/”Freedom Rider” (1970) Posted 4/2/2020—  A two-fer of Traffic, the lead off tunes from one of my all-time favorite albums, 1970’s “John Barleycorn Must Die.” A wild showcase, instrumentally and vocally, for a 21 year old Steve Winwood. Very spooky. Very soulful. Very cool.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Twenty. Simon & Garfunkel, “The Boxer” (1970) Posted 4/3/2020. — Paul Simon offered a solo online reading of “The Boxer” this week for his “fellow New Yorkers.” Though lovely, it made me think of how much the lavishly tasteful arrangement of the original 1969 version with Art Garfunkel added to the song’s natural drama.


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