the social distancing playlist 41-50

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty One. Leon Russell, “Of Thee I Sing” (1971) Posted 4/24/2020 — A shot of Leon Russell in his absolute prime, slamming together Okie soul, renegade gospel and wonderfully organic rock ‘n’ roll with a spirit and immediacy that was indicative of every song on his brilliant sophomore album, “Leon Russell and the Shelter People.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Two. Santana, “No One to Depend On” (1971) Posted 4/25/2020 — Santana at its trippiest. “No One to Depend On” came from the band’s untitled third album, the final work of its original lineup. The music matched the times (late 1971) with a darkly psychedelic cast enhanced by the addition of a young Neal Schon.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Three. Led Zeppelin, “Good Times, Bad Times” (1969) Posted 4/26/2020 — The first track from the first Led Zeppelin album. The hot-wired hybrid of primal rock ‘n’ roll and blues this song uncorked had to have scared the daylights out of more unsuspecting parents than any sound since the dawn of Little Richard. No wonder the band hit so big.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Four. Cream, “Tales of Brave Ulysses” (1967) Posted 4/27/2020 — Cream for breakfast. Three minutes of tripped out trio psychedelia from “Disraeli Gears,” an album that serves as a mere suggestion of the chaos Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were capable of onstage. Created at the midway point of Cream’s astonishingly brief three-year lifespan.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Five. Willie Nelson, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (1975) Posted 4/28/2020 — Happy 87th Birthday to Willie Nelson. Still tough enough that it took a pandemic to keep him from playing a stadium show here last weekend. Celebrate the day with one of Willie’s simplest, yet most emotive recordings. This is the centerpiece tune from “Red Headed Stranger,” the album that tossed corporate Nashville to the Texas badlands in 1975.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Six. Dusty Springfield, “Son of a Preacher Man” (1969) Posted 4/29/2020 — British singer Dusty Springfield’s early ‘60s pop hits were innocuous enough. Then she connected with the Atlantic Records A-team of producers, writers and musicians for the genre-busting “Dusty in Memphis” album. That triggered this regally arranged classic, penned originally for Aretha Franklin, but one Springfield completely made her own.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Seven. Deep Purple, “Space Truckin’” (1972) Posted 4/30/2020 — “Smoke on the Water,” also from Deep Purple’s breakthrough “Machine Head” album, was the hit, but “Space Truckin’” was so much more fun. Big goofy fun, mind you. The lyrics are ridiculous, but the Richie Blackmore/Jon Lord groove and Ian Gillan’s gleeful screaming on the final chorus made for a pop-metal party piece.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Eight. The Rolling Stones, “Dead Flowers” (1971) Posted 5/1/2020 — Ever feel a song was written just for you? That’s how many Kentuckians feel about the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” A blast of boozy country camp from “Sticky Fingers,” it has become an adopted Bluegrass anthem for its fleeting reference to “making bets on Kentucky Derby Day.” You should have heard the reception when the Stones played this at Churchill Down in 2006. There’s no Derby today, but the weather is glorious and the mood is high. Rock on.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Forty Nine. Randy Newman, “Lonely at the Top” (1973) Posted 5/2/2020 — My favorite Randy Newman songs are the bleak ones, the tunes with gorgeous orchestrations masking devastating sadness. As additional despair isn’t exactly in high demand these days, we’ll move on to his sardonic songs, the ones poking fun at the privileged with the whimsy of a vaudeville tune. “Lonely at the Top,” from 1973’s “Sail Away,” fits that bill. This one’s for you, 1%.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Fifty. Kate Bush, “Cloudbusting” (1984) Posted 5/3/2020 — In terms of theatrical presentation, artistic daring and even vocal design, there is no artist like Kate Bush. While those traits often came together in more abstract compositions on her early albums, “Cloudbusting,” from 1984’s “Hounds of Love,” exhibited almost cinematic vision and precision. That emerged wonderfully on the song’s accompanying video -a short film, really – with Donald Sutherland. Wonderous stuff.

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