the social distancing playlist 131-140

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 131. R.E.M., “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (1987) Posted 7/23/2020 — This motormouthed R.E.M. anthem from the “Document” album has to be one of the most uncomfortably quoted songs of these pandemic days. Even though Armageddon’s onset doesn’t resemble the start of Covidmania (“That’s great, it’s starts with an earthquake”), the sobriety within the warp speed lyrics is suitably appropriate for the present day (“World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed”). Add in some jovial electric urgency and a verse immortalizing Leonard Bernstein for a new generation and you know what? I feel fine.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 132. Lou Reed, “Satellite of Love” (1972) Posted 7/24/2020 — Ever since its release on the “Transformer” album, “Satellite of Love” has remained one of the most fascinating works of Lou Reed’s career. Written near the end of his tenure with the Velvet Underground, the song floats with a sense of childlike wonder, does a 180 into a refrain that confronts hedonistic jealousy without losing its lullaby-like lyricism and sails into a glorious pure pop finale. David Bowie produced and sang background vocals, so Lou, as always, was rubbing shoulders with giants.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 133. Steve Miller Band, “Living in the U.S.A.” (1968) Posted 7/25/2020 — “Living in the U.S.A.” was the single that largely introduced the Steve Miller Band to the world. With a lineup that included a then-unknown Boz Scaggs as first lieutenant, the Miller crew started as part of a fertile West Coast scene more than a little steeped in psychedelia. The album “Living in the U.S.A.” came from, “Sailor,” stands as an underappreciated work – a record that bridged Miller’s’ blues roots with plenty of psychedelic pop invention.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 134. Fleetwood Mac, “Albatross” (1968) Posted 7/26/2020 — A quiet Sunday adieu to Peter Green, who died yesterday at age 73. “Albatross” was an instrumental single released in October 1968 at the height of his tenure with Fleetwood Mac. Cut just after the addition of co-guitarist Danny Kirwan to the band, the tune dialed back the electric intensity of Fleetwood Mac’s blues-inclined music of the day to a soundscape of comparative calm. But the lyricism that was always so indicative of Green’s playing and songwriting still glows.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 135. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Cosmo’s Factory” (1970 ) Posted 7/27/2020 — Over the weekend, “Cosmo’s Factory,” the fifth and finest album by Creedence Clearwater Revival turned 50. It was essentially a greatest hits record as seven of its eleven songs became radio staples. “Ramble Tamble,” the leadoff tune, wasn’t one of them. It was a seven-minute rampage – verses of social upheaval at the beginning and end with a long, incantatory jam in the middle. “Cosmo’s Factory” was the first album I ever bought – $3.47, a king’s ransom for an 11 year old. It changed my life.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 136. The Rolling Stones, “Get Off My Cloud” (1965) Posted 7/28/2020 — Belated Happy 77th Birthday to Sir Michael Philip Jagger – Mick, to his pals. He was set to roll with the Stones into Louisville this summer, but, alas, Covidmania broke up the party. So to celebrate, let’s jet back to 1965 when a 22-year old Jagger and a classic Charlie Watts drum intro led the Stones on one of the champion bugger-off anthems of all time, “Get Off of My Cloud.” A No. 1 US single for the band, it never appeared on a studio album, but has been included on nearly a dozen different anthologies.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 137. Buddy Guy, “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” (1991) Posted 7/29/2020 — During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Buddy Guy was a Chicago blues champion whose music was a keystone inspiration for almost every major blues-informed rock guitarslinger of the day. Then came an extended period of artistic purgatory where Guy’s career was largely viewed in the past tense. “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues,” the album and its uproarious title tune, reawakened the world to Guy’s performance intensity. Thus began a remarkable career renaissance that continues to this day.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 138. Roy Buchanan, “The Messiah Will Come Again” (1972) Posted 7/30/2020 — Last weekend’s passing of Peter Green made me think of Roy Buchanan – specifically, the glorious slow blues instrumental “The Messiah Will Come Again” from the latter’s self-titled debut album. The two guitarists were very different stylists, but much of “Messiah” reflects on Green’s elegiac, compositional lyricism. Buchanan also goes off on some serious string benders, though, which was his style. Buchanan committed suicide in 1988 at age 48, a sad end for an extraordinary artist.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 139. X, “The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss” (1980) Posted 7/31/2020 — Within the opening weeks of 1980 came the debut album from the West Coast punk band X that took its title from the city that served as ground zero for a new rock ‘n’ roll generation, “Los Angeles.” But if the closing “The World’s A Mess” sounds more like a retro-rock fest than a punk onslaught, perhaps it’s because the vocals of Exene Cervenka and John Doe dance about with the organ outbursts of veteran Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. The result? A party favor laced with a dose of pop anarchy.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day 140. George Harrison, “Bangla Desh” (1971) Posted 8/1/2020 — On this date in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar convened an ensemble of all-star pals – Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Billy Preston – for two concerts to raise relief funds for refugees of the war and genocide decimated region of East Pakistan established as Bangladesh. The event largely introduced much of the world to the plight and even existence of Bangladesh and became a prototype for similar concert benefits (Live Aid, being one) that followed through the decades. This stirring live version of the “Bangla Desh” single issued earlier in 1971 concluded both concerts.

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