May 2017 Playlist

In addition to being a custom songwriter, I’m also a big music fan! Each month I make a playlist of the best songs I’ve discovered during the past thirty days. In most cases these are songs that have been released fairly recently, but the list might also contain an occasional gem from the past!

Here’s the playlist for May

Song of the Week – “Tears on Fire” by Weyes Blood and Ariel Pink

When I’m not writing and recording custom songs just for you, I’m usually listening to music and I love to share what I’ve been listening to! My Song of the Week may or may not be a recent release. It might be the new discovery of a missed jewel, or a past love that has resurfaced. Regardless, it will always be the song that I listen to the most during any given week.


Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood


There’s a lot to like about “Tears on Fire,” the lead track from Myths 002, the new collaboration between Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood. It’s weird, it’s beautiful, it’s surprising, and at times it’s even funny.


This four-song EP was my introduction to Weyes Blood (pronounced Wise Blood), which is the pseudonym for musician Natalie Merring. A quick perusal of her substantial solo catalog reveals an accomplished folk artist with classical leanings and a stellar voice. I’m looking forward to becoming more familiar with her music, not only as a means of discovery, but also because it might give me some insight into how the songwriting duties on Myths 002 were split between these two ultra-talented individuals on the EPs two original tracks.


I’ve been a long time admirer of Ariel Pink, but this EP has turned me into a bona fide fan. He has an incredible ear for melody, an ability to resurrect forgotten pop culture tropes and give them a modern twist, a gift for writing quirky (or not) lyrics and a sense of humor! Maybe the thing that impresses me the most about him is his ability to use the studio as an instrument to create songs with structures that twist and turn in seemingly impossible ways.


Tears on Fire showcases all of these skills. The lyrics are surreal and wrapped in an alluring melody accompanied by a relaxed synth and acoustic guitar. They pleasantly float by and then WHAM!—you get Weyes Blood’s soaring, otherworldly vocals fronting an explosion of sound! Ennio Morricone! Opera! Distorted guitar! There and gone before you have time to process!


I’m glad I heard the song before seeing the video, which emphasizes humor—and it is funny. Even without the video, Ariel Pink aping the classic rock blues yowl (think Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run”) gets me every time. But Tears on Fire is much more than funny. It’s a genuinely gorgeous and intriguing piece of music.


I like every song on Myths 002. I could have picked any of them to be my song of the week. But sometimes your first love is the one that breaks your heart the hardest, and in this case, that would be Tears on Fire.




Christmas Music for People Who Hate Christmas Music


Let’s face it, some people love Christmas music and others don’t. I understand both sides of the coin. I love Christmas music in general, but I think I’d rather pour hot tar in my ears than hear Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” one more time. Here are some suggestions for holiday playlists that will keep the mistletoe fans happy while not driving the aural Scrooges crazy.

Look for new versions of the classics.

Mainstream music has a tendency to choose a microscopic sample of available content in any given genre and run it into the ground. Holiday music is no exception, and hearing not only the same songs, but the same arrangements and recordings of these songs over and over again can drive you crazy. So, find different versions of the classic songs and see if they don’t go down a little easier. Consider these:

Lew Stone and His Band – “Winter Wonderland”

Going vintage is a good way to find different versions of the standards that offer a fresh perspective. Here’s one from the late 1930s.

Chet Atkins – “Silver Bells”

Guitar great Chet Atkins’ take on the winter holidays is one that will please fans of great guitar work and yuletide enthusiasts alike. Here’s a wonderful rendition of “Silver Bells.”

Go instrumental.

Sappy lyrics are a frequently cited reason for hating seasonal songs. Regardless of where you stand on Christmas music, you have to admit that some lyrics are maddeningly precious. So, take them out of the equation! You won’t have to look far to find a plethora of instrumental versions of nearly any Christmas song. Here are a couple to get you started.

The Ventures – “Sleigh Ride”

I don’t know how anyone could dislike this version of “Sleigh Ride” by surf rock legends the Ventures. Despite the obvious conflict of surf vs. snow, this genre of instrumental rock has a lot to offer during the holiday season.

Moog Machine – “Silent Night”

Electronic music buffs will love this, and hopefully everybody else will too!

Find songs that are new to everyone.

As I stated earlier, hearing the same songs over and over again can get old, even if you’re a fan. So, why not dig into the nearly endless treasure trove of songs that have slipped through the cracks? There are some great ones out there, such as:

Holly Golightly – “Christmas Tree On Fire”

Here’s a novelty country rocker that will keep the hipsters at bay.

Staple Singers – “Who Took the Merry out of Christmas”

Holiday or not, this is a soul powerhouse! Even if you’re at odds with the religious message, you’ll groove with this.

Hopefully these tips will help resolve any music-related squabbles that can put a damper on the merriment. Best of luck coming up with a playlist that will please everyone. Here’s one that I made on Spotify that you can use to test the (frozen) waters.

Best Christmas Dad Ever


He’s a football fan and a fisherman
and he makes up silly songs
the holiday season is the time he finds most pleasing
too bad it isn’t all year long

His decorations are a sensation
his house a winter wonderland
he’s going to write the next great American carol
and it’ll be cooler than a snowman

He’s the best Christmas dad ever
he’s Santa’s right-hand man
jingling bells and singing Noel
are all part of the holiday plan

Carols start playing
the day after Thanksgiving
there are reindeer on his roof
he’s the best Christmas dad ever
he’s got even got a yule tattoo

If Santa ever needed to take a year off
he’d surely give Derek a shout
and say “I need someone who’s motivated and fun
to come and help me out”

(he would say) “Jake and Grant will make great elves
they’ve been such good boys
your dog Carly can pull the sled
and you’ll deliver all the toys”

One year the reindeer got a little lost
as they were flying their annual route
but Dasher said “I smell some FINE smoked bacons and eggs”
and they knew they were at Derek’s house

Sharing the season with his family and friends
is a holly jolly priority for him
Merry Christmas from Jake and Grant
to the best Christmas dad on the planet