Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Playlists Within Playlists To Survive The Trump Presidency

55 years later, the prophecy is being fulfilled

At the suggestion of my friend Chauncey DeVega, I am sharing some songs that have been important for coping with the current Trumpian nightmare. These songs are spread across multiple playlists I've made, here I decided to make a playlist with playlists inside of it. Enjoy, and feel free to add your own.

Late Night Dread
Some nights under Trump I sit in front of my computer, speechless and sad, unable to believe this is all actually happening. I call this "the late night dread." Here are songs I listen to in those moments.

"Weightless Again" by The Handsome Family
This alt-country band likes to keep it dark, and no song has spoken to me in recent months like this one. Dread personified.

"Windowsill" by Arcade Fire
It was written as a response to the Bush years, but now things have returned to that state, but worse. Key line: "I don't want to live in America no more."

"Mind Playing Tricks On Me" by The Geto Boys
A song about ghosts and questioning reality. The feeling that nothing makes sense is a big part of the late night dread.

"Footsteps In the Dark" by the Isley Brothers
Not a political song, but the feeling of midnight doom is pretty thick on this one.

"Smiling Faces Sometimes" by The Undisputed Truth
One of the all-time great early 70s dark soul songs, about the feeling that snakes are everywhere and honest people are hard to find.

"Backstabbers" by The O'Jays
The song definitely resonated with Watergate, when it came out, and with our own current Watergate echo.

Time to Cry
Sometimes I need to have my emotions really shaken up to the point of tears. I have found it cathartic, a way to get all the negative feelings out of my system so I can conquer The Fear and be ready to get back out and fight again. These songs help bring the tears.

"Intervention" by Arcade Fire
"Working for the church while your family dies/ Singing hallelujah with fear in your heart." The song I listened to as my commuter train entered the tunnel the day after the election and I lost it.

"End of the Rainbow" by Richard and Linda Thompson
A song of a father sung to his infant child about how this world is a vail of tears. Gets my every time.

"Adagio For Strings" by Samuel Barber
Classical music hits emotional places for me that other music can't reach. This song, written in the dread on the eve of World War II, seems to scream the undying scream of the universe.

Third Movement of Shostakovich's Symphony #5
In the midst of a symphony meant to appease Stalin after being threatened with being sent to the gulags, Shostakovich wrote this dirge as a way to mourn his friends who had been cut down by the Terror.

Reflecting On Absurdity and Greed
Other times I feel less like crying, and more just staring out at the greed and awfulness and absurdity of our current situation. Some songs help with that, too.

"Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon
The song's narrator is a callow rich kid abroad who gets caught up far too deep in international intrigue, and is calling his dad for help. Always reminds me of Jared Kushner.

"Political Science" by Randy Newman
Newman is famous for writing songs from the perspective of reprehensible people, in order to satirize the stupidity of their outlook. This song, about nuking the world, is a parody of dumb American nationalism that sounds frighteningly like Trump.

"For The Love of Money" by The O'Jays
The filthy, throbbing crotch of our current administration is greed most foul. This is perhaps the best anti-greed song every written, and a helluva tune.

"Mad World" by Gary Jules
I like this cover of the Tears for Fears song, which has a more melancholic tone than the original. The corrosion of greed we were warned about in the 80s has met its full flowering.

Other times I need to be ready to fight. When it's time to get my protesting shoes on, there are certain songs that I turn to.

"Fight The Power" by Public Enemy
I blasted this one during a "drive by" protest at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, course.

"Fight the Power" by the Isley Brothers
I blasted this one going back the other way for good measure.

"For God's Sake Give More Power To The People" by The Chi-Lites
Great message, great marching beat. I listened to this one on the way to the Bedminster protest.

"What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
This song was originally meant to be kind of a parody of hippies, but in this incarnation I take it as a call for all of us to come to our collective senses. Sometimes after listening to the late night dread songs I'll throw this one on and pump my fist.

"Keep On Knocking" by Death
These Detroit proto-punkers laid down many scorching tracks, but this is one I put over my headphones when it's time to get out there and fight.

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