Your body may be gone : The best songs about the afterlife

Hearing “Dead Man’s Curve” this weekend and Conway Twitty on my phone inspired this list, forty songs about looking the Grim Reaper in the sockets, that limn an afterlife, or eulogize a dead companion. Obviously I could find five hundred songs and still offend readers by omitting favorites. These are mine.

1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Suicidal Thoughts
2. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
3. The Mekons – Only Darkness Has the Power
4. Ray Charles – That Lucky Old Sun
5. Queen – The Show Must Go On
6. Bob Dylan – Tryin’ to Get to Heaven
7. Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth
8. Carrie Underwood – See You Again
9. Brad Paisley ft. Dolly Parton – When I Get Where I’m Going
10. David Bowie – I Can’t Give Everything Away
11. Aerosmith – Dream On
12. Kanye West – Coldest Winter
13. Tupac – I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto
14. Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven
15. Talking Heads – Heaven
16. Conway Twitty – That’s My Job
17. Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
18. 50 Cent – Many Men (Wish Death)
19. T.I. – Live In The Sky
20. Tom Hall – Ballad of Forty Bucks
21. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
22. Joy Division – The Eternal
23. Kristin Hersh – Your Ghost
24. Randy Travis – Three Wooden Crosses
25. Modest Mouse – Ocean Breathes Salty
26. Led Zeppelin – In My Time of Dying
27. Sonic Youth – I Love You Golden Blue
28. Jan & Dean – Dead Man’s Curve
29. The Dixie Chicks – Goodbye Earl
30. George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today
31. Ke$ha – Die Young
32. The Chills – Heavenly Pop Hit
33. Drive-By Truckers – The Day John Henry Died
34. Metallica – Fade to Black
35. Reba McIntyre – She Thinks His Name Was John
37. John Prine – When I Get to Heaven
38. The Smiths – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
39. Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
40. Warren Zevon – Keep Me in Your Heart

Don’t you ever slow down: The best of Robert Forster, Go-Betweens edition

To argue that in the last five years of the Go-Betweens as a working band Robert Forster was composing better than his Grant McLennan isn’t to slight his partner/best friend, but a bow to a songwriter who had seen much and observed better and understood how the most poetic metaphors are the plainest; he was a writer who plumbed rare depths. Continue reading

Steve King is not the only racist in the GOP caucus

I suppose my heart should swell with the news that the GOP minority in Congress (by the way — what sweet relief to write that phrase!) has moved to strip Rep. Steve King of committee assignments. But if Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wanted an Aegean stables moment, he needs to start immediately from the bottom up. Continue reading

Songs about parenthood

This isn’t the place to judge Yoko Ono’s commitment to her daughter, nor will I listen to her magnificent piece of avant-garde proto-skronk for clues, but as a piece of aural theater “Don’t Worry Kyoko” is where I go when a singer-songwriter performs that commitment and, yes, love. The songs below, in a list inspired by hearing Nas’ “Daughters” on a local hip-hop station a couple days, evince a similar show of devotion. Continue reading

The best films of 1999

1. The Dreamlife of Angels (Eric Zonka)
2. Election (Alexander Payne)
3. Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
4. All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar)
5. Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh)
6. The Insider (Michael Mann)
7. The Straight Story (David Lynch)
8. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)
9. The Limey (Steven Soderbergh)
10. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (Matt Parker and Trey Stone)

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Three Kings (David O. Russell), The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan), Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)

Farewell, 2018: Celeste


Last year, I embarked on a very fun project and wrote about twelve pieces of media that touched me (#1 entry with full list included here), but 2018 didn’t shake out as neat as 2017. I could write about how Better Call Saul is still great or how Riverdale is still bonkers, and maybe fill out a list again, but it doesn’t feel quite right. So I’ll just highlight a few things that came out in 2018 I think you should treat yourself to. I’ll be keeping these brief!

Celeste (Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux)

“Just breathe. You can do this.”

What grabbed me the most about Celeste is that it holds your hand.

Not in the usual way, though. No, Celeste joins the ranks of Super Meat Boy and Cave Story in the ranks of ultra-tough indie platformers, but it takes a noticeably different attitude about this status. Super Meat Boy in particular always felt proud about itself, reveling in its status as a sadistic game For Serious Players.

Celeste instantly reassures you that, yeah, it’s hard…but you’ll get there.

Even aside from a storyline about accepting all aspects of who you are in order to truly realize your potential, the gameplay of Celeste instills an emotional throughline in the player that’s awfully rare in games. Especially over the past few years I’ve had too many friends that I’ve felt could use this sort of experience. I know I did.

It’s special to play a game that believes in you.

An article that’s the product of much more effort by Eryk Banatt is here. I’m sure he would also appreciate if you follow him on Twitter. Meanwhile, Celeste’s soundtrack is also wonderful! Lena Raine’s compositions for it are available on her YouTube channel.