Jack White & Henry Rollins

I don’t remember the age, but my hunch is I was somewhere in the junior high years, though it might have been late-stage elementary school. Whenever it was, I would ditch hanging with family and congregation members after church to go listen to music in the car. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to the college radio station more, considering how much I remember enjoying listening in those post-church sessions. I can’t remember a lick of what I listened to, just that the mix was music I wasn’t being exposed to elsewhere. It made me feel like I was in on something most other people weren’t. I felt cool.

When I was ramping up to go to college I recall sitting on the couch in my parents’ living room, thinking about the possibility of having my own radio show. (I never even tried to get one… I can’t recall why, though in hindsight me being off-the-rails drunk all the time might have had something to do with it.) I had conjured this idea in my head for this show that I thought might give me the same feel as I had when I was in the car listening to CJSW. Maybe, I thought, I could find connections between tracks or artists, leaving me with a diverse playlist that could logically jump from Ghostface to Mustard Plug in the span of tracks. (I swear to God, of all the musicians that could have come to mind, I distinctly remember those being the names that ran through my head.)

Earlier this week Henry Rollins released the first of a potential series of online radio shows, separate from his recurring series on KCRW. “This is a show free of the constraints you might be accustomed to on regular terrestrial radio,” he writes. What does that mean? Well, the thing is four hours long, for starters (also: “It’s as many songs as I want, language issues are not a factor and if anyone gets bored, they can just turn it off or mark the time they checked out and resume later”). The show is meant to replicate the days gone by where friends might get together to sit and share tracks or whole albums in intimate listening parties. The show features personally recorded bootlegs from decades-old shows in addition to “entire albums, EPs, and singles.” The entire show is available here, but I have to admit… as of right now I’ve listened to just the intro and the opener, Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think.” (With all sincerity that might be one of my favorite songs ever.)

I would have listened to the whole show at least once through had it been available when I first started getting into Rollins’ music (funny enough, that was also in junior high). But now, I’m not even sure I’ll return to it. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but what it did was light a fire under me to make a playlist of my own.

In November of last year I started making ~90 minute Spotify playlists. There was no real theme, other than it allowed me to participate in the practice of sitting down at the computer, play some music, and put a certain selection of songs in an order that sounded best to me. I didn’t know what to call the playlists, but as I was flushing my email’s spam folder around that time a subject line caught my eye and gave me a smile: “Stop Bathing in Unfiltered Water.” Winner. I harvested lines from other spam emails that I found amusing for future playlists, including “24 Hour Bathroom Remodel,” “Reclaim Your Freedom! Oxygen. Anytime, Anywhere,” and “You Can Forget About Exclusions!” Slowly I started twisting phrases before just giving up and diving headfirst into using whatever felt right at the time. The last mix I made was February’s “Presidential Candidates’ Coronavirus Agendas: Ranked.” Until now, that is…

Playlist A017: “We Are Approaching Peak Zoom Backdrop Customization”

  1. Luke Schneider “anteludium”
  2. I Monster “Some Thing’s Coming”
  3. Laura Marling “Master Hunter”
  4. Misled Children “10”
  5. Moby “Bodyrock”
  6. Chance the Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz “No Problem”
  7. Blockhead “Jet Son”
  8. RJD2 “Work It Out”
  9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Down Boy”
  10. A Tribe Called Quest “The Donald”
  11. alt-J feat. Danny Brown “Deadcrush (Alchemist x Trooko Version)”
  12. Max Richter “On the Nature of Daylight”
  13. Portishead “The Rip”
  14. Grimes “Circumambient”
  15. Run the Jewels “36” Chain (BSBD Remix)”
  16. Ron Gallo “Don’t Mind the Lion”
  17. Sonic Youth “Antenna”
  18. Ivy Lab “Cadillac”
  19. Röyksopp “The Drug”
  20. clipping. “Nothing is Safe”
  21. Massive Attack “Teardrop (Mad Professor’s Mazaruni Dub One mix)”
  22. El Guincho “Palmitos Park”
  23. Chase & Status feat. Mr. Vegas “Big Man Skank”
  24. Zero 7 feat. MF Doom & Sia “Somersault (Danger Mouse Remix)”
  25. The Black Keys “Next Girl”
  26. John Prine “Pretty Good”
  27. William Tyler “A Closing”

Making playlists has been something I’ve been doing prior to today, but as of late those have mostly been focused on a single artist or group. As I’ve been able to work remotely at home with music playing in the background, I’ve been going through entire discographies of some of my favorite musicians. One of the most recent playlists I compiled features 100 of my favorite Jack White tracks. I’d heard most everything from the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather, and White’s solo albums, but when really digging into things I found numerous songs I hadn’t been exposed to before that I really enjoyed. One such song was his collaboration with Elton John from The American Epic Sessions, and another was “The Donald” from A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (which features White on guitar). That one didn’t quite make the cut, but I brought it back on the above playlist. Thanks for the inspiration, Henry.

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