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Essential Music Playlist for Mixed-Crowd Parties


I'm going through Abnormal Returns newsletter this morning and they link to a blog that links to a turn-of-the-century article in Vanity Fair about Elvis Costello's 500 must-have albums. How have I never seen this, before? Maybe I should spend more time in Vanity Fair, but I'm not sure it's still a thing (must be, since I can link to it)? Anyway, I thought I'd quickly run through the Elvis Costello list and compare it to what I consider my essential music playlist, for mixed-crowd parties. Mixed-crowd means that it's not a bunch of your punk rock friends, or jazz friends. It's your aunt Martha, your punk rock friend Kerry, and your jazz buddy Fred - along with forty or fifty other yahoo's with an equally diverse taste in music.

My List vs. Elvis Costello: Common Tunes

ABBA "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (no question, particularly after the Broadway show)
The Band "Tears of Rage" and "The Unfaithful Servant" (I stuck with the popular "Up on Cripple Creek")
Beastie Boys "Shadrach" (I went with the more commercially popular "Fight For Your Right" - most of the room usually sings along with this one)
Beck "The New Pollution" (I've got "Loser" and "Where It's At")
Blondie "In the Flesh" (I've got "The Tide is High" and "Rapture")
David Bowie *various (I've got "Fame", "Changes" and "Under Pressure")
Jackson Browne "My Opening Farewell" (I've got "Stay" and "Running on Empty")
Ray Charles "You Don't Know Me", "I Believe to My Soul", "Just for a Thrill" (I've got "What'd I Say")
The Clash "Rudie Can't Fail", "White Man In The Hammersmith Palais" (same, plus "Train In Vain" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go")
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "Helpless" (I have "Teach Your Children")
Grateful Dead *various (I have "Friend of the Devil")
Al Green "I'm a Ram" (I have "Let's Stay Together" and "Tired of Being Alone")
Jimi Hendrix *various (I have "Fire" and "All Along the Watchtower")
The Hollies "Look Through Any Window" (I have "Long Cool Woman")
The Jesus and Mary Chain "You Trip Me Up" (I have "Just Like Honey" and "April Skys")
Paul McCartney "Maybe I'm Amazed" (I have "Band on the Run")
Nirvana "Lithium" (I have "Come As You Are", "The Man Who Sold the World" and "All Apologies")
R.E.M. "Pretty Persuasion" and "Orange Crush" (I have "Driver 8", "Rockville" and "Radio Free Europe")
The Replacements "Nobody" (I have "I Will Dare", "Can't Hardly Wait", "Bastards of Young" and "Unsatisfied")
The Rolling Stones *various (I have "Stray Cat Blues" and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking")
Paul Simon *various (I have "You Can Call Me Al")
Simon and Garfunkel "Overs" (I have "The Boxer" and "Richard Cory")
Sly and the Family Stone "Stand", "Family Affair" (I have "Everyday People")
The Smiths "Still Ill" (I have "How Soon Is Now" )
Bruce Springsteen *various (I have "Born to Run" and "Dancing in the Dark")
Steely Dan "Show Biz Kids" (I have "Black Friday", "Time Out of Mind", "Josie" and "My Old School")
Rod Stewart "You Wear It Well" (I have "Do You Think I'm Sexy")
U2 *various (I have "I Will Follow", "Beautiful Day" and "With or Without You")
The Who *various (I have "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Eminence Front" and "Behind Blue Eyes")
Neil Young *various (I have "Heart of Gold")

Where We Differ

So me and Elvis Costello see eye-to-eye on about thirty artists, so what (IMO) is he missing out on?

  1. Elvis Costello (duh!)
  2. Tom Petty
  3. The Cars
  4. Gary Clark Jr.
  5. Mat Kearney
  6. Incubus
  7. Queen
  8. Thirty Seconds To Mars
  9. Ana Popovic
  10. Evanescence
  11. Tracy Chapman
  12. Talking Heads
  13. Bettye LaVette
  14. Tommy Tutone
  15. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  16. Amy Winehouse
  17. B-52s
  18. J.J. Jackson
  19. Wild Cherry
  20. Joe Louis Walker
  21. Patti Smith
  22. Candlebox
  23. Echo And The Bunnymen
  24. Romeo Void
  25. Death Cab for Cutie
  26. The Cult
  27. Janiva Magness
  28. Soul Asylum
  29. Stevie Wonder
  30. Waylon Jennings
  31. The Five Stairsteps
  32. Gerry Rafferty
  33. Joe Bonamassa
  34. The English Beat
  35. Ruthie Foster
  36. Spacehog
  37. Kid Rock
  38. The Main Ingredient
  39. Jane's Addiction
  40. Scandal
  41. The Smithereens
  42. The Full Tilt Boogie Band
  43. Robert Cray
  44. Blues Traveler
  45. Redbone
  46. John Lee Hooker
  47. The O'Jays
  48. The Cure
  49. Tom Tom Club
  50. Pixies
  51. Depeche Mode
  52. The Marshall Tucker Band
  53. Walter Egan
  54. The Friends of Distinction
  55. Heatwave
  56. Dinosaur Jr.
  57. Little Walter
  58. Etta James
  59. Ramones
  60. Morrissey
  61. Gordon Lightfoot
  62. Beth Hart
  63. Michael Burks
  64. Shemekia Copeland
  65. Sneaker Pimps
  66. The National
  67. Yaz
  68. Old Crow Medicine Show
  69. Soundgarden
  70. CeeLo Green
  71. Cage The Elephant
  72. Republica
  73. Sublime
  74. Screaming Trees
  75. Reel Big Fish
  76. 311
  77. Linkin Park
  78. Kelly Clarkson
  79. New Order
  80. Twenty One Pilots
  81. Fall Out Boy
  82. Muse
  83. Foster The People
  84. The Animals
  85. Warren Zevon
  86. Skid Row
  87. Rush
  88. Dropkick Murphys
  89. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  90. UB40

Granted, some of those artists/bands weren't around in 2000 when Elvis Costello made his list. I'm currently sitting at about 300 songs, which according to Amazon is 21 hours of music. Something old, something new, something borrowed (Ruthie Foster's cover of "Cruisin") and even some blues! It's a playlist long enough for any party, and the music selection is sure to raise an eyebrow - at least once or twice - from everyone in the room.

-- Scrib