Continuing a good thing (or at least, a moderately enjoyable thing) from last year, this is my monthly series called “Five on Shuffle” where I attempt to reconnect with my iPod by using it regularly throughout the year and using it only and continuously on “shuffle.” Once a month I’m going to stop at a completely random interval, snap photos of five songs in a row, and then post and write about them here. The writing may be heavy or light, depending on whether or not I’ve anything remotely clever to say about any given song.
1. December – Kay Starr
Kicking things off with a Christmas song at the appropriate time of year! Though this isn’t exactly your upbeat, happy time, presents-and-Santa-and-tinsel Christmas song. It’s one of those longing, nostalgic songs, one that equates Christmas with “home.” These days that idea may be a bit old-fashioned, but it still likely rings true for some. This song, and Kay Starr’s clear and lightly warbly voice, reminds me of all those old Christmas albums that my folks used to have on repeat during the holidays. It doesn’t necessarily instill that feeling of “home” for me, but it does drum up well-defined feelings of comfort and solace.
2. Me & Mr. Jones – Amy Winehouse
The story of Amy Winehouse is tragic, but damn if didn’t she give us the good stuff while she could. She’s most definitely one of my favorite artists of the past ten years. Her voice, her range, her expressiveness, along with more than a touch of vulnerability are all on display here in “Me & Mr. Jones,” her unique tribute of sorts to Nas (Nasir Jones).
3. Superstar – from Jesus Christ Superstar
No offense to Jerome Pradon or anyone else in the pantheon of stagings of Jesus Christ Superstar, one of my all-time favorite musicals, but there will only ever be one Judas, and that’s Carl Anderson. Hence my choice of video. “Superstar” is sung by what’s essentially the spirit of Judas, as he had committed suicide earlier (Bible spoilers?), and it’s full of questions that essentially boil down to “why?” Why Jesus, indeed.
4. All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
5. Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
If you ever get the chance, have a chat with someone who was musically-inclined during Fleetwood Mac’s American debut in the mid 1970s. Because you almost get a sense that Fleetwood Mac was the only band that mattered then. Between its debut in 1975, the albums that featured the now-classic radio staple “Rhiannon,” and its 1977 mega-hit album Rumors, it seemed Fleetwood Mac could do no wrong. But explosions are not sustainable, and neither was this band for a time once the 80s and 90s hit. They managed to turn things around (mostly), and great songs like “Rhiannon” will always be able to weather any storm.