Some of these are old. Some of them are new(ish). They are all songs I listened to, with varying levels of obsessiveness, at various times during 2022.
Philadelphia Girl, Casey Neill
The first time I saw Casey Neill he was opening for New Model Army in a tiny club in the East Village. After that I saw him at various other tiny clubs elsewhere in New York, and it was a delight each time. I am especially fond of this song because Philadelphia once had a jail and a court, with a real judge, in their football stadium; they booed Santa while throwing snowballs (and more) at him; and their city mascot is a giant orange muppet named Gritty that technically belongs to their hockey team.
In Your Own Time, Calexico and Iron & Wine
Calexico and Iron & Wine have done two collaborative albums; this song is from Years to Burn, which is the second one. It’s on my daily commute playlist and my writing playlist.
I have no claim to this song. I did grow up in the country but it was horse country. I do currently live in a small Southern college town where Hardy played one of the bigger student shows, and this song is a jolt of pure serotonin every time it comes up. I take great pleasure in singing along to Raise hell praise Dale twelve in at Bristol which is a line about NASCAR, a sport I don’t watch.
Into the Shape of Your Heart, Wintersleep
Wintersleep are Canadian; I once drove two days across Texas in order to see them live at SXSW. That whole period of my life sometimes feels like it happened to someone else, but this song is also in my daily commute mix and I crank it up every time it floats up in rotation.
My Island, Peat and Diesel
Because I am currently landlocked and far from my native waters – which are, to be clear, not those around the Hebrides – and sometimes I meditate on the idea of New York being part of an international archipelago of many islands in multiple seas (credit to Dr. Tao Leigh Goffe for this concept).
Only One (Big Black Delta Remix), Phantom Planet
I have two different remixes of this song on my commute playlist but this one is my favorite.
Hot Rod Heart, John Fogerty
I was going to do another 2400 mile drive this past summer, and then I didn’t, in the end, but I listened to this song a lot just the same. It has good trip-starting energy.
You Can Have Him, Jolene, Chapel Hart
Chapel Hart are from Mississippi, and were some of the breakout stars of America’s Got Talent this summer with this snappy comeback to Dolly Parton’s Jolene.
Glory of Love, Peter Cetera
I have, boggling even me, something like four different versions of this song on my regular playlist(s). Including a pop-punk version by New Found Glory that is both kind of whiny and elevates it out of the treacle it otherwise gets bogged down in, and one by The Letterman that has some neat harmonies but is somehow even more overwrought than the original. I like to listen to it to try and focus on the storytelling and ways the central theme (I am one man, who would fight, for your honor) could be flipped and stretched and turned inside out.
Iowa (Traveling, pt. 3), Dar Williams
The third in the Traveling song cycle, each of which is more devastating than the last, this one is about when you decide to go home.
You Are My Joy, The Reindeer Section
If I ever make a mixtape for the novel I am trying to write, this song will absolutely be on it.
Goin’ Back to Harlan, Emmylou Harris
I recently had the enormous joy of seeing Emmylou Harris live – it was my Christmas present to myself – and she was, of course, magnificent. She played a two hour set, including a significant chunk of Red Dirt Girl (2000), and also this one, which is from Wrecking Ball (1995).
I Don’t Live Here Anymore, The War on Drugs
I am (eventually) going to write a whole post about how The War on Drugs has sunk little kitten claws into my brain, but until I corral those words, here is one of the songs I keep coming back to.
And then, as a bonus round, in the category of “kitten claws in my brain,” here is the song that pulled me down the K-pop rabbit hole: Back Door, by Stray Kids.