the jukebox project
My good friend Alan is known for his party mixes. For his 40th birthday, the party favors weren’t a mug or a shot glass, but rather a carefully constructed cd mix that adhered to specific guidelines and rules. Let’s just say that a gauntlet was thrown down at that moment. I drove home so engrossed in thought regarding what would be on my own compilation in a year’s time that I got pulled over for a speeding ticket.
I managed to get my list defined in time for my 40th birthday, but didn’t have enough time to manufacture and produce the finished product. So my 40th playlist didn’t make it much further than iTunes, but I’ve always regretted that I didn’t get a chance to put together liner notes for this project.
Over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing Nick Hornby perform readings in concert with my beloved Marah. The format of the show is fairly simple: Nick puts together a handful of pieces about songs (a la his Songbook project). He reads, Marah play the song, repeat. If you dig Hornby, it’s thrilling; if you like both Hornby and Marah, it’s sheer fucking brilliance. I’ve been lucky enough to see them perform together at least three times now, and we were going to head for Oxford, Mississippi later this month to see it yet again. (Talk about literary mojo.)
However, the plans didn’t work out, and to console myself, I’d been listening to some of those Hornby/Marah shows. This brought me back to my idea, long ago, of when I’d be famous enough to write my own version of Songbook.
And then I decided: why not just do it now?
So I present to you — The Jukebox Project: 40 songs, 40 weeks, 40 essays. I’m going to aim for one a week, but no less than two per month. In order.
- No more than one song per artist. Otherwise, to quote Alan, the compilation would likely be in danger of becoming Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits.
- The songs were chosen for one of the following reasons: it’s not so much about favorites as it was significance in my history with or discovery of that artist, or what I considered to be definitive. I also kind of took a cue from Alan here, in that he was going to be handing the disc out to a large group of people, many of whom may not have been familiar with some of the artists on this list. This obviously did not turn out to be relevant to me, but it was behind the selection at the time I was making it.
- Finally, and most important for me: the order in which the artists appeared on the compilation corresponded to the order in which I took them to heart. In some cases, discovery was almost simultaneous (for example, the punk years), but (not to get too Rob Gordon here), it wasn’t that hard to remember how I arrived at point A, B or Q.
- These had to be core artists. They had to be artists I was utterly obsessed with or engrossed in at one time in my life.
I will elaborate more on these guidelines as the essays roll out.
1. I Want You Back – Jackson 5
2. School’s Out – Alice Cooper
3. Get It On (Bang a Gong) – T. Rex
4. I Want to Hold Your Hand – Beatles
5. Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
6. Naked Eye – The Who
7. Slit Skirts – Pete Townshend
8. Jumping Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
9. Adam Raised a Cain – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
10. Surrender – Cheap Trick
11. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
12. A Song for You – Gram Parsons
13. Human Being – New York Dolls
14. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory – Johnny Thunders
15. Frenchette – David Johansen
16. Complete Control – The Clash
17. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World – The Ramones
18. Kick out the Jams – MC5
19. Gloria – Patti Smith
20. All Tomorrow’s Parties – Velvet Underground
21. Vicious – Lou Reed
22. Search and Destroy – Stooges
23. All Day and All of the Night – The Kinks
24. Cinnamon Girl – Neil Young
25. Shake – Otis Redding
26. Watching the Detectives – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
27. Marquee Moon – Television
28. All the Way from Memphis – Ian Hunter
29. Party Girl – U2
30. In the City – The Jam
31. Life and How to Live It – R.E.M.
32. Unsatisfied – The Replacements
33. The world’s a mess, it’s in my kiss – X
34. I’m In Love With a Girl – Big Star
35. Teenage Riot – Sonic Youth
36. You Got It – Mudhoney
37. Jesus Christ Pose – Soundgarden
38. Milez is Ded – Afghan Whigs
39. Insignificance – Pearl Jam
40. Nobody Girl – Ryan Adams
Numbers 41 and 42 will be unveiled when the list is completed.
I’m looking forward to this, and look forward to your comments on the project as it progresses.
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