The Ten Best Songs about Death

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“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” – Mark Twain

I’ve been away too long, gang, and I’m sorry for the absence.
Death is a strange beast and we all have our own manner of mourning. For me, it’s by making lists and listening to music.

There is a thesis out there that music was created to tie us all together. Songs bind us and help define our emotions – they work to express the things we can’t and allow us to share the things we feel. You can only tell so many people that things suck before folks get tired of hearing it – music doesn’t care. In fact, it welcomes you to song, moan, holler, scream, and express yourself.

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10. Deuteronomy 2:10 – The Mountain Goats

It’s a hard thing to realize that you are the last of your kind. We all die and time erases us from its collective memory. In this track The Mountain Goats build a beautiful dirge from the point of view of various extinct species.

9. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Not even the overused joke of more cowbell can wear down this amazing track.

8. See That My Grave is Kept Clean – Blind Lemon Jefferson

Originally recorded in 1927, this plea for remembrance has been covered by dozens of blues artists and pop musicians. My favorite is the scratched and mutilated vocals of Lou Reed with its heavy fuzz guitar lurking in the background like the grim specter of Death itself.

7. There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
Morrissey manages to up the ante for depressed void-staring youth in one of the most specific death wishes ever: Fighting off the melancholy of a terrible home-life, the protagonist suggests that being crushed by a 10 ton double-decker bus isn’t such a terrible thing. Yeah, death is a common theme in The Smith’s music, but this track treats it with the fancy and foppishness of pure teen angst.

6. Rockin’ Bones – The Cramps
Ronnie Dawson’s original track gets a full Return of the Living Dead treatment in this scorcher. The heavy bass riff and zombie moan of the background singers gives this cover a supernatural feel that echoes the chain wielding ghosts of Rock’n’Roll’s grislier past.

5. In My Time of Dying – Blind Willie Johnson
Forget Led Zeppelin and listen to Blind Willie growl through this track as his guitar fights to keep up with his primeval growls and wailing. Johnson captures the true sounds of a man struggling with his mortality.

4. Dirt in the Ground – Tome Waits

“’Cause hell is boiling over
And heaven is full
We’re chained to the world
And we all gotta pull
And we’re all gonna be
Just dirt in the ground”

We all end up as worm food or fertilizer, but Waits makes it seem like it’s  better than the alternative.

3. Death Don’t Have No Mercy – Rev. Gary Davis
Death is speedy and efficient. Escape is impossible and Davis delivers a morose and sorrowful, yet catchy, tune about our inability to remain free from Death’s rapacious grasp.

2. Death’s Got a Warrant – Georgina B. Pettibone
If you are lucky enough to own a copy of How We Got Over: Songs of Gee’s Bend – a collection of songs recorded by Richard Sonkin in 1941 from kitchens, yards, and quilting circles – then you will hear one of the most impressive songs about Death ever recorded. In it, Death is warrant officer and no matter where you hide, he will find you and bring you in. To hear it sung with the Southern- drawl infused harmony of Georgina B Pettiway and friends makes it sound as though its age old advice coming from your grandmother. Track it down.

1. Vertebrae – Christine Fellows

“Sunday traffic clears a path
We float inches above the road
Close our eyes and drive so slow
Like we never need to get home.”

Brace yourself before listening to this song. Fellows not only writes one of the most perfect songs ever, but flawlessly captures the post-funeral haze of returning home after that final good-bye in the moments before mourning begins. Death comes to us all, yet the hard part rests on the survivors.

Last of the Cruiserweights

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El Santo as inspiration

Recently, I wrote a story for LitReactor’s ‘Arrest Me’ contest.

The Earl and Gun Metal Gray were the subjects of the first Grindhouse Podcasts I did a few years ago. Here though, they’ve been re-imagined as a one-eyed orphan and an ex-luchador seeking to avenge the death of a local dog.

It’s a violent little tale and a solid intro into characters I’d like to do a little more with in the future. In the meantime, go and enjoy the story and, if you read this before July 1st, give it a ‘thumbs up’ in the voting.

Cheers.

Setlist for BilbioGrindHouse Ep. 1

Jesus Christ Twist –The Reverend Beat-Man
A Friend in Goddamn – Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
Wicked And Weird – Buck 65
Mean Son Of A Gun – Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Girly Girly Girly – The White Wires
Let’s Get The Hell Outta Here – Nashville Pussy
FREEWHEELIN’ – The Matadors
Hate So Real – J Church
Misery Loves Company – Mike Ness
Glory, Amen – .357 String Band

Scared of Girls – Placebo
Riot Act – The Breakers
Downtown Revolvers – Bloody Hollies
Blackmail – The Runaways
Bikini Girls with Machine Guns – The Cramps
She’s my Bitch – The Supersuckers
She- Wolf – The Slit-Plasters
I Fought The Law – Thug Murder
Download the episode

BiblioGrindHouse Ep. 1 by Bibliodiscoteque on Mixcloud

Bibliodiscoteque Ep 45 – Grindhouse Doors Open at Midnight

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Movie theaters are magic.

Sure, there is a certain fun in watching a movie on your HD flat screen television, coiled on your couch, with food you didn’t mortgage your home for.

But none of that can compete with  oil-buttered popcorn or the cozy darkness of the cineplex. Even the crappiest flick improves under the shared experience of group enjoyment or disappointment. For two-hours, in the soft glow of incandescent floor-lights, we travel to worlds  which our living rooms can’t compete. It’s the darkness that focuses our collective attention to whatever  projection dances onto the cave walls. Nothing exists in the dark, except the stories.

Some stories, like the Grindhouse tales of yore, were meant to titillate, tantalize, and take our money. They were shocking yarns of naughty prisons, diabolical freaks, and unparalleled deviance which seemed to rule the Drive-in’ and discount cinemas. But sadly, I was too young for such experiences and my knowledge comes from my parent’s tales of all day marathons down in Orange, NJ.

As a kid, my peers and I delved into deviant cinema on warbley VHS tapes and gathered in darkened basements feigning outrage and shock on ancient couches. The most horrible part being when a parent would walk through at the worst moments shaking their head and commenting on ‘ the trash’ we were watching. It was wild. It was fun. It was as close to Grinhouse cinema as I ever got.

This past year, Alex De Campi, and a bevvy of artists, are bringing Grindhouse cinema to sequential art. De Campi’s Grindhouse Doors Open at Midnight is like an EC comic cranked to 11. It’s low brow brought to new heights and it’s the subject of this month’s episode.

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Part I is based on “Bee Vixens from Mars”
Part II is based on “Prison Ship Antares”

They can be found at your local comic shop and are not for the faint of heart.

Rage Well,

Honey, Honey – The Rave-ons
Bumble Bee – Big Mama Thorton
Bumble Bee – Heavy Trash
I’m a King Bee – Slim Harpo
Devil Behind that Bush – The Cramps
Crawlin’ (The Crawl) – Untouchables
Shake for Me – Howlin’ Wolf
I Got Something for You Girl – Hot Nuts
Little Girl – Hollywood Sinners
Sexual Feeling – Stinky Lou and the Goon Mat
Lookin’ Down at You, Lookin’ Up at Me – Andre Williams
Pink Pussycat (Kitten’s Theme) – The Del Rays
Pull Out – Boss Hog
She’s Wicked – The Fuzztones
Mark of the Squealer – The A-Bones
Myra HIndley – Coffin Nails
Dirty – The Ettes
Demolicion – Wau Y Los Arrrghs
Mil Punialadas – Las Aspiradoras
Interstellar – The Barbarellas
I’m a Sinner Not a Saint – Imperial Surfers
Baby, I’ll Trust You When I’m Dead – The Woggles

Fan Service #6 – Outerspace

Fanservice


Planet Claire –
The B-52’s  for Tess
People From Another WorldThe Jive Five
Do-wop ditty about being saved from the ‘others’. A clever little metaphor wrapped in a perfect juke platter.
The Chicken AstronautFive Du-Tones for Steve Smith
Sharks Flying In –  Flat Duo Jets  for Liam Otten
The Dentures In SpaceTreblemakers
     The theremin holds only two purposes: alien sounds from B-movies and surf music.
War Of The Satellites  –  The Ventures for  Mark Brown
Rocketship XL-3Man Or Astro-man?  for Barney Dannelke

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Episode 36 – Harlan Ellison’s The Glass Teat

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Way back in Episode 7 I started to create soundtracks from the collected volumes of Harlan Ellison.

The first two went off without a hitch. When it came time for the third installment I balked. I couldn’t find the right songs in the right order. It just failed to work, so I tossed it aside an moved on.

When I reviewed Hard Case Crime’s reprint of Web of the City, I felt that itch. The one in at the base of my brain that constantly rubs when I leave a project incomplete. So I dug down deep, reread The Glass Teat and produced this: One of my favorite episodes to date. Yeah, I’ve used some of the sound clips before. Sue me (not you, Harlan, this is simply to work of a fan). As I mentioned before on other episodes, the parts that are Harlan speaking can be found at Deep Shag Records (vol. 1 – 3 are especially mesmerizing) except for the bit from “Welcome to the Gulag”. Harlan’s fiery words become incendiary when spoken.

Enjoy the show and Rage Well,

Production Notes:

Some people have asked for a look into the process and the hows and whys song are chosen. Since I tend to write notes anyway, I’ve decided to start typing them up for each podcast.
Enjoy

I Hate the TV – Violent Femmes
I pulled the Violent Femmes from my Fan Service 80’s podcast in exchange for this one. I’ve been battleing with The Glass Teat podcast for a year now. I originally said it would be out last summer, but I never found the right mix. My worry with this track is that it is too obvious, but the line “I hate the president” (which was a Reagan line) only hit me when I remembered that it was Reagan who put Harlan on a rabble-rouser list with poets and artists alike.

Old Square Eyes – The Mobbs
This one made the very first set list. I particularly love the lines which focus on the computer and playstation. Harlan’s last word on the subject of The Glass Teat, an audio recording called “Welcome to the Gulag”, turns the argument toward our dependence from TV to the zombie-esq allure of our phones and other devices. It is a trap: A dangerous one which tricks us into believing that we are living life simply because we take an instagram of it.

TV Screen – Thee Spivs
“What are you watching?” seems to be, in my life at least, the grown-up equivalent of the teenage “Who are you listening to? The image of wanting to punch out your eyes from the back of your head makes me chuckle constantly.

TV Soup – The Singing Loins
“Let’s watch someone else’s revolution…” and the passivity of action versus inaction.

Colour Television  – Eddie Currant Suppression Ring
ECSR gives a Velvet Underground-esq attack on the propaganda we see on the ole boy. I like to think that the drone in this song is the white noise of TV and the ‘million hypnotized’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be half way through a show with not clear idea of what I’ve seen. I get lost in the drone and lose the thread of the story.

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Episode 30 – Josh Latta’s Rashy Rabbit

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Several months ago I reviewed Josh Latta’s comic Rashy Rabbit and had this to say…

Rashy Rabbit is a weed smokin’, rump humpin’, raunchy rabbit who proves how a work can showcase its influences without getting mired in mimicry. Latta creates a book which, upon first inspection, looks like an old Scholastic reader: The anthropomorphic character on the cover, the high-gloss cardboard stock, and the color scheme all seem like a comic I read in the fourth grade…except written by John Waters or R. Crumb. The interior panels showcase the same integrity and detail as Sergio Aragones’ Groo and the content is laugh out loud funny. Both stories in this volume have a sense of charm that make it easy to forgive Rashy for causing so much crap.

I strongly advise opening Lattaland.com (in  second window so you can continue to listen here), and ordering some of Josh’s work. When he isn’t writing comics and making Hanna-Barbera mash-ups, he does custom avatars which’ll set you apart from the masses and show the world how cool you want them to see you.

This month, I give you the  soundtrack – dangerous, kooky, loving, and sincere…just like Rashy Rabbit.

Editor’s Correction: Photo of the author courtesy of Erin D. Cassavaugh

Episode 30 – Josh Latta’s Rashy Rabbit
Skin You Alive – Midnight Woolf
For Cryin’ Out Loud – Bunny Sigler
Fine As Wine – Willie Kendrick
Baby Baby (LP Version) – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Buzzsaw Twist – the gee cees
Buzz Buzz Buzz – Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers
Der Fuehrer’s Face – Spike Jones & His City Slickers
Shake Shake Shake (Bonus Track) – White Denim
Here It Comes – Brian Jonestown Massacre
This Charming Man – The Smiths
This Thing Called Love – Esquerita
I’ve Been Loving You –  Cindy Scott
How Deep Is The Ocean – Lonnie Johnson
Hush-Hush – Jimmy Reed
Bottom Of The Sea –  Billy Childish & Dan Melchior
The Mollusk – Ween
Devil Behind That Bush – The Cramps
Jump in the Line – Harry Belefonte
Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darin
It’s Him! – White Denim

Episode 28 – Victor Gischler’s Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

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Many of you may be familiar with Victor Gischler’s comic work on Buffy’s Spike, X-Men, Punisher, or even Wolverine. Still others may know his fast-paced balls to the wall pulps Shotgun Opera, Shotgun Squeeze, The Deputy, or Gun Monkeys. To those who don’t know him at all, prepare for some of the most fun you will ever have reading a book. Gischler’s work reads like Tarantino on speed. His characters fall from perilous moment to perilous moment so quickly and deftly it becomes impossible to stop reading for fear of losing momentum. If you dig fast action, over the top violence, witty banter, and characters you will mourn, grab a big fucking shovel and get to work.

This month I present my favorite of Gischler’s books: Go-Go Girls of the Apocaplypse. You can read more about it here at his blog. You can also help Gischler finance more Go-Go Girls books at his kickstarter project and get yourself a short story to help tide you over until Part II is released. 

And the hits keep coming…This month’s cover illustration come from the King of Cool Josh Latta. Latta is a spectacular illustrator and the creator behind Rashy Rabbit.

Rashy Rabbit is a weed smokin’, rump humpin’, raunchy rabbit who proves how a work can showcase its influences without getting mired in mimicry. Latta creates a book which, upon first inspection, looks like an old Scholastic reader: The anthropomorphic character on the cover, the high-gloss cardboard stock, and the color scheme all seem like a comic I read in the fourth grade…except written by John Waters or R. Crumb. The interior panels showcase the same integrity and detail as Sergio Aragones’ Groo and the content is laugh out loud funny. Both stories in this volume have a sense of charm that make it easy to forgive Rashy for causing so much crap.

I strongly advise opening Lattaland.com (in  second window so you can continue to listen here), and ordering some of Josh’s work. When he isn’t writing comics and making Hanna-Barbera mash-ups, he does custom avatars which’ll set you apart from the masses and show the world how cool you want them to see you.

Episode 28 – Victor Gischler’s Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse

Low Down Me – Dimestore Troubadours
Fascinating´ Sue – The Allnight Workers
Dew Drop Inn – Esquerita
Wild Wild Women – Tav Falco’s Panther Burns
Like That – Mr. Airplane Man
Don’t Stop to Dance – Reverend Beat-Man
Go Girl Go – The Hombres
Minnie Skirts and Go Go Boots – Lloyd and Glen
Miniskirt Blues – The Cramps
Bikini Bull Ridin’ Baby – JackRabbit Slim
Drums A-Go-Go – Hollywood Persuaders
Dimples – Billy Lee Riley
Beaver Shot  – Periscopes
bearcat  – cecil garrett & the fascinations
Neglected Woman – Alex Moore-
A Man Is A Mean Thing – Barbara Perry
My Love for Evermore (feat. Mark ‘Sparky’ Philips)-The Hillbilly Moon Explosion
I Say What I Like (And I Like What I Say) – Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue
Hey Suzette – The Bon
Shakey Shake #7 – Shouting Thomas & The Torments
Cannibal Love – Bee Dee Kay & The Rollercoaster
One More Cup Of Coffee – Bob Dylan

Episode 23 – Haruki Murakami

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I’ve been dreading making this podcast for a good while now.

Magic Realist author Haruki Murakami is a difficult man to pin down (even in translation it is clear to see the deftness of language and his precision with a pen). There are various motifs that exist in each book, and repeated imagery he relies on, but the feeling of his work is what I attempted to get across in this episode. Murakamis’ novels are about the subtle and the fragile – not necessarily the stuff of garage rock. Therefore, I knew that I wanted to experiment with ‘60’s psychedelic music and flirt with some larger bands, the Beatles for instance, but I never quite garnered the courage until recently.

Knowing next to nothing of the psychedelic, I began my research through an old friend’s facebook page – she happens to be Bethlehem, PA’s, reigning garage rock/psych queen and music guru. Of course, after listening to the various tracks, hunting them down, and purchasing them (I’m not a pirate at heart), I became caught in a loop of nostalgia for our friend Digger. I figured that, missing Digger, and making a playlist that (I hoped) he would have loved, put me in the right frame of mind for Murakami. If not simply because Murakami’s work seems to be about capturing the past and reclaiming those moments we casually let slip by.

I’d like to thank Rosemary P. whose help, though she didn’t know it, was instrumental in putting this together. Thanks Rose.

Please to enjoy this latest episode of Bibliodiscoteque.

Rage Well,

Episode 23 – Haruki Murakami

Astral Plane – Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers
Teachers – Leonard Cohen
It’s Shocking What They Call Us – The Game
You Don’t Love Me – Quicksilver Messenger Service
Dear Prudence – Siouxsie And The Banshees
Ticket To Ride -Les Merseys
Try A Little Sunshine – Factory
Take A Giant Step – The Monkees
Can’t Find My Mind – The Cramps
Garden Of My Mind – The Mickey Finn
Lost Woman – The Yardbirds
I Asked For Water – Howlin’ Wolf
I Don’t Like The Man I Am – Pete Molinari
Place To Be – Nick Drake
No Good Without You Baby – The Birds
Mr. Spaceman – The Byrds
Stay With Me Baby – Terry Reid
Love Love Love – Pugh
Happy Is The Man – The Easybeats
You Don’t Know – The 13th Floor Elevators
The World Would Understand – The British North-American Act

 

Something Nice – Feb 4, 2009 – Rockin’ Bones

Growing up a young punk rapscallion, heroes were typically looked upon with nihilistic avarice. However, certain voices managed to tear through the haze of adolescent abandon and actually reach these jaded ears. One such voice was Erick Lee Purkhiser (October 21, 1946 – February 4, 2009) otherwise known as Lux Interior.

To me, Lux was horror-movies, exploitation flicks, and all of the things people feared Elvis was supposed to be. He lived Rock’n’Roll and listening to the Cramps was an education in music. Lex, with cohort Poison Ivy, drew from the darkest pits of Rock history to create some of the best head bopping tracks ever.

Lex was an American Original. No pretense. No reinvention. All truth.

Lex, music will never be the same.

Thanks for all the great music.