Alan Eisenstock: Lose Those Pounds Musically

Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in mid-March: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify Play List span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)


Hi, Everyone,

Big news! According to The New York Times (October 10): “Extra Pounds May Raise Risk of Severe Covid-19.” It makes sense. The gyms are closed, we’re stressed, isolated, sedentary. No wonder we’ve gained an extra Covid-19. What to do? Idea! Here are 20 “hungry, “heavy,” thin,” “lose” and “foods to avoid” songs. Padlock the fridge and listen up!


  1. “Hungry Heart” Bruce Springsteen. The Boss wrote this for Joey Ramone in one night, then thought better of it, kept it for himself, and put it on “The River.” I’m starving.
  2. “Hungry” Paul Revere and the Raiders. Group was founded in Boise, Idaho by, no lie, Paul Revere Dick, who left the group and changed his name to Jeffrey Toobin. Lead singer Mark Lindsay blasts this song, written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, a big hit in 1966.
  3. “The Weight” The Band. One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. Robbie Robertson wrote this, saying it was something about a certain visit in Nazareth. Whatever. I hear “You put the load right on me” and I picture myself gorging on a pie. Not a slice. A pie.
  4. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” Four Tops. Detroit Motown kings sing one of the most famous R&B songs of all time, from 1965, written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.
  5. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” The Hollies. The Hollies cover this song, the lyrics taken from the slogan Father Flanagan used when he founded Boys Town in Nebraska for at-risk kids. Elton John plays piano.
  6. “I’m A Loser” The Beatles. John Lennon writes this song of rejected love from 1965. In our playlist, it’s about rejecting those forbidden foods. You can do it!
  7. “Tutti Frutti” Little Richard. Born Richard Wayne Penniman, Little Richard, aka the “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” wrote and sang this huge hit from 1955, the first of our “foods to avoid” songs. Little Richard starts off with “A-wop-bob-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam boom,” which is the sound your body makes after too much Tutti.
  8. “Lollipop” The Chordettes. Female a cappella group from Sheboygan, WI. International hit in 1958. Wondering: is there a city named Hegirlgan?
  9. “Sugar Man” Rodriguez. Overlooked singer/songwriter from Detroit, Rodriquez somehow became hugely popular in South Africa, selling more records than Elvis. Rodriguez is the subject of the 2012 Academy Award winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man.
  10. “Brown Sugar” The Rolling Stones. One of my favorite Stones’ songs, first track and single from Sticky Fingers(1971). Poll question: Stones or Beatles? Be honest.
  11. “Mashed Potato Time” Dee Dee Sharp. Dee Dee from Philly started as a backup singer to Chubby Checker, among others, broke out with this hit in 1962. Modestly, I was the Mashed Potato champion at Hal Lally Dance Studio in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
  12. “Red Red Wine” UB40. Reggae group from Birmingham, UK. This 1983 cover is so much better than the Neil Diamond original. No offense, Neil. You’ll always have “Sweet Caroline.”
  13. “The Candy Man” Sammy Davis, Jr. One of the greatest entertainers ever, Sammy sang this Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley song written for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Random irrelevant fact: I don’t like candy. Never have.
  14. “Ice Cream” Sarah McLachlan. Canadian supersinger sings this 1994 killer song about my favorite food to avoid, by far. Soon after sheltering in place, I loaded our freezer with pint after pint of ice cream. I am now the size of both Ben and Jerry.

  1. “Blueberry Hill” Fats Domino. The Fat Man from New Orleans sings this 1958 hit, an often-covered song, including a version by Gene Autry. I promise to spare you from that.
  2. “The Twist” Chubby Checker. Chubs recorded this Hank Ballard & the Midnighters song in 1960, resulting in a big fat hit. Chubby was 18 years old and actually kind of thin.
  3. “Thin Line Between Love And Hate” Pretenders. Akron, Ohio born Chrissie Hynde founder of this great British-American band covers this 1971 song by the New York R&B group the Persuaders. Got that? Operative word: thin.
  4. “Little Bitty Pretty One” Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers. 1960 cover by this Harlem-based R&B group made up of 5 teenage boys. They were introduced to the world by iconic DJ Alan Freed. Boy soprano Frankie died of a heroin overdose at age 25.
  5. “Skinny Love” Bon Iver. Alt-folk band formed by Justin Vernon, this was the first single from the band’s excellent debut album, “For Emma, Forever Ago.” Justin lived in isolation in a cabin in Wisconsin and initially released the album himself.
  6. “American Pie” Don McLean. American folk rock troubadour McClean wrote and released this famous song in 1971 about the loss of innocence, “the day the music died,” and pie. Apple pie. Pumpkin pie. Pecan pie. Cream pie…. Yup. I like pie. Especially with ice cream.

And that’s this week’s heavy playlist. What have we learned? Covid-19 stresses us out and has caused us to pack on extra pounds. So, some advice:

Eat a salad… Don’t Forget to Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD!

The link again: Play List

Fact Check:

Paul Revere Dick did not change his name to Jeffrey Toobin. But I do hope he changed his name.

Hal Lally Dance Studio in Holyoke, Massachusetts only offered ballroom dancing. However, I will challenge anyone to a Mashed Potato dance contest.

Last week’s poll result: Young Stevie or Young Michael? A tie. Zero to zero.

See you next week. P.S. Vote.

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One Response to Alan Eisenstock: Lose Those Pounds Musically

  1. Rosalie says:

    My goal is to return to a pre-Covid “100 Pounds of Clay” — as per Gene McDaniels. The problem is “I Want Candy” a la Bow Wow Wow — one of my ’80s faves. Have a good week, Alan. But stay away from “Cherry Pie,” even though Skip and Flip say it’s “oh, so good!”

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