Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: Waiting for a Vaccine

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,

The vaccine has reached the UK! Soon it will arrive on our shores. We just have to wait a little longer before we get our own shot in the arm. Or tuchas. In the meantime, what to do? Idea! Here are 20 “getting the vaccine” songs. Listen up!

  1. “The Waiting” Tom Petty. From 1981. I know we’ve heard this song in other playlists. But looking back at 2020, that’s pretty much been our mindset, our plea, our catchphrase: “The waiting is the hardest part…”
  2. “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” Sam and Dave. Hit single from 1966, Sam Moore and Dave Prater belt this R&B classic written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Their backup bands? Booker T & the M.G.’s and the Mar-Keys Horns. Sam & Dave had the best nickname: “The Sultans of Sweat.”
  3. “Hold On” Alabama Shakes. Nobody wails a lead vocal better than Brittany Howard. You want that vaccine? “You gotta hold on… I don’t wanna wait…”
  4. “Needles and Pins” The Searchers. I went with the UK group with the Merseybeat version over Jackie DeShannon in honor of the Brits getting the first vaccine. Plus it’s a little peppier. This 1964 smash was written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono.
  5. “Get Ready” The Temptations. From 1966, written by Smokey Robinson, lead vocal by Eddie Kendricks. “Get ready” for the vaccine.
  6. “Yes, I’m Ready” Barbara Mason. Barbara from Philly sang this big hit in 1965. She quit the music business after she made a fortune by inventing a glass container for storing food and other stuff, which she called the Mason Jar.
  7. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” Pat Benatar. Hit me with that vaccine! Born Patricia Andrzejewski, Benatar belts this 1980 hit written by Eddie Schwartz. He said he got the idea from a “pillow punching” exercise in therapy. His therapist was Dr. Demento.
  8. “The Needle and The Damage Done” Neil Young. Great song about heroin addiction from Neil’s 1972 album Harvest. You get the vaccine via a needle, so… Any excuse for a Neil Young song.
  9. “Jeannie Needs A Shooter” Warren Zevon. Warren wrote part of this song in 1980. He showed up at Springsteen’s house and supposedly the two of them finished the song together. Bruce had written “JaneyNeeds A Shooter” in 1972, which he never released. It appears, finally, on his new album.
  10. “Shoot the Moon” Norah Jones. From her 2002 killer, five-Grammy award winning album Come Away With Me. Norah–Ravi Shankar’s kid–sings this beautiful song about either (a) missing out on your one true love because you were too cautious, or (b) telling the nurse to give you the vaccine in your butt.
  11. “Needle in The Hay” Elliott Smith. Love him. Melancholy folkie born in Omaha, graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Spent most of his life in Portland. Drank heavily, did drugs, wrote great, sad songs. Died tragically of (self-inflicted?) stab wounds at 34.
  12. “Save Me” Aimee Mann. Singer-songwriter making her second appearance in the list with this song, which she wrote in 1999 for the film Magnolia. Song was nominated for an Academy Award, lost to a Disney song about a frozen dancing duck. Or something. She went to Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  13. “Pinch Me” Barenaked Ladies. From 2000. Big hit for the Canadian rock band. Medical tip. When a doctor says,”You’re gonna feel a pinch,” get ready to feel pain that will make your hair stand up.
  14. “Into My Arms” Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Australian band, with Nick in the lead, author, balladeer, rocker, this song from The Boatman’s Call 1997 album. Great song. Often covered. Describes where most people want the vaccine.
  15. “Hurt So Bad” Linda Ronstadt. Recorded in 1980. A second appearance on the playlists for Linda’s version of the Little Anthony and the Imperials 1965 hit. Any excuse for Linda.
  16. “It Hurt So Bad” Susan Tedeschi. Born in Boston on my wife’s birthday, Susan married Derek Trucks from the Allman Brothers and formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band, one of the most explosive blues bands you’ll ever hear. Just dig in here and listen to her. Dynamite.
  17. “Feelin Alright” Dave Mason & The Quarantines. British guitarist/singer/songwriter who was part of the group Traffic. He wrote this song in 1968 and re-recorded it this past July with The Quarantines–Sammy Hagar, Mick Fleetwood, Michael McDonald and other members of the Doobie Brothers. Love this!
  18. “More Than A Feeling” Boston. Tom Scholz and company from, yep, Boston. This is a semi-classic from their first album, released in 1976. Tom, an MIT-trained engineer, said it took him five years to write this song. The original title was “A Feeling” but after five years, he added the “More Than.”
  19. “Strange Condition” Pete Yorn. Okay, I LOVE Pete Yorn. He sings, writes, and plays every instrument. This is a great song from his first album musicforthemorningafter. I figure you get the shot, you’re feeling… strange.
  20. “I Shall Be Released” The Band. You’ve got the vaccine… You are released! The Band does their excellent 1968 version of this Bob Dylan classic.

What have we learned? You have to wait for the vaccine. Unless you’re British. Or Canadian. In the meantime, some advice…

Don’t Forget To Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD!

The link again.

Fact Check

Barbara Mason did not invent the Mason Jar. Dave Mason did. (Not really)

Eddie Schwartz did say he got the idea for “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” from “pillow therapy.” His therapist was not Dr. Demento. Mine was.

The original title of “More Than A Feeling” was not “A Feeling” but it did take Mr. MIT five years to write the song.

LAST WEEK’S POLL QUESTION: Tom Waits wins by a nose hair over Bob Dylan.

THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION: The vaccine arrives in your neighborhood.

Are you…“First in line?” Or do you “Wait and see?”  Be honest.

See you next week.


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One Response to Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: Waiting for a Vaccine

  1. Rosalie says:

    Great list for The Wait!
    When I saw the topic, I thought of the Rolling Stones who were “Waiting on a Friend.” I am considering this vaccine to be our friend!
    And in answer to this week’s poll, put me First in Line!

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