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 March 2020: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify CLICK HERE. 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.)
Half of Americans over the age of eighteen have been vaccinated! We’re slowly emerging from the darkness. What to do? Idea. Here’s our sixth all-women playlist, 17 songs sung by women you know and love and some by women you don’t know, but will love. Listen up!
- “Reach Out of The Darkness” Friend and Lover. Jim and Cathy Post were more than friends and lovers; they were husband and wife when they recorded their only hit in 1965. They broke up after creating what could be a COVID-ending lyric: “I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together.”
- “Just One Look” Doris Troy. Called “Mama Soul” by her fans in her native Bronx, this was Doris’s one huge hit, recorded in 1963. I love Linda Ronstadt’s cover but you got to have the original.
- “How Come You Never Go There” Feist. Canadian Leslie Feist, solo artist and member of the band Broken Social Scene, writes and sings this torchy ballad from 2011 and her album Metals. Leslie grew up in Amherst, Nova Scotia. I lived in Amherst… Mass.
- “Fields of Gold” Eva Cassidy. Simply, a legend. Blessed with a stunning soprano voice, Eva sang everything–jazz, blues, pop, folk. Her gorgeous version of this Sting song makes me weep. She died of cancer at 33.
- “Popsicles and Icicles” The Murmaids. One-hit wonders from L.A., consisting of sisters, Carol and Terry Fischer and friend Sally Gordon. Their hit, written by David Gates of the group Bread, made it to #3 in 1963. Sadly, Carol was eliminated in her high school’s spelling bee when she was asked to spell “mermaid.”
- “You and Me” Penny and the Quarters. A “lost” soul group from Columbus, OH, recorded this as a demo in 1970. The group, made up of Nannie Sharpe and her brothers, did a demo that went nowhere. Somehow, 40 years later, Ryan Gosling heard it and the song became an integral part of the film Blue Valentine,starring Gosling and Michelle Williams.
- “Persephone” Allison Russell. Allison and her husband JT Nero formed the band Birds of Chicago, and then Allison went solo. This song describes how she found refuge at a girlfriend’s house to escape an abusive family member. LOVE.
- “I Love How You Love Me” The Paris Sisters. Girl-group and one-hit wonders, consisting of three sisters. They recorded this smash in 1961, written by Barry Mann and Larry Kolber, produced by Phil Spector.
- “The Barrel” Aldous Harding. Born Hannah Sian Topp, this New Zealand folk singer changed her name and recorded a song with lyrics that I’ll call eccentric, bordering on indecipherable. Something about a ferret and a dove and an egg and being already dead. I like the song. It’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.
- “Killing Me Softly with His Song” Roberta Flack. A huge hit in 1974. Ms. Flack became the first artist to win Grammys in consecutive years for Record of the Year. This song, after some dispute and confusion, was credited to songwriters Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox.
- “Heads Gonna Roll” Jenny Lewis. One of my faves. Jenny, formerly a child actor starring in Jell-O commercials and later appearing in movies such as Troop Beverly Hills, fronted the band Rilo Kiley, then went solo. LOVE this evocative song. Ringo Starr plays drums.
- “Versatile Heart” Linda Thompson. One of the most important voices of British folk-rock in the 1970s and ’80s, along with her then husband Richard Thompson. Linda and Richard split up, she lost her voice due to some crazy disease, got her voice back, and recorded three or four solo albums. LOVE.
- “Walk Above the City” MARO, The Paper Kites. The Kites, a folkish band from Australia, and MARO, a 24-year-old vocalist from Lisbon, Portugal combine on this stunning song. MARO is pronounced MAH-ro and means “myself” in Japanese. You’re welcome.
- “The Way It Goes” Gillian Welch. Gillian grew up in L.A., attended Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, then landed in Nashville where she teamed up with David Rawlings. She’s become the voice of bluegrass-alt/country. This song is from her excellent 2011 album The Harrow and the Harvest.
- “Late Bloomer” The Secret Sisters. Laura and Lydia are folksingers and actual sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Someone once compared them to female Everly Brothers. I don’t hear that. In any case, “It doesn’t matter when you bloom, it matters that you do, ooh, ooh, ooh.”
- “Fireworks” First Aid Kit. Another folk duo, and still more sisters–Johanna and Klara Soderberg–from Sweden. A lot of sisters on this list.
- “Trouble Me” 10,000 Maniacs. Alt-indie band formed in Jamestown, NY. Natalie Merchant became the lead singer and main writer. What a great voice. Her grandfather played the accordion so we have a lot in common. LOVE.
And so ends one of my all-time favorite playlists… sisters everywhere! Some advice.
Don’t Forget to Disinfect… and… PLAY IT REALLY LOUD!
The link again: CLICK HERE.
Carol Fisher of The Murmaids wasn’t eliminated from a spelling bee for misspelling “mermaids.”
Natalie Merchant’s grandfather did play the accordion. I know. So?
LAST WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
“Squeeze Box” by The Who v. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan? Donovan squeezes out the win!
THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
Pick your sisters! Old v. new The Paris Sisters “I Love How You Love Me” or The Secret Sisters “Late Bloomer?” Who you got?
Until next week,