Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: A Slap, A Punch?

(Editor’s note: Palisadian Alan Eisenstock’s 19th book “Redeeming Justice” co-written with Jarrett Adams, came out on September 14 and was named the Best Book of September by Amazon.

When Eisenstock is not writing, 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. He just returned from a few weeks off and Circling the News is glad he’s back.)

Hi, Everyone,

I go away for three weeks and Hollywood goes insane. Chris zings Jada, Jada takes offense, Will leaves his seat, slaps Chris, sits down, and wins an Oscar. What was Will’s motivation? Defending his wife’s honor? A manhood challenge? I say Covid. He’d been cooped up for so long due to the pandemic that he simply lost his mind. What to do? Idea. Here are 16 “hit,” “punch,” “hurt” (you get the idea) songs. Listen up!

  1. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”  Pat Benatar.  Brooklyn-bred Patricia Mae Andrzejewski recorded this song, written by Eddie Schwartz, in 1980. It became her biggest hit and may have been what Chris Rock said just before Will Smith slugged him.
  2. “Hit The Road, Jack” Ray Charles. “The Genius” or “Brother Ray,” which he preferred, from Albany, GA, recorded this Percy Mayfield song in 1961. The recording went on to win a Grammy and became one of Brother Ray’s signature songs.
  3. “Kung Fu Fighting” Carl Douglas. Jamaican reggae singer and one-hit wonder Douglas recorded his one hit in 1974. On the BillboardTop 100 list of Best One-Hit Wonder songs, this song ranked #100.
  4. “The Boxer” Simon & Garfunkel. Folk-rock icons met as teenagers, decided to become a singing duo and called themselves Tom & Jerry. They got a recording contract and changed their name to “A Couple of Nice Jewish Boys From Queens.” This 1969 hit is one of my favorites.
  5. “Street Fighting Man” The Rolling Stones. Keith and Mick wrote this, their most political  song, in 1968. They actually wrote an earlier draft with the same music but much different lyrics called, “Did Everybody Pay Their Dues?”
  6. “It’s A Hit” Rilo Kiley. Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett were the main founders of this 1998 alt-rock group based in L.A. This scathing song that takes on the music industry among other entities begins with the lyric, “Any chimp can play human for a day.” LOVE.
  7. “Pinch Me” Barenaked Ladies. Canadian rockers recorded this huge hit in 2000, written by band members Steven Page and Ed Robertson. Another song aimed at the music industry, they wanted to feature Robertson’s hyperkinetic delivery. It works. Plus, a pinch is close enough to a slap, right?
  8. “Julep” Punch Brothers. Chris Thile leads this bluegrass-ish quintet, born in Brooklyn. This song, from their 2015 album The Phosphorescent Blues,gives the perspective of Heaven from someone who has passed on. LOVE.
  9. “Like To Get To Know You” Spanky & Our Gang. Sixties pop collective led by Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane. This 1968 hit was written by producer Stuart Scharf and the L.A. session musicians, The Wrecking Crew, backed up. Sultry songstress Julie London covered this song on her album Yummy, Yummy, Yummy. 
  10. “Boom Boom Mancini” Warren Zevon. “Excitable boy” and one of my favorites, Warren wrote this song about his friend, boxer Boom Boom Mancini. He said the melody was inspired by The Stones’ “Start Me Up.” I went with this boxer song over Dylan’s 10 minute “Hurricane.”

  1. “Hurt So Bad” Little Anthony & The Imperials. Soul singers from Brooklyn, led by high-pitch voiced Jerome Anthony Gourdine, “Little Anthony.” This hit was written by Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Weinstein, and Bobby Hart. I love Linda R’s 1980 version, but went with the 1965 original.
  2. “Hurt” Johnny Cash. The Man in Black covered this Trent Reznor song about self-harm and heroin addiction. Johnny’s 2002 tough, searing rendition of the song really gets me.
  3. “Fields Of Gold” Sting. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner aka Sting formed The Police, focused on a reggae-tinged sound, then went solo and leaned toward jazz, blues, even classical. This song from 1993 is his biggest solo hit. Sting has won 17 Grammys.
  4. “Everybody Hurts” R.E.M. Stipe, Mills, Buck and drummer, Berry, made up this Athens, GA band, one of the best ever. Michael Stipe’s silky tenor is one of the best voices in rock history, period. This song comes from their 1992 album Automatic For The People. My son Jonah and I attended their last concert ever.
  5. “Fight Test” The Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne leads this wild psychedelic band. This song comes from their outstanding and outlandish 2002 album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.So, heading to the finale, we’ve had “slap” songs from Spanky, Punch Brothers, Sting, and we end with–
  6. “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” Elton John. From Lord Elton’s tremendous 1973 album Goodbye To Yellow Brick Road.Elton wrote this to commemorate his writing partner Bernie Taupin’s raucous high school years spent brawling in pubs. Very similar to my high school years.

And… we’re back! Sixteen songs about getting slapped. Some advice:

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

The link again: click here.


Simon and Garfunkel were never known as “A Couple of Nice Jewish Boys From Queens.”

Julie London did cover “Like To Get To Know You” on her album Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, an album I somehow missed.

In high school, I didn’t brawl in pubs. I was, however, excellent at public speaking. Won medals.



A “hurt” round-robin: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. or “Hurt So Bad” by Little Anthony & The Imperials. Who you got?


Until next week,


Alan Eisenstock



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