Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: Worry, Doubt and Trouble

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 a year ago: 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.)

Hi Everyone,

Good news. We have an abundance of the COVID vaccine. Bad news. We have an overabundance of vaccine hesitaters. According to The Atlantic, 40 percent of people polled in a Kaiser study said they are nervous, doubtful, or simply against getting the shot. That number adds up to trouble. What to do? Idea. Here are 20 “worry,” “doubt,” “trouble” songs. Listen up!

  1. “Tell Her No” The Zombies. Brit rockers led by writer/vocalist Rod Argent sing this 1965 hit that mentions the word “no” 63 times. I counted, leading me to believe that I have no life.
  2. “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” Stevie Wonder. From 1974, the Master Blaster from Saginaw sings this Latin-tinged tune off his album Innervisions.The message: don’t worry, take the shot.

  1. “Don’t Worry Baby” The Beach Boys. The B-side of “I Get Around,” recorded in 1964. I love this ballad, lyrics by DJ Roger Christian, music by Brian Wilson. Originally about car racing, the song now applies to getting the vaccine.
  2. “You Worry Me” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Denver-based R&B, roots, country, and folk guy fronts the band with the very best name ever. Catchy song. Dare you not to dance. Nathaniel & The Sweats performed at a Bernie Sanders for President rally. Have to give Bernie credit for being cool.
  3. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” Bobby McFerrin. New York-born, jazz, pop singer extraordinaire. Bobby performs this huge 1988 hit in a variety of styles, including whistling. The song became the first a cappella song to reach #1 on the Billboard Top 100.
  4. “Worry B Gone” Guy Clark. Country singer/songwriter, Guy was also a “luthier,” a craftsman who built instruments that had a neck, like a lute. Especially impressive to me since in 7th grade, I failed woodshop.
  5. “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” Peter, Paul & Mary. One of my all-time favorite groups. The trio PP&M met in NYC and recorded a slew of folk hits, including this 1963 smash written by Bob Dylan. I proudly went to graduate school at U of Michigan. Sadly, Paul Stookey went to Michigan State. I got over it. He carries that curse forever.
  6. “Honey Don’t” The Beatles. The Lads cover this Carl Perkins song, which he wrote in 1955 as the B-Side to “Blue Suede Shoes.” Ringo sings lead, admonishing the nurse with the needle in her hand, “Nurse, don’t vaccinate me!”
  7. “Don’t Worry” The 1975. British pop group led by Matty Healy sings this dreamy ballad written by his father, Tim Healy. Their vocals and harmonies remind me of the Beach Boys.
  8. “Why Do You Hurt Me So” The Subdudes. New Orleans rockers and great bar band sing this cool song from 1986. Embodies one of the vaccine hesitaters’ biggest issues: causing pain. Logic says that getting the shot is not as bad as getting COVID.
  9. “Trouble in Paradise” Johnny Maestro and The Crests. Formed in NYC in 1957, The Crests were one of the first interracial singing groups–two African-Americans, one Puerto-Rican American, and one Italian-American. This was a big hit in 1957. They’re best known for the song “Sixteen Candles.”
  10. “Trouble” Ray LaMontagne. New England folksinger/songwriter who sounds like Roy Orbison, at least to me. This great song, his biggest hit, comes from his excellent album of the same name. After high school, he worked in a shoe factory. During high school, I worked in a shoe store, so we have a lot in common.
  11. “Trouble Man” Marvin Gaye. The Prince of Soul wrote the soundtrack to the 1972 Blaxploitation film of the same name. The film starred Robert Hooks as “Mr. T” a hard-boiled detective who takes the law into his own hands. The film was fair; Marvin’s score soars.
  12. “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise” The Avett Brothers. We go from “trouble” to “doubt” among the vaccine-hesitant. Seth and Scott Avett, two of the best harmonizers in the business, sing this gorgeous song that’s also a foot stomper. LOVE the Avetts. See them live… when you can.
  13. “Doubt” Mary J. Blige. From the Bronx, R&B queen Mary J., who called herself Brook Lynn for a minute, sings this urgent soul ballad from The London Sessions. I think that’s her co-writer and British musician Sam Romans talking about her and gushing at the end.
  14. “Doubting Thomas” Nickel Creek. Folk, bluegrass, country… LOVE them. Chris Thile and sibs Sara and Sean Watkins make up this band, with Chris a mandolin wizard. They played their first gig at a pizza parlor so I love them even more.
  15. “Never Going Back Again” Fleetwood Mac. From the famous album Rumours, this is Lindsey Buckingham’s lament to the world after breaking up with bandmate Stevie Nicks. He did go back… at least to the band, then later the band kicked him out for good. Life as a rockstar. I can relate.
  16. “Hesitating Beauty” Billy Bragg, Wilco. Off their Mermaid Avenuealbum, featuring previously unknown lyrics by Woody Guthrie. Great song, tremendous album. I’m sure many vaccine hesitaters are real beauties.
  17. “Afraid of Everyone” The National. Any chance I get, I slip in a song by The National. Vaccine hesitaters are afraid of anyone with a needle. “I defend my family with my orange umbrella…” Love that lyric. Sufjan Stevens sings backup.
  18. “Willin'” Linda Ronstadt. Lowell George of Little Feat wrote the song in 1971. Linda covered it in 1974 and just sings the hell out of it. LOVE. “Just give me weed, whites, and wine…” I believe “whites” here are cigarettes. Anyway, in our playlist story, our vaccine hesitater has finally become “willin'” to take the shot. So, a happy ending.

And that’s it, 20 songs about “doubt,” “worry,” well, you know, you just listened to them.

Some advice…


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


The link again: Click here.


Fact Check

I didn’t exactly fail woodshop. I was supposed to make a wooden paper holder. I never got past squaring the piece of wood.


I did work in a shoe store. I shelved shoeboxes and vacuumed the showroom. I was fired when I accidentally vacuumed up a customer’s shoe.


I LOVE pizza. Any band that plays a pizza parlor is a band I love.



Johnny Mathis v. Frank Sinatra. “Chances Are” that Johnny won!



Best “worry” song–“Don’t Worry Baby” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Who you got?



This week we lost NBA legend Elgin Baylor. It was my honor to write his memoir. On my website, check out the two of us at Diesel Bookshop. I’m the shorter guy. RIP Elg.






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One Response to Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: Worry, Doubt and Trouble

  1. leslie C says:

    HI ALAN! Yet another great romp on music’s Memory Lane! I was/am a HUGE Feat fan from the early 70’s (east coast) and we understood the “whites” in Willin’ to be speed. I am also a HUGE Subdudes fan and all things NoLA and music, happy they made the list! Didn’t know Guy Clack was a luthier…cool! You can’t list them all but Little Feat and Cat Stevens also had favorite Trouble songs. To be continued…thanks and Don’t Worry…Be Happy!

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