Tuesday Tracklist: Songs from My Morning Jacket, Rufus Wainwright, Wax Fang and More (7/4)

Jul 3, 2023 at 2:54 pm
Tuesday Tracklist: Songs from My Morning Jacket, Rufus Wainwright, Wax Fang and More (7/4)
Photo by Chris Higdon

In this weekly feature, a different LEO staff member will share 7-10 of the songs repeating in their playlists right now and sometimes staff will curate songs for special occasions. (Songs by Louisville artists are marked with an (*) asterisk.) Got a track that you think we’d like? Let us know at [email protected] or click the author’s name for email.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back,” said Carl Sagan in his and Ann Druyan's "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"

So, this Tuesday Tracklist might piss you off. It takes a critical look at America, being American, and being frustrated with the conditions of our nation. It isn’t just another list of semi-patriotic songs or songs confused with being patriotic. Instead, this list is more of a mood and a reason to fight for this nation. 

Yea, we know. 

“Love it or Leave it.” We’ve heard the refrain from those who can’t find comfort in dissent and disagreement. Well, get used to it, because challenging this nation to be better, makes it become better. 

Rita Moreno and the cast of "West Side Story" - America 

America is a land of many promises, some easily realized and others a fiction created by people whose destiny wasn’t tied to laws that allowed them to exist or to participate in national decisions. The American Dream is one of those fictions and this song perfectly encapsulates the real struggle it is to be new in America. 

My Morning Jacket - Nashville to Kentucky*

This song could be about any number of things, but living between Kentucky and Tennessee does come with a certain flavor and, for some, a distaste and distrust for the place in which they find themselves — a common condition and cause for confusion in this nation. 

Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land

This song isn’t as simple as its lyrics. It’s a song of protest and of acknowledgment. It acknowledges and appreciates the beauty of the American landscape but in the lyrics often left out of the song, it very clearly made the case for America to be a place where all of these moments of beauty were available to all. Guthrie didn’t write this song without the politics that he firmly believed so when you hear a version without the lyrics about trespassing, you’re not hearing the full song. 

Slint - Good Morning Captain*

Again, not necessarily American but definitely with the flavor of facing what once was and accepting that something can never be again. The barriers between the characters in the story seem so great and very much makes this song, quintessentially American in ways. It’s haunting, in a very similar way as “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush (or the Emily Bronte novel) when Cathy returns to her home, Wuthering Heights, as a ghost begging to get in and asking Heathcliff to come out to join her, which he does, to his ultimate end. 

Rufus Wainwright - “Going To A Town”

Rufus Wainwright issues one of the best indictments of a place that has taken its place in the world for granted — a  nation formed on the backs of others, claiming to be a place to be free from persecution and yet consistently focused on how to actively harm groups of people based on irrational criteria like who someone loves or the top coat of skin. As Wainwright says, “I’m so tired of you, America.”

Panopticon - Bodies Under the Falls*

This is an American song. A song about the truth of this nation formed by theft, deception, and the guise of freedom for one that precipitated the destruction of another. Indigenous lives were lost so that “Pale faces in the mist / Demons who claim the mountains” could satisfy their thirst for more. Not a lot has changed in America. 

Childish Gambino - This is America 

The layers of what Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is saying in this song are miles deep. It is a song about the American obsession with guns and violence and how it threatens Black lives, and at the same time, it allows artists to exploit that thirst for cash, including Glover himself. 

Wax Fang - Exit Strategy*

No, this isn’t necessarily a song about America but the sentiment of the narrator is certainly one of many as America continues to grabble with frustrating and harmful political maneuvers, as well as gun violence. Sometimes, we just want out. We want America to be better but it’s hard to keep up a fight when it gets heavy. Also, the lyrics could honestly just be a personification of America, herself. 

Tori Amos - I Can’t See New York

This Tori Amos song strikes a somber note that as we celebrate our independence, we need to remember that we’re part of a larger planet with responsibility for ourselves and others around us. Written by Amos and released in the year following the events of 9/11, the protagonist looks down at New York from a plane and sees the smoke and ash of a disaster — frightened and wondering what it means to be an American. From the album, “Scarlet’s Walk,” Amos served this song as a final emotional reminder of how those days felt as we questioned, “why,” and were thrown into the depths of right-wing fear and extremism instead of remedying and urging our politicians to fix our international relations. Anyway, remember those emotions and fight for America to be better.