As those of you who are familiar with BourbonAndVinyl know, I’m always looking for an excuse to cull through my vast musical collection and put together a playlist. My dear, dear, late friend Nancy once brought over a book of playlist ideas and we poured over it for hours while drinking martinis. I miss that woman dearly. That book is what gave me the idea for thematic playlists. I used to make my own “greatest hits” tapes for certain artists. Even as far back as my earliest vinyl and cassette days I was always putting together the dreaded mix tapes. Arkansas Joel, who always had a great car stereo but no records, used to request tapes of my music but that was a long time ago. My wife, the Rock Chick, can put together the best playlists, either by an artist or just tunes that go well together. She has a great Van Halen mix, all Roth of course. I’m not as skilled as she is in the art of the playlist.
However, as with most things I write or do, the Rock Chick is my muse. She inspires me in ways I didn’t know were possible. Lately, I’ve been a little worried about her. My Corporate Overlords have me traveling so much it’s been exhausting. When the road finally bends back towards home, I usually return to find the Rock Chick watching the Investigation Discovery Channel. She seems addicted to shows about what I’ve nicknamed, “murder and mayhem.” She loves to recount the countless stories of people who have committed murder. I think she missed her calling and should have looked into a career in forensic science. Vanity Fair Confidential, Dateline (with that pretentious Keith Morrison) and 20/20 reruns on OWN are in high rotation on our TV. She recounts these murder stories with great enthusiasm… almost too much enthusiasm. Luckily we have a cat that I use as a food taster just in case the Rock Chick gets any ideas about antifreeze cocktails.
I started musing on all this murder and mayhem the other night. I realized there are some great classic rock tunes about killing and murder and what not. Using the Rock Chick’s musical taste as my guide, I narrowed my playlist idea down to the following twenty-five songs. Sure, there are other tunes that would fit… Lou Reed has a great song called “The Gun” that nobody but me has heard but unfortunately the Rock Chick agrees with my friend Doug who says, “Every punk rocker knows Lou Reed is a dick.” And yes, I could have just filled up my playlist with Tupac and Biggy songs where they threaten each other, but this is a blog dedicated to the joys of classic rock and roll, not hip hop.
I must admit, post Kentucky Derby Day, I almost wish someone would kill me. The curse of bourbon is upon me. Perhaps a little hair of the dog and these fine 25 rock tunes about murder might cure what ails me… By the way, I will admit I was as surprised as anyone that Green Day had so many murder and mayhem tunes.
- Rage Against The Macine, “Killing In The Name” – Yes, this song has broader, geopolitical ramifications but killing is killing.
- The Power Station, “Murderess” – Great, deep track from Robert Palmer, drummer Tony Thompson and a couple of dudes from Duran Duran. I’m hoping my wife never becomes the title character.
- The Kills, “Doing It To Death” – Not a bad way to go…
- The White Stripes, “Death Letter” – Jack White owns this old blues tune for me. Mellencamp did a pretty good version of this one too.
- Green Day, “Murder City” – “Desperate but not hopeless.”
- AC/DC, “Night Prowler” – Was anyone in rock and roll more menacing as a singer than Bon Scott when he turned nasty?
- Duran Duran, “View To a Kill” – I’m not a huge Duran fan, but I always liked this one and it’s a Rock Chick favorite. I think I like it so much because it was used in that James Bond film… I love James Bond films, but who doesn’t?
- The Clash, “Somebody Got Murdered” – Ph D courses could be taught about the Clash’s brilliant but flawed album ‘Sandinista!’
- Motley Crue, “Looks That Kill” – This song certainly describes the Rock Chick…
- Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer” – Is it that he’s singing in French that makes it creepy or is David Byrne just creepy by definition?
- The Police, “Murder By Numbers” – Not a Rock Chick favorite, but I had to have this song on the list.
- Queen, “Killer Queen” – The loss of Freddie Mercury is still felt, people.
- Echo And The Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon” – What I’ve gathered from all of these murder shows is that jealousy and spouses and murder are all tied up together. This is a great song about jealousy.
- The Rolling Stones, “Midnight Rambler” – The Rock Chick didn’t realize this was about a murderer. Killer slide guitar by Mick Taylor who had just joined the band.
- Audioslave, “Sound of a Gun” – “Running from the sound of a gun, til I’m weary.”
- Green Day, “Bang Bang” – Harrowing story told from the viewpoint of a mass shooter. Green Day is as relevant as ever.
- Mick Jagger, “Gun” – Jagger’s solo work always gets slagged but ‘Goddess In The Doorway’ was a killer record and this is a great cut. “Why don’t you just get a gun and shoot it through this heart of mine…” I should have entitled this playlist “Murder, Mayhem and Marriage.”
- U2, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” – A great U2 track that I believe was used in a Batman film. Don’t hold that against it.
- Green Day, “Kill the DJ” – Who doesn’t want to kill the DJ? Live music, not DJ’s, make the world go around.
- Alice In Chains, “Killer Is Me” – I prefer the live version on the unplugged LP because you hear Layne Staley say at the end, “I could hug you all, but I won’t.” Layne probably could have used a hug. Tragic story, or in the vernacular of today, #Sad.
- Depeche Mode, “Barrel of a Gun” – You knew these dark bastards would have to be on here. I can’t wait to see them on tour this year.
- Social Distortion, “Machine Gun Blues” – Mike Ness reimagining Social Distortion as Pretty Boy Floyd’s old time-y gangsters on a shooting spree. Lots of bullets fly.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Murder Incorporated” – One of Springsteen’s most rocking tunes with a fabulous guitar solo and naturally a great Clarence Clemons sax solo. All Hail the mighty Big Man!
- AC/DC, “Big Gun” – If you’re going to kill someone, bring a big gun. Not as menacing as Bon Scott’s tune, but a great rock tune none the less.
- Rage Against the Machine, “How I Could Just Kill A Man” – We leave where we came in, with Rage. Tom Morello uses his guitar like a machine gun. What’s not to love on this great tune.
If you come home and your spouse/significant other is watching shows about murder, turn them toward the stereo. There’s nothing good on TV…