Thursday, December 29, 2011

Music For the End of the World

With 2012 quickly approaching, the likelihood of apocalyptic destruction seems to be imminent. Whether you believe the Mayans, the fundamental Christians, or Kirk Cameron, it is going to be a busy year for all of us as we brace for the coming of Jesus, asteroids, zombie epidemics, or whatever other form the end-times may take.

There are a few things that are crucial for any doomsday survivor to have in their emergency kit. Mcgyver always recommended keeping a few paper clips, chewing gum, and a pocket knife on hand. Indiana Jones was never far from his bull whip. Sherlock Holmes used naught but his common sense. And Nostradamus prophesied that the most important item to have as the world came to an end was a mysterious machine called a "Walkman".

So here are a few songs that will get you through the end times. Mix a tape, burn a CD, or Upload it onto your MP3 player, because this is the playlist for the end of the world.

I received a huge number of submissions for this playlist, and learned about a lot of music that I'd never heard before. Because of all the great music about doomsday, this one is going to be a double album. It's going to be a long apocalypse, so we'd better have a good playlist. Each title is linked so that you can hear the song.

Thanks to all who submitted their suggestions!

Side A

Elvis Costello knows how to have a good time, no matter what is going on. He brings levity and groove to even the darkest subjects, and the end of the world is no exception. If you are going to dance your way through doomsday, this is the song to do it to.

Annie and I met Mr. Sadler while honeymooning in Hawaii - he was selling knickknacks and tour discounts in a roadside flea market on the island of Kauai. The first words out of his mouth were, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Jim Carrey?" He proceeded to talk to us about the importance of fulfilling our dreams, and gave us his CD. This is merely one of the awesome songs from our friend who earned his retirement as a studio musician for Dylan, Seger, and countless other rockers.

Weird Al, like Elvis Costello brings spunk to the thought of utter destruction and chaos. Add in the craziness of Christmas shopping and family, and this is a perfect song for the 2012 holidays. Start early, as you only have until December 21st.

It is said that animals have an ability to sense disaster before it strikes, and Whitmore evokes that more natural reaction to the coming destruction in this song. Somehow, amid all the insanity he describes, I am completely at ease when listening to this awesome piece of music.

I remember being scared to death of this music video the first time I saw it, yet also unavoidably intrigued. It must have been the melting Barbie. Soundgarden offers a perfect blend of apathy and satire in this song, depicting zombie-like housewives and suburbanites mixed with sadistic children and perfectly manicured lawns. Then the sun blows up.

Do I need to say anything beyond the title? If the last song epitomized the passive, disinterested reaction to doomsday, Metallica takes the opposite approach, charging the listener to pick up a sword and start slaying demons. Pretty uplifting, save for the fact that the four horsemen are going to destroy everyone anyway. But don't let a little futility stop you from going out with a bang!

This may be my favorite Bob Dylan song. The utter asininity of this song makes me excited for the end of the world. It is like a Dali painting, mixed with a Christopher Nolan film, all in the confines of a book authored by Kurt Vonnegut. And yet logic and poignant satire still find their way into this Silverstienesque song. And in the end, it's all a dream. Nice song to sing, after the apocalypse.

This video makes absolutely no sense. I have no clue what is happening in this depiction, but if my assumptions are correct, the end of the world will come as a result of asteroids that create clones of whomever they strike, filling the world with dancing Indian pop stars. If that is the case, sign me up, because I could dance to this hit for all of eternity.

Side B

It's the final countdown. Foreshadowing and ironic, since it was probably the hairspray used by the members of this group that led to the destruction of our planet. Lucky for them, they are going to Venus in the hopes that the inhabitants of that sexy planet will take them in. Judging by those outfits, I don't think they'll have any troubles.

This is a somber commentary on the political, racial, and military struggles of the sixties, and still rings true today. If you are in the mood to reflect on why the world is going to end, this would be the track to listen to. If you want to smoke something while doing so, I don't think anyone would blame you. It is the apocalypse after all.

The Clash really know how to tell it like it is. Ice age, famine, nuclear waste, and zombies - this song has it all. It is a veritable potpourri of death and destruction, and waste. On top of that, it is a great song to freak out to, when you inevitably go insane from the pressure of your impending demise.

Creepy, plain and simple. Juxtaposing balloons and the end-of-days gives me the same chill as the clown in Steven Kings book IT. Some things just don't belong together. And yet the song is beautiful in its serenity. Nena conveys the reality of eternal destruction with a matter-of-fact attitude that rivals a Zen master or an apathetic grunge kid from the nineties. "If could find a souvenir, just the prove the world was here. And here is a red balloon. I think of you and let it go."

Again, the title is fairly self explanatory. The Punk scene had a very succinct way of conveying their views on where the world was headed. The lyrics are simple, the drums are fast, and the outlook on life was ugly This song is another one of those that you'd probably play right before you went out to kill some zombies of scavenge for food in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The spoken word in this piece makes it as much homily as song. Referencing whole chunks of the book of revelations, Cash lends his thick baritone to this caustic yarn to ensure that every listener knows the gravity of the coming end. It ain't gonna be pretty folks, and Johnny wants us all to be ready.

This song is so whimsical, it's hard to draw a connect to the end of the world, at least right away. Dig into the lyrics a little closer, and you'll see how Bird depicts the world after the Armageddon with a dreamy tranquility. I'm not sure if he is referring to the afterlife or the peaceful stillness of nuclear winter. Either way, it is eerily beautiful.

How can you make a playlist for the end of the world, and not include this song? A mix of contemporary commentary and visionary extrapolation, REM moves so fast you cannot grasp half of what is being said until it is ancient history. And soon, we all will be.

Bonus Tracks:

Quintessential doomsday jam. If we're going down, lets party like it's 1999.

I had so many Dead Kennedys requests I had to throw this one in. Not exactly about the apocalypse, but still good.

Colin Meloy is great at remaining vague while evoking such precise images that you can perfectly envision the story he tells.

Because every playlist needs more cow bell.

Who's to say it's not about the apocalypse? Seems pretty caustic to me

Welcome to the end friends. I couldn't wish for a more ragtag bunch of miscreants and delinquents to spend it with.


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