Tag Archives: Billy Bragg

Not Your Typical LGBTQ+ Pride Playlist

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Tune du Jour celebrates with this playlist consisting of two hundred songs by and/or about Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts and Qs. Happy Pride!

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Throwback Thursday – 1998

Your knees start shakin’ and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock

I think I read somewhere that there is a new Star Trek movie opening this weekend, or sometime soon. I didn’t pay too much attention. I’ve never seen any Star Trek movie, nor have I seen any episode of the TV show Star Trek, or any of its offshoots.

I saw part of one episode from the original series. Joan Collins was a guest star. I watched when she was on screen; I changed the channel when she wasn’t. That small fact told my friend Laura’s brother more about me than I knew about myself at that time.

I don’t know what Star Trek is about. I know there’s a spaceship called the Enterprise, and that’s about it. I don’t know when the show takes place. I don’t know the characters’ personality types or if they all get along or if any of them hook up.

I’ve heard William Shatner recite the lyrics to “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Space Oddity” and other songs that were classics until the moment I heard Bill do ‘em. I’ve heard Leonard Nimoy “sing” a song about Hobbits (don’t get me started on my lack of knowledge about Hobbits! I’m not even sure the word Hobbits should be capitalized.). Those recordings weren’t enough to entice me into checking out the work that made those guys famous.

I’m also familiar with the song “Star Trekkin’” by a group called The Firm, not to be confused with the Jimmy Page band The Firm, though equally awful. “Star Trekkin’” went to #1 on the UK singles chart in 1987, and by doing so removed the bragging rights of anyone else who hit #1 on the UK singles chart. “Oh, you had a #1 UK single, Nicole Scherzinger? You know what else was a #1 UK single? ‘Star Trekkin”’.”

William Shatner was on another television show somewhat recently. I don’t recall what it was. I think it was set in a courtroom or a law office. I never watched it.

I don’t know if Leonard Nimoy did anything after the Star Trek TV series.

Though I don’t know from and couldn’t care any less about Star Trek, I do recognize some Star Trek references in pop culture, like in the lyrics that opened this post, which are from Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” one of 1998’s best singles and the song that kicks off Tunes du Jour’s 1998 playlist on this Throwback Thursday. I take it when Mr. Spock touches someone’s neck, their knees shake and their fingers pop, like mine do when I listen to Beastie Boys. Let’s get poppin’!


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Throwback Thursday – 1991

“It was a 5-minute song with no chorus and a mandolin as the lead instrument. So for us to hold that as the bar we have to jump over every time we write a song would be ridiculous.”

In the summer of 1990, R.E.M. demoed a song in the studio with the working title of “Sugar Cane.” The band’s guitarist, Peter Buck, had recently purchased a mandolin and while learning how to play it, came up with the song’s main riff and chorus.

Lyrics about obsession and unrequited love were added, including an expression from the southern part of the United States that means “being at the end of one’s rope.” That expression became the song’s new title. The band’s singer, Michael Stipe, recorded his vocals in one take.

Though in the liner notes the R.E.M.’s career retrospective, Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011, Stipe wrote “I don’t think any of us had any idea it would ever be … anything,” the group wanted it to be the first single released from their album Out of Time. Their record label, Warner Bros., didn’t think that was a good idea, as it was, in the words of one of the company’s executives, an “unconventional track.” After much discussion, Warner relented.

That record, with the title “Losing My Religion,” went to #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and became a smash worldwide. The album from which it was taken, Out of Time, sold over 18 million copies, far more than any of their previous releases.

Out of Time won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. “Losing My Religion” won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video and was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, which it lost to “Unforgettable,” which was written in 1951.

When asked at the time if he was worried that the song’s success might alienate older fans, Peter Buck told Rolling Stone, “The people that changed their minds because of ‘Losing My Religion’ can just kiss my ass.”

“Losing My Religion” made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, Blender’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. On their annual music critics poll, the Village Voice had “Losing My Religion” as the #2 single of 1991, just behind Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

For this Throwback Thursday, Tunes du Jour presents twenty of the best tracks from 1991. (I didn’t include “Smells Like Teen Spirit” because I base this not on year of release, but on the year a song peaked in popularity. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1992.)


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 40: I Won’t Turn You Away

Indie, except when it isn’t. Mellow, except when it isn’t.


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Jesus, Etc. | A Wilco Playlist

Duke University placed Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home on its suggested summer reading list for incoming students. The book, which was adapted into a Broadway show that won Best Musical at this year’s Tony Awards, is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted gay dad.

Some Duke students refused to read the book. One wrote in a Facebook post “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” Reading a book is against his beliefs? Another incoming freshman wrote “The nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.” You might have consented to look at pornography. On the other hand, you might not have. There’s one way to find out. The inclusion of Fun Home on the suggested reading list made one new student at Duke remark “I thought to myself, ‘What kind of school am I going to?’” A college that suggests students read books? What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks?

One can hold on to their personal beliefs while reading about persons with different backgrounds or beliefs. I’m not an expert on religion, but I don’t think one spends eternity in h-e-double-hockey-sticks for learning about someone who in some ways differs from the reader. Maybe these students will eventually come to realize this. They are in school; perhaps they’ll use their time there to learn.

Today is the 48th birthday of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Hopefully it’s not against your religious beliefs to check out twenty of the band’s best.


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Let’s Sing About Sex

Today is the 57th birthday of English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. My favorite song of his is “Sexuality,” a #2 US Modern Rock hit from 1991. Co-written with The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, “Sexuality” is, as described by Wayne Studer in his book Rock on the Wild Side, “a bouncy, ringing celebration of healthy, open-minded live-and-let-live attitudes about the human body and human relationships.” Singing “your laws do not apply to me” and “I demand equality,” this is a protest song that remains relevant 20+ years later.

In celebration of “Sexuality,” today’s playlist consists of twenty songs with the word sex or some variant thereof in the title. Get down!

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Hitting A Home Run

speech comments
Last night I spoke about my journey to improved self-confidence. As you can see from the above comments, it was well-received.

I love speaking. I love sharing my stories and messages with an audience. I love to inspire people to pursue their dreams and to better enjoy their lives. I can usually sense when a speech is really connecting with the audience. It’s a great feeling, like hitting a home run.

I’ve never actually hit a home run playing baseball, but I used that phrase to segue into today’s playlist. The World Series begins tonight, I think. I don’t know who’s playing, but it’s a good excuse to collect baseball songs. Here are twenty fun ones.

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