Some of you have asked about the Hospital Playlist. My normal tastes are pretty eclectic; I listen to anything from classical to EDM and lots in between. This playlist was conceived and grown in those late nights, after everyone has gone home but before sleep comes. I browsed YouTube for good music videos, and once you get started, YouTube algorithms start to kick in. I also did some searches online for recommendations, and was finally influenced by the NYTimes column Playlist, which is a weekly list of "songs that caught the editor's attention this week." I had already been listening to the latter before the surgery.
You can find the playlists themselves in two places:
On YouTube you can see the whole thing with video at
On Spotify, if you are a Spotify user as I am, you can listen to the audio tracks at https://open.spotify.com/user/12647036/playlist/3c1bNz7PVjsLnvdb4PU4EG
The songs tend toward more acoustic, folk music, heavy on the lyrics, with a decent beat and featuring performers that are new to me. Every song is a bit of an exception to that, but I think the thing that links them together for me is that every single one seems to feature people that are enjoying the act of creation. They seem to see music as a force to counter all the bad news on the daily fishbowl.
Performers featured include these artists:
Avett Brothers: this is just a fun folk group, three guys singing some great songs with a beat.
Paul Simon: Last year my favorite song was Simon's Wristband, and he just keeps putting out original music. I can't think of many that have spanned such a long musical career.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats: Great band name, they do ensemble with with sax, trumpet, and creative rhythms along with a band; great fun.
Chris Cornell: He's a former singer for Soundgarden and came out of the Seattle grunge scene. Here he does covers for some creative familiar songs, but in fascinating new solo formats. I found out he died not long ago; a tragedy to lose him.
Elvis Costello: Not a new name for sure, but worth another listen. And yes, what is so funny about peace, love and understanding? We could use a lot more.
Michael Kiwanuka: Social protest songs, mesmerizing and powerful.
Manika: Her song from the movie Thank You For Your Service hit me like a brick. As a country, dear Lord, we have such an opportunity to do better.
Bruce Springsteen also has Freedom Cadence, which I think is from the same movie during the credits. Hard to track this down but yes, indeed, there is another message here.
Rag'n'bone Man: He's out of Great Britain, sings a vivid bass in an elemental musical framework. Is this 21st century blues? Definitely worth listening to this singer.
George Ezra: Love this guy's voice. The video is funny, featuring Ian McKellan of all people, but the deep sonorous voice of Ezra is what really set me back. Wow!
Iz: I just love this version of Judy Garland's song. Ukelele, new melody, worth hearing over again.
HAIM: I think these are three sisters that can really make music. If you watch the video, just fascinating to see the process of music being made. Such talent in young people, it makes me more optimistic for the future.
Tom Chaplin and Keane: Tom Chaplin is the lead singer for Keane, and both the group and the soloist have a great sound.
I love this lyric from Hardened Heart:
"Here's hoping that the signs are real
And tomorrow with a spring in my heel
Somewhere on the road of sadness lies a better deal.
I know that my hardened heart is beating still."
Alex Cameron is out of Australia and I love the combo of a beat and sound along with his grizzly voice.
Beach House: The song Space Songs is heavy on synth and some spooky vocals, but what really hooked me was their reuse of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey to go with the music. Hoo-hah! One of my favorite films and this one dazzled me. The sound seems made for the movie and vice-versa. Oh, and where is my PanAm suborbital flight? I watched this when I was young and somehow the world has come out differently.
Lumineers: This band is perhaps more famous than some, but new to me. I would classify this as alt-folk rock, or some combination thereof. Maybe a bit of gospel? Anyway, I like the catchiness of the music.
Elvis Costello and Mumford and Sons: I can only find this combo on YouTube, but Mumford and Sons is a modern folk throwback to bands with fiddles, which I love. "This Train is Bound for Glory" is a superb example of people enjoying the creative act of music.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: Another irresistible band name, folksy, love their sound. And I found them with Mumford and Sons. Where do these songs hang out? This is a dimension of music that I haven't seen since Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.
Courtney Barnett: Her song Elevator Operator has become an earworm for me, so I had to add it here.
Empyrean Atlas: OK, now for something completely different. No lyrics for sure, barely a metric, just driving, highly skilled counterpoint with a West African influence. Never heard anything much like this. And trust me, I play enough music to know this takes A TON of practice. Amazing!
Pentatonix: I do love Pentatonix, a capella music at its best. I chose Hallelujah, a song that both Leslie and I find mesmerizing. I found Pentatonix last year and they keep coming up with more great stuff. If you saw their recent Christmas special, you'll benefit by digging into their whole catalog.
Antonin Dvorak: Ok, this seems like a piece that doesn't fit. But check out the performace of Dvorak's Seventh Symphony, the 4th movement, on video. Gustavo Dudamel's direction drives the impeccable playing of the orchestra, and it is riveting to watch. Spiritually and, for me, physically uplifting.
So there you are. I have not put together a playlist to share with a group before, but I think I found some uplifting music, maybe a little inspirational. The theme that pulls this together for me is that we do great things when we work together, and we have to find a way past what we see on the news today. I am convinced that it is younger people with a spirit of optimism that will get us back. This little sample got me through a rough time and I am happy to share it with you.