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Twenty-five tunes to ease the pain


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ORANGE HAZE  Donald got you down? Try some Jimi.
  • ORANGE HAZE Donald got you down? Try some Jimi.

Here are 25 songs I've been enjoying lately that in some way might provide despairing anti-Trump readers with some sonic shelter from the storm that's a-brewin'.

1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 'Didn't It Rain' Oh, but didn't it rain, my brothers and sisters. Rained 2,800,000 more popular votes in favor of the losing candidate. Rained vile, nutty outbursts that continue to this day in the terror-tweeter moment. And now it is cold, soooooo cold, the Putin vortex cometh, and in the video Sister Rosetta Tharpe is singing for the swinging kids of London, circa the mid-'60s and live on a train platform. Oh, man, didn't it rain. Dance between the raindrops, in a spirit of celebration and defiance.

2. Rainbow, 'Can't Happen Here' Or can it? Has it? What happened, Ritchie Blackmore? Here's a hard-rock classic from the early '80s that sort of spells out an oil-fouled future as seen through the bulging white slacks of vocalist Joe Lynn Turner.

3. Missing Foundation, 'Kingsland '61' Missing Foundation was a legendary New York band, if you can even call them that, who were on to this whole "1933, the Party's Over" business long before Glenn Beck put on a Christmas sweater and asked us all to forget his past sins. This track is a total brain-scraper and you'll quickly appreciate its uses as a primal-therapy tool—let it be your guide to an anarcho-cathartic release of a most gratingly angry variety.

4. John Brown's Body, 'Orange and Gold' John Brown was an American abolitionist hero of the first order who lived in the Adirondack mountains of New York. John Brown's Body is an American Reggae band from Ithaca, N.Y. Orange is the color of American fascism. The toilets are gold, and you know what they are full of.

5. Drive-By Truckers, 'Surrender Under Protest' American Band was a great 2016 release from Drive-By Truckers, a kick-it-easy, Southern alt-rock offering with punchy, poignant lyrics that take on all sorts of rolling American injustices and political issues, and is definitely not your daddy's "Sweet Home Alabama," Kid Rock.

6. Fiona Apple, 'Trump's Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire' Not really sure what message Fiona is trying to convey here in this nuanced Christmas offering to the president-elect, but she seems to be suggesting that we cook his testicles. Trump McNuggets? Ewwww. I don't know about that, Fiona, but this stuff is pretty funny.

7. The MC5, 'The American Ruse' The MC5 were the revolutionary White Panther vanguard rockers of the 1960s, probably best known for the barn-burning "Kick Out the Jams." But this grooving little slice of agit-rock feels right up our current alley. It's a total killer, especially their video on British TV. Plus they were from Detroit, which is in Michigan, which is where this year's sinister Russian ruse played out, if those reports about Paul Manafort's electoral counsel to Trump are to be believed, and why not?

8. Patti Smith, 'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall' Speaking of the MC5, Patti Smith (who was married to MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith) was asked to perform at the Nobel Prize ceremony honoring Bob Dylan's award this year. An extraordinary moment ensued. Smith stumbled partway through the iconic song, and it came to a hard, awkward stop, mid-verse. Patti soldiered on after an apology to the audience, and not long after, there was another moment of potential stumble—but this time she persevered and pushed through to the rousing, uplifting end. Lots of people watched this and thought she stumbled in a moment of clarity about our times, the clear menace afoot, the hard rain is already falling. The imperfection of the performance rendered it to an exquisite, humble perfection, sort of in the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, where you repair broken pottery with gold, highlighting the breaking point as the source of strength.

9. The Exploited, 'Politicians' The best part about this classic from Scottish punks the Exploited is when lead singer Wattie Buchan calls the White House and gets hooked up with a secretary in the executive branch. "Can I speak to Mr. Reagan, please?" No, but have a nice day. Republicans used to be so pleasant. Whatever happened?

10. Mark Arm, 'Masters of War' The Mudhoney frontman put out this version on the Dylan classic around the same time everyone started wondering about this kid Kurt Cobain, and this will be the last time I mention or highlight a Dylan track in this list and will warn readers in advance that there are no Nirvana songs coming up. The lyrics to "Master of War" are extremely bitter and brittle, and Arm's delivery does the song total justice.

11. Mariee Sioux, 'Two Tongues' I saw Mariee Sioux perform this First Nations song not long ago in Pt. Reyes and have listened to it just about every day since then, a welcome, gentle, trippy earworm for this season of the mean. The fork-tongued people have indeed stolen our Democracy, lies and betrayals as far as the eye can see, and Mariee sees right through it like a candle in a buffalo's eye.

12. The Ramones, 'The KKK Took My Baby Away'

"I'll take classic punk songs for $600, Alex."

"This Ramones song is reportedly about how right-wing Johnny stole left-wing Joey's girlfriend, and is not, as some have suggested, Steve Bannon and Ivanka Trump's plan for subsidized childcare under the Trump administration."

"What is 'The KKK Took My Baby Away,' Alex?"

"Right you are!"

13. The Chills, 'Pink Frost' Not your president? Not your country? Thinking of taking a little respite from the ol' U.S.A. as it sorts out its problem? You might consider New Zealand as an alternative to moving to Canada. For one thing, the music scene is way cooler, they don't like nuclear bombs, and haunting songs like this one from the Chills come complete with videos featuring ugly sweaters that are nevertheless kind of comforting, and Lord knows I could use some comfort right about now in this year of the chilling effect.

14. Iron Maiden, 'Run to the Hills' The Canadian Rockies are pretty hilly, but they do have mountains in New Zealand as well, big ones. (See #13.)

15. Pharoah Sanders, 'The Creator Has a Master Plan' And perhaps he does. I'd like to see his tax returns while we're at it.

16. Jimi Hendrix, 'Machine Gun' On the advice of the High Holy Hippies of Bolinas, I've decided that I'm "gonna pick up my axe and fight like a farmer," just like Jimi.

17. Eminem, 'Campaign Speech' There are some extremely wicked, raw and aggressive anti-Trump rhymes on this Slim Shady, election-season outburst. And then there are lines like "got slapped with a Colin Kaepernick practice sock." I pledge allegiance to this extremely nasty piece of music.

18. Ian Whitcomb & the White Star Orchestra, 'Frankie and Johnny' You arrange the deck chairs, and I'll keep an eye out for polar bears floating around on ice cubes, wondering whatever happened to the icebergs of their frosty arctic youth.

19. William S. Burroughs, 'The Junky's Christmas' Here's an uplifting tale of a desperate junky trying to score some smack who finally gets the fixins for a proper fix, but just as he's about to shoot up, he hears a guy in the hotel room next door moaning in pain, with kidney stones. The junky takes pity and gives his drugs to the guy, shoots him up and eases his pain. Redemption follows. Moral: It's the small gestures of sacrifice and decency that are going to get us through this. Or heroin.

20. Iggy Pop, 'The Passenger' Sure, I could have included "Search and Destroy" and been a street-walkin' cheetah with a heart full of napalm, just like angry Iggy. But the mood invoked by "The Passenger" feels more appropriate and provides a kind of nerve-balm—Iggy's just checking out the scenery, letting it pass without judgement or comment, and it speaks mightily to the power of bearing witness as a form of resistance.

21. Blind Willie McTell, 'Razor Ball' The classic from McTell keeps coming to mind whenever I check to see if Trump has nabbed any talent for his upcoming inauguration ball. This is my kind of ball, I mean hall, down around the Razor Ball.

22. Husker Du, 'I'm Never Talking to You Again' Correct. I didn't really care when you voted for Bush, twice, cousin. He was horrible, but not an outright fascist, and people can agree to disagree. However . . .

23. Sonny Sharrock, 'Promises Kept' I can name a few: Osama bin Laden, healthcare for millions of struggling Americans, clean-energy revolution, saved the auto industry, equal pay for women. . . . The list is long and strong. As is this track from the late free-jazz skronkmeister Sonny Sharrock.

24. The Frogs, 'Grandma's Sitting in the Corner with a Penis in Her Hand Going 'No, No, No, No, No'' Sorry, Grandma, they really did repeal Obamacare and privatize Social Security and gut Medicare, and then left you holding the bag, too.

25. Peter, Paul & Hitler, 'Trump the Magic Fascist' It's an alt-right sing-along, folks! And just in time for a prime-time performance at the inauguration! "Oh, Trump the magic fascist / Lied by the sea / And grabbed that pussy at the ballot box / All the way to the West Wing."


26. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 'That's All' Brothers and sisters, thanks for taking a spin through this list. I leave you with another classic from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and this one with the choice lyric:

"Listen, people fighting one another / And think they're doing swell / And all they want is your money / And you can go to heeeeyyyyy."

Head to the Fishing Report blog at for the full list of 50 songs.



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