2021 Songs of the Psyche
Dec 31, 2021
December 31, 2021

In 2021 I officiated 4 funerals, one of them was my younger brother. The other 3 were people from our church who died young of cancer. There was also very dear friends of ours who lost an infant.

I was going to create a “2021 Songs of the Psyche” playlist exchange with my friend Megan where we were sharing songs that were meaningful in 2021. We had to keep it at 25 songs and one song had to be put out in 2021.

As I was putting a playlist together, I realized how much music was a very deep part of grieving, songs resonating with depression and processing angst as well as songs of hope and future reminding me of Truth.

They playlist are songs that personally really helped me in 2021. The playlist ended up being somewhat of a flow of the calendar year in layout. In three parts.

1) Normal life songs and the whole list would have continued for the whole year with songs like this. But because of the death, it takes a turn in mood and selection.

2) Dealing with death. Angst, denial and reality.

3) Songs reminding of truth and hope.

Here is the Spotify playlist

Here is the iTunes playlist

Brief explaining the songs that I gave Megan for understanding the song selection.

1)     Strange Things Happening Every Day – Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1944)

This is a traditional unknown writer gospel song that Sister Rosetta made popular. Johnny Cash and others also recorded it later on. It could be the start song of every year’s summary as it is so true what the title of the song and lyrics say. I love Sister Rosetta.

Gospel Train Vol.2 (LP, Cut-Out)

2)     Every Time I Feel The Spirit – Little Richard (1960)

This is a gospel roots by unknown author dating to before the US Civil War. The story of this song is that Little Richard was originally going to be a minister but got into rock and roll. He went through a few times in his life where he battled the rock lifestyle and would then give it up and return to his faith. This was a time when he gave up rock and went back to gospel singing for a season. After this he went back to rock and roll. But, later in his life he returned back to his faith and the last years of his life he was super public about his faith in Jesus. I love Little Richard. It was so great to see his later years return to faith.

Peacock Gospel Classics - God Is Real by Little Richard - Pandora

3)     Lead Me To Jesus – The Soul Stirrers (1961)

The Soul Stirrers were a gospel singing group that started in 1926 and over the years kept going with different members. Sam Cooke was part of The Soul Stirrers for several years before going solo – and he wrote this song. I love The Soul Stirrers.

The Soul Stirrers - Joy In My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings -  Amazon.com Music

4)    Rock Billy Boogie – Johnny Burnette and The Rock 'n Roll Trio (1956)

Johnny Burnette and The Rock ‘n Roll Trio are so underappreciated and not known too much. They are true rockabilly founders. They had several songs like Train Kept A Rolling that bands like Aerosmith covered.

BURNETTE,JOHNNY - Rock 'N Roll Trio - Amazon.com Music

5)     Soul Drums – Bernard Purdie (1967)

A really well-known drummer in the jazz and blues world. He recorded a solo album and this is just an uplifting instrumental song that makes me happy listening to it.

Soul Drums

6)     Madness – Madness (1979)

This is the Madness (the band) version of the 1963 Prince Buster song “Madness”. Prince Buster was a Jamaican ska music founder that bands in UK later made popular (Madness, Specials etc). The song “One Step Beyond” by the band Madness was also a Prince Buster song. This song comes into my head all the time when watching the news, seeing trends and beliefs that many of us buy into with emotions without thinking and looking at the facts. Major implications to when we do this about spiritual beliefs. The video "One Step Beyond" was filmed at the Hope and Anchor in London and that stairway in the beginning of the video is one I carried my drums up and down several times when we were living there and played that club. I’m seeing Madness in Oakland in May. Been wanting to see them for a long time.

One Step Beyond

7)     Safe European Home – The Clash (1978)

This song was written when Joe Strummer and Mick Jones when to Jamaica for 2 weeks to write songs in 1977. When they got there they felt they weren’t welcomed in that world at the time. The song was about them knowing they would be safe back home in England but didn’t feel safe at the time there in Jamaica.

I sometimes see this as being Christian in a world where historical beliefs are increasingly unwelcome in the world. We could retreat to our "safe Christian home" and Christian community and subculture of friends, but then we aren't on mission to the world who needs Jesus. One day we will be "home" for all eternity but for now we have a mission we are on. I love The Clash. I believe they would my all-time favorite band.

Image 1 - THE CLASH - Give 'Em Enough Rope LP 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl Album - NEW RECORD

8)     You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side – Morrissey (1992)

From what I understand this song is about Morrissey knowing he needs a band post-Smiths. But whatever it meant originally, the same thing is for any Christian on mission. Knowing we need someone on our side as we are in this world and community. It’s just a great song musically and Boz Boorer is the guitarist who was in the rockabilly band The Polecats.

Morrissey – “You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side” | Don't Forget The  Songs 365

9)     The Hungry Wolf – X ( 1982)

This song was written inspired by a painting 1890 painting “The Lone Wolf”. Exene from X said about the painting” “It depicts a wolf looking over a village in the winter. He's looking down, and there is this little idyllic cabin house, and there's smoke coming out of the fireplace - it's a winter night. He's just looking at this house.” – Here’s the painting:

Antique Lone Wolf Painting Art Print Alfred Wierusz-kowalski | Etsy
The Lone Wolf (1890) Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski

Which I can’t help but think of then equating it with the metaphor of warnings from the New Testament about “wolves” being false teachers who come in to twist truth and confuse people etc. The song is great and the drums are great. I love X. They would be in my top 5 bands of all time.

10)  American Music – The Blasters (1982)

The Blasters were the band that changed the trajectory of my musical life when I saw them in college. They play roots rockabilly and American roots music. This is just a great song that represents The Blasters well.

Image 1 - The Blasters :  Blasters Lp

*** This next section of songs was/is processing the death of my brother and other deaths this year***

11)  Death Don’t Have No Mercy  - Reverend Gary Davis (1960)

Death Don’t Have No Mercy is a song by the great guitarist Reverend Gary Davis who wrote many gospel blues songs (he was a believer). My brother was a major Reverend Gary Davis fan and this is the song that immediately came to my mind when I heard of his death as the lyrics are true. Death is real and is not in our timing.

The hurt from loss is a “sting” (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57) and I am thankful that a solid Christian named Byron befriended my brother at his workplace in the year before he died. I learned that my brother was reading a Bible, prayed with this fellow and this explained why my brother had texted me some Bible verses in the months before his death. I am thankful for the truth:

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reverend Gary Davis - Harlem Street Singer (cd) : Target

12)  People Who Died – The Jim Carroll Band (1980)

My brother liked The Jim Carroll Band we played this song together. So naturally it is true about that there are people we know who die. Jim Carroll was a poet/former heroine addict who wrote this song about people he knew who died (obviously). But death is real and this song basically says the truth we know people who die and it’s meaningful to me as we played this song together.

*The next couple of songs I won’t comment much on, but each one was one that expresses the various emotions of grief and I listened to these songs a lot.

13)  I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones (1978)

14)  Used To be – Violent Femmes (1981)

15)  Unsatisfied – The Replacements (1984)


16)    I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore – Airborne Toxic Event (2020)

The Airborne Toxic Event album "Hollywood Park" was one of the main albums I listened to during 2020 first year of Covid and it’s more of a “I don’t want to deal with all this anymore about Covid, stress of church leadership, my brother etc). This is really a great album you have to listen to in its fullness that has a whole storyline of someone leaving a cult to it when you look into it.

17)  Waiting On A Friend – The Rolling Stones  (1981)

*** This next section of songs was a refocus on Truth, Hope and Life***

18)  Water Song – Hot Tuna (1972)

19)  We Are Not Alone – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (2021)

Needed to include at least one 2021 song in this list. A beautiful song which I believe is talking about all that is in nature as this is a soundtrack to a documentary. But I apply this to the reminder that we are not alone as God is always with us and we are in life with friends and family to support us. I am really getting into Nick Cave. I somehow have not paid attention to him and doing a deep dive into Nick Cave lately and not sure how I didn’t listen to him much more before.

20)  Jesus – The Velvet Underground (1969)

Such an interesting and beautiful song written by Lou Reed who to all I know was not a person of faith. But captured this about Jesus and calling to Him in the struggle in life.

21)  No Burden (Intro) – The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers (2013)

A beautiful song by a current band The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers that talks about the day when we will see loved ones again who have died before us. I really like this band as they are influenced by gospel-roots music. I wish our church’s music was primarily music like this. This band is really worth getting to know and listening to all their music. I want to be in this band.

Drawn from gospel, indie rock and Appalachian folk, songs on the latest  album by the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers take on deeper meaning during  pandemic - Pasadena Weekly

22)  Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down – Brother Claude Ely (1953)

This song was written by 11-year-old Claude Ely in 1934 when he almost died of tuberculosis. He recorded it later on. Brother Claude Ely was an Appalachian preacher and songwriter. Johnny Cash and others have recorded this song. Good truth written by an 11 year old.

Brother Claude Ely – Satan Get Back! (1993, CD) - Discogs

23)  The Backseat – The Gaslight Anthem  (2008)

No special meaning except an uplifting keep going song and The Gaslight Anthem is so great. This song is from The ’59 Sound is a great album. And they are from New Jersey.

24)  I’ll Be Alright Someday – Reverend Gary Davis (1961)


Reverend Gary Davis – A Little More Faith (1961, Vinyl) - Discogs

25)  Pressing On – Bob Dylan (1980)

Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord.

Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind,
Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign."
What kind of sign they need when it all come from within,
When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been?

Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord.

Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back.
Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack.
Temptation's not an easy thing, Adam given the devil reign
Because he sinned I got no choice, it run in my vein.

Well I'm pressing on
Yes, I'm pressing on
Well I'm pressing on
To the higher calling of my Lord

Saved (CD)

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