Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Music for the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls

Posted for your listening pleasure, here is a 40-song series of suites for the Christian feasts of All Saints and All Souls—those holidays that follow from Halloween, or All Hallows Eve.

I’ve devoted much time and energy over the past 30 years to learning, understanding, and collecting popular music. Yes, I majored in music theory and music history in college, which takes in centuries of great music, including the whole swath of what is known generically as “classical.” But my primary love is pop music, for better or worse. Here is some of what I believe to be the better—some hits, some flops, and lots of deep album cuts.

from pixabay.com
The common theme is death. When Christians celebrate Halloween, we do so to mock the forces of death for their impotence in the face of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with grief—indeed, it’s crucial for all humans to do so, just a part of the existential landscape that is common to us all. Years ago, I came to see November as a month for wrestling for with death—not just on Halloween and on the two Christians feasts that follow, but throughout the month until the season of Advent heralds the beginning of the wait for Christmas.

These 40 songs flow through the classic “stages of grief” enumerated by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the 1960s. Although we now know much more about the malleability of these stages and that they are often experienced in a different order, those who are grieving can and do recognize when they are in one or another of them.

Here’s the track list, broken out by suite. I welcome your comments and questions.

Suite 1: The Souls of the Saints
Yael Naïm – New Soul
Simon & Garfunkel – Blessed
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
They Might Be Giants – Older
Sufjan Stevens – Fourth of July
Rick Springfield – My Father’s Chair

Suite 2: Denial
Gillian Welch & Alison Krauss – I’ll Fly Away
They Might Be Giants – Turn Around
Tori Amos – Happy Phantom
Blood, Sweat & Tears – And When I Die
Fastball – The Way
Coldplay – 42
They Might Be Giants – Road Movie to Berlin

Suite 3: Anger
Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You into the Dark
The Police – Spirits in the Material World
XTC – No Language in Our Lungs
Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
Howard Jones – Hunger for the Flesh
Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger
Queen – The Show Must Go On

Suite 4: Bargaining
Tennessee Ernie Ford – Sixteen Tons
Ralph Stanley – O Death
Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) the Reaper
They Might Be Giants – Dead
XTC – Rook
The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes

Suite 5: Depression
Bob Dylan – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Young the Giant – Cough Syrup
Men at Work – Overkill
Toad the Wet Sprocket – Begin
Metallica – Fade to Black
Queen – Who Wants to Live Forever

Suite 6: Acceptance
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
The Head & the Heart – These Days Are Numbered
Indigo Girls – History of Us
The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??
Semisonic – Closing Time
Delta Rae – Dance in the Graveyards
Sufjan Stevens – We Won’t Need Legs to Stand
Edgar Leslie Bainton/Jeffrey Skidmore – And I Saw a New Heaven


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    1. Thanks! I'm not sure how one would search for it, but here's a direct link: https://open.spotify.com/user/dasooperyooper/playlist/2H6c4g3T1aRsI7C5uzV1DK

  2. I am loving this!! Thank you for the thoughtful arrangement. Sharing with my teenagers also.