“There stands the glass…
That will ease all my pain
That will settle my brain
It’s my first one today.”
Those words floated into my head randomly one evening, probably as I was doing the dinner dishes, and I suddenly had the theme for this month’s Hi-Fi Fifteen. And although cleaning the crockery may have provided the initial inspiration, the theme has a special resonance for me, since I have a bit of a relationship with ol’ John Barleycorn, everyone’s favorite frien-emy.
Alcohol is the great social lubricant, and music goes hand in hand with our social interactions. Whether it’s a tear-in-the-beer weeper, or a good-time party anthem about pissing the night away, drinking songs have probably been around ever since the first time a caveman got buzzed on a fistful of fermented berries.
A few early, sneaky sips aside, I started drinking on my 21st birthday, and never looked back. A tumbler of something cold and potent within arm’s reach is one of life’s small delights. To quote Winston Churchill, I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me. It transforms me from an awkward, needy Jerry Lewis to a breezy, don’t-give-a-shit Dean Martin. It is vital in overcoming my natural aversion to human contact, and dammit, it just tastes good.
There’s a dark side, too. I don’t know if Webb Pierce was an alcoholic, but when he sang those lyrics back in ‘53, he certainly captured how it feels to be one. I suppose. As my own alcoholism is of the functional variety (don’t get judgy, you pricks), I can’t say that I crave that special level of sloppy, pukey oblivion…but I can say that I’ve frequently looked at the clock and asked myself, “Is it too early to pour the first one?”
In fact, what time is it now?
Not really kidding. Kind of serious…
1. “Cold Gin (Live)” – Kiss
from Alive! (1975)
2. “Gotta Get Drunk” – Phosphorescent
from the Willie Nelson cover album To Willie (2009)
3. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – John Lee Hooker
Amos Milburn cover from The Real Folk Blues (1966)
4. “Tubthumping” – Chumbawamba
from Tubthumper (1997)
5. “Whiskey” – Jackpot
from Weightless (2000)
6. “Too Drunk To Dream” – Magnetic Fields
from Distortion (2008)
7. “All the Wine” – The National
from Alligator (2005)
8. “Nightrain” – Guns N’ Roses
from Appetite for Destruction (1987)
9. “Streams of Whiskey” – Shout Out Louds
Pogues cover* originally released as a B-side to “Tonight I Have To Leave It (2007)
10. “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” – Merle Haggard
from Back to the Barrooms (1980)
11. “Well Whiskey” – Bright Eyes
released as a B-side to “Lua” (2004)
12. “Drinking Again” – Aretha Franklin
from Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington (1964)
13. “Lived in Bars” – Cat Power
from The Greatest (2006)
14. “Here Comes a Regular” – The Replacements
from Tim (1985)
15. “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” – Frank Sinatra
Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer song first recorded by Sinatra in 1947
Hi-Fi Fifteen is a callback to the “5 in 5” playlist game that MMDG, holybee, and djlazybear used to play on their lunchbreak. They’re all in different professions now, and don’t even live in the same counties, but quickly throwing together playlists on rotating themes is still fun as hell.
*Also, we by no means are suggesting that the original version of “Streams of Whiskey” is inferior to the SOL cover, but artists need to wait three months before making a repeat appearance on a Hi-Fi Fifteen mix, and The Pogues partied with us in August.