Sunday, December 28, 2014

On Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, "Psycho Killer" and Gov. Christie's Summer Music playlist

Where's "4th of July (Sandy)," when you need her?

On Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, "Psycho Killer" and Gov. Christie's Summer Music playlist

Music lover.
Music lover.

Over at the Christie Chronicles this morning, my esteemed colleague Matt Katz scored another coup. The Inky reporter on the Jersey gubernatorial beat put up a Spotify playlist put together by Gov. Chris Christie himself.

You can find that here, and see that, not surprisingly, it includes three songs written by Bruce Springsteen ("Backstreets," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Fever," sung here by Southside Johnny) and one more sung by The Boss (Tom Waits' unavoidable "Jersey Girl") that he didn't write.

I can't complain about any of those choices, though Christie could have gone in a different direction with, say, "Jungleland," which so nicely conjures up a seasonal mood with "Drinkin' warm beer in the soft summer rain," or less iconically "Girls In Their Summer Clothes," one of the Boss' strongest songs of recent vintage, from 2007's Magic.

And the Gov hits the playlist's title, for his purposes, out of the park, pulling from "Jersey Girl" for the no brainer "Stronger Than The Storm" message he's out to underscore by calling his mix 'Down the Shore Everything's Alright...'

My Bruce beef is merely this. Where's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"? The superstorm that devastated the state last October shares a name with one of Christie's favorite artist's best-loved tunes, and one that evokes a bittersweet summer at the Jersey shore better than any he's written. No self-respecting Republican should run from the elephant in the room. Own it, Gov. Christie!

Okay, on to the rest of the mix. My initial impulse is to show my utter disdain and contempt for Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69," a post-classic rock perennial, which anyway you look at it, is an abominable pile of cliches. On second thought, however, I'll agree with Katz' s wife, who suggest that "Summer of '69" with its "Played it till my fingers bled!" fist pumping generic '80s intensity is "exactly what you want to listen to if you're stuck in Shore traffic."

Well, maybe not exactly, but I'll give it up for its AM arena rock longevity, and save my opprobrium for Bon Jovi's "Have A Nice Day." Oh, Gov. Christie, if you must make us listen to Bon Jovi, let it be "Livin' On A Prayer"!

The oddest choice on the mix has to be Talking Heads' 'Psycho Killer." Probably a personal favorite of the Gov's , and a great song, without a doubt. Still, a decidedly odd one on a politician's feel good playlist. I'm thinking not only of the basic buzz kill idea of the song but also a particular lyric David Byrne blurts out that I always thought of as a condemnation of blowhard, well, talking heads, and political pundits everywhere: "You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything / When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed / Say something once, why say it again?"

And that's almost all I'll say about Gov. Christie's playlist, except that you can't go wrong with the Sinatra song (though it is borderline easy listening and a bit too obvious) and that I have a difference of opinion with the Christie Chronicle's creator in connection with Bruno Mars' "Treasure," which strikes me as a winning nod to Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson era smooth-stepping modern R & B.

Oh, and one other thing: I agree with him that the chief executive could have done with working a few female artists onto his mix. Whither Whitney Houston or Dionne Warwick, each New Jerseyans? As are Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, if he wanted to add a little punk rock energy to the mix.

And one last suggestion: Next time, include the Fountains of Wayne's "Traffic and Weather," making room for another Jersey act, that I'll bet Christie would like if he gave them a listen, while also paying heed to the two things on everybody's mind as they drive to the Shore.

Below, check out videos for "Treasure," "Psycho Killer" and the very Jersey "Girls In The Summer Clothes."

Previously: Where's Snowden  Follow In The Mix on Twitter

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
About this blog

Join Dan as he blogs about music and other forms of popular culture

Reach Dan at ddeluca@phillynews.com.

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected