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DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Stress

The theme this month is Stress. All imbalance, pressure, tension and stress will provoke change. Like inspiration and encouragement, these stimulating forces can also be creative forces. That’s why we see such great music emerge from troubled times and troubled people. I imagine given the current turmoil, we are due for a flood of brilliant art. As the trite saying goes “no pressure, no diamonds”. I think we are hard-wired to seek comfort and balance yet it’s often in the unknown, the unpredictable, the stressful places where the magic happens. Risk reward, pain and gain, and on and on—we seem to acknowledge the productive force of stress and pressure. However stress is also incredibly destructive to our health, mentally, physiologically, and sociologically we are only capable of handling so much. The question is how do we balance the creative power against the destructive force? IDK maybe Yoga?

Speaking of troubled artists, this month we lost a great music maker and creative soul, Peter Green. While not a household name, he was the founding member and leader of the original configuration of Fleetwood Mac. He was the maestro behind the first three magnificent studio records. One of those records included the song “Black Magic Woman”, a song written and recorded by Green, but made famous by Santana two years later in 1970. Green’s version of Fleetwood Mac was decidedly more blues-oriented than the FM radio-friendly Laurel Canyon sound that the reconfigured band would become famous for in the 70s and 80s. Green was widely admired by peers for his expressive and emotional playing. He was part of a larger movement of young British guitarists “enthusiastically embracing” the Chicago Blues sound, players like Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck were trying to reproduce the deep emotion and gut-wrenching pathos found in The Blues. Blues legend B.B. King once said of Green’s playing, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Wow, can you imagine hearing that? Getting such praise from the King must have made Green the envy of his contemporaries. But Green’s trajectory would be derailed, like many brilliant artists, he struggled with mental illness and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Green left the band in 1970. Fleetwood Mac, with the addition of Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, would go on to become one of the greatest pop-rock bands in history. In subsequent years, Green released music sporadically, he made an uncredited appearance on his former bandmates breakthrough record “Tusk”, worked on Mick Fleetwood’s solo record and with the help of his brother continued to create music. While he never gained the notoriety he deserved, his story is one of the better ones for someone living with the stress and pressure of long-term mental illness. Peter Green died “peacefully in his sleep” on July 25 2020, he was 73. I included my favorite Peter Green song, “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)” on the playlist, it’s one of the all-time-best epic rock songs.

This month’s playlist was actually a little difficult to pull together, not because of any lack of songs concerning stress, but because all my first draft picks were already on the the Anxiety Playlist from January 2018. So I guess this is kind of an addendum to that playlist. If you’re really looking to ratchet up the tension, listen to both back-to-back.

This theme was selected by the Warsaw Chapter. I had a great time investigating the Polish city’s musical menagerie, it’s brimming with creativity, and it was rather effortless to collect a group of fantastic songs to include. From Brodka’s driving rocker “Granda” to Hania Rani’s delicate and moody “”Leaving there is a vast range and diversity of musical styles. I really enjoyed Mariusza Duda’s deadpan eerie and timely “Lock Down Spaces”, and Misia Furtak’s disco tinged “Skończy się”. I was delighted to discover the epic instrumentalists Tides From Nebula, what a band! For those looking for something with a little brightness, Skarby’s smooth loungey cover of Irena Santor’s classic “Co z Tobą Mała” is delightfully effervescent. And of course one from the icon herself, Irena Santor’s 1972, “Nad głęboką wodą”. Wonderful stuff, what a creative scene, Warsaw is definitely on my list of cities to visit.

Tense, nervous and underpressure, this month’s playlist theme is Stress. Filled with songs of anxiety and duress, from Ellie Goulding’s defiant kiss off “Worry About Me”, to Baby Rose’s introspective struggle, “Pressure”, to The Fall’s sneering and claustrophobic “Frightened”, to Meek Mill’s pressure filled “Trauma”, this song list is a bit intense.

Well that’s enough from me for now, but don’t stress, I’ll be back next month with another playlist. In the meantime, if you enjoy these playlists, follow me on Spotify and give me a shout on Twitter, I would love to hear from you.

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