THE MENZINGERS’ “RENTED WORLD” INSPIRATIONS
(A playlist by singer/guitarist Greg Barnett from The Menzingers on Beats Music)
LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING HERE:
The Menzinger’s new album “Rented World” comes out on April 22nd and while the band is currently out on tour, we caught up with singer/guitarist Greg Barnett and asked him to make us a playlist to showcase his inspirations for making the new album. The following playlist is what he came up with, it’s full of songs that he wishes he wrote…and he even tells you why below.
Filing this playlist as: Songs I Wish I Wrote! I’m a huge fan of all these bands/artists and picking individual songs was tough. I’m an album guy I guess. Anyways, heres a mix of some new and old songs that will most likely bum you out. Enjoy! - Greg Barnett
Pedro The Lion - “Penetration”
Where do you start with Pedro the Lion or any of David Bazans projects for that matter? How do you pick just one song? I went with the track “Penetration” because the songs just so intense. I’ve always loved songs that were inherently political but approached topics from a more personal standpoint. The first verse might be my favorite; “Have you ever seen an idealist with grey hairs on his head? Or successful men who keep in touch with unsuccessful friends?” Then the chorus mocks the relationship between successful art and money. “Cause if it isn’t making dollars then it isn’t making sense. If you aren’t moving units, then you’re not worth the expense”. The music industry sucks and has always sucked for this reason. David Bazan is fighting the good fight.
Shovels & Rope - “Birmingham”
Everything about this song is perfect. The first time I heard it I played it 10 times in a row. Then I played it 10 more times. Then 10 more. First, the production is on another level. For how minimal the song is it sounds huge! Sure, it helps that Cary Ann Hearst has one of the strongest voices in music right now. Also, Michael Trent’s unique drumming style and harmonies are just so on point that the song comes alive.
Jason Isbell - “Elephant”
Songwriting doesn’t get better than this. “Elephant” is about a friend dying of cancer and the ways [that] the two deal with the elephant in the room. What a fucking story. It’s the subtitles that make this song so heartbreaking though. Drinking “Seagrams in a coffee cup” and sitting “cross legged on a bar stool like nobody sits anymore” instantly put you into the narrative and by the end of the song it feels like its your loss. I get the chills every time I hear the line “Surrounded by her family I saw that she was dying alone.”
Cary Ann Hearst - “Who’s Gonna Raise These Babies”
This is Cary Ann Hearst’s second time on my playlist (she’s the front woman of Shovels & Rope) but if anyone’s going to get two songs [on here] its her. I wish they played country music like this on the radio. I’m convinced there’s no better song to listen to while driving down a country road with the windows down on a beautiful day.
Sun Kil Moon - “Pray for Newtown”
“Take a moment to think about the families that lost so much in Newtown.” I don’t even know where to start with my reasons for adding this song to the playlist. Mark Kozelek is a master songwriter who has a knack for tackling difficult subjects (ex. almost every song off of his new record “Benji”) with what feels like the utmost of ease. Kozelek discusses where he was and what was running through his mind upon receiving news of The McDonalds Massacre, The Norway Massacre, The Portland Mall Shooting, and finally the tragic Newtown Massacre. I remember I was in Canada at a Tim Hortons when I heard about Newtown. It was difficult to talk about at the time and it still is. I think there’s a very important message here and I love his reasons for writing the song. After receiving a letter from a fan asking Kozelek to “say a prayer for Newtown”, he admits “I’m not one to pray, but I’m one to sing and play” asking listeners to “take a moment to think about the families that lost so much in Newtown”.
Tom Waits - “The Piano Has Been Drinking”
Here’s my favorite song by one of the best songwriters of all-time. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love songs that are so descriptive that they can immediately put you in the story. Like a good book or a good film, “The Piano Has Been Drinking” makes me feel like I’m in the story of a dimly lit New York City piano bar during the 1970’s watching a down and out artist attempt to make his way through a set. So good.
Lucero - “Drink Till We’re Gone”
My first Lucero song! Ah, the vivid memories of driving around blasting this song all alone on back roads. “Life is short, despite of your plans, so tell the girls there pretty while you can”. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
The Gaslight Anthem - Drive
I was going to college in Scranton at the time I heard the demo of “Drive” streaming on purevolume or whatever was popular then. I’d sit in the computer lab and it play it over and over. It was just that good. When “Sink or Swim” came out it was a record you had to tell everyone about. This wasn’t just another punk record; we all knew this band was on to something huge. My band was starting to play out a bit more and we had a lot of mutual friends with TGA. Eventually we became buds and played some great shows together, everything from a little bar in Richmond in front of 50 people to huge theaters across the country. For me it all started with this song.
The Mountain Goats - “Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod”
Probably my favorite song off of one of the most important records I’ve ever heard. I learned all my tricks as a songwriter from John Darnielle. His story of growing up in an abusive California household that’s told throughout “The Sunset Tree” comes to its emotional peak here, and all I can think about is how difficult this song and album must have been to write.
The Menzingers’ “Rented World” is released on April 22nd.
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