We thought we were getting away from “Inferno,” but, no…instead, we’re rounding out the year with half of the World’s Greatest Mixtape, an epic 38-song monstrosity remembering the journey of Inferno and celebrating the greatest will-they-won’t-they of Italian poetry: Dante and Virgil.
You’ll probably need a drink before you start. Have you considered the “We Don’t Want To Hear Your Mixtape?” It’s a concoction of vodka, vermouth, red wine, sour cherry syrup, and malt whiskey. It may take the edge off.
There are several people we need to thank for their suggestions. From our Discord community, Xopher and Vecna brought some good ideas to the table, though we used them more in Part 2. Mark Scarbrough of “Walking with Dante” and Dante Translator J. Simon Harris had some suggestions as well, and Bryan Brazeau really could have done this entire project for us on his own, with something like a dozen suggestions, most of them tied to specific moments in the Inferno. Thank you all!
Jacob also leaned heavily…possibly too heavily…on the excellent music blog “The Musical Hype,” particularly their “Religion” subcategory,” which plays on a lot of sacred, secular, and infernal themes.
We stuck with 34 songs as our target number, to reflect the numerology of the cantos, and also because, hey, Episode 34 is coming up soon! But even so, The Greatest Mix Tape In The World isn’t big enough for everything we wanted to include…
#1 – “Lake of Fire” by Nirvana
Doesn’t seem like this one is quite part of Nirvana’s canon, as “Lake of Fire” exists as a live performance song? It’s a cover of the screamier Meat Puppets. Reflective, angry, and Kurt Cobain really could sing.
Honorable mention here goes to the Gary Jules and Cody Frost covers of “Mad World,”
which were left out for numerology. Either would make a strong “mellow opening” track for D+B=BB4EVR, and it was a tossup between the Jules version – pros: Donny Darko – and the ethereal Cody Frost version from The Voice.
Another one for the cutting room floor, Ghost’s cover of “It’s a Sin.” This entire 34-song playlist is remarkably and sadly Ghost-free, which is unfortunate, but that’s the cutthroat Mix Tape industry for you. The hellish medieval angst of both the Pet Shop Boys’ original video and the “Live at Wembley 1989” show are both worth a view, particularly the Wembley version, which has some fantastic costumes. Victoria also calls out, but is fuzzy on the fine detials of, the spoof trailer for “Satan’s Alley” from Tropic Thunder, which is a solid little bit of humor. I’ve been a bad, bad boy, father.
#2 – “Father Figure” by George Michael
“Father Figure” is Victoria’s choice for the Meet Cute moment between Dante and Virgil, which is a wash of hero worship and rose-tinted glasses which gradually come off over the course of “Inferno.” The gay coding in this one is so strong, only in the 80s could this have passed as straight…
#3 – “Wherever You Are” by Andy Gibb
Mark Scarbrough, in re: the roving bands of sodomites in Canto 15-16, says that they’re definitely listening to Andy Gibb. That absolutely tracks, but we’re not sure what that says about Mr. Gibb’s music. We think there’s a moment when Dante has to make a decision between the unattainable love of Beatrice and the ethically and necromantically problematic love of Virgil, and these two songs are in suspension. We also know that he spends the next 66 cantos with Virgil, so take that, courtley romance. Andy Gibb, Wherever You Are.
#4 – “Get The Hell Out Of My Way” by Krypteria
Krypteria, now And Then She Came, started as a symphonic pop/new age band, but they went to synphonic pop/rock pretty soon after. They performed from 2001ish to 2012ish, but were put on hold for a few years. “Get The Hell Outta My Way” is a triumphant, heavily orchestrated piece soaked in the lake of fire, possibly a little off topic for the idea of the “gates of hell”, but VERY in line with the “Abandon All Hope” carved over the door.
#5 – “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles
A song for the “Limbo” scene, filled with people wandering aimlessly and philosophers philosophizing. There are togas. Nowhere Man, by The Beatles.
According to rock legend, this song entered John Lennon’s mind when he gave himself up to writer’s block and took a nap. It’s a good Zen no-mind story. It’s one of the first Beatles songs that isn’t about love and romance, and is one of Lennon’s more philosophical songs.
McCartney: “That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up. I think at that point he was a bit…wondering where he was going, and to be truthful, so was I. I was starting to worry about him.”
Tiny Tim callout, and we should have more of these: His rocking 1968 ukelale cover on the band’s fan Christmas album.
Honorable mention that didn’t make it into the episode: Jacob really liked the reflective country “Sinner” By Andy Grammer. This was another pick from Musical Hype, and he dropped it because he was starting to feel like a plaigerist.
#6 – “Jezebel” by Recoil
Thank you to Xopher for this one!
In this playlist, “Jezebel” started later in the set, where the temptresses and panderers. But the piece uses the story of Jezebel as a vehicle for a message of God’s judgment, as the song’s final shot makes pretty clear, so we moved it to Canto 5, where D+V encounter Minos, the judge of the damned.
The piece has an interesting backstory; the album “Liquid” was touched off by a near-death experience: producer Alan Wilder and his wife had a very close look at an airplane crash as they were driving. The album is framed by two pieces called “Black Box.”
If you particularly liked this one, you might want to learn more about Alan Lomax, who collected the vocals for this one as a part of his ethnomusicology recordings. Learn more about them at the Lomax Digital Archive. Original lyrics are by The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet.
Victoria suggested that this one echoed Moby’s “Run On”, which is significantly more perky.
#7 – “Ring of Fire” by June Carter Cash & Johnny Cash
Ring of Fire was written by June Carter Cash on the consuming love of her husband, this one’s our pick for Canto 5 and the Lustful. In her notebook, June Carter Cash writes, “There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns.
Victoria word-drops “Amour Fou, french for “Crazy Love,” uncontrolled or obsessive passion.
#8 – “Gluttony” by Buckcherry
“I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I need it, I need it, I need it…” Gluttony makes the top list of every “seven deadly sins” playlist Jacob has been able to find. “Excessive drugs, sex, alcohol, sugar, caffiene…takes us out of who we really are at the core.” There’s a lot of songs about musicians and conspicuous consumption, but this one’s pretty solid.
#9 – “Prisencolinensinaincuisol” by Adriano Celentano
Prisencolinensinaincuisol is definitely the weirdest one on this list. We picked it to reflect the chaotic moment of Plutus babbling in satanic macaronic, words without meaning. Pris… is probably more fun though. This song is meant to invoke the sound of Bob Dyllanesque American English, though the lyrics are nonsense, except for “All Right.”
Jacob is really keen on the highly produced version with Mina Celantano’s name on it, from 2016. It’s darker with stronger disco/electronica influences. Much love. Both could work here, but in the balance, the older version is somewhat more nonsensical.
#10 – “Mansion Party” by Ninja Sex Party (with reservations)
Ninja Sex Party has to be one of the best running jokes on the internet. They’ve been performing for 11 years, releasing their first album in 2011. The running joke: Danny Sexbang, a Jewish superhero with no powers, would perform songs about unsuccessfully trying to find love. It’s a solid running joke! Mansion Party is a fun introduction to their work, if you’re not familiar.
However, Jacob originally put Cardi B’s “Money” in the #10 slot to represent Wastrels and Spendthrifts. However, Jacob swapped it out for Ninja Sex Party, and now Jacob thinks Cardi B was robbed.. This sort of behavior is why Jacob mixes powdered Adderall into his hot chocolate.
#11 – “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
AKA The Runaways Song, this was the breakout song for the Runaways, composed by Joan Jett and the band’s manager Kim Fowley. Cherie Currie says the song was dashed off just for her audition because the band couldn’t perform her original choice.
Unrelated, Wiki says that one of Cherrie Curry’s earliest stage moments was when she was going to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on an episode of “My Three Sons” at age 2. She and her twin sister froze up and they didn’t make it into the episode. And now she’s a chainsaw artist. This is an amazing life, really.
#12 – “All Along the Watchtower (with Cylon Intro)” by Bear McCreary
Interesting factoid, “Watchtower” was listed by Billboard as “One of the most overplayed songs in movies.” For this one we’re overusing it as the piece played over the “City of Dis” scene, which adds elements of war and conquest to the hellscape.
An honorable mention, The Masters of Chant cover of “Losing My Religion”. If Jacob is not mistaken, this originally turned up on “Chantmania” by the Benzadrine Monks of Santo Domingo, a well-deserved 1994 spoof of the “Chant” fad. Bryan Brazeau sugggested this one for the heretics of Canto 10, but ultimately we cut this one for numerology.
#14 – “Dear God” by XTC
In the category of Violence against God, Victoria recommends XTC’s “Dear God.” While not necessarily reflecting his own doubts when he was writing the song,this one was inspired by some books directed toward children called “Dar God,” and some of his own struggles with the concept of god. This song seemed to pull a lot of triggers, leading to death threats and even a hostage situation.
Is this struggle Dante’s struggle? Hard to say. Dante never seems to lose sight of God, but instead sturggles to be what God commands of him. But it definitely fits the mix and the mood.
#15 – “4 Men” by Kitchens of Distinction
You may be forgiven for not knowing about Kitchens of Distinction, a three-person British group that ran from 1986 to 1996. Their complex lyrics and intricate guitar are a lot of fun. Also, very gay. Sometimes the band played under the altnym “Toilets of Destruction.” It sounds like they had a bit of success internationally, but didn’t seriously outlive the 80s. This song, “4 Men,” is for the Canto 15 sodomites, endlessly running around and after and away, and I think it captures their restlessness, and maybe gives them a bit of rest. – Jacob
#16 – “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Zakk Wylde
Thank you to Bryan Brazeau for this suggestion. But we ignored it. Bryan suggested this song for the deeper descent into Hell and the increased distance from Beatrice, or at least he suggested the Bill Withers version. And overall, this marks a point in “Inferno” where we are seriously distancing ourselves from God, but we went with Zakk Wylde’s version, which is solid, but the music video really plays up the “Crimes Against Art” angle that’s the moment we’re at, Inferno-wise.
#16 – “Paint It Black” by Ramin Djawadi
A suggestion by J. Simon Harris, for whom this song has been a constant earworm and companion during his Danta translation project. The original Rolling Stones version is arguably one of the greatest rock songs out there, so the musical purist on the podcast was stroppy about going with a cover, but this was also the mixtape outro, and the West World version has a lot to recommend it.